31 July 2007

I Spin, I Knit, I Block, Repeat..........

I figured the best way for me to learn more about this spinning business would be to sign up for Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club - in which I receive about 4 oz. of hand-dyed fiber a month. It seemed this would be a great way to familiarize myself with different types of fiber, and branch out in the world of color to places I might not usually travel to. Well! I got my first bundle the other day, and had a blast spinning it (wish I had "before" shots, but alas.....):

Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club July 2007
4 oz / 345 yds.

I'm quite pleased with how it came out - it is, for the most part, consistent in weight and twist, and the colors are pretty awesome - it reminds me of the bright/muted tones of salt-water taffy. Can't wait for next month! In the meantime, I signed up for Fiber Club at Hello Yarn as well. While visiting Hello Yarn, I managed to pick up some of this:

Lovely, no? I split this lengthwise a few times and started spinning - I'm hoping to end up with something similar to the Spunky yarn. I've got one bobbin full right now (sorry, no pictures) and hope to fill up another one tonight. I am a sucker for brown and teal and blue together.

In the world of knitting, I decided to NOT wait 4 -5 - 6 months to block the Icarus shawl; I figured it took long enough to knit, and at this point, I just didn't want ot have to deal with it anymore. So, blocking:

No good full-shots. It is off the boards now, but it was too rainy the past couple of days to get any lovely model shots. Oh well. soon enough! It turned out to be a little bit wider than my wingspan, and the alpaca fluffed up justenough - no loss of stitch definition, and not so fluffy that it gets in your mouth or anything (in general use, not in shawl-eating or any such).

Also: Hanami progress:
This pattern is so freakin amazing and fun to work on. Since it is so organic, it's alright if you mess up a little bit. I know I missed a stitch here or there, moved a stitch or two, but the pattern works with you - and it goes super duper fast! And the Lacey Lamb yarn? Buttery.

I am working only the Cherry Blossoms portion of this shawl (no basket weave). The pattern has you work the blossom charts out to one end, then pick up and knit the other end - so, center out. I figured the whole thing was non-directional enough that I could just flip the charts over and work them upside down. Seems to be working out for me just fine:My handy row/chart marking device? It is a magnetic knife-edge guard for kitchen knives. My roommate-chef left one hanging around and I hopped on it - IDEAL for such things. I just fold up my pattern to fit and snap the magnetics on the row I need. It fits in my bag all handy-like, as well.

Next up: my lace obsessions continue! Max & I should be casting on for Wing O' the Moth on Sunday; I'm already planning my next 4 shawls.

26 July 2007

Lace Lace Lace

The Icarus Shawl has been defeated. Well, it's off the needles at least, now I just have to block it. I did not run out of yarn!

Once past the first chart, I flew through this puppy.
Upon completion of bind-off, I immediately cast-on for Hanami:
I'm knitting up Hanami with Lacey Lamb Extrafine lambswool in a Seafoam colorway. This yarn is amazing - it is buttery soft to the touch and has quite a bit of elasticity. It's already proving a joy to work with, and I think the stitch definition is wonderful. I'm using US 3s. The Hanami pattern is originally a basket weave pattern on one end and a cherry blossom motif on the other - the pattern also includes directions for knitting only one or the other. I plan on knitting only the Cherry Blossoms part. The pattern calls for a provisional cast-on and knit one end, then pick up and do the other. I am an impatient, not-into-that-fidgety knitter, and after looking over the Cherry Blossom portion of the pattern - no more than a series of yos, k2togs, and ssks - I figured I'd take a stab at knitting the pattern upside-down. Well, knitting it right side up, but reading the charts upside-down. You know.

This is (so far) a fast fast fast knit. I'm sure my love of this yarn is making it easier. I'm hoping (trying, striving, aiming) to have this done in a quick enough manner that it will not interfere with the Most Knit-A-Long of all Knit-A-Longs that will be the Wing O' The Moth with Max.

I love lace knitting - I like the challenge of it; it keeps me interested. The start of a lace pattern is intriguing, to see how the stitches are going to come together and fall into place. When you can read your knitting and see where things went wrong, see what has to happen next - it's pretty awesome. And, of course, the blocking. Which, in and of itself is pretty boring and annoying, but when you take out hose pins and wires...........Yowzah!

In spinning news, there is no news. I haven't been spinning much this week, but I am itching to get back to it. I (unnecessarily) picked up a bit more roving - I'm looking forward to some time to just sit down and plow through a bunch of what I have, really spend some time getting to know what I am doing, getting a better understanding of the fibers and the machine. While I am happy with the results that I am getting, I really want to know more about why why why the fibers behave in this way or that, and the role of the wheel, and the tension regulation, and and and......I want to own this skill, really embrace it, and completely and fully understand it. I know that's a lot to ask. I'm willing to give it a shot though. And everyone that I know who knits will gain the rewards of my journey through random bundles of randomly handspun randomness.

23 July 2007

I WILL Defeat This Shawl

And finally, we have real progress! After slogging through Chart 1 of the Icarus Shawl (and I really, really mean slogging - I realized this weekend that I started this right before my cousin's graduation last June), I flew through Charts 2 & 3, and I am now about one quarter of the way through Chart 4 (the final chart).

It seems to be going well enough, though I am living in fear of running out of yarn. If it gets *super* close, I may check out Ravelry and see if I can pawn some off of someone.

But about the pattern, because I know that's what keeps you coming back:
This pattern is very clearly written (so far). However, the first part just goes on FOREVER - with really nothing to hold your interest. Once out of the Chart 1 doom, it went quite quickly and smoothly - I could really power through the rows. The lace pattern repeat is simple and easy to commit to memory - you can get into the rhythm of each pattern row easily. The pattern of the lace - this is in the knitting, not the charted pattern - reads quite readily; you can see it coming into shape and anticipate what will be happening next. All that being said, at this late stage of the game (row 7 of Chart 4), each row is taking me somewhere in the realm of 15 minutes to complete - I'm at 437 stitches, and this bad boy goes up to 523! This, my friends, is the triangular shawl dilemma...........

Nonetheless, I have my next 2 shawls lined up! I'll be working on Pink Lemon Twist's Hanami Shawl (maybe with beads! ooooooooh) and having a Knit-A-Long with Max for Anne Hanson's Wing O' The Moth (Now with X-TREME BLOCKING!!!!). It'll be the most knit-a-long of knit-a-longs ever - we've got the same beautifully green-brown dyed yarn from Hello Yarn to work with.

22 July 2007

The nicest birthday present I could have asked for

If you’d been at my house this weekend, you would have seen a lot of this:

You can guess what the book is: the same one everyone else has been reading this weekend. I won’t say more, except that I picked it up and read without stopping, which is to say, on Friday night Joe and I took the kids to the Harry-Potter-themed dinner at Upstairs on the Square at 5pm, the only reservation we could get, and then headed to “Hogwarts Yard” for a great show with Harry and the Potters and Draco and the Malfoys, and from there to standing a long time in a long line at the Harvard Bookstore, and then home to collapse, so I picked up the book on Saturday morning, and I looked up sometime on Saturday evening, starving and tearful. The book is a fitting conclusion to the series, and satisfying, and I’m so glad we’ve all had something so pleasurable in our lifetime. Just what I wanted for my birthday! My heart’s full. P.S. I'm still blubbing over it...

That’s our herb garden up there, by the way. It’s growing like Topsy - soon the nasturtiums will bloom...

We come now to the near-end of le Petit Chou. This is the second full bra I’ve knitted with the pattern; the first one was missing an eyelet on the first row, ugh, and I discovered pattern errors in the left bra cup, and was unhappy with my improvised fixes. So I went back to the beginning (well, not the beginning of the beginning, because that would involve redoing the invisible cast-on, and there’s been quite enough of that this summer!) and examined the troubles in a more disciplined fashion. I need to knit the crotch, weave in ends, get some ribbon to lace everything up, and then [perhaps I’ll model] and write up my errata.

I do believe my next project will be Wing o’ the Moth, for which I bought some nice Addi lace needles. Because I am conscientious, I tried my LYS first, which was, as I was prepared for, pretty much out of needles altogether. In resorting to the web I found these fine people: Bob and Nancy of Colorsong Yarn, who shipped the needles at their standard price, with free USPS shipping (so much quicker and better than UPS, at least where I live) included. Thank you, Bob and Nancy!

As I told Stacie, though, I only want to do the Moth if the edge comes out like this. There will need to be extreme blocking.

19 July 2007


Very little to report. Or it could be thought of as "more of the same".....

The other sock? Yeah, I haven't cast-on for that yet. Oh, but I will! Maybe this weekend. I promise.

I've been working a fair amount on the Icarus Shawl, though you wouldn't know to look at it. This shawl is triangular, and knit from the top center down, with 4 increases every other row. So it groooooows. But at a very very slow pace. The portion of the shawl that I am currently working on is dead boring as well - it has just enough going on that you have to pay a wee bit of attention, but it is not exciting at all. I want to get to the fun stuff! I want to get to the crazy lacey bits! But no - I think I have about 8 more rows to go of this first chart, which doesn't seem too bad, but when each row takes seemingly forever, it could be next month before I get there. I present this photo, which looks very similar to an earlier photo posted, but I swear I have been working on this:I have also hit the point in where I am starting to panic about if I will have enough yarn. This is Misti Alpaca (it is LOVELY to work with) and I think I have *just* what the pattern calls for (okay, just checked - I actually have one yard LESS than what the pattern calls for - 875 yds - but I think I may run out for REAL, not just by one yard) and I have read reports of people having run out. I'm not super concerned at this point - I know where I got this, it's pretty cheap, etc. etc. I just want. to. get. to. the. good. stuff. Dammit!

When not busy slogging through the dreadful boredom that is chart 1 of this shawl (almost as boring as socks!) I've been spinning spinning spinning like a mad woman! I'm working my way through the mystery wool from Amy, and working towards a thinner yarn. I *feel* like I am beginning to understand this spinning business a bit more - like I am on the road to owning it, but that road is very very long. Since this bag of fiber is kind of a mystery, I'm learning a bit about different fibers and how they want to behave for me. What I've really come to believe is the secret of spinning is this: tension. I feel if you can just get the tension of these 8 different things to all work together perfectly, things are golden. You just need the planets to align! And I would like to believe that I am working towards that. I've made a mini-skein of something resembling Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, which, if you have not worked with this yarn it is wonderful, and then I tried out some Navajo Plying which is pretty interesting, and I am pleased with the results of that as well. I can see what I would like to improve on in both of these, and now I just have to figure out exactly how to do that. Max has suggested that I spin at HER place, as she likes the smooth whir whir whir of the wheel. There will be pictures soon - it's tough to get clear pics that will give you some sense of the weight and texture of the wool.

This has all left me even more excited about Rhinebeck this year; I'll try not to come back with any animals.

16 July 2007

Stacie and me went to Jo-Ann's.

I needed a zipper (more on that later...). The zipper aisle did not disappoint, but the "yarn" department was a different story.

It was a landscape of acrylic despair. A post-apocalyptic wasteland of nasty colors and textures. Stacie tried to make the best of it, bless her soul.

Someone had fun ironically naming these:

This colorway made me throw up a little:

On the ride home we saw a semi-interesting vanity plate:

Then Stacie made me a potholder that I didn't want.

The end.

All Fiber, All The Time

Well, I managed to complete this:

....and I have not yet cast-on for the other one. I plan on tackling that this evening - I am DETERMINED to knit up 2 of these bad boys. I'm still not really understanding the thrill and allure and obsession with the sock-knitting. After completing this one, I was distracted by this:
That's the Icarus Shawl from Interweave Knits (Summer 2006). I started this awhile back; I'm at a horrifically tedious point in the knitting, and it keeps getting back-burnered. But! I am working on it now, being a good little lace knitter, because there are 2 other shawls that I really really really want to work on, but I have made a promise to myself that I can't cast-on for those until this one is complete. SO! I am slogging through the tedium, hopefully will get to the fun stuff by the end of this week.

I've been doing a little bit of Tour de Fleece spinning as well, but just a little bit:Amy kindly provided me with this wool - I don't know what it is, but it is nice to work with - and I'm trying my darnedest to make a fairly thin, consistent yarn. Seems to be working out okay - for now.

I am currently ignoring this new distraction:

That's a Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle Loom that I picked up the other day. Now I don't know the first thing about weaving, but I have been interested in trying it out and learning about it. This lovely item popped up (brand spankin' new!) for a fraction of it's regular cost, and I had to jump at this opportunity. I don't plan on really diving into this latest crafty endeavor for some time - it seems kind of overwhelming! For now, I'll just keep reading about it.

15 July 2007

Knit, thrift, eat

chou topHowdy, howdy, howdy! Here's mon petit chou this morning. I've postponed finishing the bottoms (surprise!) and have started on the bra. That's the right cup nearly done. Unfortunately I forgot one of the eyelets on the left side and I'm waiting to ask Stacie how to fix it before proceeding further. Perhaps she can do for me what she did for Amy's cable shame. Wake up, Stacie!

antique Japanese basketIn thrifting news, I went to Brimfield yesterday, said to be North America's largest antiques show. I'm not sure if I can believe that, but we skipped the high-end pay-to-enter section, so I can't really judge the show as a whole. I took home only three items: this monumental Japanese basket (for knitting, of course), a faux bois planter from the 20s, and a pink Bakelite buckle for my Lady Detective hat from Knit 2 Together (not yet on the needles).

I nearly got two of those baskets; they were only $25, which is about $75 less than you can get a new one of the same size. The woman who was selling them had a quadruple-size booth full of them, large and small, trug-shaped ones, wooden buckets and scoops, and wonderful curvy stools, all old and worn and beautiful. I thought of my ex-husband immediately, who would love one, and was torn, but I just couldn't carry two.

Today I keep thinking of the Buddhist saint Shantideva, author of Guide to the Boddhisattva's Way of Life, who said something like "Once thought of, a gift not given is the torment of a million lifetimes." So, gotta go back to Brimfield in September. Plus, now I want a trug. And maybe a couple stools. See? Torment!

Had a nice orange breakfast today, and discussed London geography over oatmeal. That's Hyde Park near my spoon :)

14 July 2007

Not much knitting...

So I haven't been able to knit much lately, mostly due to inexplicable wrist strain (possibly caused by playing too much Katamari Damacy). But I have been collecting small glass animals. The same small glass animals made by Hagen-Renaker that I used to collect when I was a pre-teen. I saw them again when we were in Myrtle Beach--at the same goddamn store I used to buy them from over fifteen years ago--and had a nostalgic seizure. I convinced myself not to buy the entire stock and settled on these two natural enemies:

I was totally appeased and in control...until I got home, had too much to drink one night, and tricked myself into bidding on an undisclosed number of little glass dudes on eBay. It started out somewhat focused and reasonable. I mean, just look at these guys! And they're "retired" for christ's sake:

It gets a little hazy after that...
First I won the dysfunctional squirrel family:

Then these crazy circus dudes:

These guys are just out of control:

There's a good chance that there are more on the way. I don't even freakin' know.

13 July 2007

Green Monster

Well, I am definitely making progress:(since yesterday)
While I am about to complete this one, and I am also going to be a good girl and immediately casto n for the second one, I *still* do not understand the allure of knitting socks. Is it the yarn? How impressed strangers are when they see you working with so many pointy sticks? For fancier socks, is it the opportunity to try out some new patterns/techniques on a smaller scale?

I also received a rather large package yesterday from the kind folks at Halcyon Yarns - more wool! More spinning!

It has been noted that I do a fair amount of my knitting throughout the summer months. I often attribute it to baseball and the Tour de France - I enjoy watching both of these things on the television machine, but not much really happens in either (for the most part), allowing for plenty of quality knitting (and now spinning!) time. It's good lace-knitting time, and has definitely gotten me more involved in the spinning as well. What to do with all of these knit projects? Unknown. I'm a process knitter, so it's really more about the doing than the end product.......

12 July 2007

Secret Goblin Sock

I've finished spinning all of that blue wool - my TdF Yellow Jersey goal is complete! I'm continuing to spin up whatever is in the house; I'm working towards creating a finer yarn, and I really don't know what I'm doing, I'm trying to figure it out as I go along, but I sure am having a good time!

Speaking of good times, a wonderful gathering of The Knitters last evening - a farewell to Becky before she departs to that big state. Of course, it being JULY (and there being, as usual, too much food) there was minimal knitting activity. However, it was lovely to catch up with everyone. I continued on my secret project, which I was trying to hide from the Knittees, but they found me out. Since the secret's out, I figure I'll throw in this photo evidence as well:I'm knitting A Sock. I would like it to be known that I am NOT knitting "sockS" (please to note that there is only ONE item on those needles), though if things proceed okay on this one there may in fact be a second to match. BUT I MAKE NO PROMISES. This is my once or twice yearly foray into sock knitting in order to better understand America's Love of Knitting Socks. I personally have no idea of what the interest is; I find socks boring to knit - I'd rather do gloves - but I do enjoy some of the yarns that are out there for socks. Yeah, yeah, I can understand the portability issue of them, they are small and great to pick up and work on while waiting for just about anything, good for commuters, supposedly fast to knit, etc, but I Just. Don't. Get. It.

Anyway - this single sock: knit on US1s, toe-up, with that Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn. I don't know the real name of the colorway - I've been referring to it as "Goblin", but that's all wrong. Yeah, it's a sock. We'll see what happens..............

09 July 2007

Le chou en noir

chou top and bottom
Hi friends! My chou bottoms are coming right along, as you can see. I'm really having fun knitting them - it's like putting together one of the larger LEGO kits. You just follow the directions. Comfort knitting. And let me say: Cascade Fixation is great to work with. I've never used a cotton yarn my hands liked before this - and the elastic means it's nearly impossible to drop a stitch. There's nothing hard to manage as regards tension, either - just regular ol knittin.

Like Stacie, when I tried on the front of the hipster, I thought: whoops! Shouldn't have made the biggest size. But when I tried on the back last night, I was thankful I had, because, um: More to accommodate back there (surprise!).

invisible cast-on results. did i make a mistake?
I used Eunny's invisible cast-on instructions instead of the ones that come with the Chou pattern, and while her cast-on is easy to master and wicked fun to do (very swooping and rhythmic motions), it leaves these criss-crossed loops on the bottom set of stitches - pretty hard to purl together with the top set when you get there a few rows later. I think for the bra I'll have to try again to figure out the instructions as given, which unfortunately come with a hard-to-parse set of illustrations. (Stacie actually performed the work for me when "I" cast on for the front of the hipster. Now you know my shame...)

June Taylor jams
Breakfastcam update: Have I mentioned June Taylor to you before? Perhaps once or twice? I have been addicted to this brand of breakfast stuffs for over ten years and have never strayed far - all else is inferior to June's English-style California-made preserves. Heaven. As was the weather this morning! Cool, overcast, and humid. Yes: heaven. What New England has done to deserve a nice summer, I can't even guess at.

Hello Yarn laceweight
So now I leave you with a little yarn porn, some lovely lace and sock yarn from Adrian at Hello Yarn. Aren't these colors wonderful? I love brown and green together, and as you know, fashions change, so when my tastes are in vogue, I seize the moment. Even when I don't know what to do with, say, lace yarn. Maybe a Kat Coyle Lala scarf...

Hello sock yarn
And this would make excellent Monkeys.

Yellow Jersey, Crazy Hat

I'm continuing along with my Tour de Fleece spinning. I've got about 500 yards so far, and it seems to be fairly consistent! I thought I would show some of what I spun to prior to working on my TdF goal - you know, just to get my spinning mojo back:
Amy gave me a bundle of different colored oddments of fleece - about 10 or so different colors. I thought I would spin a bit of every color, in random order, and ply some of it together as well. It came out pretty well, except for the fact that it was around 120 yards of stripey crazy colored yarn! What to do? So I figure the only thing that it COULD be was a hat:
It's a very loose knit, and I had a few yards leftover. But it's fun! And got me into thinking that I could really truly do this Tour de Fleece. I don't have more pictures of what I've completed, but it basically all looks just like those other 2 hanks. I'll get some pics of the pile when I have it done.......

07 July 2007

Block de Force

A beautiful Saturday.......and some taking care of business.
I finally got around to blocking the big triangle shawl that I finished in November (I can't remember the actual name of it; I'll look it up at some point). This was my first major piece of lacey-lace work. Of course, the Mayor was there to help......One of my co-workers passed on these awesomely huge blocking boards to me - it was time to put them to use! Sadly, someone had pushed all of my pins flush into the tomato (pin cushion, that is). So it took a bit of work to get things out, and the blocking itself took a bit of time, but I did it! Pictures of completed piece to come......

Afterwards, I thought about working on the Clown Vomit sweater, but it was curiously unavailable to me.....

So! I figured this would be the finest of opportunities to get going on the Tour de Fleece 2007! I love watching the Tour de France, and I figured what better way to get more involved in my spinning? I have dabbled a bit here and there, and at some point started spinning for what will (hopefully) ultimately be enough wool for a sweater, but I have been rather lax in my spinning duties.......

Enter the Tour de Fleece! First thing, set a goal for the yellow jersey! Starting today (well, in this case, I suppose continuing, as it's basically been a slog up until now.......), I have to complete the spinning of this specific fleece by the end of the Tour de France. So I've got from July 7th until July 29th to get through this pound or so of wool. I started today with one hank (about 125 yards or so, 2-ply, maybe sport weight), and I got a lot done!
I don't know enough about wool to inform you more on what type of animal this came from, only to say that it has been a joy to spin. It's a lovely blend of blues and greens, with a bit of white and yellow highlights. My spinning has been (shockingly!) consistent; the yarn itself seems to be like "real" yarn. Now I just have to spin....well, a ton more. But! But! I have 2 complete hanks (125 yards and 118 yards, or so...) along with 2 bobbins ready for me to ply.

I'll keep you posted with progress - I enjoy watching the Tour de France, and I enjoy the spinning, so it shouldn't be too much of an issue to keep up. Check the side button for other people's progress. I have high enough hopes that I am already thinking about what my goal will be to get the green jersey as well..............

05 July 2007

Not Too Scanty Panty

Mon Petit Chou is complete! Well, aside from needing to pick up some pink ribbon for the side laces - I could only find this plum ribbon in 1/4", not the delicate 1/8" called for. Oh well!

I have to say that this pattern incorporates the decreases into the lacework beautifully, and the instructions for this are wonderful. I was interested in seeing how the short row shaping would come out, and how the lacework would be handled there:Seamlessly!

I made La Chou in the largest size available, in order to compensate for my child-bearing-hips. turns out not necessary! I had not counted on how much give the Cascade Fixation would have! I'll definitely need to run some elastic through these puppies to keep them up. I also had planned on knitting these to the...74 row height; I had completed the front to that point, but when I got to the first option for binding off on the backside, I found that I would no way no how never have enough yarn to get me through another 9 or so rows. So a-ripping I went - and brought the front back down a coupla rows, and left the back at that. I still had the "between leg interlude" to deal with, and that also was worrying me - the pattern calls for st st for 2 inches, and I know that st st tends to curl, and I knew that I didn't want any sort of interlude like THAT. So I put in one purl rib on either side - seems to work fine! Also, kitchener stitch instead of 3-needle bind-off.

So really, not that much change.

This all means that it's time to return to this beast:I've been ignoring the Clown Vomit Sweater largely due to the size of the thing now. It's practically complete, and that is a lot of wool to have sitting on you while you knit in the Summertime. Also, I'm just about to the point where I have to THINK, and there may even be some MATH involved, and anyway it'll be too hot to even WEAR it until the fall, etc., etc......