Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Done and done

I finished both of those knitting projects that used handspun. Want to see?IMG_0188

Here is the one-row cowl for Judy. I used every inch of the yarn. I don’t have a photo of her wearing it yet because schedules have been a little overfull of late, but one day I’ll get that shot!IMG_0185

You can see by that green grass that spring has begun in earnest here. We have had our ritual struggle with starting the lawn mower (happens annually). This year it involved a spark plug change and borrowing a special tool to do the job.

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The Pebble Beach Shawl is also complete! The pattern has three sizes – this is the medium. I had 1051 yards of handspun when I started. Calculating by weight, I think this used about 642 yards. I have a decent amount left over for another project (maybe a Starshower?). IMG_0193

The color is always way off in my blocking photos, because I set up my blocking board in a room with very little natural light. I love the mustache shape of this shawl. When you wear it over your shoulders, the ends curl down in a fun way. Not that you can see the ends in this photo below. Just trust me. IMG_0200

You can kind of see the curly ends here – I pinned it to the back of my couch trying to get a good shot. IMG_0206 crop

Pebble Beach is quite a simple pattern, but I dropped a stitch a couple of times and found it pretty tough to get back on track. I’m a novice lace knitter. I think it might be time to seriously consider taking Laura Nelkin’s Craftsy class, Save Our Stitches: Fixing Lace Knitting Mistakes. It appears to be on sale right now so maybe I should just buy it! I’ve taken two classes from Laura in person, and she is an excellent teacher. This class screenshot reminds me of the biology dissection unit in high school: surgery

The picot bindoff took forever, but is really cute. The shawl really looks like a wave!IMG_0209

I cast on a new project. I keep thinking of it as a handspun project, but it’s not. The pattern is from PLY Magazine and the version in the magazine is worked from handspun, but I’m using the Danish yarn that a colleague brought me. The gold and brown sample in the picture is one solid brown yarn and one variegated yarn that moves from gold to brown. I thought these two yarns might work well in it, since the green is included in the variegated colorway. We will see!IMG_0191

So I need to pop back into Ravelry and line up a couple more projects that use my handspun. (Or maybe I’ll just do another Starshower.) I used 357 yards in my first Starshower, and I have 409 left of the blue handspun. That should work, right?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Handspun handspun!

My goal to knit more handspun in 2016 has not been going as well as I’d hoped. I banged out a few small items at the end of 2015, but my Ravelry account shows only one project finished in 2016 – this cowl. I’ve been doing well at knitting from stash, but not as well knitting from HANDSPUN stash.

But things are looking up. I have not one but TWO handspun projects on the needles right now.

This is my Blue Spruce 2-ply that I finished in 2015. It’s a Polwarth-Silk blend and very soothing to work with.IMG_8320

I’m making the Pebble Beach Shawl and it’s been on the needles for about a month. This is one of those pieces that will look unimpressive on the needles because it’s so squished up. You really need to click through to the pattern page to see it in its glory. It will be a long, crescent-shaped shawl. I’m about 75% done right now and  It’s for a friend who I’m 99% sure doesn’t read the blog… but I’ll conceal her name until she gets this. She will be 100% surprised!IMG_0181

The other project didn’t spend much time in the “stash” phase – I’m using the 3-ply blendy Cormo that I finished a few weeks ago.IMG_0124

Because the yarn is soft and cuddly, it will be a cowl for Judy. (It’s not a secret.) I’m using the Yarn Harlot’s One Row Handspun Scarf pattern, but I started with a provisional CO so I can graft the ends together and make a seamless cowl:

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It will be perfect for this spring weather, when it can be in the 40s in the morning but 70s by later in the day. And…I think Judy has a birthday coming up, so the timing couldn’t be better.

I’d better get another handspun project on deck…

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Two hats

Last Sunday was a pretty exciting day here because I finished not one but TWO hats. One had been on the needles for nearly a month, and one for just a few days. You know how knitting is…

First up, here is my version of the Sockhead Slouch hat on Z:20160415_154251

I think she looks pretty happy about it! She requested a hat that was snug around the forehead but roomier thereafter, so I increased the stitch count by 20% right after the ribbing. She also wanted a generous amount of “hang time” in the back and that’s exactly what we have here. (Photos taken in her lab – it looks super science-y, yes?)20160415_154244

We did a fitting a week earlier so I could get a sense of how big she wanted it. After the photo below, I worked 1” more and then did the crown decreases:20160408_154217

I think you can tell from these two photos that the fabric really loosened up after blocking. I used Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon). Its put up is a generous 113 g skein; this hat used 103 g. The ribbing is a little over 4” and then there is about 10” more to the top of the crown.IMG_0179

A hat made of fingering weight yarn requires a lot of stitches, but simple stockinette knitting in the round is so portable and soothing. I have a feeling this won’t be my last Sockhead Slouch.20160415_154224

The other hat is a quickie I made for Boy 1, whose minion hat is showing major signs of wear. The pattern is Windshief.

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I used Julia from stash. He wanted a beanie-style hat that would not fight with his hood should he choose to put it up. This simple stockinette hat with a twisted rib wedge fit the bill. IMG_0174

You can see that he’s tugged it down over his ears. It might help if I had worked a few more rounds before starting the decrease… but I also think I need to try a pattern that has a little bit of shaping. He doesn’t like a hat that crowds his eyes, but he wants his ears covered. I might not need a full ear flap, but maybe something like the 1898 Hat?

The weather here has turned toward spring and I think these hats won’t be worn until next year. I was just a couple weeks too late with them – we had temps in the 20s earlier this month. But, as knitters know, winter always comes again. AND WE WILL BE READY.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Let’s close the book on this one

I feel badly to have subjected my small band of readers to this sweater for so long. My notes say that I cast on in January and finally finished seaming last week. But my most loyal readers know that I first knit the yarn in 2014 and ripped it out before finishing the project because the fit was so bad.

I finished working the second sleeve while we were in Texas last month, but then the pieces sat around waiting to be seamed for a while. Last weekend I got serious about it and started sewing. As expected, the sweater is big and baggy on me:IMG_0154 crop

I was starting to consider hanging onto it as an “around the house” schluppy kind of sweater. Then, on a whim, S1 tried it on. And you know what? It’s serviceable on her:IMG_0159

She asks you to please excuse her fluffy hair. We were at soccer games on the morning of the photo shoot and it was VERY windy, which fluffs her hair up. My hair was in a hat, which leads to photos that are less than glamorous in a different way.IMG_0133

On the plus side, I used my new craft clips to hold sweater pieces together while seaming, and they worked GREAT! I preferred working with them to using locking stitch markers, which is what I usually do.  IMG_0135

Also, I used the sewn-on approach to the neck band again, and it worked smoothly. I like the pattern, which is called “Leaf Vein Insertion” in Nicky Epstein’s The Essential Edgings Collection (p. 106). I modified the edges a bit and worked the two sides of the neckband separately, both from the bottom up. Then I grafted the edges together at the back of the neck. Also, I slipped the first stitch of the row that would be exposed on the edge, for a clean finish. All of this worked exactly as I envisioned and I’m pleased with the result. S1 even likes it, and she normally doesn’t care for open cardigans.

I’m still not exactly sure what went wrong with this sweater. I guess my gauge changed over time. I worked a swatch before starting Sprig in 2014, and I did not make a new swatch before starting this sweater in 2016. That’s probably where the difference crept in. LESSON LEARNED.

The final sweater weighs 546 grams, which translates to 10.92 skeins of yarn. I had 12 skeins to begin with, but I don’t have a spare unwound skein now. I guess the difference is in the final partial ball plus swatches.

I’m just glad to be done with this one.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Just enough time for a quickie

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I finished my last spinning project just as the next Sheepspot Fiber Club shipment left Sasha in Toronto, but I thought I might be able to squeeze in another one befpre it arrived. And I did! This started as a batt from Into the Whirled. It is Falkland and it looked like this when I brought it home from MDSW last May:IMG_5933

It turns out that Falkland isn’t really a breed – it just means the sheep lived on the Falkland Islands. So this might be Polwarth (which is 75% Merino 25% Lincoln) or pure Merino… or even Corriedale or Romney (source: Robson & Ekarius’ The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook).

When I opened it up, this is how it looked:

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I started spinning at the red end…20160331_080957

…and finished at the blue end:20160403_120314

I spun it longdraw on my 14:1 whorl, all on one bobbin. Then I chain-plied it and got this:IMG_0144

That was fun. The 4 oz batt spun like butter and I finished the entire project in under a week. This will definitely motivate me to visit the Into the Whirled booth at MDSW next month. (OMG it’s only a month away!!!)

And right on cue, yesterday this arrived in the mail:IMG_0148

This is Perendale roving. Perendale is a longwool breed created by a Cheviot/Romney cross. According to TF&FS, it is a bouncy wool that doesn’t really behave like the English longwools. We’ll see how it spins up. Mine is the braid on the left… Caitlin’s is on the right. We also got a handmade ceramic diz in this shipment! I don’t have a diz, so this is a nice addition to my toolkit. (I may have to consider buying some wool combs at MDSW this May…)

Speaking of MDSW… I got into a class with Judith MacKenzie called Drafting Techniques to Make the Yarn You Want. Here’s the description:

As a spinner, your most important, versatile tools are your own skilled hands. With those eight fingers and two opposable thumbs, plus a half-dozen simple techniques for manipulating the fiber supply, you can spin a full suite of yarn styles. You will learn how to spin with the following draws: Worsted, Semi-worsted, Woolen, Semi-woolen, Slub, and Boucle. You’ll begin by seeing the unlikely possibility of spinning the six different yarns styles with a single fiber preparation. Skill level: Ability to independently spin singles and make a two-ply yarn. Students should bring: Working spinning wheel and all its parts, lazy kate, extra bobbins.

I’ve never taken a class with Judith, but I’ve heard her speak (it’s totally worth it) and I’ve only heard amazing things about her classes. I can’t wait to see what tips I pick up. The class is all day Friday… then I can hit the festival on Saturday and/or Sunday. Boy 2 really wants to go again this year. He has to check on the angora bunnies he met last year. I’m not sure yet if I’ll bring him on the day I go with the knitters, or on the other day.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Easter Egg Yarn

I finished spinning my Sheepspot Cormo singles on Easter Sunday, and I really couldn’t have picked more Easter-y fiber to work with that day. Doesn’t it look like a bunch of eggs, or jelly beans? Here are the singles:20160327_161558

I spun the whole braid of fiber on one bobbin. Then I used my scale and bobbin winder to divide it into three parts of equal weight: IMG_0112

I got this bobbin winder for my birthday and I LOVE it. It’s very well made (and a lot more affordable than the one made by my wheel maker). Used with my new yarn scale, which measures to the tenth of a gram, the winding off went quite smoothly. This is what I had when I was done:IMG_0114

I made a three-ply yarn in order to blend the colors even more. This is what the bobbin looked like when I was done plying:20160330_081546

Then I used my new skein winder that I got for Christmas – another extremely well made tool that is a pleasure to use – to wind up a skein that measures 72” in circumference:IMG_0115

And here it is! According to the skein winder, it measures 310 yards. I know Cormo can really crimp up with a bath so I’m not sure I really have that many yards. IMG_0124

I may have put a bit too much twist in it. I like a lot of twist, but this yarn probably isn’t as soft as it could be because of that. I’m also wondering if I should have experimented with spinning from the fold to add a bit of loft to what is a classic worsted yarn.

This is the January 2016 shipment of the Sheepspot Fiber Club. I know the next shipment is en route. I thought about waiting on it… but then I decided to get something else on the wheel right away. Guess what? This gorgeous batt I got at MDSW last year. This is Falkland: IMG_5931

And it’s a gradient:IMG_5930

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Use it up

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My mother cross-stitched this picture for me many years ago. I’m pretty sure it was a Christmas present. In my mind’s eye, I can see it hanging in a string of graduate school apartments as well as another apartment here in Gettysburg and now in my house. When I find myself frugally trying to use every last bit of something, I often hear this poem in head:

Use it up

Wear it out

Make it do

Or do without

I heard it again as I worked this pair of socks, which were made entirely with leftovers. IMG_0069

These are the “blendy” socks I showed you a few weeks ago. They were made from leftover yarn from this pair for S1:IMG_5608

and this pair of mine:IMG_0066

(Did you notice that I reworked the toe decreases on these? No more candy corn!)

The finished socks weigh about 93 grams. I used ALL the beige yarn and have only 11 grams of the blue stripey yarn left. IMG_0071

I actually ran out of the beige yarn before finishing the second sock. If you look carefully, you’ll see one blendy toe is worked from both ends of the blue/green stripey yarn. This continues the blendy effect even though it’s from the same ball of yarn.IMG_0068

It just tickles me to make 3 pairs of socks from 2 balls of yarn!