Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Did It, and It Was Spectacular

When you read this, I'll be on my way to Rhinebeck, N.Y., with Amy and Scooter Pie of the Ross Farm with my new (and very much finished) sweater, which I finished in the nick of time on Tuesday evening.

This is the best photo I can take at 5 a.m.

Pattern: Copperplate by Elizabeth Doherty
Yarn: Yarn Hollow Tango (85% Polwarth, 15% silk) in Garnet, approximately 3.5 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 2.5 (3.0 mm)
Started/Completed: September 4/October 17

I started this sweater right after I found out I was making the pilgrimage to the New York Sheep and Wool festival, and I think I knit it rather quickly considering I took an entire week off in the middle to focus on Spinzilla. I'd been meaning to make the pattern for quite some time and had actually swatched for it way back when I bought the yarn, which my Ravelry stash page tells me was last May. My past self was very smart and made a note of my pre- and post-blocked gauge (as well as the needle size I used) on the pattern, so all I had to do to cast on was wind up a few more skeins.

The pattern itself was great. There are a lot of things to pay attention to, such as separate charts for the faux-cabled front bands and shaping, but I was able to knit on this while watching all sorts of TV and movies without making any serious errors, so I'd rate it somewhere in the middle of the difficulty scale. The construction is really genius, though, and it looks like it will fit really well.

Because I was using a hand-dyed yarn, I did alternate skeins for most of the sweater (the exceptions are the beginnings of the faux-cabled bands and the sleeve caps). That meant quite a few ends to weave it, but I decided at the outset to weave them in as I went along knowing that I'd probably be rushed to finish this in time for the trip and I didn't want to have a couple dozen ends to deal with at the last minute. I did use significant less yarn than the pattern estimates, and while I did make the sleeves a bit shorter than called for, I don't think that alone accounts for it. I have an entire skein untouched as well as remains of the last two skeins I was using, but that's not a bad thing, as I loved working with the yarn and will be happy to have some leftovers to play with.

The weather forecast for Rhinebeck is not entirely suitable for sweater wearing (it's supposed to get to the mid-70s on Saturday and Sunday), but knowing how I tend to run cold and that mornings and evenings are likely to get chilly, I'm sure I'll get some time to wear my new cardi.

I won't be doing a spinning post this weekend, as I haven't been at the wheel since the end of Spinzilla, but I do promise a full recap post (or maybe two!) of my Rhinebeck experience when I'm back. If you'll be at the festival this weekend, do come and say hi if you see me! Be forewarned, however, that if I'm wearing my new sweater, I may make you pet it.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Can I Do It?

I'm in the home stretch on my Rhinebeck sweater, with just a portion of the second sleeve to go. I tried to work on it as much as possible over the weekend, but of course we were busy with errands and things like housecleaning and laundry, so it wasn't quite the knitting marathon I was hoping for. Still, I finished the first sleeve and got through the sleeve cap and upper portion of the second. My goal is to finish this sleeve by tonight so I can quickly block it in time for it to be dry for my early morning departure on Thursday. I have about 45 rounds (some involving decreases) and an I-cord bind off left to knit -- wish me luck!

In other news, thanks to some knitting time at lunch on Saturday and in the car going to and from dinner on Saturday and Sunday evening, I finished my socks!

These were such a quick knit, in large part because I worked them on size 1/2.25 mm needles instead of my usual size 0/2.0 mm. The pattern is already with my tech editor, so I likely won't think about it again until after Rhinebeck.

On Saturday morning, Rainbow and I took last trip out to Knitsburgh Yarn Shop, which is sadly now closed. There wasn't much stock left in the shop, but we picked out a few things. I grabbed a couple of circular needles and a set of crochet hooks as well as a skein of Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering in an acid green, and Rainbow picked out a skein of BMFA Plushy for a hat and mittens and some ONline sock yarn so we can have matching socks (the colorway might look familiar because I used it for a pair for me earlier this year).

I am really sad that the store is closing, but to be honest I haven't been there much because I have so much in my stash already and a lot of the knitting I've been doing for my patterns has involved yarn support. There are still other LYSes relatively close to me if I need yarn, but I'm going to try to stick with what I already have for the time being (plus whatever follows me home from Rhinebeck, of course).

Sunday, October 15, 2017

An Official Quickie

I have a very quick post today, mainly because I've done no spinning since the end of Spinzilla and I have one sleeve to finish on my Rhinebeck sweater, but I did want to share a final picture of the yarn I spun and my officially yardage. Here's the entirety of my week of crazy spinning:

The six unicorn skeins (all fingering weight and chain plied) totaled up to a little more than 500 yards, while the larger skein on the right (a two-ply fingering spun from 4 oz. of Frabjous Fibers BFL) is about 346 yards. All told, my final Spinzilla yardage was 3,071.8 yards -- not too shabby!

I'm obviously taking a break from spinning at the moment, but I'll be ramping it up once again as soon as I get back from Rhinebeck in order to add some more skeins to my Indie Knit and Spin booth. I got some new fiber in this past week, thanks to a KAL prize from the 90% Knitting podcast group.

This is Polwarth from Gale's Art that Lisa got in her SSK goodie bag in a previous year she attended. Polwarth is my favorite to spin, so I'm looking forward to having fun with this braid!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pattern Debut: Calamosca Cowl

And now for something a little different!

Usually when I post about a new pattern, it's one I've published in my Ravelry store or that's been printed in a magazine. Today, however, I'm very excited to share a new pattern with you that is part of the beautiful Color Shift collection from Knit Picks! This is a design that's been hiding behind the scenes for the better part of this year, and I've been dying to share it with you -- so I'm so excited that the day has finally arrived when I can!

The Color Shift collection is all about the slow fade from one color to the next. For my design, I worked with Knit Picks' Chroma yarn, one of my favorites for stranded colorwork because the color changes happen in the yarn, without the need to actually change the color. I took full advantage of this in my design, the Calamosca Cowl.

This pattern has two stranded colorwork parts. First, the chevron-y pattern of the outside of the cowl is worked. Then, after working a purl turning row and switching to smaller needles, a simple dot pattern is worked to form the inner lining of the cowl. Finally, the smaller section is folded to the inside and the two parts are joined with a three-needle bind off. This construction not only conveniently places all the floats on the interior of the cowl, thus keeping all the pretty part of the colorwork where it can be seen, but it results in an extra warm fabric.

Using a solid with a gradient really helps the colorwork to pop, and short floats make this an excellent project for someone new to stranded work. The sample in the book uses Black and Weather Vane, but there are many possible combinations. I happen to love Chroma because it's so snuggly in addition to having such beautiful colors, and it's not the first time I've used it for a cowl. The worsted weight version knits up so quickly and makes such a squishy fabric.

While you can't get the pattern in my Ravelry store, you can buy it individually from Knit Picks or as part of the whole collection (and you can get it as a printed book or an e-book). There are 15 beautiful patterns in the full collection, so it's a great deal!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On a Mission

Now that Spinzilla is over, I have one primary mission for the next week and a half or so: finish my Rhinebeck sweater. I think it may be a nail-biter, but I'm going to do my best to make it happen. Last night I picked up the stitches for the first sleeve and worked a good bit of the short-row sleeve cap shaping. I'm hoping to get through the rest of that tonight so I can start working the whole sleeve in the round -- I have a feeling that part is going to fly.

Short-row shaping means that there's really no good place to stop, hence the disheveled look of this sleeve. Once it gets going, it's fairly fast, but of course getting to this point is always a challenge. Any time I have to pick up a very specific number of stitches I invariably end up ripping and redoing at least once (I think it took me three or four tries with this sleeve). I actually have an extra stitch somewhere in there that I'll need to hide because I had a slight gap when I finished picking up the last section and had to pick up one more stitch to fix it.

The sweater is a bit too big to bring to work for my lunch break knitting, so I've been working on my new sock design again -- and I finished the first one today! I'm very pleased with how this knit up.

I've already got a draft of the pattern mostly written, which means that I can likely take a couple of photos of the completed sock and get the pattern off to my tech editor this weekend (given that sock yarn usage is so variable, I don't need to finish the pair to determine yarn requirements). I'll still knit the second sock, of course, but I have some yarn support on its way to me for a new pattern that I'm hoping to debut early next month, so it may have to wait.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sleeve to knit!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Thank Goodness It's Only a Week

Spinzilla is coming to a close tonight, and I'm very happy to see it end. Not that I haven't enjoyed spending so much time spinning, mind you, but my body is not very happy with me right now. Somehow the limited time period makes it easy to push myself to keep spinning even when things are hurting, and that could do some serious damage in the long term.

That said, I did get everything done (or will, as soon as I post this) that I wanted to. Yesterday, we did a spin-in at the HipStrings studio. I managed to finish spinning up all the rest of my unicorn sampler singles, and as of this morning, they were all plied.

Top to bottom: Unicorn Fluff, Baby Unicorn, Soulmate, Unicorn Seeks Soulmate, Space Unicorn, and Dark Magic

While these have been skeined up, they have not yet been washed; I'll do that tonight just as soon as I finish plying the last skein (which I'll get to in a minute). As long as I was there, however, I decided to make a pretty sizable fiber purchase. I've been wanting to knit a Boxy sweater, and rather than buying more yarn, I thought it would be fun to spin for one. I spent most of the afternoon pondering colors but had a lot of trouble deciding because there were three that I really liked. Then my friend Anna came up with the brilliant idea to do a fade, so that's exactly what I'm going to do.

These are all the HipStrings Buoy blend, which is 37.5% BFL, 37.5% Shetland, and 25% Manx Loughtan. The three colors I picked are (left to right) Sky, Bay, and Mussels. The colors will fade from light to dark from the top of the sweater to the bottom, assuming I do it right. I'm excited to get spinning, but I'll likely need to put it off for a bit to get some other things done.

My last skein for Spinzilla will be finished up as soon as I post this. It's the BFL that I was spinning on my Turkish spindle for the week; I got a little more than half of one ply done on the spindle, but in the interest of actually finishing it, I spun the rest on the wheel.

I finished the last of the singles spinning and plied most of the skein over at the Steel City Fiber Collective this afternoon. Luckily one bobbin ran out just when I needed to leave and go home, so I'll wind off the rest of the remaining singles and Andean ply them. I'll skein this yarn up and then all the skeins will go take a bath. As soon as they're dry, I'll be able to determine my final Spinzilla yardage!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

At the Halfway Point

We're more than halfway through Spinzilla now, and I'm feeling it. As much as I envy those who get more spinning time because they don't work full time like I do, I'm not sure my body could handle it. I definitely overdid it on Tuesday, so I spent the evening working on my Rhinebeck sweater instead of spinning more. It turned out to be a doubly good thing, as it gave some of my joints a bit of a rest and enabled me to finish the body of the sweater!

Sorry the photo's so dark -- it's a gloomy day here.

I'm getting a bit nervous that there won't be quite enough time to finish the sweater, especially given how much knitting time I'm giving up to spinning this weekend, but I'm going to do my best. The nice thing about this pattern is that after the sleeves are done, I'm done -- there is no finishing to be done other than weaving in ends (which I've been doing along the way so I don't have to do them all at the end) and blocking. If I have to, I'll have a bit of a knitting marathon next weekend, when all we have planned is a family dinner on Saturday night.

But let's get back to the Spinzilla recap. As of last night, I have finished up the third fiber blend in my unicorn sampler and moved on to the fourth. This one, Unicorn Seeks Soulmate, is probably the easiest to spin because it's just merino with a bit of sparkle.

I'm also continuing to work on the BFL I've been spindling, but I think a wheel intervention might be in order to get the entire 4 oz. spun and plied before the end of Spinzilla. I split the braid up into 16 little bundles of predrafted fiber, and I'm managing to get two into a cop. Considering the first cop took me two days to spin (well, two lunch breaks), it's unlikely I can manage it all on a spindle alone.

I think I will have to play things by ear and see how far I get by the weekend. I'll be heading up to the HipStrings studio on Saturday afternoon for a spin-in with the team, and if I've gotten all the stuff done on the wheel by then, I'll just take my spindle. If the worst that happens is I don't find the stuff on the spindle this week, I can live with that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Spin All the Shiny, Sparkly Things

It's day two of Spinzilla, and I have certainly done my share today. I took a day off from work to go to the eye doctor for my annual exam (it's not much use going to work with my eyes dilated seeing as my job involves reading all day), so that meant lots of extra spinning time. I estimate I spent somewhere between four and five hours at the wheel today. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best idea, as I'm feeling it now. In any case, I have a lot to show.

Last night I started in on my HipStrings unicorn sampler. I'm working my way through the bag pretty much from top to bottom, which more or less equates to lightest to darkest. I got through most of the first bump, Unicorn Fluff, last night and finished it up this morning. Unfortunately the photo I took does not want to upload to the blog, but you can see it here.

I immediately started in on the next color, Baby Unicorn, and finished that as well.

Superfine merino, baby llama, merino, and Stellina

I am spinning at least four of the bumps onto the same bobbin, as they're all in the range of 25-30 grams each. I plan to chain ply all of these, so in between each blend, I'm putting in a length of plain fiber (some leftover Romney from my first fleece) that's a natural color and that I'm spinning a bit thicker so it's very obvious:

The last color I worked on today is Soulmate, and I think I'm about halfway done with it.

Superfine merino, merino, bamboo, rose, and Stellina

This blend is proving to be a bit more difficult to spin than the previous ones. I think that's because this blend contains a fair amount of viscose (from bamboo and rose fiber), so it's a bit slick. I've actually had the single break on me about three times, not so much because it was snapping but because I lost my grip.

I'm going to see if my hands feel better tonight before I decide if I'm going to spin some more; if not, I'll take a break and work on my Rhinebeck sweater. That might not be a bad idea -- if I do, I should be able to finish the body tonight!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Spinzilla Pregaming

Spinzilla officially kicks off at midnight tonight (or, rather, tomorrow morning), but as I have to be up early to go to work in the morning, I won't be staying up late to start. But I am prepared. I spent most of my free time this weekend spinning up the remainder of the batts I received in the class I took with Jillian Moreno at SSK. Amazingly I managed to get all the singles onto one bobbin:

I plied everything in two plying sessions today, and the skein is now hanging to dry in the upstairs bathroom. Here's what it looked like before washing:

The colors aren't quite accurate here (that's what happens when you wait until almost 5 p.m. to take a photo), but at least you can get a sense of the variation. The blue was spun from the smoothest batt, and it's probably the thinnest yarn in the skein, but overall it looks to be in the neighborhood of sport to DK. I estimate that I should get about 300 yards once it's dry.

My wheel is now all ready for Spinzilla spinning, which I'll start tomorrow evening. In the meantime, I've got a spindle project lined up to take to work.

This will be the inaugural spin on my Turkish from Subterranean Woodworks that I bought at SSK. The fiber is some deep stash that someone gave me a number of years ago, some BFL from Frabjous Fibers. I have no idea how long it was in that person's stash, but regardless, the fiber was pretty compacted, so I took some time this afternoon to split up the fiber and predraft it a bit. Predrafting is not something I've really done since I first started spinning, but this fiber really needed it. Now I've got a bunch of fluffy little nests to spin. I can't wait to get this spin started!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Pattern Release: Itty Bitty Kitty

Unless you've been living under a rock this year (which, given how the year has been going, might not be such a bad idea), you're likely aware of a bit of a knitting phenomenon that took the world by storm. Yes, I'm talking about the Pussyhat, that ubiquitous pink cat hat that so many people were knitting and wearing at marches and protests earlier this year. Regardless on your political leanings, I think we can all agree that they made a very strong visual statement. And from a knitting perspective, I thought they were very clever because they were so easy to execute, even for a beginner.

Flash forward to this past summer, when I was knitting up preemie hats to take to SSK and donate. I knit several from a random skein of sock yarn I'd picked up somewhere using a beanie pattern I found on Ravelry, but then I happened across some bright pink leftovers from some socks I'd knit and I immediately thought that they would be great to use for a teeny tiny kitty hat. It turned out so well that I decided to write it up as a proper pattern, so I'm pleased to present to you today the Itty Bitty Kitty hat.

Modeled by a lemon for scale

I only decided to publish this as a pattern when I couldn't find any preemie-sized version already available on Ravelry. I'm not trying to make any sort of political statement with this hat -- I only used the pink yarn because I thought it was such a great bright color, but my testers used all different colors, including some self-striping. Rather, this is meant to be a very quick-to-knit hat that is very easy to execute. There is no shaping involved, just some ribbing and stockinette that is finished with a three-needle bind off. I wanted to make this pattern as straightforward as possible so that it would be easy to churn a bunch out and donate them to the tiny babies most in need of warmth.

To that end, I am charging a very nominal fee of $1 for this pattern (which, I should add, has been graded to five preemie sizes), and I will be donating the entirety of the proceeds to the March of Dimes. I'll even be making up the difference once PayPal takes a cut to ensure that the organization gets the full dollar from every pattern sold.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Really Late -- or Really Early

I figure I'm only about six or seven months late with this promised hat. Or, I suppose, I'm several months early, depending on how you look at it.

Pattern: 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes
Yarn: Youghiogheny Yarns Yough Worsted (100% superwash merino) in Submerged, approximately three-quarters of a skein
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) 32 in. Addi Turbos, magic loop
Started/Completed: September 20/September 25

I knit this delightful pattern exactly as written, with no modifications. As with the first time I knit it, I found the finished hat to be a snug fit, but as Rainbow's head is slightly smaller than mine and I have a feeling it will grow a bit when I block it, I think it will be fine. She was so thrilled that it was done this morning (I finished it last night after she went to bed) that she promptly put it on and wore it all during breakfast. Were it not for the fact that the high temperature was supposed to be near 90 today, I think she might have even tried to wear it to school!

Rainbow picked out the yarn (and bought it herself!) at the Indie Knit and Spin* show this past February, and it's been sitting and waiting for me to knit it up into the hat she requested ever since. I enjoyed working with the yarn, for the most part, though it didn't feel as soft as I would expect a superwash merino to feel. I'll be interested to see if it bleeds at all when I wash the hat, as sometimes a bit of extra dye can leave the yarn feeling crunchy, for lack of a better term. Plus, it's a dark blue, and we all know how blues love to bleed.

I'll readily admit that I completely ignored my Rhinebeck sweater last night in order to finish up the hat, but seeing her reaction to it this morning made it all worth it.

There was so little time left before bed after I finished the hat that I figured I'd cast on my new lunchtime project, for which the yarn conveniently arrived earlier this week. I'm designing a new pair of socks for the Knit Picks IDP program in their new(ish) Hawthorne Tonal Hand Paint yarn. The colorway I'm using is Ashland, a pinky purple.

It's been a while since I knit socks with any sort of pattern, and I'm enjoying this one (and not just because it's my own design). As relaxing as it is to knit a mindless stockinette sock that allows you to zone out while you knit, there's something to be said for an engaging pattern that requires a bit of attention. I'll be making these a little shorter than my usual socks due to the relatively low yardage in each skein of Hawthorne, but I think that will probably work to my advantage in that I'll get these finished up and get the pattern off to my tech editor that much faster.

*Incidentally, have I mentioned that I'm vending at Indie Knit and Spin this November? It looks like a fantastic lineup of vendors -- I'm going to have a hard time not spending all my money!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Cousins, Not Twins

Some time at my wheel on Friday night and yesterday was enough to finish up my FatCatKnits combed top/batt combo spin, and today I have two lovely poofy skeins to share.

I spun both skeins more or less the same way (short forward draw) and chain plied them both. Obviously there's a bit more variation in the skein spun from the batt, as the fiber was more textured. I will say that I ended up pulling out and throwing away a lot of white shiny stuff -- I think it was tencel -- as I was spinning the batt because it just got tangled up and would not draft. Rather than spend the time to fight with it, I just yanked it out, and that made the process of spinning much more pleasurable.

You can really see the similarities and the differences in the skeins when you look at them close up. The same colors are all there, but the batt skein reads very green overall, whereas the top skein looks more blue/purple. The skein spun from the batt is also slightly thicker, on average. While both skeins poofed up nicely in the finishing (thank you, Polwarth!), I'd say the skein spun from combed top is a heavy fingering and the skein spun from the batt is more of a sport.

My plan for these is to use them together in some sort of colorwork, either stranded or perhaps mosaic. I think that although they're close in color and value, the fact that the batt skein is a bit thicker and more textured will help it to stand out a bit.

Meanwhile, I have technically started a new spinning project, although it's technically nothing formal, as Spinzilla starts a week from tomorrow. I decided to pull out the remainders of the batts from the class I took with Jillian Moreno at SSK and just spin them up. I'll fill up a bobbin and chain ply. I started with the one that was mostly blue and smooth.

Speaking of Spinzilla, I have my fiber all ready to spin, thanks to a package that arrived from HipStrings earlier this week. When Jill posted this sampler set on Instagram, I just knew I had to have it.

These are all unicorn-themed blended tops, all different fiber combinations, and I'm planning to spin each one up separately to perhaps be combined in one project. I haven't weighed the fiber yet, nor is the weight marked on the packaging, but I'm guessing I have about half a ounce of each color. I think if I spin each one fine and chain ply (just to keep things easy), I should have a nice collection of mini skeins at the end of the week.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Beginning, a Middle, and an End

I probably should have put the things in the title in the reverse order, because I'm going to start with the end -- I have finished my socks.

Pattern: a variation on my vanilla sock recipe (using a simultaneous heel flap and gusset) worked over 70 stitches
Yarn: ONline Supersocke Cotton Beach Color (45% cotton, 40% wool, 15% nylon) in color 945, one skein
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: September 5/September 19

I'm glad to have these off the needles. They aren't anything special, and I'm sure they'll be perfectly serviceable socks. As you can probably see on the sock on the bottom in the photo, the spot where I cut out the knot is rather obvious because it not only disrupted the striping sequence, it actually reversed it. So the foot of that sock looks like a reflection of itself. Normally something like that would bother me, but I was so ready to be done with these socks that I really didn't care.

Meanwhile, my Rhinebeck sweater has grown a bit, and as soon as I post this, I'll be pulling it out to finish up the underbust decreases.

Before I put the sweater away last night, I measured the length from the back of the neck -- just to get an idea of how much more there was to do. It looks like I have less than 10 inches left of the body to knit, which really isn't all that much. I know the sleeves are bound to go much faster, given that they're worked in stockinette in the round and don't require me to check two charts every row. I plan to put in some serious time on this sweater this weekend, so I predict that there will be much more of the body the next time you see it.

As to the beginning, I have cast on a new project for my lunchtime knitting. I decided that the design project should probably wait a bit so I can do some proper swatching, so instead I pulled out one of the skeins of yarn that Rainbow bought earlier this year at Indie Knit and Spin that I said I would use to knit her an ear flap hat. I never got around to doing it when it was still winter, so I figured I'd get a head start on it for this coming winter. I haven't gotten very far (this is just one day's worth of knitting), but I think this should come together rather quickly.

This is a worsted weight from Youghiogheny Yarns in a colorway called Submerged that's very much a colorway I would have chosen for myself. I'm knitting the 1898 Hat, which I knit once before this year and very much liked. It has a clever but easy construction, so it's good for some knitting that's relatively mindless.

The weekend ahead looks fairly restful. Rainbow's got a birthday party on Saturday (which I'm hoping I can get the Mister to take her to so I can get some extra sweater knitting time) and then the Mister and I are running the 5K in the Great Race on Sunday. I expect there will be some naps taken on Sunday afternoon!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Might Actually Happen

I know that, relatively speaking, I'm a pretty fast knitter. But my knitting time is usually limited, what with a full-time job and a small child and all the demands of life. When I decided to knit a Rhinebeck sweater, I knew it was a big proposition and there was a very large chance I wouldn't finish it in time. But, lo and behold, my sweater is actually starting to look like a sweater!

I'd added quite a bit of fabric since joining the fronts and backs at the underarms and am now halfway through the underbust decreases. Once those are done and the knitting reaches just above the narrowest part of my waist, I do a series of waist/hip increases and then work even until the body is the right length.

Now that I've done a good amount of rows involving both front bands, I've gotten into a good rhythm. I won't say that I've memorized those stitch patterns, but I'm beginning to get a rough feel for where the increases and decreases lie, and I'm also less confused about which chart to refer to (they're side by side on the page, so which one you refer to first in a row depends on whether you're working on the right side or wrong side).

The further I get into this pattern, the more impressed I am with it. It's not exactly a difficult pattern in terms of the knitting skill needed, but it is an involved one in the sense that there's a lot to pay attention to. There's the two charts for the front bands, for starters, which are symmetrical, plus the shaping, plus some short rows on the edges that you do every time you repeat the charts to keep the I-cord edging from pulling too much. And while I was worried that the sweater was running small while I was completing the first parts, I've tried it on and it looks like it will fit perfectly.

Aside from the sweater, which has been my main focus, I'm also trying to finish up my current socks. I'm about an inch away from starting the toe of the second sock, so a completed pair will soon be in the offing.

The second sock has gotten me a bit annoyed with this yarn, to be honest. I was already not a huge fan of all the cotton because of how hard it is on my hands, but for some reason the skein decided to start knotting up as I was pulling the yarn out on this second sock, resulting in a lot of yarn barf. As if that wasn't enough, I encountered a knot, and after cutting it out, I found that the self-patterning was completely disrupted, as you can see from the photo above. I'm not terribly concerned, as it happened on the foot of the sock and that part will be hidden in my shoe when I wear these, but it's rather irksome that it happened this close to the end of the sock.

To avoid having more ends to weave in on these socks (because I'm dealing with enough ends on my sweater), I used a clasped weft join after I cut out the knot. I think I've used this join once before, and I really like it. It's very easy to do, and although the join feels a bit bulky for the first round or two after you do it, it seems to blend in very well after that. I can feel where the join is on this sock, but I can't really see it from the outside (the bits of ends sticking out on the inside are a dead giveaway). I did do the join on the instep of the foot rather than the sole, just to be safe, because although my feet aren't as sensitive as other parts of me, I have some other socks where there was a join in the foot due to a knot (where I did a normal join and wove in the ends later) and I can feel it every time I wear them.

I may try to finish the socks up tonight, if I can, so that I can start something new at lunch tomorrow. I have yarn support for a new design on its way to me, but in the meantime I have a hat design I've been meaning to cast on for months now that I think will finally get its turn.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Same but Different

I haven't gotten as much spinning time as I would have liked in the past week (Rhinebeck sweater knitting is taking priority at the moment), but the time I have spent at my wheel has been very enjoyable. I've been working on the FatCatKnits top/batt combo that I bought a few weeks ago, and it's been such fun. I started spinning the batt yesterday after finishing the 2 oz. of top, and to say that the experience spinning the two is like night and day is a bit of an understatement -- and it's all the more interesting given that the two preparations are, at their core, the same fiber.

The fiber that was carded to create this batt was combined with silk, silk noil, angelina, and some other fun stuff, so it's creating a wonderful texture in the singles. While I'm trying to end up with singles that are more or less the same thickness as the singles I spun from the combed top, all these add-ins make it virtually impossible to have a completely even singles -- and I'm just fine with that. For comparison's sake, here are singles from the combed top:

My plan is to chain ply both bobbins, with the expectation that the yarn from the combed top will be slightly thinner and much more even that the yarn spun from the batt. I'm planning to knit something with colorwork with both finished yarns, and I think the differences in thickness and texture should have a really interesting effect.

In other spinning news, I am happy to share that my Flatiron is finally all together and working (though I haven't actually spun on it yet)!

I had so many issues getting this wheel together that I was really starting to think it was cursed -- first half the parts were missing, then some of the bolts didn't work, and then I finally got it put together but I couldn't seem to get the flyer to move when I treadled. Thanks to some very helpful folks on Ravelry, I finally figured out that my bobbin needed to be turned the other way to spin in double drive and all I had to do to get it to work was flip the bobbin around. I expect that I'll be giving this a go as soon as I finish up the singles that are currently on the wheel, so I'll be able to give a full report then. I definitely want to spend some time spinning on it before Spinzilla (which kicks off in about two weeks) in case I want to use it for some of my spinning then.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Join as One

I'm happy to say that I've reached a rather momentous stage on my Rhinebeck sweater: I am ready to join the fronts and the back to start the body.

(Apologies for the crappy photo -- we're dealing with the remnants of Hurricane Irma here, and any light is coming from a lightbulb at this point.)

I finished up the left front last night, just before bed, and put all of the live stitches on the needle this morning. The joining row will be the first order of business this evening when we're back from Curriculum Night at Rainbow's school. After I've gotten a few rows done, I plan to pause and weave in all the ends that I can so I can stop fighting with all those dangling bits. I shouldn't have any more ends on the body until I'm done with it or I have to introduce a new skein, whichever comes first, so it should help to speed things along a bit -- because don't you just hate it when you finish knitting a big project only to realize that you have to weave in all your ends?

I've definitely gotten the hang of the front bands by now, so those are going much quicker now that I'm not constantly stopping to double check the charts. Of course, now I will have to pay attention to two charts and remember which is which, but I think I should be okay. I just need to remember to only knit on this when I can pay attention to it -- sleepy knitting is a no-no for this project!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Ticking Clock

When I started my Rhinebeck sweater, I knew I was likely cutting it close (not that I had much of a choice given how quickly the plans came together). But yesterday I looked at the calendar and realized that I had even less time than I thought. Although it's a bit less than six weeks until we leave, one of those weeks is Spinzilla, so I will be spending ever spare moment spinning. That means that I've got less than five weeks to finish my sweater, and I have a feeling I will need every moment.

Still, I've made some decent progress. I'm two rows away from finishing the upper part of the right front and then I'll tackle the left front. As you can see, I've started the decorative band, which is a lot of fun (though it does require some close attention, as the right and left are a bit different).

Although I was alternating skeins in the back, I've been using just one at a time for the band and fronts so far, simply because the rows are so short and involved that I thought adding a second skein would make things completely crazy. I think I will be okay -- there's enough variation within the skeins that it almost looks like I'm alternating -- but I'll resume using two skeins at once as soon as I join the underarms and start working the entire body.

I am enjoying this sweater so far and the unusual way in which it's constructed, but my one complaint is that there are tons of ends to deal with due to the fact that you knit pieces in different directions and different sections. I have been trying to weave them in as I go wherever possible, but at the moment I've got a couple dangling (along with the ends from waste yarn holding live stitches) that can't be woven in just yet and they're driving me a bit batty. I really think a lot of this annoyance will go away once the body is all joined up as one piece, but for now, I find I'm spending more time that I would like untangling and generally moving ends out of the way.

Meanwhile, my lunchtime socks are a lot bigger than they were the last time you saw them -- I'm nearly finished with the first one!

I'll be glad when these are done, as they're still not super comfortable to knit, but I think they will feel nice to wear -- and it will feel even better to have knit up a deep-stash skein of yarn.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Soft as a Bunny

Another skein of yarn is fresh of my wheel; I finished plying Friday night and skeined and washed it yesterday. I'm glad to see this one done!

This yarn was spun from some 80% merino/20% angora fiber that I won earlier this year as part of the yearlong knitalong happening in the 90% Knitting Ravelry group. The colors weren't really me, but generally I find that even if the fiber doesn't appeal, the finished yarn often does. That was certainly the case with this spin. The colors softened and blended as I drafted the fiber, and they're very attractively autumnal in the finished yarn. The finished skein ended up being in the range of sport to DK weight and 308 yards of two ply.

I didn't entirely enjoy spinning this, in part because of the angora content. While the fiber was extremely soft, as you would expect, I found it tricky to draft at first and during the whole spin had to deal with those angora fibers coming off on me and occasionally getting up my nose. I tried to encourage a bit of a halo when I finished the skein, doing some hot/cold dunks and then snapping and beating it a bit, but there's only the slightest of halos in the dry yarn; I suspect my usual high amount of twist is to blame. I would run the yarn back through the wheel to remove some of the ply twist, but it seems to be pretty well balanced and isn't really kinking up on itself, so I will likely leave it as it is. The lack of halo may also be an indication that this won't pill up as badly as it might if it were more loosely plied, too.

Given my feelings toward the angora content, I'm pretty confident in saying that this yarn will be available for sale in the Fluvial Fibers booth at Indie Knit and Spin in November, so if you love it and will be there, it could be yours.

I received some fiber in the mail earlier in the week after finally succumbing to something that had been tempting me for quite a while. One of the cool things that Ginny of FatCatKnits offers is a braid/batt combo. She dyes up 4 oz. of combed top. Half of it she leaves as is, but the other half she throws on her drum carder along with add-ins like sparkles and silk noil. So you end up with two preparations of the same colorway. I've been wanting to spin up one of these combo for months, and I finally splurged and bought one in a colorway called Arcadia, which, as someone on Instagram pointed out, looks a lot like a Monet painting.

I couldn't wait to dig into this package, so I started to spin the combed top yesterday while I was washing the finished skein. It really did not disappoint.

I've decided to spin the braid from end to end as a thin single and then chain ply it. For the batt, I'll work from one side to the other by tearing off thin strips and spin it more or less the same way. I'd like to use both skeins together so that the subtle differences in the preparations are apparent. These colors are so gorgeous that I have a feeling it will be hard to tear myself away from the wheel to work on my Rhinebeck sweater!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Trying to Extend Summer

I must start out my post by admitting that while I have made a bit of progress on my Rhinebeck sweater, it's only a very little bit because I have been cheating on it with my spinning the past couple of nights. I was very anxious to finish up some singles and then ply, so that meant a few hours at my wheel. But I'll be giving the sweater my full attention tonight and try to get in some extra time over the weekend so that I don't feel quite so guilty.

Meanwhile, I have started a new pair of socks for my lunchtime knitting using some extremely deep stash. I bought this skein of ONline Supersocke Cotton Beach Color (now discontinued) at Knit One at least a decade ago, likely when I was living in my apartment and it was my LYS. It was likely before my former LYS, Natural Stitches, opened and before the Mister and I moved in together (we were living together for a bit more than a year before we got married, and we just celebrated our 10th anniversary this past weekend, so that should give you a sense of the timeline).

I am not sure what caused me to buy this skein, although I know I did knit the Mister a pair of socks in the same yarn at one point, so perhaps the two skeins were bought at the same time. Regardless, it's been sitting in my stash ever since. The yarn is a blend of 45% cotton, 40% wool, and 15% nylon, and I suspect that high cotton content is what has kept it in the stash. I don't usually knit with a lot of cotton or cotton blend yarns because their lack of give tends to make my hands ache when I work with them. I am managing okay with this sock, but I'm definitely slower than I am with pure wool or mostly wool. I do like the feel of the fabric I am getting, though, and I think the socks will be good for times like now, early fall and late spring, when there's a bit of chill in the air but it gets warm enough over the course of the day that wool socks are a tad too warm. And the colors make me think of the colors of Cape Cod, where we just were on vacation, so working on the sock makes me feel a bit like it's still the middle of summer.

The weekend coming up should be a fairly busy one, but I'm hoping to find time to finish plying that distracting skein of handspun, get in a run, and get in some decent knitting time on the Rhinebeck sweater. I hope that whatever you have planned, you enjoy it!

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

An Unexpected Development

The long holiday weekend that has just passed was a good one, filled with a lot of crafting time and an exciting development in my plans for the fall. I'll get to that in a minute, but first I have an FO!

I finished up these quick socks for Rainbow on Sunday evening and left them by her bedside so she would see them when she woke up on Monday. I was very pleased to find that she had put them on almost as soon as she got up -- clearly she likes them! I used the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern and worked them toe up using the foot template process described in the pattern. I did make them a little bit big (maybe a quarter of an inch longer than her actual foot length) so that she won't outgrow them too quickly; she's planning to wear them mainly around the house, so a bit of room isn't an issue. The yarn is the My First Regia that I picked up when we were on vacation last month, and I used US 1/2.25 mm needles. Amazingly, Rainbow's feet are only an inch less in circumference than mine and only two inches shorter in length, so it almost felt like I was knitting socks for me! I'm usually not a fan of toe-up socks, but it worked well in this case to use up almost every bit of the yarn. I ended up with about 2 g left from both of the original skeins, and it felt good to be so efficient without playing yarn chicken. I didn't do anything special to get the colors to end up like they did -- I just started with the yarn on the outside of the ball regardless of where it fell in the color sequence -- but I'm tickled that the two socks ended up like complete opposites.

Though I spent a lot of the holiday weekend spinning, I did take the opportunity to cast on a new project. And I've got a deadline for that project. Why? Because, dear readers, I AM GOING TO RHINEBECK! Attending the New York Sheep and Wool Festival has long been on my knitting bucket list, and I honestly thought it would likely be several years before it was a possibility. But on Saturday evening I got a text from Amy at the Ross Farm asking me if there was any way she could convince me to come with her and Scooter Pie to the festival and help out in their booth. Honestly, it didn't take much convincing! As soon as I knew it would work as far as my family's calendar and my available time off from work, I was in! But of course going to Rhinebeck means that I really must take part in the annual Rhinebeck tradition: knitting a Rhinebeck sweater. I started mine last night.

The pattern I'm knitting is Copperplate by Elizabeth Doherty, for which I'd swatched (and gotten gauge) months ago but never gotten around to casting on. To give you a sense of how long I've been planning this sweater, I bought the yarn at my former LYS, Natural Stitches, long before they announced they were closing but when I found out they were no longer going to be carrying that particular vendor. The yarn is Yarn Hollow Tango, an absolutely luminous blend of Polwarth and silk, in a deep red shade called Garnet. As you can see, I haven't done that much yet, but that's mainly because I screwed up at the beginning and had to do a do-over pretty much right away (I blame the headache I had last night). I'm sure this small piece will be growing much more quickly now that I've read the pattern correctly and know what I'm doing, and the deadline to get it done is surely going to keep me on track.

I unconsciously made a smiley face with my yarn and sweater!

I'm very excited about my first Rhinebeck, though I'm sure I'll be just as overwhelmed as I was for my first Maryland (this time I'll know to bring extra allergy meds just in case my body decides to have the same reaction as well). If you're a Rhinebeck veteran, please feel free to share any bits of wisdom you'd like with this newbie!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Dusk to Night

After playing a lot of catch up on my spinning when we got home from vacation, I finally finished my spin in progress this weekend, and I am so pleased with it! It turned out exactly as I'd hoped -- but let me backtrack a bit to remind you. I was spinning these two colors of Falkland from Fibernymph Dye Works that I received as the second shipment of Lisa's Barberpole Fiber Club:

Because the colors were meant to represent the colors of the sky as the sun set and the daylight faded, I though it would be interesting to spin them in such a way that the lighter color slowly faded into the darker color. I knew I wanted a three ply, so I split each braid into six pieces (about half an ounce each) and made myself a chart for how each of the three plies would be spun. Each ply would use up four of the little bundles. The first ply went light, light, light, dark. The second was light, light, dark, dark. And the third was light, dark, dark, dark. If it plied up as I envisioned it, the yarn would gradually fade from all light to light with a bit of dark to dark with a bit of light and finally to all dark. I'm happy to say it worked out exactly that way.

The finished yarn is probably a light fingering weight and in excess of 600 yards, so plenty for the shawl that I'm envisioning (which will start out light at the top and fade into dark at the bottom). I don't have a particular pattern in mind at this point; I suppose if I can't find something that seems to work, I'll just have to design my own!

The colors in the yarn, as they were in the fiber, are definitely on the muted side, but now that I've seen that this method works, I'll definitely be trying it again with brighter colors. I think it would be really interesting to do a combo spin with two much more colorful and vibrant braids!

I decided to throw something a bit quicker on the wheel next to cleanse my palate, so I got out some merino/angora that I won in as a prize from a KAL through Lisa's podcast earlier this summer. There were two bundles of fiber (2 oz. each) in the package, so a two ply was an obvious option. I wasn't wild about the colors in fiber form, but they are blending really nicely in the singles.

I've never spun an angora blend before, and it was a bit tricky at first, but now I'm getting the hang of it. I do have to clean myself off with a lint roller after I finish each spinning session, though -- this stuff sheds like nobody's business! From the plybacks I've been doing with the singles, it looks like the finished yarn will probably be in the sport to DK range, and I'll likely beat the skein up a bit when I finish it to encourage a halo.

If the yarn/singles pictures look a bit better than my recent photos, it's because they were taken on my brand-new camera! My trusty Nikon DSLR bit the dust a couple of months ago, and while the Mister attempted to fix it (it was an issue with the shutter, we think), he was unsuccessful. I'd had the camera for probably nearly a decade by that point, though, so he decided to get me a new one for our 10th anniversary, which we celebrated yesterday. I still have to learn how to use most of its bells and whistles, but I seem to have managed okay to take a few decent pictures for the blog -- and it certainly does a better job than my camera phone!