Sunday, December 31, 2017

Feeding the Stash

It's another Sunday, and also the last day of the year, so despite the fact that I have no actual spinning to share, I couldn't let the day go by without a post -- at least a quick one!

In the week before we left for vacation, I received two packages with fiber. One was a braid of BFL from Fibernymph Dye Works that I won as a prize:

This colorway is called Victorian Roses.

The other package was my last shipment from FatCatKnits; Ginny has decided to close her business and gave us a chance to place one last order before she shut down her Web site. I ordered three braids, all superwash Targhee:


No Doubt


I am planning on spinning all three braids into sock yarn because I loved my first pair of handspun superwash Targhee so much that I want more.


I'm not doing an end-of-year/year-in-review-type post, but I didn't want New Year's Eve to go by without stopping to say thank you to all of you who read this blog. There was a time not so long ago that I was considering shutting it down, but you all convinced me to keep it going, and I'm glad I did. It's been a great way to be part of the online fiber community and to keep a record of my crafting. I hope that 2018 brings many good things to you!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Adjusting Expectations

Before this vacation, when I was planning what knitting to bring, I really thought I'd be super productive and burn through all the yarn I'd brought. It turns out that I'm easily distracted, primarily by this:

It doesn't look like much, but that's the start of a 2,000-piece jigsaw puzzle that we started a few days ago. I'll sit down at it, thinking I'll work on it for a few minutes, and an hour later I'm still at it. It's fun, but it's not something I can do while knitting, obviously.

Today we spent a good part of the day in the car, driving to and from the east coast of Florida to visit relatives. That meant more than four hours in the car -- prime knitting time. I took my socks and managed to finish the first one and get a good start on the leg of the second.

Sorry for the dimly lit photo; we went directly out to dinner when we got back to this side of the state, so of course it was completely dark when we got home. In any case, these are moving right along, and fingers are crossed I'll be able to complete them by the end of the weekend.

Meanwhile, the baby sweater has a little more on it since you saw it last. I have just a handful of rounds left in the green on the body before I start the ribbing at the bottom, and my goal is to try to finish that this evening.

Once again, the color is totally off

I think the sleeves on this will fly off the needles once I get the body done, so I'm not too concerned about finishing this in time to qualify for the Gift-a-long, but it would be great to get both projects done -- not to mention that I have yarn for other projects that I could be knitting next weekend!

One other distraction has been reading. I typically get a lot of reading for pleasure done during this vacation, in part because when I read in bed before going to sleep (my normal reading time), I can actually stay up a lot later than I can normally. I was about halfway through The Glass Castle when we arrived and I finished it pretty soon thereafter. It was a good read in terms of the writing quality, but it was also a heartbreaking read. Now I'm on to The Lake House, which my mother was finishing up as I was finishing up my book (one of the great benefits of vacationing with my parents is that I have a free source of good books!). I am thoroughly enjoying it, even though I'm not very far into it just yet. If only I could read it and knit at the same time!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

It Is Tuesday, Right?

There's one thing I'll say for vacation at this time of year: I am very relaxed, but that means that I often forget what day it is and have to check to keep track. I very nearly forgot this post!

The other nice thing about vacation is that I do get a lot more knitting done. I'll admit I haven't gotten as much done as I'd like (I've been a bit distracted by books and a 2,000-piece puzzle we got out yesterday), but I am determined to finish up at least two current WIPs by the end of the month.

The most pressing (and also the most far along) is a sweater that's a baby gift for my best friend, who just had her third son earlier this month. I would have had something already on the needles were it not for the fact that I completely forgot she was already due, so I'm knitting up an impossibly cute sweater in a size 3-6 months. They live in Colorado, so I figure the baby can get some use out of it even if he'll outgrow it pretty quickly -- and then it can clothe a teddy bear or something.

The pattern is Whippersnapper, a new pattern by my friend Triona Murphy. She designed it to use a set of gradient mini skeins for the stripes, but I didn't have any time to yarn shop and decided to make do with what I could find in the stash. The green is a skein of Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Pond Tonal (which seems to have been discontinued since I bought it) and the blue is some leftover Dale Garn Baby Ull that I bought probably a decade ago. I have one more stripe of green to do on the body (plus the ribbing at the bottom) and then the sleeves, which I think will go quite quickly.

I'm also working on another sample for my Intrecciate Socks pattern for when I get the rights back and can republish in my Ravelry store. I wasn't entirely thrilled with the yarn I was given for the sample for the magazine, as a singles yarn doesn't have the crisp stitch definition that I normally like for cables, so I decided to reknit them in a multiply semisolid yarn. I've had two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in my stash for ages and ages (so long that it was from back when you had to buy two skeins to knit a pair of socks), and they seemed perfectly suited. I cast on before we got on the plane, and I've just finished the gusset on the first sock.

On Thursday, we're planning to drive over to the east coast of Florida to visit some family, which means close to five hours in the car round trip, and these will be coming with me.

Meanwhile, we went to the movies yesterday, and I didn't think either of these projects would be suitable for knitting in the dark, so I had to cast on a new project. I brought two skeins of Felici with me to make Rainbow a new pair anyway, and she has decided she'd like another pair of Vanilla Is the New Black. That worked perfectly for movie theater knitting -- it's just a ribbed cuff and stockinette until I get to the heel.

I haven't measured this, but I think it's around three inches, so nearly half the leg done. I won't be touching these until the other projects are done, but I don't think Rainbow's in any hurry for them at the moment anyway, given that I don't think she's worn socks since the first day we arrived.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Almost But Not Quite

It feels a bit weird to be posting a spinning post while I'm on vacation thousands of miles away from all my spinning stuff, but it is Sunday (right? I'm having a hard time keeping track), and on Sundays, we talk spinning on this blog.

I did manage to finish up my giant skein of Fibernymph Dye Works fiber minis before we left, though I'm not entirely pleased with it. Here's what it looked like fresh off the wheel:

I could tell right away that it was likely underplied for my taste, but without much time left before we left, there was little I could do. So I plopped it into the tub for its soak, let it drip dry for a couple of hours, and then left it on the radiator overnight. Here's what it looked like the morning we left (please excuse the poor photo -- we were up and off to the airport before the sun rose):

While it poofed up nicely in the wash, there's just not enough plying twist for my taste, so when we get back, I'll be running it back through the wheel to add a bit more. That said, I am pleased with the combination of all the minis and I'm looking forward to knitting up this crazy skein! 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Decisions Made

It's now the evening before we're due to leave for our trip, and I'm happy to say that I made up my mind about what to take with me.

The last-minute add-on is the bright Gale's Art sock blank you see on the left; that was one of my Rhinebeck acquisitions, and I've been itching to use it. I'm also taking two skeins of Knit Picks Felici that will become another pair of socks for Rainbow (the pink/purple/yellow skeins at the top), the green Knit Picks Stroll Tonal and the blue Baby Ull will become a Whippersnapper that is a baby gift, the two skeins of gray Lorna's Laces on the right will become a new sample pair of my Intrecciate Socks, and the gray and pale blue in the middle are Fibernymph Dye Works Traveler for a new design. I'm fairly confident this will be enough and that I won't get through it all, but just in case I do, I've discovered a yarn store that's about 20 minutes away from where we'll be staying, so I can always make an emergency trip if I need to.

Meanwhile, I finished my socks with the new heel last night. Rainbow helped me out with a little photo shoot today, and the draft of the pattern is all written up, so I'll be putting the pattern together this weekend and sending it off to my tech editor for after Christmas.

For those of you wondering about the shawl, I'm happy to tell you that it looks like it will be finished tonight. As of this moment, I have six rows and a bind off left to do. Ideally, I'd like to finish in time to block it tonight as well, but I'm not sure that will happen. Blocking can always wait until we get back, anyway. The important thing is finishing!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I'm Almost Out of Time

It was a busy weekend here, busier than I expected, so I am not as far along on my shawl as I had hoped to be -- and that means I'll be knitting on it every moment I can until it's done or we leave for our trip, whichever comes first. Technically, I could always take it on the trip with me, but as close as I am to finishing, I'd rather not take the extra weight only to finish it the first day I'm away. The good news is that I have made it to the border and the final chart, and just 20 rows and a bind off lie between me and a finished project. I will be working on it the next two evenings and also as much as I need to during the day on Thursday; it's the last day of work at my office, but Rainbow has a half day for her last day of school, so I'm taking the day off. The complication is that I also want to finish plying up the handspun skein that's currently in progress and have time for it to be washed and dried so I can snap a picture before we leave.

The other WIP on my needles is my Felici socks, and I feel pretty confident that those will get done. I'm on the foot of the second sock, so that means I don't need to pay much attention and can knit mindlessly on them whenever I want, including in the dark while I'm waiting for Rainbow to fall asleep.

I'm still debating exactly how much yarn to take with me on vacation. I know there are a couple of projects that need to get done (a baby gift is at the top of the list) and I can likely knock out a pair of socks or two, but there's always that fear that I'll run out of projects before I run out of vacation. There's always reading to do, but I despise sitting with nothing to do with my hands, so it may be a case where I toss in an extra skein of sock yarn at the last minute. I suppose that if worse comes to worst, I can find a Michaels and pick up some kitchen cotton to knit some dishcloths! But I'll make a final decision and show you what I'm taking the next time I post.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Massive Skein Ahead

WARNING: This post contains spoilers! If you have the Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown fiber minis set and don't want to see colors that are ahead, read no further!

I had high hopes for my spinning this weekend. I was really hoping to finish spinning all of my fiber minis singles and then ply everything, but the last couple of days turned out to be busier than I anticipated (case in point: I am typing this after 8 p.m. on Sunday, eating a late dinner because Rainbow and I went to see The Nutcracker late this afternoon and didn't get home until nearly 7). The good news is that I did finish the first part of the goal, even though I had to stay up a little late on Friday night to get the last singles done. Here they are, on two bobbins because they would not fit all on one standard bobbin:

The Lendrum bobbin on top has the last five minis, I believe, and I did end up getting all of those singles plied and get a brief start on the singles on the Akerworks bobbin yesterday evening before I had to stop so we could get to a party on time. Here's what my plying looks like so far:

I'm plying on the miniSpinner because I knew there was no way I would be able to fit the full skein on a Lendrum bobbin; I've been weighing each mini as I opened it, and when I added up the total weight, I found I had 190 grams -- that's 6.7 ounces -- of fiber spun. I'm sure it will poof up significantly once I wash it to set the twist, but right now it's plying up a fairly consistent fingering weight. Come hell or high water, this skein will be finished before we leave for our vacation!

Meanwhile, my latest shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club showed up this week, after sitting in New York for several days (I guess it was sightseeing?). This is Caravaggio on Corriedale, which should make some lovely socks.

I'm still trying to decide if I should take a spindle and some fiber on vacation; on the one hand, it's harder to do outside in the humidity, but on the other, there is air conditioning, and having only one project would help me to focus and maybe help use up some fiber stash. Why is it that the craft packing is always the hardest packing?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

It'll Be a Nail-biter

I have a feeling I'll be knitting like a crazy person to finish my shawl before we go away. It's partially my own fault, as I've been spending about half of my nightly crafting time working on spinning up what's left of my holiday minis, but I think I really need to buckle down and focus if I want to finish this in the next week. I'm now just five or six rows away from finishing the final repeat of the main lace chart and then there are two more to go.

The colors here are, again, a bit darker than in real life thanks to limited light. I was hoping for a little more natural light this morning because we got snow last night, but it's so hard this time of year. In any case, you can see that it's getting a bit big more the needles, so things are moving in the right direction. Here's a little preview of what this stitch pattern will look like when it's blocked (though I'll be stretching it quite a bit more):

In the meantime, remember the socks I was knitting for myself? Somehow I'm already halfway done with them. The first sock is done but for grafting the toe (somehow I didn't have needles in my project bag) and the second has been cast on.

I got such a response to this heel on Instagram that I've already written up a draft of the pattern. I'll be reviewing it while I knit up the second sock and then getting it to my tech editor. I wasn't planning on doing much design work this month, but sometimes I guess it creeps up on you!

Tomorrow, if you can believe it, is Rainbow's eighth birthday. We are planning a fairly low-key celebration with family tomorrow evening (she had her kids birthday party last weekend), and then we are going to see The Nutcracker downtown on Sunday afternoon. We've also got another holiday party to go to on Saturday night, and I'm scheduled to podcast with Anna Saturday morning, so it looks to be another busy weekend. But we're down to single digits in the number of days before we leave for our vacation, and I can't wait! Just need to figure out what knitting to pack.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

One Deadline Met

Good news -- I finished Rainbow's socks before the start of Chanukkah (actually, with a few days to spare)!

Pattern: Vanilla Is the New Black by Anneh Fletcher
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici (75% superwash merino, 25% nylon) in Hopscotch
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets
Started/Completed: November 24/December 9

These were an easy, straightforward knit, and they would have been done a lot faster if I didn't have to knit them in secret. I'm anxious to see how they fit Rainbow's feet. I know she'll be thrilled with them, but we've been trying out different heel styles and seeing what she likes best.

I've been intrigued by this pattern for a while and could see pretty much how the heel was constructed, but rather than trying to wing it I thought it was worth it to give Anneh the money she deserves for figuring it out and writing it up. It is a clever heel and one that's not very hard to execute. I will likely make myself a pair at some point, if only in the name of science -- I'm really interested in how the heel wears over time without any sort of reinforcement.

Now that these are done, I have one last project on the needles that I'd like to finish up before we leave for Florida next week. That's my Flower Market Shawl, which has been seeing some action the past few days but probably not as much as it needs. If you'll forgive this horribly lit photo (it's snowing here today, which means there is zero light outside), here's where things stand at the moment.

I'm almost done with the seventh of eight total repeats of the main body chart, and if you look closely, you can see that I've just gotten into the start of the transition from gray to blue. Here's a better shot (with colors that are a bit more accurate):

As is usual with lace, this looks like utter crap just sitting on the needles, but trust me when I say it looks really nice stretched out.

The shawl (and its charts) are a bit much to take to work for my lunchtime knitting, so I've got another pair of socks on the go. This is another pair in Felici (colorway Hawaiian Shirt) that's for me, and I'm trying out a new heel method. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen the first attempt yesterday that did not turn out as I hoped. I ripped back to the start of the heel turn and redid it, and I'm liking this version much better.

I've taken some rough notes of what I did that I'll be fleshing out a bit and testing with the second sock. It would be nice to finish these up before our trip as well so that I could take some new projects with us; to be honest, it seems more likely that I'll finish the socks by next Friday than the shawl, but I'll keep plugging away at both.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

And Another Skein Done

When I bought all the fiber and started spinning for my Boxy sweater, I had some crazy notion that I'd get all the yarn spun before we left for our winter vacation and that I'd start knitting while we were away. Needless to say, that's not going to happen. I did, however, finish up the second skein this weekend.

This is 4 oz. of the darker blue, color, Bay, and I ended up with approximately 267 yards of three-ply heavy fingering. I'm now glad that I bought three extra braids of fiber to spin because I know I wouldn't have had enough with what I originally bought. I can't tell if it's because the yarn does poof up a bit (meaning the length of the skein shrinks) or if it's just a characteristic of the fibers that gives me lower yardage, but I fully understand that I won't get huge yardage in these skeins. That said, I am very pleased with the quality of the yarn.

I've also been spinning my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown mini bundles of fiber and am hoping to have those singles finished up early this week. If you are spinning these and are going along with the date and don't want to be spoiled, look away!

I ran out of light long before I finished spinning this afternoon, so there are even more singles on the bobbin now -- it's actually almost full! I have five bundles left to spin, and I'm likely going to spin them onto a new bobbin. I'm planning to ply all the singles into one skein, though, probably on my miniSpinner. Ideally, that will happen by next weekend, so if you're interested to see just how crazy this skein of yarn is going to be, check back next Sunday!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Counting Down

There has been much knitting the past several days, and projects are finally starting to wind down. All the same, I also feel like I am running out of time.

First, the finished -- my Plummy Mitts are complete!

Pattern: Plummy Mitts by Katy H. Carroll, size small
Yarn: handspun Targhee
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: November 25/December 3

I made these exactly as the pattern called for, with zero modifications. And they are a perfect fit. After blocking them earlier in the week (in the hope that the yarn would bloom a bit, because the yarn used for the second mitt was a bit thinner than that used for the first mitt), I brought them into work yesterday and have been making good use of them when the office air conditioning kicks on (yes, even when it's freezing outside -- our HVAC system makes no sense). They are incredibly squishy and cozy, and I kind of want to wear them all the time. I still have a bit more than half of the yarn leftover, so I need to figure out what to do with it. Unfortunately it's not enough to make the matching cowl, but maybe I'll make another pair of mitts for home or something.

Meanwhile, I am in the home stretch on Rainbow's Vanilla Is the New Black socks, with just the foot of the second sock left to knit. I'm very confident that I can finish these up this weekend and have them ready for the first night of Chanukkah, if I decide to give them to her then.

The one project that's causing me a bit of concern is my Flower Market Shawl, which is moving but slowly. That's really my own fault -- I just haven't been working on it as much. I'm through five of the eight repeats of the main body chart at this point, and I'd really like to have this finished up before we leave for our trip, so I'll be focusing on it more in the next two weeks to try to make that happen.

I've also got another pair of socks on the needles, cast on pretty much because I needed something to work on while putting Rainbow to bed (which means nothing with a pattern or that requires actually being able to see my knitting), and obviously I couldn't knit her socks in front of here. These are another pair in Knit Picks Felici, in the colorway Hawaiian Shirt. They're just a plain stockinette, but I'm planning to try out an idea for a new heel with them.

The weekend ahead is looking to be pretty busy, with a couple of birthday parties for Rainbow (one of which is hers) and a holiday party for us adults as well as podcast recording time. I'm still hoping to get in a few hours of crafting, though, and hope that by next week I'll have some noticeable progress to show you!

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Pattern Release: Elodia Socks

2017 is rapidly winding down, and I've got one last pattern release for the year. I decided to go back to what really got me crazy about knitting in the first place: socks. I've knit so many socks by now that I no longer need a pattern to knit a basic sock, but sometimes something more exciting is called for. And when I was browsing images of stitch patterns and motifs, this leaf-like design caught my eye. I swatched a bit, added some additional texture, and came up with the new pattern I'm debuting today, the Elodia Socks.

These socks are knit from the cuff down and use a traditional heel flap and gusset. The twisted rib pattern of the cuff transitions into the faux-cable and lace stitch pattern that runs down the leg and onto the instep. The back of the sock is worked in simple stockinette, giving you a bit of a break from the stitch pattern on the front and speeding up the time to knit the socks. The foot is finished with a wide toe that is grafted.

This sample was worked in a lovely tonal yarn, Knit Picks Hawthorne Tonal Hand Paint, a lovely 80% superwash wool/20% nylon blend with a high twist. I used one skein of the colorway Ashland, and I just love the subtle variegation in tone the knit fabric that really gives dimension to the color.

These socks are graded to three adult sizes -- to fit a foot circumference of 8 (9, 10) in./20.5 (23, 25.5) cm -- and have both written and charted instructions for the stitch pattern. I'm also offering the pattern at 20% off for the first week of publication (until 11:59 p.m. EST on Monday, December 11) with the code SOCKHOP.

I expect you'll be seeing these socks again, as Rainbow has already asked me to knit her a pair!

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Cheating on My Knitting

Despite the fact that I have knitting projects on the needles that have a deadline, what did I spend most of my free time doing this weekend? That's right -- spinning. Honestly, I have no regrets.

First, I finished up the singles for my skein of HipStrings Buoy in Bay:

The third bobbin needs to rest a bit before I ply, so I continued to work on my Fibernymph fiber samples. I'm in the middle of bundle number 12, so nearly halfway done.

These colors are very different from each other, but it's definitely a fun spin. And it's so easy to sit down and spin a few grams of fiber; it gives me a great sense of satisfaction to finish up a handful of fluff! I'm going to continue to try to spin a bundle every day or so, if I can find the time. I don't think it'll all fit on this bobbin, but I'm planning to ply everything into one skein. I can't wait to see it finished!