Sunday, January 15, 2017

Greenbow–a rainbow in green

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My greenbow spinning project is done! I started with 24 ounces of “Romoca” fiber (a blend of Romney wool, mohair, and alpaca) from Singleton Fiber Mill and ended up with about 1300 yards of 3-ply woolen-spun yarn. I stored about an ounce of singles on each storage bobbin and wound off every time I filled my four wheel bobbins – when I was done I had this:IMG_5024

You can see a lot of color variation in the bobbins. Of course, the variation you see is only on the top layer… no bobbin looks the same all the way through. You can really see lots of red, yellow, blue, and brown if you look at the roving:IMG_8961a

Making a 3-ply instead of a 2-ply helped blend the colors even more.

Because this project was larger, I finished (washed) the skeins in two batches. This gives me the chance to show you the difference between a freshly plied but unfinished skein, and a finished one:IMG_5106

The one on the left is unwashed. The skein does not hang in a nice loop when I hold it up – it twists (which you can see even when it’s laying flat). The one on the right has been washed and is much more relaxed and balanced:IMG_5107

When you look very closely, you can see that the unwashed skein looks a little more wiry. The washed strands are relaxed and fluffier.IMG_5111

Because I spun these woolen, they are full of air and very squishy. I just love how this project turned out! Someday this will become a sweater for me. IMG_2330

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dandy

Readers, the vest is done.vest4

This took me a really long time. I thought a sweater with no sleeves would be quick and easy, but I WAS WRONG. This vest is full of beautiful stitches and they really limited when I could work on it. But they are oh so beautiful. Check out this texture – don’t you just want to squish it?IMG_5017

Let’s do a short recap:

  1. Yarn purchased at Longo Maï mill in Saint Chaffrey, France, 2015. (Such a fun outing with Nathalie!!)
  2. Yarn dyed at my friend Annette’s house in September, 2016. (So fun to have friends with complementary fiber talents!)
  3. Can’t quite get gauge and Boy 1’s chest is 5” smaller than the smallest pattern size, but cast on October 3 anyway.
  4. Lose my mojo for complicated knitting after the election.
  5. Learn that I can fix mis-crossed cables by doing cable surgery. Twice. Finish sweater back.
  6. Start sweater front. Rip and reknit a bunch when I realize two skeins are very different colors.
  7. Finish knitting the sweater front during a long car journey. Discover that I didn’t start the neck division soon enough, so the front is longer than the back. Rip and reknit part of front again.
  8. Finish knitting front for real. Seam. Try on Boy 1. Heave a huge sign of relief that it seems to fit. Work neck band and armbands. Final bindoff on 1-8-17.
  9. Order shirts that might look right with the vest.
  10. PHOTO SHOOT! (Return one shirt.)

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I had to think harder about this project than anything I’ve knitted in a while, and that’s a good thing. But I’m glad it’s done now! The final vest weighs only 218 grams, which means I have plenty of that French yarn left. (The skeins were about 100 g each and I bought 8…. 4 are still undyed.)IMG_5063

The pattern is Dr. G’s Memory Vest. I can guarantee you it’s one I will always remember. I hope he does, too.vest1

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Out with the old

This is the last project I finished in 2016 – I wove in the ends (all 57 of them) on December 26 while we were driving from east to central Texas. I love how it came out! spice1

The shawl is sizeable, definitely bigger than the one-skein shawl patterns I usually make. The long edge measures 76” and is 25” deep from the long edge to the deepest part of the triangle. Total weight is 247 grams (so it’s about a two-and-a-half skein shawl if you think in terms of 100-gram skeins of sock yarn).spice3

It uses 7 different colors. I used some undyed Knit Picks Bare fingering as my main color and used about 1.25 skeins in all. For my contrasting colors, I added a skein of deep blue yarn to my Party of Five set of mini-skeins. I used about 75 grams of CC1 (the blue). I completely ran out of CC2 and CC3 (the two darkest greens) and did not complete the pattern as specified. I just knit as far as I could while finishing a garter ridge. (If you’re not sure how to estimate if you have enough yarn to do another row, it takes about 3x as much as the length of the row. Double that for a garter ridge so you work down AND back – don’t change colors on a WS row or it won’t look right!) I had a mere 2 grams left of CC4, 6 grams of CC5, and 8 grams of CC6 (the lightest green). Those will all go into my I Love Leftovers sock yarn blanket. IMG_5013

This shawl has 3 distinct sections. The first section has short rows in it - you can see above that the white rows are one ridge wide on the right edge and three ridges wide on the left edge. The pattern includes instructions for German short rows, which I have never used before. I’M A CONVERT. Seriously, next time you have to do short rows, give this technique a try if you haven’t before.

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The middle section takes the longest. Those fetching rows that look like ribbons woven through the fabric slow you down, because you have to P3tog. I carried my yarn down the side to reduce the number of ends to weave in later, which helped. In the last section, I had to leave some rows out because I was running out of yarn. I don’t think it affects the final look negatively, though. spice2

Despite the fiddly P3tog rows and the many balls of yarn, this was mostly a TV and car travel project for me. It was fine to knit in company. It was what I wanted to do as we left Pennsylvania on a 3000-mile road trip. My brain was fried from the fall and this was a great way to smooth out the rough edges. And it’s the perfect time of year to wear it.  I’m happy with the result!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Holiday fun

This year, I did not plan to do any Christmas knitting. It’s not S1’s turn for another sweater (Boy 1’s turn apparently lasts FOREVER) and I just didn’t have anything else on my radar. Then, to my surprise, my mother (who lives in TEXAS) requested a pair of warm mittens. She is developing some circulation issues and her hands are very cold during her morning walks, even though it’s quite mild where she lives.

Well. I can do mittens, and fast. My one rule was that they had to be made from stash. I had a couple skeins of Shelter left over from a 2013 project. I thought the woolen-spun yarn would be extra toasty, and my mom’s favorite color is green.P1010787

I used Susan B. Anderson’s Waiting for Winter pattern, which accommodates a ton of sizes and also has a fingerless option. I’ve used it a few times before. It’s a solid pattern – my go-to for mittens. I got Mom to do a little photo shoot – I think she likes them!

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The thumbs are a little long, but she didn’t want me to adjust them as she may wear them over a thin fleece or cotton glove.

I also made good progress on my Crazy Zauberball socks during the trip. I finished sock #1 somewhere in Tennessee. #2 is still on the needles.20170101_092108

I am still fighting with Boy 1’s blue vest but progress is being made. I hope to finish the front FOR GOOD this weekend, then block and seam it. The next step will be picking up stitches for the ribbing at the neckline and armholes. I hate picking up stitches like that. But since it is close to the finish line, I am hoping to feel motivated, skillful, and lucky. Cross all your fingers for me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

When knitting bites back

Remember that handsome blue sweater vest I meant to finish for Boy 1 before the holidays? Still not done.

I was motoring away on it one Sunday morning, happy to have reached the armhole shaping for the front – and happy not to have arsed up any cable crossings (though I do know how to fix them now). While deciding when to begin the neck shaping, I held it up to the lad. That’s when I noticed the huge color shift when I started a new ball of yarn. Pretty noticeable, right?IMG_4788

Grrr. I did not notice that when I put the four skeins we dyed into a bag. I pulled all of them out again to look. I decided that two were well-matched, and the other two were also well-matched (but different from the first pair). Here are the two skeins I haven’t wound yet against the sweater front:IMG_4789 edit

Dear reader, you know what happened next. Rrrrrrrrrrip! It took me a while to get the stitches back on the needle, the stitch markers back in place, and my chart row rediscovered. That took the wind out of my sails. I worked on it a little before our trip, but only up to where I was ready to shape the armholes. I meant to work on it on our looonnnnggg drive to Texas, but my brain just wasn’t ready. (Instead, I finished my spice market shawl, which I’ll share if the sun ever returns again so we can take photos.) BUT – while we were at our Austin haven, the peaceful and quiet home of Steven and Jeff, I felt the call of the cables. I worked those armholes and proceeded to divide for the neck. Then I didn’t pull it out again until we were on the road, headed home. Juggling charts can be a challenge in the car, but I discovered that a roll of washi tape works wonders: 20161231_083618

When I finished the neck shaping on the first side, I compared it to my sweater back to determine how much longer to work before doing the final shoulder shaping. That’s when I felt this project bite me again – compared to the back, the fronts were too long! I went ahead and worked the other side of the neckline and figured I would sort it out when I got home (I didn’t have the back piece with me). Today I took a closer look and sure enough, the fronts are a bit longer than the backs. The front is next to the table and the back is on top of it here:IMG_2300

SO…. what to do now? I need to end up with 14 stitches at the top of the fronts, to match the 14 stitches at the top of the backs. I guess I could rip back the fronts a little bit and rework the last couple of decreases faster (like, every 2 rows instead of every 4). Or I could rip back the fronts a lot and start the v-neck one repeat earlier in the tree chart (which is the center panel). That would be back where the armhole decreases are, so I would be redoing those again for the third time.

I feel that this project will never end!!! How would you fix it?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Walking on rainbows

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These are the rainbow socks I started after the election. They have been a comfort to knit, and soooooo many people commented on them as I knitted at work. I like to think they brought a little joy to everyone who saw them.

Boy 1 continues to be this household’s most enthusiastic knitwear model. When I say “strike a pose!” he works to give me many options. This one looks action-y:

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This is really a very, very simple sock. I CO 68, worked top-down, made a heel flap with eye of partridge stitch, and worked a round toe. The stripes look pretty good, even though the heel flap interrupted the flow. The yarn (Poste Yarn Striping from Simply Socks Yarn Company) is lovely to work with – 75% superwash Corriedale and 25% nylon. I recommend it without reservation. This color, again, is Danxia Landform. IMG_2243

The finished socks weigh 80 grams, and I have 16 grams remaining. That will get me a couple of squares for my I Love Leftovers blanket!

I decided I needed another simple sock in my life. I scanned the sock yarn cabinet and came up with this ball of Crazy Zauberball. IMG_2248

Yes, KNITTING CAN BE ADDICTIVE.

I made a pair of socks for my friend Pam out of Crazy Zauberball a few years ago, and they were very entertaining to knit. Yeah, I’ll do that again. ALSO - I recently discovered the Makers’ Minute videos – they have one on the Zauberball Family of Yarn (1:26). Definitely worth a watch (but now I want to try other Zauberball yarns).

One last shot of the rainbows for ya. Peace out,

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Green! Green?

I’ve been itching to start a new spinning project – a big one. I have two quantities of fiber in stash that are enough for a sweater, both purchased at the 2015 Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. I bought this Coopworth with a sweater for S1 in mind:IMG_2159

It is roving that the seller calls “swirl” – part of it is dyed burgundy and part is left undyed (the natural fiber is called “light blue” but is really just a shade of sheep). I bought 2 pounds, which is a LOT. A “grand sac” indeed!IMG_2146

I started spinning a sample and it just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t drafting smoothly and I was fighting with it so much that my hands hurt. No good! Back to the closet it went to await my attention another time. I wanted a simpler, more comforting spin instead.

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I got my OTHER grand sac of fiber from SVFF – this is a blend the seller calls “Romoca” (Romney wool, mohair, and alpaca). I don’t know the percentages, and it’s a roving prep. I am spinning it long draw on a 14:1 pulley and it’s spinning like a dream.

I decided to be a grownup about this project and actually make some sample yarn. I spun some singles and then made some 2-ply and also some 3-ply. Here is proof of my 3-ply yarn (which I prefer):IMG_2178

I haven’t knit that little sample ball yet, but I will. After that initial test, I divided the roving into one ounce puffballs and commenced spinning. I can store an ounce of singles on each of these 6” weaving bobbins. IMG_2208

You can see a ton of color variation here. It’s green, but it’s also a LOT of colors. IT’S A GREENBOW! I seem to be spinning a green variation of my greynbow spin. IMG_2209 adjust

I LOVE IT. I have 9 bobbins in this photo and another ounce spun, as well. I’m trying to do an ounce a day. If I’m lucky, I’ll have the singles done before our holiday travel, and I can ply after we return home.

In the meantime, MORE green fiber has arrived at my home. The November Sheepspot Fiber Club shipment arrived, and it’s Southdown top in a gorgeous semisolid colorway called “Mexican lime.” It looks green in my house – kind of a yellow-y green, but still green. But when I took it outside to photograph in natural light, it looked much more golden yellow:IMG_2195

And when I held it up against my decidedly green front door, the fiber looked completely yellow!IMG_2198

Color is so tricksy that way. This lovely braid will have to wait until I finish my greenbow, though. I’m monogamous in my spinning projects.