Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tell me True

First there was fishing.

(Munch didn't get a hook on the end of his pole - no way no how! - instead he got a rubber worm {he calls it his "wormy"} which delighted him to no end.)

A friend from daycare came along to make the afternoon more enjoyable.

Then this weekend, before the 3+ hour graduation ceremony that I was required to attend for work, there was fiber dyeing. I tried the oven-roasting method this time around.

After everything dried, there was handpainted roving.

There was a peony. Big. Beautiful. Spicy smelling in the most delicious way. (Peonies are my favorite flower.)

'Hive' was finished and left as a single - 410 yards.

A scarf was started with the Hive singles. However, sadly, this scarf will soon be frogged, as the yarn & the pattern Are. Not. Working.

I am grieving over this, but I will survive.

Why will I survive, you ask? Hello Yarn rovings arrived in the mail yesterday.

'Honeybear' - 8 ounces in merino/mohair.

'How to Pick Carrots' - 8 ounces in Wenseydale.

Wenseydale is some HAIRY fiber, lemmie' tell you. It drafts about as easily as puffing a down feather through the air - the speed with which it slides apart is almost frightening - but this stuff? As hairy as Cousin It after a ride in a convertible!

I spun some up last night. Actually, that's not true - I spun up almost 4 full ounces last night. I'll spin the rest tonight and Thursday night and then will ply them together and thrill with the results.

My question to all of the spinners out there - look at the scarf that I started and see how just flat-out horrid it looks. Do you always get such pronounced striping when you knit up handspun? Is there anything I can do to prevent my knitting from striping so badly - some trick in the spinning or drafting or plying to make it less pronounced? Or is it just me and my spinning newness that is causing this? You can be honest with me - I can take it - I'm a big girl when it comes to my knitting and spinning.

I'm not a big striping fan - in fact I might end up dyeing and spinning up a whole new bundle of fiber to cast on again for the Ribbon Lace Scarf - as I really can just 'see' that scarf knitted up in a beautiful subtly-mottled yellow & gold handspun. Just not the stripy handspun that I've currently knitted it with...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To everything - turn, turn, turn

Lately, I just can't get enough of my spinning wheel. I'm doing some knitting here and there, but man - the spinning? It's just recharging my batteries in such a way that I find it's about all I want to do in the evenings - so much so that I actually first contemplated then mourned the fact that our bathroom was too small for me to bring up my (admittedly compact) wheel so that I could get in just a few more minutes while I supervised the Munch in the tub.

(And don't anyone even *say* the words 'drop spindle' to me - they are evil & are never to defile my house again!) With apologies out there to everyone who loves their drop spindles more than their Addis. I know - I know - it's my issue, and my failing - but I'm going to keep blaming the equipment as long as I possibly can.

Last night while my two men slumbered the sleep of the just (and the totally exhausted) I watched a classic 80s movie and spun up the second half of my latest - and last - Hello Yarn fiber club offering.

Hello Yarn's April Fiber Club - 'Hive' 100% Falkland wool.

I'm very excited about this, as I actually have a plan for it. I'm going to take some of the undyed rovings that I [ahem] ordered from H.Y. yesterday and do a kettle dye of either a very pale yellow or else a very pale (bright) brownish orange and then hopefully spin that up as semi-finely as I did this. Then the two will be plied together into a more or less thick fingering weight and I'll knit the latest Veronik Avery offering - the Lace Ribbon Scarf from the resultant handspun. I'm absolutely tickled with the idea - so ducks, if there are any glaring problems with this little ol' plan of mine, send them my way nicely and softly, so that my bubble bursts slowly, 'kay?

Oh. My. Trouble.

I just went to Hello Yarn's shop to link to the two rovings above that I bought and, uh, Adrian appears to have snuck in a wee fiber update *just* as I was clicking in to get the appropriate links. And I appear to have bought 8 ounces of this and 8 ounces of that. Oh dearie me. How on earth did that happen?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? (n.b. 8 ounces of Wenseydale & 8 ounces of 70/30 merino/mohair. Oh. Oh oh oh oh oh. YES!)

{ahem} Moving right along, people. Nothing to see here. Move along, now.

So anyway, back to my handspun that I've been working on lately. I'll start off with the picture(s) of shame first - my butchering of the February Hello Yarn Fiber Club offering - 'Insect Wings'.

U. G. H.

Overspun. Overplied. Gnarly as all hell. Rescued in terms of touch only because I followed the advice of an article in Spin Out and beat the living hell out of this skein. I dropped it in just-boiled soapy water (!) and then pounded it with a pestle. Then I lifted it into a sink of cold water, squeezed it, and then dropped it back in the hot pot and pounded it again. Once more into the icy sink, and then spun out in the washer. Then whacked repeatedly against the floor, then hung to dry. It's obviously a bit felted now (hah!) but it is MUCH softer, and while it is still overspun and overplied, it is at least nicer to touch now, and should be better to knit into something. Now, let's just put that behind us and call it a (painful) learning experience, shall we?

Banish it from your thoughts, all.

Better. BETTER!!! Balanced. Squishy. Much more even. Happiness in yarn form!

A fat, happy skein of yarn.

Hello Yarn's March Fiber Club offering. 'Red Velvet'. I cannot remember the exact fiber, but it was lovely to spin up. BFL? Merino? I cannot remember. Shame on me and my horrid note-taking! This was majorly fun to spin up. Loads of fun to ply. The difference? I slowed waaaaay down in my overall spinning, pre-drafted until I was happy with the result, and tried a different hand position for the actual spinning/draft triangle action itself. I also decided that I'd rather be a slow, decent spinner rather than a fast, crappy spinner. I decided to embrace my learning curve, as it is, rather than try and deny it and shoot right on past all of the (obvious) learning that I need to do to ultimately be the kind of spinner that I'd like to be.

A final shot of the good & the bad. (No ugly. I don't & won't take pictures of those skeins!)

The two next to each other for a rough visual comparison. One fat and happy, the other twisted and miserable. Maybe the one on the right needs a little therapy to become more mellow and relaxed - hmmmmmmmm??? (if only it were that easy to fix a skein of arsed-up handspun!)

This is the result of some older singles that were on a bobbin and just hanging around the house - I spun up an equal amount on Monday and then plied two strands together until I ran out on one bobbin - then practiced doing a triple ply. I think the skein is halfway decent only because the first bobbin's worth was so old that the majority of my bad (over)spinning was calmed down due to the long resting time. Another lesson to be learned! I've left the bulk of this roving to be spun later, when I have a better sense of what I want to do with it. It's PRETTY, and spins wonderfully - a beautifl blend of merino & tencel that I bought off of FatCatKnits via Etsy several months back.

And lastly, just because I can (tee-hee!) a picture of what I was looking at and who I was talking to when I was taking all of the other above pictures:

Kim. Staking Baptisia australis. Standing next to a species of allium that is nearly as tall as the Munchkin. Ducks, there is not a single thing that this woman cannot make grow and grow and grow!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy my little guy a kiddie fishing pole & make a picnic for the two of us to eat next to the lake tonight as a surprise treat while Daddy is away for the evening playing volleyball.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

second verse, same as the first

This morning, I made Nigella's Chocolate Mint cookies for my MIL while the Munch happily wore his Penguin sweater & played with his cars. I drank coffee & ate a muffin.

Not too shabby.

Sunday Update:

* Still no May Day Socks.

* Still no progress on the Chuck's. (I tried - really I did, but after knitting a round and then taking a closer look at it only to realize that I had arsed it up and had to tink back the W.H.O.L.E. R.O.U.N.D. I decided to quit. Plus my needles aren't pointy enough to make the cabling overly-easy. ) After that last upset, I'm thinking that the Chuck's might marinate for a bit - alone - in a ziploc bag - in the dark - until I decide what exactly would be best to do with them.

* I've started the second pattern repeat on my Twisted Flower socks. Still loving the yarn & adoring my new KnitPicks 'Harmony' needles - the pointy little tips are exactly what I need for these yo's and ssk's. Isn't it lovely when a project comes together like this? I just adore how such a lovely serendipitous lining up of events totally makes the project fly by, and the entire thing a joy from beginning to end.

* I'm currently 5 repeats done on the Primavera socks. As I'm making these for a sized 13-foot recipient, I'm tempted (as always) to limit the length of the leg so that I have enough yarn left over for the foot itself. For those of you who are wondering a size 13 man's foot is approximately 11.5" long. So that means that I'd need to knit the foot 10" long before decreasing for the toe. That is a HECK of a lot of knitting - especially considering that I was going to make the leg only 5" long and to do so it looks like I'll use approximately 2/3 of a skein of KnitPicks Risata. I might go for broke, though, and make the leg a full 7" long and see how much it uses - and if I need to buy an extra skein to make the pair, I'll simply buy an extra skein (ahem - or two). After all, it's not like I'm worried about dyelots matching, and it's not like the Risata costs a fortune per skein. And after all, doesn't a man who fetched me coffee and muffins this morning (when he loathes the smell of coffee) deserve a sock with a 7" long leg?

Blurry. This is because I had a good shot of the sock - a non-blurry shot - and unfortunately I accidentally deleted it. Yet when I looked in the Recycle Bin it 'tis empty of non-blurry Primavera sock shots. Don't ask, as I don't have an answer.

I'm still quite blurry around the edges myself from this virus (I woke up this morning feeling like a Charles Dickens character, so much was I hacking up diseased lung bits) so I'm taking off from work tomorrow to simply rest and nap and try and get some energy back. I was feeling better Friday, but I have a sneaking suspicion that working yesterday & today took off that tiny bit of new lustre.

I shall spin and knit tomorrow, and rest up and restore my energy levels. Should be good times - I mean, I'm certainly looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

4 hours of work on a Saturday... a very boring thing.

Thank goodness there is [always] knitting to bring along!

3 pairs of socks (altho' I have to be honest & admit that the Chuck's Cabled pair didn't see any action today) kept me busy while I watched a handful of students freak themselves out over final exams & overdue papers.

First up - Chuck's Cabled Socks (by Eunny) - inspired by Mel:

Taken *with* a flash - no idea why this is so dark. The grey is actually correct in this picture.

Taken without a flash (at work, while bored) - the grey looks minty green.
The not-doing-it-for-me colours are even worse in this shot!

Blah. These socks are not working for me. No inspiration to keep knitting, despite the fact that I like the yarn(s) and I like cables. But I'm determined to keep on trying until I get to the 'colourwork' at the heel and then make up my mind on what I should ultimately do.

Second up to Bat: Primavera Socks via

Cast-on at 3 PM in KnitPicks Risata. My goal is to complete the ribbing (all 15 rounds of it) before falling asleep tonight.

Last up - Twisted Flower Socks (by Cookie A) in MamaBlue's Sea Merino sock yarn:

(her 'beekeeper' colourway)

These are fun. I love love love the yarn, and so far like the pattern, even though it's not at all intuitive and I frequently have to check the chart and can all-too-easily loose my place. But still. I'm contemplating ordering some Wooly Nylon to work in when I knit the heel, as this yarn & this pattern are both too precious to lose after only a few wearings.

And now, time for me to brag & do a little dance of joy!

I didn't screw it up royally! I didn't screw it up royally!!!!!!

Right smack off the niddy-noddy. Notice the overall lack of super-coiling and twisting? That is truly amazing for such an otherwise newbie & therefore over-spinning crap spinner like myself! I'm THRILLED with this!

Another, because I just couldn't help myself at that point. The yarn has since been soaked, spun, and dried. and is so soft and plush and squishy that I'm just giddy with delight. I brought it to work with me and have frequently - over the past four hours - pulled it out and petted it.

And certainly not least - a little snack item that I can't recommend highly enough (even if it is currently too-high in calories and overall fat grams, and therefore needs a bit of tweaking before I start serving it up on the weekly basis that I'd like to have it feature in at my house...)

A Friend To Knit With's un-named strawberry cake/cookie thing. Mine is actually a strawberry/raspberry/blackberry cake/cookie thing.

More to the point, mine is actually now a single slice hanging out by itself in the fridge.

(....I'll be back tomorrow with another fun-filled post - as I've a second four-hour shift to work on what will most certainly be a deadly-boring Sunday afternoon!)

Friday, May 09, 2008


My brain is too tired to think. Far far too tired to do actual real work. Too tired, even, to knit.

It started last week at work - things are CRAZY here at the moment with the semester ending (pack 6,000 insanely stressed students on a small campus and then run them one by one *screeching* through the library as they try and finish up all of their last-minute assignments) and evaluations were due last week, too. So stressed & freaking students - and stressed & freaking co-workers. Add in a tired & cranky 3-year old and a husband who eyes me askance as I suck down spoonfuls of almond butter straight from the jar all the while saying "No! I'm fine! Really! Fine! Just need a tiny shot of protein! That's all!" and you've got last week in a nutshell.

I did go to Sheep and Wool. I went to bed around 12:30 AM, bracing myself for the alarm to go off at 5:30 (up at 5:30, leave the house at 6:30, catch the bus at 7:30 and ride the bus up to S&W) - only to have the Munch wake up at 3 AM with a low grade fever and a nasty attitude. At first I decided that the trip & the festival was off - despite spending $100 on bus tickets for the two of us - but at 6:15 AM when he was perky and wired and showed no signs of flagging I figured 'screw it' and with fifteen minutes before I was scheduled to leave ran to the shower while Peggers got the Munch dressed, packed my three (!) bags, lunch, and knitting needs and threw everything into the car. We left at 6:35 AM and caught the 7:30 LYS bus with mere seconds to spare. The Munch finally fell asleep at 1 PM that afternoon right in the middle of the big vendor hall, just as I was buying three beautiful braided rovings from Cloverhill Farms.

100% merino. Their 'Autumn' colourway.

50/50 Merino/tussah. TUSSAH.
I can't remember the official colourway, I just remember snatching it up happily...

After we returned from Sheep and Wool I fell down hard with an icky, exhausting virus that has lasted - thankfully - only three days or so at its worst. While I still have headaches and a few tender joints, the painful throbbing aches of my knees, neck, hips, and spine are now passed - and the debilitating exhaustion has given way to just general mild fatigue. In this time I have knitted a grand total of 2 rounds on my Twisted Flower socks, and managed to screw up one of the cable crossings. I'm going to live with it. Instead I have been spinning - and spinning happily. While my skein of 'Insect Wings' from the Hello Yarn fiber club is overspun and overplied, it is still not thoroughly horrid. I's knittable. It was fun, and it was most certainly a start.

My current work-in-progress - my March bundle of 'Red Velvet' from the Hello Yarn fiber club is going better - it is soft on the bobbin even though it's spun very fine, and when I let it loop back on itself the resultant plied yarn is soft and squishy and pleases me greatly. I also wised up and split the fiber as soon as I pulled it out of the bag - half bundled with a bobbin and kept safely to the side while I started on my first bump on it's own separate bobbin - so that I can ply my two strands each from their own bobbins and not instead from both ends of a center-pull ball. (The center pull ball was what I was forced to try and ply from when I plied the ill-fated 'Insect Wings'. I got far too excited to start spinning and never actually thought through what I was doing - and that whole twisted nonsense of an experience is responsible for a great deal of the over-plied-ness of the final resultant skein.) I have only one last final strip of roving to spin before I get to ply them together tonight - going slowly, taking my time, and keeping things nice and easy and soft.

It has been breaking my heart to not do a good job with these rovings - I totally arsed up a lovely braid of roving that I got from Gryphon (see above pic) - the Insect Wings is (like I said) okay, but not fantastic, and the Red Velvet? Well, far too early to know. Luckily the Red Velvet is the least favorite so far of my Hello Yarn shipments - the colours really aren't very "me" - and so it at least only cracks my heart instead of truly breaking it. I'm getting better, though, and I know that the only way I can ever get better is to just keep diving on in and spinning the good stuff (because why learn with crap? Honestly! Life is just too short!) and learning from my mistakes.

I have high hopes for the 'Red Velvet' in terms of technique and improvement - I found a totally new way (for me) to hold the fiber and to draft, and it's made a nice difference in how even my singles are, and in my overall drafting speed in comparison to my treadling - and after that I'm going to dive right into the last Hello Yarn Fiber Club shipment (April - 'Hive' - a colourway that is totally up my alley!) and see what I can do with that. Once I'm done with the H.Y. shipments then I'll step back and assess and evaluate and ponder for a bit - and after that I'll start in with my Sheep & Wool purchases.

(No no no no - not these - I got these at S&W, but they're 'just' sock yarn.
Trekking & Koigu sock yarn, that is.....)

Why all this spinning, you ask? I have found while in the midst of this viral-induced exhaustion that knitting lately just takes far too much brain power. I only have one project currently underway that doesn't require me to either document carefully what I'm doing for pattern posterity's sake, or else to consult a chart every stitch/row. And that single project - Chuck's Cabled Socks - just is not doing it for me lately. I'm not going to frog them - I'm one cable crossing away from starting the heel work, and I'm going to wait and see if their appeal greatly increases once I have the heel stitching next to the cables - so they're not in danger of dying a froggy death anytime soon - at least, not without getting your feedback first. But I'm most certainly not feeling the love. And in the thirty or so minutes that I have to myself every night after I put the Munch to bed and before I pass out myself, I don't want to work on something that doesn't make me feel pleased - if not downright happy. So spinning it is.

On the other side of the knitting front, my May Day Sock Swap socks were happily received by my sock partner - Anita! Anita is very very cool - she lives out in Seattle with hubby & a whole armful of the most beautiful quits I've ever seen. She likes the socks, and they fit - so a win-win as far as I'm concerned! I still haven't received my own socks in the mail, but I have faith that they'll show up fairly soon - my sock swap partner left some very sweet comments to me on the blog, so I know she - and the socks -are safely out there, and that soon a pair of knitted-for-me socks will be headed my way!

I'm starting to fade - my energy levels are just stunningly low at the moment - so I'll leave you with a few photos that I took on Saturday at Sheep & Wool. Have a great weekend everyone - I work both Saturday and Sunday, so it won't be the best weekend for me ever, but it'll certainly be a LOT more restful than last Saturday!!!!!!!!
1. Clean legs, dirty sheep, 2. Munch feeding angora goats, 3. a S&W fairy princess, waiting to get her funnel cake, 4. crowds, 5. the dude in front of me to buy gyros, 6. a killer spinning wheel, 7. sheep, 8. Casey from Ravelry!, 9. Munch and more of those angora goats, 10. a pair of cute sheep , 11. angora goats, 12. this guy kept peeking at us!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A Brief Transgression

...but I'm always true to you, darling, in my fashion,

yes I'm always true to you, darling, in my way... (Cole Porter)

Dear G - -

It is true. I have been unfaithful. I tried to be true - promised you, even! - but alas the siren call of a second project was simply too strong for me, and in the end I was merely a weak-at-the-cast-on-edge knitter.

I tried, truly I did.

I fought it. I fought long. I fought hard.

I figured that if I queued it on Ravelry, then maybe I would be safe. I figured that if I simply wound the yarn up into a yarn cake and then tucked it, safely, back into my yarn armoire that the simple act would satisfy my craving and satiate my urges.

But alas, it was not so. The pull was too strong - and so with nary a gasp, in truth with only a faint sigh, I slipped into someone else's fibery pull and was briefly lost to you.

I have, however, emerged out the other side in almost record time. Relatively unscathed. A little of my shiny new varnish is gone - true - now I look a bit more worn, a bit more 'used', a girl who knows her way around the knitting block, so to speak. I have learned the error of my ways, and after spending many a day and night sad and repentant have vowed to never, ever let it happen again. {ahem}

So I am back on track now - the body of the silk chemise will be finished by the time you and I meet up this Saturday at Sheep & Wool - now granted, the back piece might not be blocked, but it will be finished. And really - isn't the absolute & final fact that I'll be finished with the body of the tank by Saturday more important than the fact that I briefly, luxuriously, wantonly strayed for a few mere hours?

(But oh my ducks, it was Oh. So. Fun. while it lasted. Thank goodness there are no photos to document my disgrace, it was over & done with so quickly! Details to follow eventually, but in the meantime, ssssssshhhhhh!!!!!! Zipped lips, people, zipped lips!)