Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pattern Rerelease: Durango Socks

I'm happy to let you know that as of today, you can now buy my Durango Socks pattern in my Ravelry store. These socks originally appeared in Knitscene Handmade, which was published more than a year ago now, and I very nearly forgot I had the rights back because I actually wrote the pattern and knit up the sample closer to two years ago (time flies!).

These socks use a fairly traditional cuff-down construction -- ribbed cuff, heel flap and gusset, wide toe -- with the addition of a traveling twisted stitch pattern down the front of the sock. That stitch pattern is both written and charted.

The pattern has been graded to three average adult sizes and is easily adapted if you want to change the length of the leg or foot (just add or subtract pattern repeats). I've put it through my tech editor, too, even though it was edited for print in the magazine, just to make sure everything is good.

You'll need approximately 100 g of fingering weight sock yarn (or more, if you have very wide and/or very long feet). The yarn used for the sample is Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn, a 75% superwash wool/25% nylon blend that, despite its name, is a fairly hardworking yarn. It's on the thicker side of fingering, I found, and knit up to a dense fabric on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Any fingering weight yarn that knits up at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch will work well for this pattern -- a solid or semisolid is an obvious color choice, but think of how cool these socks would look in a speckled yarn or even a self-striping! Or handspun! Hmm, might have to knit myself another pair of these just to try out these ideas.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Always a Little Bit of Magic

Of all the finishing tools available to a knitter, blocking might be the most magical. Even years after my first experience of the magic that is blocking a piece of lace, I'm still completely amazed by how some water and pins can completely transform a piece of knitting.

Take, for instance, the handspun shawl design that finally came off my needles last week. I spent part of my day off on Friday giving it a fairly aggressive block, stretching it in all directions and securing it with a plethora of pins and blocking wires. It was beautiful even on the floor on top of some old towels, and I couldn't wait to get up on Saturday morning and unpin it. (There really is no better feeling than pulling out the pins and wires and having the knitting stay in exactly the same place, is there?)

The shawl is, in a word, enormous. It is wider than my wingspan, which I never would have guessed just looking at it on the needles. Even freshly bound off, it didn't seem so large, but garter stitch will stretch quite a bit, and I took full advantage of that fact. I really couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out, and that applies to the design as well as the finished size. It really did turn out as I saw it in my head, if not better. I will get some proper pictures later in the week, but for now I have to rely on my "junior photographer" to snap some shots.

I have some Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering all wound up and ready to be cast on for another version of this shawl (I want to check a couple of numbers, but I also feel it's important to give a commercial yarn in the pattern in addition to my handspun version). I have a feeling the second iteration will go a bit faster than the first, especially considering that I won't be designing as I knit this time around -- not to mention that I am anxious to get the pattern done and out into the world!

The second shawl would have been cast on already were it not for the fact that I seem to be addicted to knitting dishcloths. I finished another Chinese Waves on Sunday night and promptly cast on a third, which is already more than halfway done.

The second one was done in a colorway called Sunrise Ombre, and I quite like it. The current cloth (not pictured) is in a very patriotic red, white, and blue colorway. I have a feeling there will be more after it's done, too, particularly as I just stocked up on kitchen cotton and it's so easy and so satisfying to go through the relatively small skeins. I was very proud of myself for using just about every last inch of yarn on the second one -- I ended up with about two inches on each of the two tails at the end. I did encounter a knot in the middle of that skein and doubled up on the yarn for about 10 stitches or so, and frankly I don't think you can tell where it was unless you look really closely. I've found that it takes me maybe 3-4 hours of knitting to finish one of these (I knit a bit slower with cotton than with wool, as it's a bit hard on my hands), so theoretically if I keep one on the needles all the time, I should have a good stack of them done in a couple of weeks. At the moment I don't have a huge need for dishcloths (I primarily use them to wipe up splashes on the counters after I do the dishes, so they don't get dirty or worn out very quickly), but it's always good to have a stack on hand.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Long Ply

The long weekend is drawing to a close, and I'm enjoying the last few hours of leisure time before it's back to the regular crazy schedule at work tomorrow. I've spent much of the weekend at my wheel, and by the time I went to bed yesterday, all the singles of my Fibernymph Dye Works Falkland had been spun.

The multicolor singles in the top bobbin were spun pretty much entirely Friday and Saturday. The colorway is called Shetland Jellyfish -- appropriate given that for much of the time that I spent spinning them, I was watching Shetland on Netflix. I've now watched all the episodes that are available and started plying, which I think is likely to take quite a while.

What's surprised me as I've been plying is that the colors in the multicolor braid -- which appeared so vibrant as I was spinning them -- are so toned down by the semisolid single. There are even some places where both singles look almost the same color. I think the finished skein is going to be a lot more even in tone that what you'd expect from something designed to barberpole, and I quite like it. I've got a total of 6 oz. of singles to ply, so I expect it's going to take several sessions at the wheel over the course of the week. With any luck, I'll have some finished beauty shots and final specs to share with you next Sunday.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'm Ready for the Bind-off Party

My main knitting focus this week has been my handspun shawl, and I've been working toward the goal of getting it finished before the weekend. When I put it down last night, I decided it was big enough, so tonight I'll be knitting one more row and then binding off -- and finally getting a sense of its size (preblocking, anyway). I will weave in all the ends and be ready to block tomorrow.

I'm really excited for this project to be done, even though I'm planning to cast on a second shawl in commercial yarn almost right away to double-check my numbers. It feels like this particular project has been on the needles for a really long time, and to be honest I've felt a little guilty about neglecting it the past couple of months. It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to knit the second shawl, assuming I can continue to knit it uninterrupted until it's done!

The only other project on my needles at present is my Impressionist Spring socks, which are about 75% complete (I just finished the gusset decreases on the second sock). These will be done in short order.

I think that thus far I've totally neglected to mention that I'm hosting a stranded colorwork knitalong in my Ravelry group (though if you follow me on social media or are signed up for my newsletter, you already know about it). All of my stranded colorwork patterns are eligible, and they're all currently on sale for 20% off with the code COLORWORK until 11:59 p.m. Eastern tonight. I hope you'll join us!

Tomorrow, I am taking the day off from work (I had a use-it-or-lose-it day I needed to take), and I plan on spending it relaxing. If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take a long walk in the morning and then spend time with my knitting and at my spinning wheel. The Mister and I are going to a fancy schmancy black tie event in the evening, so I won't have a ton of time, but it will be nice to sleep in a bit and not have to be in the office for the day. Whatever you have planned for your weekend, I hope it includes some fiber time!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small Victories

After finishing so much in May, I feel a bit like I've been a knitting slacker this month. Thus far, all that's been finished has been small things, like this sock:

I am nearly halfway done with the second sock of the pair as well and hope to have both wrapped up by the end of the week.

Last night I also finished a dishcloth, which is something that's small enough that it hardly merits a real FO post.

This is the Chinese Waves Dishcloth in Lily Sugar'n Cream Ombres in Moondance. I used a size 6 (4.0 mm) needle and cast on 51 stitches, and I ended up using all but a few inches of the entire skein of yarn (I'll admit I did an extra-long weaving in of the end after I bound off to use up as much of the tail as I could). I didn't have time to start it last night, but I already pulled out another ball of kitchen cotton to start another one -- ideally, I'd like to get a stack of these knit up before SSK, as they count toward an SSK knitalong because the designer is a teacher this year.

The other project that's still on the needles (though I hope not for long) is the handspun shawl. It had been seeing a lot of attention during the Stanley Cup Finals, as long rows of garter stitch proved to be perfect for nervous hockey watching, but now that the season is over, I'm anxious to get it wrapped up. I only have a handful of rows left to work before I'm ready to bind off, and I have to say that I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. Here's a peek at it (though once again it's hard to get the full effect when it's all bunched up on the needles):

It will be fun to bind this off and block it if only to get a sense for how large it actually is. To be perfectly honest, I've been kind of designing this as I go, so I really haven't planned for it to be a particular size -- it is what it is. Given that my stitch count is approaching 500, I imagine that it's going to be pretty sizable -- and that's rather impressive considering that I'll have yarn leftover!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Shades of Sand

This past week, I've been working on spinning up the first half of the singles for the first shipment of the Fibernymph Dye Works Barberpole Fiber Club. I started with the semisolid of the pair, figuring that it would be the less exciting of the two colors to spin. What surprised me is that it had much more depth to the color than first appeared, with tones of white and even pink appearing. I spent several hours on it yesterday so that I could finish the bobbin.

This is three ounces of singles, and now I have three ounces of the multicolored fiber left to spin. With any luck, I'll be able to do that this week.

The BFL skein I finished last week has been washed and dried, and I have its final yardage. It ended up being about 366 yards, less than I hoped for but not surprising -- I always seem to get lower yardage with BFL compared to other breeds. It and the Corriedale skein from two weeks ago are now up in the shop, if you're interested.

I'm posting this early because it's hot and sunny today, and temperatures are supposed to be pushing 90, so we're headed to the pool for the rest of the day. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Pattern Rerelease: Kerameia Cowl

I know I've talked about this design relatively recently, but I'm bringing it up again today because it's now available for everyone to purchase after previously being available only as part of a kit. My Kerameia Cowl is a quick, fun stranded colorwork cowl worked in two colors of DK or light worsted yarn with an ancient Greek pottery-inspired design.

This pattern was originally available as a kit through Fibernymph Dye Works using two exclusive colorways that Lisa of FDW created for the pattern. While those colorways have since sold out, I will mention that Lisa has some semisolids currently in her shop and is always happy to dye custom orders (and her DK-weight Bona Fide base is a delight to work with, too). If you'd rather work from your stash, no problem! The pattern uses about 205 yards total, and any two DK or light worsted weight yarns will work.

I'm also using this pattern rerelease to launch a colorwork knitalong in my Ravelry group! All of my stranded colorwork patterns will be eligible for the KAL, with prizes and an initial discount offered. I'll be sending out special editions of my e-mail newsletter with some tips and tricks to help you be successful in your stranded knitting, and we'll do a lot of chatting in the group about matching yarn to project, how to hold the yarn, finishing, and so forth. If you're not yet subscribed to my newsletter, you can sign up here. I myself am going to be knitting up two more Kerameia Cowls with the leftovers from the original samples (and the colors reversed). I hope you'll join us!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

A Little Bit of Everything

After finishing all the deadline projects in May, I felt a little scattered with regard to starting new projects -- something about being free from obligations made me want to cast on about a dozen new things. But I restrained myself, mainly because there is a design project that's been patiently waiting for my attention again. I have pulled that shawl out and worked on it a bit in the last week, and I'm officially past the part where I really have to pay attention.

Unfortunately, it's really hard to show a crescent shawl when it's still on the needles, particularly when it gets wide enough that it's longer than the length of the circular. I've now got a bunch of rows to do in cream and then I'll pick up the blue again for the border. The rows are quite long now, but I'm also excited about this pattern again, so I have a feeling this shawl won't take me too much longer. Once this one is off the needles, I have some commercial yarn to knit another sample for the pattern, so I'm anxious to get it moving.

I'm also working on this month's pair of socks, which I started on June 1; I'm already through the gusset decreases on the first sock, and I'm just loving this colorway.

It's impossible to tell in this photo (and I blame the old point-and-shoot camera I'm using until I replace the good camera), but there are sparkles in this sock. I certainly don't feel the need for sparkles in my yarn, but it never hurts when they're there.

To curb the urge to cast on a bunch of new things, I cast on just one, and I made it a quick project. I started a dishcloth.

The pattern is Chinese Waves, which I knit years ago and am enjoying again this time around. This one will count toward the SSK knitalong (as well as Stash Dash), and as this skein of kitchen cotton was the last one I could find in my stash, I stocked up again at Michaels when Rainbow and I had a day of fun last Friday (she finished school with a short ceremony that morning, so we took the rest of the day to shop and relax). This pattern is very easy and I had it memorized after less than one repeat, so it should be a good one to knit several times to add to the stock of dishcloths in the house.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Twisty and Fluffy

Spinning has happened this week. So has plying. First, there's the yarn I plied last week, which you saw before it had its bath. I'm happy to report that it was very well behaved and well balanced after finishing, and I wound up with a bit more than 440 yards -- excellent yardage in my book.

Today I finished plying up the Fibernymph Dye Works BFL that I started a couple of weeks ago (shortly after finishing the singles for the yarn above). Just like last week, I don't have final yardage for this skein, as it's still drying from its bath. But here's how it looked freshly skeined:

It looks all nice and well behaved here, but to give you a sense of the plying twist, here's what the skein looks like when it's removed from tension:

Some of that excess twist does diminish in the wash, as some of the spinning twist is reawakened when it gets wet and the snapping of the skein I do after washing evens out the twist, but there's likely to be a little bit more plying twist left in the skein even after it's dry, and frankly I'm not too bothered by that. This skein is intended to be used as sock yarn, and a little bit of extra twist is good for long-term durability. I'm pretty sure this skein will be going into the shop, but I'm going to wait until it's dry to see if I'm able to part with it.

In the meantime, as I've been catching up with spinning, there has been quite an influx of fiber into the house in the past week. First, my first shipment of the Fibernymph Dye Works Barberpole Fiber Club arrived. Lisa designed this three-month club to play up the barberpoling effect of handspun, so each shipment consists of one semisolid and one multicolor braid of fiber (three ounces of each). The first club is already (just barely) on my wheel:

Sand (left) and Shetland Jellyfish (right)
I'm spinning this as another two-ply fingering(ish) weight, one ply of each color.

I also received a big pillow of fiber from Australia this week in the form of the clearance fiber I ordered from David at Southern Cross Fibre. I enjoyed spinning the club shipment of Charollais so much that I ordered another bag of it in this beautiful deep purple colorway called Hollyhock -- even prettier out of the bag, but I didn't want the fiber to explode until I was ready to spin it.

I'm hoping this will be enough for a lightweight sweater, and I might spin it for the Tour de Fleece.

Speaking of the Tour, as if all this fiber weren't enough, I also received an order I placed from FatCatKnits for two of the TdF exclusive colorways:


Dame Godel
These are both on Rambouillet and will be a delight to spin, I'm sure. It's going to be hard to wait until the start of the Tour before I dig in to these goodies!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

An Abundance of Sock Mojo

There must be something in the water lately, because I am all about the socks and have been knitting them up at a rate that I haven't done for many years. First, there's the pair that I was trying to squeeze in during the last part of May --  and I actually succeeded.

Pattern: my standard plain vanilla sock recipe, worked over 70 stitches
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Squoosh 2.0 (75% Corriedale, 25% nylon) in Bring Me Orchids, one skein
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) 40 in. Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: May 19/May 30

These socks served to fulfill two knitalongs, the Yarngasm podcast Box 'o Sox KAL and the May challenge for the 90% Knitting A Year in the Life KAL. They also used another skein of sock yarn from my stash, so that's an added bonus. I think the stripes match up pretty well, though if you look really closely there's a difference of a couple of rounds right when the gusset decreases start (I doubt anyone but me will really notice that, though). This was my first time using this base from Lisa, and I really liked it. It's a little more robust than her other fingering bases, so the socks actually knit up a bit faster because I got about 11 rounds per inch rather than my usual 12 or 13. My one complaint is that I found the yarn to be a little splitty in the sense that I'd often snag a couple of fibers/loops from a strand, but that may be more due to the sharp needles I was using than an actual fault of the yarn.

Once these were off the needles, I turned my attention to a repair job. These socks might look familiar because I actually knit them last year. I stupidly shoved the socks into one of the bags I keep on the floor next to my bed and forgot about them, and when I dug them out again, I found that some wool-munching critter had chewed right through the toe of one of them.

I figured that rather than patching the hole by darning it, I'd probably get longer use of the socks if I just hacked off the toe and knit a new one. So that's just what I did, and luckily I still had a mini skein of the leftover yarn handy. While the repair job might seem straightforward, it was actually a bit more complicated than you might think because these socks were knit toe up and the replacement toe would be knit in the opposite direction. Fortunately I had the foresight to note on my Ravelry project page how many stitches I cast on with, so it was just a matter of unraveling enough to get workable stitches back on the needles, knitting a few rounds, and then decreasing for the toe.

I decided to use this opportunity to try a clasped weft join on these, and I have to say that I rather like the appearance. I worried that it would look too thick, but it seems to be blending in pretty well. Of course, the real test will be when I put the socks on and see if I can feel the area of the join (though I did the join on the instep of the sock for just this purpose).

Now that it's a new month (seriously, how is it already June?!), I needed a new sock on the needles, so I wound up the most recent skein I purchased from Lisa at FDW and started another pair of plain vanilla socks.

This is Lisa's Bedazzled base (superwash merino/nylon with a touch of sparkle) in a beautiful colorway called Impressionist Spring. I'm normally not one to go for the sparkly stuff in sock yarn, but I was lusting after this colorway and it was the last skein left in the shop, so I went for it. As it happens, it's perfect for the three-month KAL that starts today in the FDW Ravelry group.

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off from work to hang out with Rainbow, who will officially be done with first grade (yes, really) after a short ceremony in the morning. We have plans to do a little shopping and have lunch out but will likely spend at least part of the afternoon at home relaxing given that the weather forecast is not looking great. I have already promised her that we can go to the craft store, as she's recently been introduced to plastic canvas needlepoint in her after-school program and wants to get some supplies, and I'm hoping to get some materials to make stitch markers for a swap at SSK. I love that I can now look forward to regular crafting time with my girl!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

With Time to Spare

I genuinely thought I might be getting myself in over my head when I set myself some pretty lofty knitting goals for this month, but it's looking more and more like I'll actually finish them. For starters, the gift for Rainbow's teacher is done and blocked!

Pattern: Sitka Spruce by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios (100% superwash merino) in Water Green, approximately 1.23 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started/Completed: May 4/May 28
Mods: did my left twists a bit differently than the directions

These were a fun, quick knit. My only complaint is that they seemed to come out a bit small, despite the fact that I did the beret version of the hat and the largest size of the mittens. I'll grant you that I did not swatch, because I know that I usually get the called-for gauge on size 7 needles with worsted weight yarn, so it's possible that there was a gauge issue, but going up in needle size definitely would have given me inadequate mitten fabric, so I relied on the characteristic of superwash wool to stretch when wet and gave the set a moderately aggressive blocking. I think if I were to knit the hat again, I would add an additional repeat of the pattern to add length. I think it'll be a jaunty hat as is, but it's not quite long enough to pull down over one's ears.

My only modification (if you can actually qualify it as that) is to change the execution of my left twists. The pattern calls for doing them by knitting into the back of the second stitch on the needle and then knitting the first stitch through the back loop; I knit through the first stitch normally, as I thought it would look odd to have some stitches twisted and some not, but I can see that twisting those stitches might result in a tidier twist. There is most definitely a difference in appearance between my right and left twists, so it's something I might try if I knit the set again. Actually, there's a good chance of that happening, as I think the yarn I have remaining is probably enough to knit a pair of mittens for Rainbow.

While I didn't have any issues with the pattern per se, I'm fairly certain I found a small typo in the pattern, and I'll be getting in touch with the Tin Can Knits folks about it. I also was not too fond of the way the thumb gusset was dealt with when it came time to put the thumb stitches on waste yarn; no stitches are cast on above the gusset for the hand, and instead the pattern instructs you to pick up three stitches in the small gap when you start the thumb and then decrease two of them right away. In the future, I might use an existing hand stitch for the base of the thumb gusset and then cast one on when I put the thumb stitches on waste yarn.

If you've been keeping track, the completion of this set marks the official end of the to-do list for the month, though I'm still hoping to finish up a pair of socks by the end of tomorrow. I don't think that's going to be a problem, as I've got most of the second sock already finished and will be working on it this evening. Apparently setting lofty goals can occasionally be a good thing!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I Made Time for Space

My normal weekly routine is that I spend Friday nights spinning and watching some video podcasts, usually Wool 'n Spinning, Snappy Stitches, and whatever else I have to catch up on. I was really looking forward to it this week, but my body decided to fail me and I felt too ill to do anything but lie in bed under several layers and watch TV until late into the night (I suspect it was just the stress of the past week catching up with me). I did feel a bit cheated out of my regular spinning time, so I've spent extra hours at my wheel this weekend to make up for it, and I'm happy to report that my Southern Cross Corriedale in Space is done!

At present, it's hanging in the upstairs shower, drying from its spa treatment, but here it is freshly skeined up. I love the subtlety in the colors -- I think it'll make some really excellent socks. And I'm pretty sure I'll get some good yardage out of this skein; even if it shrinks 6 inches after washing, I should still have a bit more than 400 yards. I think it'll be an excellent way to start off my Stash Dash spinning! I'll report back once the skein is fully dry.

I have continued to spin the Fibernymph Dye Works BFL that you saw a glimpse of last week (though I neglected to get a photo of it while it was still light out), and I'm hoping I can find some time to work on it tomorrow and finish up the first bobbin. After all the knitting I've been doing this month -- some of which still needs to be finished up, I might add -- it has felt so wonderful to spend time at the wheel again, and I'm eager to continue it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Ready, Set, Dash

It's been quite a busy week, and I am very much looking forward to the long holiday weekend ahead. The weather forecast is not promising (lots of rain), giving me the perfect excuse to spend the days knitting, spinning, reading, and perhaps napping. Tomorrow also marks the start of the KnitGirllls' annual Stash Dash event, and I'll be doing my best to work my way through my yarn and fiber stash.

As far as my WIPs go, I am moving right along on my goals for the month. Last night I finished up the first Sitka Spruce mitten and started the second. The first mitten knit up very quickly, so I have no doubt the pair will be finished this weekend.

I've also managed to finish a sock, so there's a chance I'll still have a finished pair by the end of the month. I know I'll get some good knitting time in on Saturday afternoon, when we're going to see a Cirque du Soleil show.

Also on tap this weekend will be some plying and spinning. I've got a big list of things that I'm hoping to get done this summer, but I'll save that for when my brain isn't quite so fried. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm on Fire

When I started out this month with some pretty lofty goals, I had every intention of meeting them, but secretly I had my doubts. After all, I have a full-time job and a kid and a husband who travels for work, so my crafting time is the first thing to go when there are other priorities for my time. Because of that I'm pretty darn impressed with myself for how well things are going.

In addition to finishing up my sweater last week, I also completed the secret pattern sample (and blocked it, so it will be ready to be mailed off to the publication this weekend). I also finished up the Sitka Spruce hat for Rainbow's teacher on Sunday evening, and last night I cast on for the first of the mittens.

As if all that wasn't enough, I've decided to try to knit a pair of socks by the end of the month, too, in order to qualify for a knitalong (and keep me on track for the Box 'o Socks knitalong). So far, it's going very well:

This is Fibernymph Dye Works Squoosh 2.0, a superwash Corriedale/nylon blend, in Bring Me Orchids. It's a bit heftier than Lisa's other fingering weight yarns, so it's actually knitting up a bit faster -- the sock you see here was started on Friday, and I really only worked on it on Friday, a bit on Sunday night, and the past two days during my lunch break. Considering we have a long weekend coming up, I'm feeling pretty good about my chances of finishing these.

I've already got the next pair of socks lined up thanks to the purchase and arrival of this sparkly skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bedazzled in a colorway I've been lusting over called Impressionist Spring.

Also inside the package containing this skein was a skein of bulky weight for Rainbow that Lisa included. It made the kid's day!

The only bad knitting related thing that's happened in the past several days is that my beloved DSLR seems to be dead. There was an issue with the shutter mechanism, and my dear husband took it apart and tried to fix it, but now it only works intermittently. It would likely cost as much to have it fixed as to buy a new camera, and given that the camera is older than Rainbow, a new one is probably the route I'll go. Thank goodness for camera phones -- they do the job in a pinch!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Playing Catch-up

I can tell just how much spinning I haven't been doing by how many episodes of the video podcasts I watch are waiting for me to watch them. This weekend, with the major knitting projects off the needles and time to focus on my spinning, I think I had easily half a dozen episodes to watch. Fortunately, I had the time to finally catch up. My main goal for the weekend was to finish the Southern Cross Fibre Corriedale singles that I started at the beginning of the month. That goal was achieved just a short time ago.

The fiber at the very end was all dark gray/black, but if you look closely, you can see little pops of blue and golden brown underneath. I'll be chain plying these later in the week (I figured I might as well wait a few days so that I can count the finished yarn for Stash Dash, which kicks off on Friday).

In the meantime, because I still had half of my last episode to watch when I finished the singles, I started spinning the Fibernymph Dye Works BFL I won as a prize in a knitalong in the 90% Knitting Ravelry group. This will be a two-ply yarn, perhaps fingering, but I'll wait and see once I ply.

Here's a look at the fiber:

It's drafting beautifully, and I think it will spin up very quickly.

It felt so good to spend time at my wheel after largely ignoring it for the past few weeks. I hope to continue giving it regular attention this week!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

We Have Feathers

My Quill is done, officially, but I blocked it last night and it's still rather damp (in fact, I just tossed it into the dryer for a bit to try to speed things along), so you'll have to settle for preblocked pictures.

Pattern: Quill by Evie Scott
Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza (100% superwash merino) in Indigo Bunting, a little less than three skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm) ChiaoGoo Red Lace circulars
Started/Completed: February 25/May 16
Mods: none

This is an excellent pattern -- extremely well written, easy to follow, and resulting in a very well-fitting sweater. The sweater is worked in one piece from the bottom up to the underarms, then split for the back and fronts. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind off and then stitches are picked up around the armscye and short-row shaping is used to shape the sleeve cap. Finally, stitches are picked up along the fronts and the neck for the super squishy collar, which also has short-row shaping around the neck.

The other special feature of this sweater that you can't really see in this photo is pockets on the front, which are created in a very clever way. Waste yarn is knit in when you knit the body and then later removed for an afterthought pocket. I've never done pockets in a sweater before, but these were so easy that it's likely I'll do them again!

While this wasn't exactly a fast knit (it would have been faster if I'd been monogamous), I wouldn't hesitate to knit it again. Based on the FOs posted in the knitalong thread in Evie's group, it looks good on everyone. I know it would look great on both my mother and my sister-in-law, so perhaps someone will get a very special present one of these days.

I'm planning another sweater knit -- this one appropriate for the summer -- but first I've got to finish off the design sample. My goal is to finish that up tonight so I can focus on the last of the knitting obligation, the teacher knits. And there will most definitely be some spinning this weekend -- I've really got to make up for lost time!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Have a Sweater-shaped Object

Some folks on the Ravelry spinning boards have been known to refer to some antique store and estate sale spinning wheel find as "SWSOs," or spinning wheel-shaped objects -- in other words, something that looks like a spinning wheel but doesn't actually function. Well, today I have a sweater-shaped object on my hands. It looks like a sweater, but it's not quite done and thus not quite functional.

I finally finished the collar of my Quill sweater on Sunday afternoon. I won't lie: It took an inordinate amount of time to knit. It's five inches wide along the sides, which translated to 60 rows of knitting -- and that's after the short row shaping around the neck. Each row took me about 10 minutes to knit, so you can get the idea of just how long it took. That said, it was entirely worth it. As the designer put it, it feels like a big hug. I have a feeling this sweater will become my favorite once cold weather arrives again in the fall.

All that's left between me and a finished sweater is the final pocket, which I only had time to start yesterday (the first pocket was completed on Sunday evening). The pocket construction is really quite clever. You place waste yarn for the pocket placement as you're knitting the body, then remove it to uncover live stitches. The stitches on the top are worked to create a long flap, which is then joined to the bottom stitches with a three-needle bind off. Finally, you seam the sides of the pocket flap together to close it up. So easy but so brilliant, am I right?

This is the first time I've added pockets to a hand-knit sweater, and I must say that I rather like them. In hindsight, I might have made the pockets a bit wider so they'd better accommodate the width of my hand, but then again a smaller pocket will also prevent me from trying to put too much in it and keep me from stretching it out.

In addition to having the benefit of a new sweater, it'll be done before the end of the knitalong and it looks like it will use up most of the yarn, so a win for the stash as well. I'll have just three small balls of leftovers plus my swatches remaining, so really only enough to use as a stripe or two in a charity hat or as waste yarn for another project.

My pattern sample is at about the 75% mark, so that should be finished up in the next couple of days, leaving only the hat and mittens for Rainbow's teacher left to be completed. I have no concerns about getting those done, and I might even try to squeeze in a pair of socks by the end of the month (just some plain stockinette self-striping, nothing fancy, which I can do in the dark while putting Rainbow to bed, among other places). It looks like putting the pressure on has paid off this time around!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Swear There's More

It's been another week of mostly knitting and ignoring my spinning (and thankfully that has actually paid off, as I predict you'll see in my next post), but I did squeeze in about an hour at the wheel on Friday night and yesterday afternoon, so there's just a bit more on the bobbin than there was a week ago.

Please forgive the blurry photo. Some disaster has befallen my DSLR, rendering it unusable at the moment, so I'm relying on my phone camera at the moment, and that requires my hands to be still, which almost never happens. Still, I think you can see that the color changes are really subtle, and I think this yarn should knit up in a really interesting way. I'm in the middle of my third (of four) little bundle of fiber, and I expect that I'll be able to devote some additional crafting time to this spinning project this week.

We got a special treat today on our way home from a Mother's Day brunch today. We stopped over at the Steel City Fiber Collective, where we got to pet a week-old lamb from the Ross Farm:

He was so little and so soft! Amy and Scooter Pie were there to talk about their farm, where they raise heritage and rare breed sheep. This little guy was one of the most recent additions, and it was such a nice addition to the day to get to meet him.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And Miles to Knit Before I Sleep

My apologies to Robert Frost, whose poetry I've corrupted for the title of this post, but I do feel like I have miles and miles of garter stitch to knit. I have been diligently working on my Quill collar every evening, and progress seems to be minuscule. When I put it away last night (following the successful completion of the Penguins game), I had 14 completed garter ridges. According to my calculations, I need a total of 30 garter ridges to get to the requisite 5 inches of collar. That means I have 32 rows left to knit, and at this point each row is taking me at least 10 minutes. Eight rows a night has been a good night for me thus far, so I figure I have at least four more nights of solid knitting before the collar is finished. Assuming I can squeeze in some extra time this weekend, I can probably shorten that.

When I have not been slogging through all the garter stitch, I have been working on my commission sample, and while I can't tell you much about it, I can tell you that it's more than 50% done now. I am hopeful that it will be completely finished in another week.

The weekend ahead is looking moderately busy, but the only really solid plans we have are to head to my brother- and sister-in-law's house for Mother's Day brunch on Sunday. I am planning on using the rest of the day for me time, which I think it only appropriate. I have quite a few things to catch up on waiting for me on the DVR and obviously a lot of knitting to do.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I'm Knitting as Much (and as Fast) as I Can!

The second week of May has arrived, and I am moving right along on my projects. I almost feel like I need a giant progress chart to track all of them and to keep me from getting too stressed out, because it seems like there is too much knitting and not enough time.

That said, some progress has been made. For starters, I finished up the baby gift for Rainbow's teacher, save adding the ribbons to the ears, which will be done as soon as the hat is fully dry from its blocking.

Note: Photo taken prior to blocking

Pattern: Bunny Tail from Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% superwash merino) in Carnation, less than one skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)
Started/Completed: May 1/May 3
Mods: none

What you can't see in the photo is the tiny pompom on the back. I elected to attach it just below the base of the ears so that it won't form an uncomfortable lump on the back of the head for the baby. I'll be finishing this off by sewing on some bows made of pink grosgrain ribbon.

Meanwhile, the gifts for Rainbow's other teacher (her main classroom teacher, who is retiring at the end of the year) are well under way and seem like they will be a fast enough knit that I've kind of put them aside for the time being -- they just need to be done prior to her last day of school, June 2, so I figure I don't need to panic about them until closer to the end of the month. Here's the start of the hat from the Sitka Spruce set by Tin Can Knits.

The pattern involves lots of twisted stitches, which are very easy to do once you get the hang of them. I have had a few instances where I've had to tink back, but that's mainly due to my own inattention. Every other round of the hat is knit, so I only really have to focus for half of my knitting time on this project. The mittens will likely be even faster, as they're smaller and have patterning on only the back of the hand.

You'll notice that I'm working from a hand-wound ball rather than a cake, and that's because this particular skein appeared to have been wound by drunken monkeys and just would not work on my swift. I estimate I spent between 30 and 45 minutes winding it by hand; at the time, I felt like it was wasting valuable knitting time, but on the other hand, it did save me a lot of frustration from trying to get it to work on my swift. I haven't touched the second skein yet, but I certainly hope it's more well behaved.

At some point yesterday I realized that the ending date for the Quill knitalong was quickly approaching, so I really needed to work on mine if I wanted to finish in time. I am on the collar, the very long rows of garter stitch, and I managed to get eight total rows done last night, I think. I've got to knit a total of five inches of garter at the collar (measured toward the bottom edge, as there's short-row shaping around the neck) -- that's the same amount I worked at the bottom of the body, and that took about 30 garter ridges (or 60 rows total) to achieve, so there's still quite a bit of work left to do.

This will be my evening knitting project for the foreseeable future, and it's the primary reason why I've put the teacher gifts on hold for the time being. The knitting at this point is so mindless that I can do it while doing other things, and frankly I feel it's been on the needles for long enough.

The other good news is that my sample is nearing the halfway point, so I should be able to cross it off my to-do list by the end of the month as I'd hoped. The not-so-good news is that it looks like my spinning time will be very limited this month -- but I'm sure I can make up for that this summer when Tour de Fleece time rolls around again!