Thursday, November 29, 2007

I actually **have** been knitting!

I have, I have, I have!

And I have proof!

Two pairs of fingerless gloves (Fetchings, for those of you who wonder) made with some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

Yarn purchased by T, gloves knitted for T and her younger sister. I also received from T as thanks for the glove knitting a $10 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. I quickly and greedily spent my gift cashola on this. We're eating meals from my new purchase every single night this entire week. YUM. Tonight is either N. burgers & N. fries or else her recipe for chicken breasts with bacon and white wine served alongside gnocchi. Double-yum.

This is the beginning of my new take on the Green-Tea Raglan.

(Remember what a saggy, stretchy miserable nightmare that was?) This is knitted in some greygreen alpaca that is nicely soft. I had originally bought the alpaca for a different sweater (the cable-down raglan from S. Japel) , however given alpaca's drape/weight/reluctance to work with cabled patterns, I have decided to switch it from that to this one instead. I'm going to modify the neckline considerably into a combo deep v-neck that flares into a boatneck style. Stay tuned for progress reports/shots.

This is some 'Venezuela' Traveller yarn that I bought from Gryphon when Kim and I were up several weekends ago for the spin-in.

It had been intended for a hat for a co-worker of mine, but was deemed to feminine a colourway (my husband was the single vote on that one, in case you were wondering) and that was all the encouragement I needed. Now it's on it's way to be a hat for ME ME ME ME! My co-worker will get a hat in a darker green/more unified colourway after the holidays have passed us by. In a move that I like to think of as minor genius, I'm knitting the hat as a huge version of the sock that I'm designing for Gryphon. I've been struggling with the transition between ribbing and leg pattern - made even more difficult by tiny yarn and tiny needles - so upping the entire process to nice fat needles and nicely fatter yarn has made my quandaries flash right on by - and now things are just zooming along at a perfect speed. When I'm finished with the hat I'll be adding on a knitted i-cord border for extra stability. And because I've never done that before and this seems a perfectly manageable project for trying it. As things are starting to chill down here, a nice squooshy hat couldn't come along at a better time.

In the interest of keeping my sock design a surprise a wee bit longer, I'm only showing you the inside of the hat/sock so that you can ignore the design bits while still luxuriating in the beautiful colours that Gryphon managed on this one. Sorry it's so dark - I took the pictures in the evening, which was the only time I was able to lay hand to camera. Of course these days 'evening' means anytime after 4 PM........

Last but not least, I'm leaving you with the package that our turkey arrived in this year. We decided to try a local restaurant's deep fried version - having heard such rave reviews about the deliciousness of said preparation - but not wanting to risk burning our house down by trying it ourselves. We agreed that the turkey was okay - about the same as what we could make at home ourselves - only we could roast a traditional style turkey in the oven for about $35 less. I only realized how the tin was labeled after I went to put all of the leftovers away. I love it. Love it love it love it. My little neck of the woods can sometimes be such a FUN place to live.

Examples of this - primarily through pictures of the cemetery that is across the street from me - to come soon.

p.s. for some reason when I went to adjust my primary 'frame' where my text and pictures are displayed to a wider version than what I previously had, I somehow bumped all of my side-bars that you can usually read on the right of the page to waaaaaaay down at the bottom of everything. I'm attempting - slowly but surely - to fix this. But it will probably take quite a bit of time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Weekend Discussed This Weekend

Last Saturday Kim and I kicked off our pre-holiday weekend starting with a Little Gingerbread Endeavor.

(And for those of you who are wondering, the answer is yes, red wine does in fact make gingerbread-house construction that much easier & more enjoyable.)

The gingerbread house (complete with a string of mini Christmas lights stuffed in the back to make the butterscotch-candy-pane windows glow becomingly) will reside in the library for the next few weeks.

Sunday we went to Gryphon's house for a spin-in. It was - in a word - glorious. Not only did we walk away with a lovely amount of fiberish booty from Gryphon's in-house shop, but I also walked away with a borrowed wheel for the next few weeks.



(An Ashford Traveller double-treadle, for anyone who is wondering.)

Using this lovely little beauty I finished spinning both the dark purple & pale purple superwash bundles that I bought from Jessie a few weeks back. I was so excited by my progress that I went ahead and plied them together last night with amateurish yet exciting results for yours truly - and the resultant lovely huge skein is currently lightly weighted and drying in the kitchen. I will show you probably far far too many pictures of it when it is dry.

Dark purple superwash singles in all their wee loveliness.

It might not sound it, but I have in fact been knitting in addition to all of this spinning and gingerbreading - - and once I get the camera back in action and pictures taken, all of my recent FO's and two newly-cast-on WIP's will be shamelessly paraded in front of everyone.

Shamelessly. :)

Friday, November 16, 2007

A little regrouping down time

I love my job. Sometimes though, I love even more the fact that I get to take vacation from my job.

Like next week.

I looked at the calendar and realized that I am already 'given ' Wednesday - Friday off as paid vacation - and that by spending a mere two of my vacation days (which I have several of saved up so far this year) I could get a whole week off of work.......two days of which would be just me, the DVD player, and my knitting/spinning.

So send in my vacation notice I did, and take the time off I will.

Even better, this vacation time will be following what promises to be a FANTASTIC weekend - tomorrow Kim and I will spend the day making a wonderfully ornate gingerbread house, and Sunday Kim and I are driving up to Gryphon's house for a 4+ hour Spin-In. (Our first.) We're not only excited by the opportunity to get in some more spinning, but also by the opportunity to get some tips and tricks from the other spinners there while also trying out some different wheels than the Ashford Traditional that we currently practice with. (Gryphon owns a grand total of 7? 8? wheels, dontcha' know. Including a great wheel that I most certainly will NOT be brave enough to test out!!!!)

And then, to think that the day after such a wonderful weekend I'll get to spend two full days home alone with only myself and the pets for company, with all sorts of knitting and swatching and spinning and plying to occupy myself...........not to mention just a wee bit of hand-carding.

Remember this bundle of grubby fleece?

Fun fun fun fun fun.

Thank goodness I gave in and did a wee bit of retail fiber therapy yesterday during the middle of a Very Very Very Bad Day At Work - as the following beautiful bundle of superwash merino/tencel is now making it's way towards my house:

FatCatKnits handpainted merino/tencel superwash - 4.3 oz. In her 'Mars' colourway.

A girl has got to keep herself properly occupied, you know.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Loaner is Loaned

Kim came over on Sunday and we had ourselves quite the fiber-filled day amongst the other norms of your basic family weekend. (Grocery shopping, lunch w/ a 2-year old, dinner, laundry, etc.)

We knitted.

(No pictures. Use your imagination on this one. Socks & a Fetching were worked on.)

We spun.

(Kim's first handspun! Real Vermonter wool/mohair/alpaca
blend in Jessie's 'Berry Picking' colourway.)

We photographed.

Elizabeth Zimmerman's BSJ in some Paton's SWS for a good friend's new son.

I love these buttons.

They were found in a huge 'button box' that was given to me by the wife of a co-worker who was retiring & moving across the country to Oregon. Cool buttons. Cool wife & ex-co-worker!

We un-plied and then re-plied with amazing results.................
(my s-spun yarn that I accidentally s-plied) (same yarn after un- then re-plying)

We photographed again because we were just too-happy with our results.

Singles, and 2-ply. My first ever handspun. (!)

Then last - but not least - we did some more knitting (Kim - Monkeys out of some Claudia handpainted in the 'Butter Pecan' colourway) and some unraveling of a thrift sweater (Me - 100% merino wool in a pearl-ish grey shade that I'm going to turn into a cardigan along the lines of this.)

We had a very good day.

At the end of the evening (with both boys fast asleep, I might add - that time change sure tuckers out even the grownups!) I persuaded Kim to take home the loaner spinning wheel for the week so that she can keep working on the Berry Picking. It's looking LOVELY and she's really liking the spinning - as am I!

I can quickly see where we're going to need a 2nd loaner wheel sooner rather than later. Either that, or she's simply going to need to move in to the guest bedroom upstairs.


Friday, November 02, 2007


As anyone who has recently peeked in my general direction lately has undoubtedly noticed, I have started trying my hand at spinning.

I'm absolutely thrilled to pieces with my new obsession but am not terribly good at it. However happily for me this seems to be a very common deal amongst new & intermediate spinners, so I have lots of cheerful company & lots and lots of blog posts to read on the topic.

So today, being almost physically unable to do any real work (this week has been a bit of a train wreck between crazy students in the library & a crazy waking-at-6-AM, temper-tantrum-throwing-toddler) I decided to catch way way up on my blog reading. And so I started reading some of my new favorites (Enchanting Juno) and some of my old favorites (Claudia's Blog) that I haven't read in several weeks with an eye towards any mention of spinning. {N.b. - as far as blogs go, I have favorites and then I have favorites. You know - the ones that you like to read yet let go unread for weeks, and then the ones that you like to read and somehow make/find time to read anytime/everytime you see that there is a new post....}

And I did some back reading in Claudia's blog and first came across this post where she shows her "fiber room" which totally made me drool like a Saint Bernard with a can of Alpo waved under his nose. Just LOOK at that bookcase stuffed with yarn and fiber and knitterly books and mags. Doesn't it make you drool too? Then I looked back even further and came across this post which talks all about plying. Something that I had just tried, in fact, and was pretty disappointed with my results.

I thought I had shown just the tiniest bit of improvement in the whole spinning thing, and so was very sad when I saw the over-spun, over-plied, hard, tight mess of yarn (and I use that term loosely - it's so hard and dense that there is no soft springy goodness left in it - it feels more like cheap rope that you need a hacksaw to cut through) that I was left with after I had tried to ply it.

Handspun singles that are still totally identifiable as a new spinner's work. But still, not as glaringly horrible as the very very first bobbin of work that I produced. Progress was made - however slight - and I was happy.

Overspun, overplied 2-ply yarn. Horrible. Uneven. Plied way too tight. Plied way too loose. Horrible.

And after I read Claudia's lovely advice/direction on how to ply, it hit me. I had plied the above yarn incorrectly. WAY incorrectly. Apparently you are suppose to spin the yarn in one direction (a non-spinner would consider this to be, say, counterclockwise, while a spinner would say that it had been given 'S' twist) and then you ply it in the opposite (i.e. clockwise or 'Z' ) direction.

I spun in the same direction as eventually I plied. Overspinning adding to overplying all in the same overly-tight direction. Hence why I could barely fit the horrid mangled mess through the orifice of the wheel, why it sprung into what looked like a skein'd Koosh ball when I was done tying off the skein, and why it looks so appalling in the above picture.

So what to do now?

I think I might bite the bullet and un-ply the yarn and either re-spin the singles again if they seem to need it or else just ply in the correct direction with the singles as they are. I hot-water soaked the yarn to set the twist after I plied it the first time, so I don't know if this is actually a total loss or not and if I'd be much better just chalking this up to inexperience and exhaustion (I was so excited to be done spinning my first true bobbin-full of fiber that even though it was 11 PM and I could barely see anything due to absolute exhaustion, I went ahead and plied the entire thing anyway.) or can actually salvage this pretty cotton-candy coloured stuff with a re-spin, re-ply attempt.

Any advice, from absolutely anyone who knows about this sort of thing, would be greatly greatly appreciated.

In the meantime, I've got new bumps of Piece of Vermont fiber to be eyeballed and fondled, and as soon as Gryphon's package arrives with my new hand-carders and baskets (today? today? let it be today!) I've got a full pound of washed fleece to start carding out. I also have 1/8th of a shrug back and a full sleeve to finish on Belle (not to mention the super-cool edging around the neck) plus the leg of a sock to finish designing, plus a 2nd embossed leaves sock to finish up for the daughter of a friend plus a shawl for a co-worker's retirement (thank GOD she retires in August of '08!)

In case anyone was curious, above is a picture of one of the (3? 4?) baskets that I have ordered from Gryphon. Locally handmade and collapses almost completely flat. Isn't that just too amazing for words???

Plus about a million pairs of Fetching that I have either agreed to or planned to knit in the past 24 hours. I knit myself a pair (FO pics coming soon) in 2 sweet evenings worth of knitting and so decided that they are my Christmas gift to hand out to many this year. I also have a finished EZ BSJ to post about - now that I have finally (!) sewn on the required buttons. However taking proper pictures requires not only sunlight (and my free time these days has lately only appeared after 9:15 PM) but also the ability to focus my eyes - something that I"m lately also lacking.

Which reminds me, I need to pick up my boxes of replacement disposable contacts this weekend. Must away to call the eye doc and make sure they're in before driving dangerously close to the fabric store to pick them up. No need to risk temptation if the desired object isn't yet on the shelf!