Thursday, July 02, 2015

June Wrapup

June was a busy month, full of lots of family activities. There was some crafting but not nearly as much as it could have been. I managed to turn in one class for Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup with a handspun blanket square. This is the Mitered Crosses blanket pattern and while I don't love all the ends you have to weave in, I do love the pattern.
I really love how this one turned out with the purple at the edges. This makes the sixth total square and as always when I finish a square, it makes me want to get on the knitting and finish this, I think it will be really beautiful.
You can't really see them all here but you can check out my Ravelry project page if you want more pictures.
I also finished a lovely skein of handspun.
I really love how it turned out. A nice, squishy sport weight. I turned this in for Detention which is a project you start before the month begins. 
Hopefully these will bring some more crafting into focus for me. I'm also participating in a challenge called One Book July for my planner which will simplify my setup and hopefully allow more time for knitting and spinning during the Tour de Fleece. I'm still finalizing my goals for the tour. Next post I'll talk about the wheel spa day, which is cleaning and tuning up I do before a big spin, usually right before the Tour de Fleece, and my goals, as well as go into more information about my setup for One Book July.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Motorcycle Life Shawl

Huh, what's this? Oh, that's right! I have a blog, I should actually write to it once in awhile huh? Oops. Time sort of slipped away again.
I've actually been thinking a lot about my blog and how I want to write more but I'm finding as my interests grow and change that there's less to say about knitting and more to say about other subjects so I'm thinking of adding some new content. I'll talk more about that later but let's start with the knitting since that's why my current readers come to the blog (I think).
As I've mentioned several times, I'm in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup and I've really been enjoying it. This term is May, June, July so I started out strong in May turning in two classes and a Detention. For the uninitiated; at the beginning of the month they post prompts for different classes. You can choose to craft to fit a prompt or do your crafting and later find ways to fit it into a prompt. The Detention is a project started before the beginning of the term month that you finish during the month.
I was wanting to knit a new shawl and I had a sort of idea of how I wanted it to look so I looked for patterns a bit but I didn't find anything easily that was the shape I wanted. I wanted it to be very simple too so I didn't really want to buy a pattern. Since I had an idea of the shape I wanted and it was fairly simple, I came up with a plan to see if it would work and cast on. You could call this a swatch since I knit, following my plan for awhile to see if it worked but when I saw that it was, I just kept going. I was also dying to knit something with one of the skeins of yarn I had been getting from the Sparktickes Dyes Gilmore Girls club.

I chose a skein that was a little unusual for me and started knitting. I wanted it to be a nice, drapey gauge so I used a size 6 needle. As I said, I saw I was getting the shape I wanted so I just kept knitting.
Then, I got close to the end of the yarn (20% left by weight, which is pretty common for patterns to tell you to start the edging) and chose a very simple edge.

Just nice, neat triangles. I blocked the shawl and now it's ready to go and I'm very happy with it!

I'm not sure exactly what shape you would call it. Clearly, it's not a triangle, more of an elongated half circle. I tend to call it a swoop, because it's easier to say. Overall I'm super happy with it, although it's still not really my colors so I may have cast on a new one in colors I love so I can give this one away. I may try to gift it to a cousin this weekend at the family reunion I'm attending.
I made up this pattern as I said so there aren't a lot of details about it but I am considering writing it up so others can benefit from my experience. If you'd like to see this written into a pattern, let me know in the comments. Since I made it up and it's so simple, I've just been calling it the Motorcycle Life Shawl after the name of the yarn but if I write it up, I will have to come up with a better name.
Now, on to the not-knitting thing. One of the things that has been taking up a good bit of my time is my planner. If you know me in real life, you know that I don't go anywhere without it. Literally, it is always with me. (Although I don't usually take it to the bathroom.) As I said, it takes up some of my time and interests and I've been thinking about making some notes about planners here since I do get lots of questions about it and why I use it and what I use it for. I know some of my knitter friends won't be interested in planners so I'm thinking of making it a feature on a certain day of the week so you can skip reading that day if you aren't interested. I was thinking Filofax Fridays, although I will talk about more than the filofax brand. To keep them separate, I will probably start using labels on my posts.
I hope this will encourage me to blog more and to have more to say in general and I may even add other features over time.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Return of Spinning

Um, hello?
I swear I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. As a matter of fact, I find myself doing more with my knitting and spinning now than I was but that means even less time for things like blogging. I've also felt a little bit lost as to what to write about. Several of my projects have been big, big projects that are taking forever to finish. That means less to write about.
I have finished some things of note though.
Today I'd like to discuss some spinning although it isn't Tuesday and is therefore a little out-of-the-box for me to talk spinning. But it's Friday. The Friday before a long weekend no less so I couldn't walk away without posting something.
In December of last year my Gritty Knits Merino of the Month club arrived and I knew it was perfect. Not for me, for my knitting friend Catherine. She had knit a lovely cowl and gifted it to me since it didn't work for her. I had been searching for just the right thing to give back to her in trade. It was a little difficult since Catherine loves subtle, semi-solid colors and I tend to buy bright, multicolored things because they make me happy, even though they drive me crazy trying to find something to knit later.

I knew this was perfect though! It was subtle and green (just like something lovely I had seen her knitting so I knew the color would be right too). I didn't want to rush in without her approval so I took it to knit night and she agreed it would work and that she would love for me to spin it for her so I got it onto the bobbin.
The reason it has taken this long? It was laceweight. Four lovely ounces of laceweight and with my spinning mojo disappearing for great stretches in the winter, it was hard for me to bring myself to work on it. I tried to get a bit done here and there and it slowly started to add up. I got one bobbin finished and I moved on to the second. That of course feels like the home stretch so I worked diligently on it (although still a bit sporadically I'm sorry to say).
I finally finished the spinning, let it rest overnight like a good little spinner. That part is really hard for me. At that point I want yarn! I don't want to wait.
I finally plied. I was hoping it was going to get great yardage for her; we were aiming for somewhere between a laceweight and fingering weight finished yarn. When it took me hours and hours and hours to ply, I figured I had achieved my goal.

Finally, a finished bobbin.

The real test, using something to compare. So far, so good.
The only way to know for sure though is to measure it. So I wound it off onto the niddy noddy.

There it is, a thing of beauty! Yardage-wise, it came up to a true laceweight 830 yards. I'm calling it 800 to take into account any plumping or shrinking during washing and I carefully washed and twacked it so it's ready to go to its new home.
I hope Catherine loves it. I'm a little bit sad to be giving it away but I know she will knit it into something fantastic!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Galapagos

I'm happy to report that if you actually have your wheel out and ready to go, you often will actually spin! Crazy, I know. I've been working pretty diligently on the fiber I'm spinning for my friend Catherine. It's my Gritty Knits Merino of the Month from December 2014 and it's called Fun Fir.
I finished the first half of the fiber and doesn't it look lovely?

It's a great blue-y green and looks more green than these pictures.

It really is lovely but I have some trouble capturing the true color.

I'm spinning it pretty fine to make a two-ply lace to fingering weight for her so I decided since I have finished the first bobbin that I would take a short break and spin something less focused.
I've been wanting to add some yarn to my handspun blanket yarn so I decided to spin what I call a "quick and dirty" two-ply sport weight. I call it that because I basically let the fiber be what it would like and generally come up with a fairly quick two-ply that's about a sport weight. I'm a little out of practice with this method though. Mostly because I haven't been spinning much lately.

I chose another Gritty Knits Merino of the Month. This one from February of 2014 and it's called Galapagos. I liked the variation in the colors and I thought it would be a fun and unique one to add to my blanket squares. I didn't have any specific plans for it so it was a good choice for an easy spin. I split the braid in half and spun the first half straight onto the bobbin.

It took less than 24 hours, I love that. I split the second half of the braid into several pieces to get a fractal yarn because I didn't want the colors to sit together too much. I quickly finished that half as well and plied it up.

I really like the result but I can tell I'm a bit out of practice because it's a bit less yardage than I usually get with this style of spinning. Only 288 yards. Closer to a worsted-weight yarn. But still lovely.

I'm not sure about putting this in my blanket simply because I think there's so much contrast in the skein itself color-wise that it wouldn't contrast enough with the other color I would be using. I may still put it in there (or at least try it) I'm not dead-set against it but in the meantime, I've got a lovely new skein of yarn to play with. It might need to be knit up quickly into something springy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

They Truly Are Cursed

Have you ever had a project that just doesn't seem to want to get made? You work on it and either the progress is so slow or the pattern doesn't work or you have to keep ripping it out. I am in the middle of a project just like that right now.

I went back and looked at my project page to see when it was actually started. December of 2013! Now, I haven't been knitting steadily on it or anything, I've put it down and in time-out several times. The reason? It refuses to get knit of course!
It's the Cursed Cable Mitts and it's a pattern I started only because a friend wanted someone to knit it along with her so she gifted me the pattern right when it came out. I'm not sure that she ever did knit it but I have been trying! They really seem to be cursed though. The yarn I chose is absolutely beautiful Malabrigo Sock yarn and I knit the first one, the right one, with little issues. Although at first I had some trouble reading the cable and easily lost my place, I managed to finish it, do the thumb, weave in the ends and call it done. The real problem came with the left one. First I knit the ribbing on the wrong size needle. Then I knit the ribbing on the correct needle but forgot to change to the next size needle. I had to rip it. Then I started again and I really busted a move. I worked on it wanting to have a finished object. I got really far.

Like I bound it off far. It looks like a lovely, long fingerless mitt right?

Beautiful yarn and once you're done knitting the cable, you decide it looks really good and it was worth it.
Until...


You put it next to the other mitt.

Does anyone see the problem?

It's not just that I did too many repeats or something, I used the wrong size needles for it. I tried to debate with myself about keeping it and not worrying about the difference but I really didn't like the fabric I had. It was too loose and I thought it wouldn't be very warm. The right one was so perfect, how could I leave the left one so not-perfect.
These pictures were actually taken last fall. I put the mitts away and thought about them occassionally and what I should do with them. Then at the beginning of the year when I dug out my UFOs (Unfinished Objects) I found these again. The right one is so lovely and wouldn't it be nice to have them finished. I asked my knitting group what they thought about them. Should I finish it or frog it? It was overwhelmingly voted to finish. So, the other day, I ripped out the left mitt and started again. So far, I've had to rip twice. Yup, it's truly cursed.
First, I was knitting with the curly yarn that had been sitting as the mitt for months, so my gauge was way off. I didn't want to take the time to wash it so I just rewound it and started from the "fresh" end of the yarn. Then, I managed to finish the thumb gusset and realized I hadn't placed the thumb right. I had to rip back. Again.
I think I'm on track for now but I'm warning everyone not to start these mitts. They truly are cursed* and the curse is you will just keep knitting them forever and ever and ever. But you never have lovely mitts.


*Disclaimer: I'm fairly sure the pattern is not actually cursed. It really is lovely and except for the thumb (which I don't care for how it is done) it is well-written and will be absolutely wonderful. Someday. If I ever finish it.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Knitting Huge

I've been feeling a little down about my knitting lately. Nothing has been inspiring me which means I don't even want to knit half the time. This scared me big time. I love knitting, why wouldn't I want to knit?
Well, last month, toward the end of the month I realized I needed to get something done and quickly to get uploaded for HPKCHC as I hadn't turned in anything at all yet. I knit and posted an owl puff.

I couldn't find my felt so I used crocheted circles for the eyes and it's harder than you would think to sew them on while the top part is still open and on the needles so his eyes are a little wonky but it works. He's cute and handspun and lovely anyway. There it was, that little rush of project-finishing. Just what I had been missing.
After I turned him in for a class and was awaiting the approval I realized what was holding me back and keeping my knitting enjoyment level down in the dumps. All of my projects are huge!

My Half Pi Shawl? Huge. Especially now that I'm on the second skein and the rows are so long, I can knit for an hour and make very little progress.
The Exit 0 Shawl? Gargantuan. It's three colors and the rows are the long way so even though it's pretty and simple short rows, each row takes a good, long time so again, you don't feel like you are making any headway at all.
The only other thing I've been knitting? Socks. Which are men's socks so they are huge too! I can see some progress but it's still not a simple, easy project that gets finished with what feels like little effort. That's what I've been missing, and it took a little owl to show me.

I think I will put aside at least one of these larger projects and pick up something smaller that takes much less effort. Just to see some progress and feel a little better about myself and my knitting. Plus, it will get this month's class done.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Sickly Spinning

I've been taken down pretty thoroughly by a terrible cold. Lots of fever and horrible coughing. It just seems to go on and on and on. I'm getting pretty stir-crazy as I haven't left the house since Saturday when I last felt mostly all right. It really knocked me down on Saturday though and I've been mostly resting since.
I did manage to start plying a bobbin of finished singles I found when I dug out my wheel for the first time in almost a month. That was Saturday for the craft day at our church. I dragged myself and my wheel over to the church, but only managed to spend a few hours there before I decided I just couldn't continue and I headed for home. I have spun a bit here and there over the last month but really not much at all. I was glad to get back at it and remember how much I enjoy spinning.
So then to the yarn I made. The finished singles were from some Targhee I got in the Zarzuela Fiber club a few years ago (before she closed up shop). It's called Stained Glass and it really is lovely and deep, all the colors you would find in Stained Glass.

I had known I wanted to keep the colors strong so I spun it all onto one bobbin and left it to rest. I just didn't expect it to get as much rest as it got.
When I took it out, I chain-plied it.

I love the round beauty of a three-ply, either chain-plied or traditional three-plied. I do love how it keeps the colors separate when you chain-ply though. I think overall it's a fairly even skein as well. Not many thin spots or thick spots.

I even dragged myself out of the house into the wind and the fresh snow to take these pictures of it. I just love it and can't wait to figure out what it would like to be. It's about 375 yards so it shouldn't be a problem to have enough to do something lovely.
For now I'd better get back to resting and coughing, as I cannot wait to get out of the house and go to work tomorrow and I should be as rested as I can be before I get back to the grind.