Friday, August 04, 2017

Sock stories

Socks are some of my favorite projects to knit. They're useful, small and portable and usually pretty simple since I have a basic pattern memorized.
I almost always have a sock in my purse and can take it out and knit a few rounds if I have down-time or I'm waiting for something. As a matter of fact, I try not to go anywhere without my knitting because it gives me a lot of patience for things like waiting.
Well, I recently finished some socks.

These are the Sweet Summer Sky socks knit from Vesper Sock Yarn in Sweet Summer Sky. I started them in mid-May to take with on our road trip to Shepherd's Harvest Festival and I finished them in either late June or early July. They were just purse socks and so had no deadline or anything so I mostly ignored them and just knit them when I had a minute. Since it was the Tour de Fleece and I had several other projects on the needles, I decided against starting any new socks when I finished these. I actually felt a little bit burned out on knitting socks and I had so many projects on the needles, I didn't want to start anything new. So instead I stuck my Wolkig cowl in my purse and away I went.
Well, after a few weeks of having that in my purse I found that I wasn't taking it out to work on, even when I had a minute because I didn't want to. I guess a cowl isn't as fun of a purse project as socks?
Last weekend my husband was gone and I was home alone with our pets and decided I wanted to knit some socks again. Except, why should I start some new socks when I knew I had some around that hadn't been finished. So I went digging around and came up with my Vesper Holiday Celebrate! socks. These were being knit in the Skew pattern and the first sock was finished, the second one started. What a silly time to put them down and ignore them.
After an evening (and then a bit more) working on them, they were done.

I still really love this pattern. They're a bit fiddly to knit because you do have to pay attention for almost the whole sock.

But just about the time you can take it anymore, you whack on the ribbing at the top and slip them on.

That's when it all becomes clear. They are completely, totally worth it! I just love the way they fit. They are snug to my foot, but not too snug and even in shoes that are slippery inside, that tend to make my socks slide down, these do not slide down. They stay exactly in place until I take them off. Love them!
Of course I was so inspired by the fact that I am now adding 2 new pairs of socks to my sock drawer and my love of these Skew socks, I decided to dig out another pair of Skew socks waiting to be finished. These required a little bit more work, having only one sock partly done. But I've finished the first and cast on the second now so they're making good progress.
Maybe I'll have another pair to share next week. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Tour de Fleece 2017 Recap

I thought now that the tour was over, it would be a good idea to take a look at what I accomplished during the tour this year.
Here are the 4 skeins I managed to finish this tour. While I feel like these are great skeins and I'm very happy with them, I definitely feel like I could have done more this tour.
I really didn't do much spindle-spinning (barely any as a matter of fact) and I feel like I could have spent more time at my wheel.
Oh well, it is what it is. I am very happy with the skeins I finished and I definitely feel like focusing on spinning makes me want to do more so maybe it will bring it more to the forefront of my mind and get me to actually do it.
I think of these skeins, the only one I hadn't mentioned before is the front one. The Verdant merino from Gritty Knits.
I chose it to be a sort of palette cleanse when I finished the fine yarn in the back. I just split it in two the long way, did a mild drafting and let the fiber be what it wanted to be.
I came up with a decent 2-ply and I think it turned out well. Of course, I technically finished the plying after the end of the tour but I think it still counts. 
I did start the second braid of the Champs Élysées fiber so that will be on the wheel for awhile. Hopefully I can keep motivated to get it done.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Bad Influences Require Decisions

A couple of my knitting group friends are terrible influences. They both started the Starting Point wrap and spent one Knit Night talking about it and how great it was so I, of course, started pondering it myself.
When I received my June 2017 nom of the month club skein, the deal was set.
The skein had so many colors in it that I thought I could find many colors to go with it in my stash. Being in the nom club for as long as I have been, and not knitting up my skein every month, has allowed me to build a nice little stash of the gorgeous stuff. Many of them are semi solids which works very well for colorwork projects and stripey things. I love shopping from stash for things like that. So, when I was rooting around in the stash looking for things to bring to our stash swap, I also dug through and found some contenders.
I ended up with these 5 colors.

I love how the variegated has bits of each of the colors in it. I really felt like that would tie them all together. Of course a large, looming problem stood in my way. I had to wind 5 skeins of yarn! Yikes. It sat for a couple of weeks while I worked away on my spinning for Tour de Fleece and then the other evening, while watching TV with the husband, I didn't feel like spinning and felt utterly bored with my current knitting projects so I decided to wind the yarn. I've been really trying to focus on finishing up projects rather than starting new ones but I decided it was time to at least wind the yarn. 
I really found the variegated skein to be unusual-looking once it was wound. Almost like a speckled yarn rather than a traditional variegated.
Of course, once the yarn was wound it was only a matter of time until it was on the needles. 
I squished the 5 skeins of yarn into my knitting bag and off I went this morning. Rather than cleaning the house like I was supposed to be doing. Oops.
I designated the colors (in clockwise order starting with the yellow in the lower right) Butter: color 1, Steam: color 2, June 2017(unnamed): color 3, Ashburton: color 4 and Khaki: color 5.
Since I wasn't too concerned about gauge as this is a wrap and not a fitted garment, I decided to just cast on and use that as a swatch to see if I liked the colors together. It starts pretty small after all. 
Away I knit, until I had this. So, I'm having 2 issues with it. The first is this.
So many ends already! This I can easily fix by weaving them in as I go along rather than leaving them all to the end. The second is a little bit more frustrating and one that I need your help with. Yes, YOU dear reader. I'm concerned that the variegated is too bold and is taking away from the other colors.

In the pictures, it even doesn't seem as bad as it does in real life. It's so bright, with a few pops of fluorescent color even, that I think it might be taking away from the contrast that's between the other colors. The contrast that you need with this kind of project. So I need to make a decision. A difficult-to-make decision. That's where I would like your help. 
Leave me a comment telling me to either continue onward or rip and find something else to be color 3. 
I truly don't seem to be able to make a decision on my own so tell me what you think!
Option A: knit onward! It seems fine or will still work.
Option B: Rip it! Find something else to use as the variegated and keep that skein for something simple like a Hitchhiker or something.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Tour de Fleece has Begun

It's not Tuesday but it is Tour de Fleece so let's talk spinning.
Once again I'm spinning along with the Tour de France in the Tour de Fleece. I've joined just 2 teams this time. My local team; St. Cloud Knitters and the Gritty Knits team.
My local team had a lovely kickoff party again and I brought my Vespera electric wheel. I was pretty happy with the progress I made too! I worked on my partial bobbin, finishing up the spinning on it.

This is Serenity on Merino from Gritty Knits. I managed to finish up the singles at the party on Saturday.
I also managed to spin up the singles of this lovely Gritty Knits Merino called Engram.
Technically I think I finished them up on Sunday and I'm not sure that I even took a picture of the finished singles. The yarn is plied now and will be getting its bath in the next couple of days so you can take a look at it then.
I plied the Serenity on Sunday and started some lovely Polwarth that I purchased from a friend/local dyer called Champs Elysees. I have 8 ounces so it's going to take some time, especially since it's spinning so lovely and fine.

I really like how the Serenity turned out, although towards the end I got impatient to spin something else and ended up spinning my singles a bit thicker than I had at the beginning. Since I chain-plied it I got less yardage than I had hoped and ended up with a little bit thicker yarn on one end than the other. That's okay, I will make it work. It's still lovely handspun.
I'm really proud of myself for sticking with the spinning every day thing. Yesterday was quite a day. After work in the morning I had to make a bunch of phone calls regarding my car which needed some work (the bane of my existence, phone calls) and then rearrange our living room (by myself before the husband got home from work) and clean up under the couch so the couch could go out to the curb for large goods pickup on Saturday. When he got home we carried it out. I'm so glad it's leaving honestly! I was so tired after all that in the heat of the day that I was so proud of myself for sitting down at the wheel after supper when we decided to watch a little TV. I'm about half done with the first braid of Polwarth so if I stick to this progress, soon I should have the first 4 ounces of the Polwarth finished and ready for plying. I'm hoping it won't take the rest of the tour and I can get some other spinning in too! Although the Vespera e-spinner is currently empty. I could start something on that!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wolkig on the Needles

Sometimes a new project is just the thing to get you out of a knitting funk. Well, I decided that was just what I was going to do and a beautiful skein of yarn lying around with my stash happened to catch my eye.

It's a beautiful skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino. I realized I  hadn't uploaded it into my Ravelry stash yet so I did that first. That's something I'm trying so hard to keep updated and this was purchased in 2015 so that's pretty sad. Then, I wound it into a beautiful cake.

I just love how the colors look together and working with it reminded me why I love this yarn so much! It's round and bouncy and beautiful.
I decided to cast on Wolkig by Martina Behm. When I first saw the pattern I wasn't immediately called to it but seeing one in person at Knit Night that a friend was knitting convinced me.
So I cast on and got going. I knit what felt like a ton of rounds on it and it still didn't look like much.

Just a loop. But if I straightened it out, you could start to see how it was shaping up.

I think the way it curls really hides the amount of work you've put into it. Add that to the fact that the simple pattern is repeated 4 times around and it makes you feel like you've knit much more than you actually have.
I decided I wanted to make some serious progress on it so I sat down and really worked on it. Then it looked like this.

Now you can really see what's happening with it. Of course, after this I dropped a stitch and because of where it was and how far it went down, I couldn't get it picked back up and I had to take it off the needle and pull out about 5 rounds to get it back to a point where I could pick up the stitch. Super annoying but I've got it on again and I'm going again.
The pattern is really fun. I love how simple it is so you don't have to think about it too much but yet it isn't so simple that you get bored either. I hope I still feel that way in 100 yards.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Niggling Things

Oh hello there. I seem to have allowed my little blog to fall by the wayside once more. I'm sorry about that. Things have been so crazy and I've been struggling to hold everything together. Then our bunny died. Then our Guinea pig died. It's been rough. 
Honestly I often find myself coming home and just sitting there or playing with my phone rather than crafting. But I miss it. Just like I miss my little blog. So I'm going to try once more to pick this up again.
Since today is Tuesday, let's talk spinning. 
I recently went to a Knitting event put on by some of my local Knitter friends and sat next to a friend who was spinning the most beautiful fiber. It was from Pigeonroof studios and I just loved how the white spaces blended into the singles. It reminded me of some yarn another friend had spun that I adored. It had similar white spaces on the Superwash merino. The yarn came out mottled gray and beautiful with just a few spots of brighter color. I loved it.
Well, then an opportunity presented itself to buy some Pigeonroof studios fiber from a destash. I jumped on it. 
I got this one: whirligig and
This one. It's called Collusion and with the pops of purple I thought it would blend and smooth into a beautiful grayish yarn with pops of color. 
So, of course, I had to start spinning it right away. I chose to use my electric spinner because I know Superwash Merino can be slippery and I thought the even tension and intake would help me be consistent. It seems to be working, although it does want to spin very fine so I have had several breaks. 
I finished the first bobbin two weeks ago. 
I am loving how it turned out and I can't wait to see how it looks plied up. I've been trying to make an effort to spin the second half of the fiber. Now that Tour de Fleece is coming up fast, I'm hoping to get it done and plied before that starts so I can have the bobbins back.
I have 3 for my electric spinner and I would like to take it to our all day spin-a-thon kickoff party so I would like to have the bobbins cleared off and ready for it. 
I haven't set any specific goals yet but I'm planning to dig through my fiber stash and make some plans on what I would like to spin at least. 
I made a concerted effort to log in all my new yarn and fiber today too so that is all caught up and not niggling in the back of my brain. It feels good to get these things going again. Here's hoping I can keep it up. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Necessity and Invention

I'm sure you've heard the expression "necessity is the mother of invention" right? Well, this week I experienced both. 
I decided to make something in the most scientific way (not even close). I started with a cardboard box I had to wrestle away from my cats. They were trying to jump in it as I was taking it.
I also used some very old aluminum knitting needles that I never use anymore. (Why are these still in my house?) 
Here it is about halfway through. Any ideas yet? 
Very hopeful! I think it will work.
See, what I didn't tell you and probably should have, is about my new tool. 
I've been thinking for some time about an electronic spinning wheel or e-spinner. Not for any reason other than I like to sit with my feet up either in bed (my favorite snuggly spot) or on our couch which reclines. Especially in the winter when our floor is cold, I find myself not spinning much at all and I miss it so much! So I started doing some looking around and found some very nice but spendy e-spinners. That slowed me down quite a bit, imagining trying to save up for one for ages. Well, then my husband mentioned that he would like to get me a "really nice" birthday gift to make up for the lean years when I barely got any gifts. He mentioned jewelry which, don't get me wrong, I love jewelry but I don't need anything too fancy. I still have nightmares about losing my wedding ring! Just about that time I found a reasonably priced e-spinner that seemed like it would be perfect. 
With a little persuasion (and ordering it myself) I ended up with a lovely new tool for my fiber crafting.
Isn't she beautiful? This is the Heavenly Handspinning Vespera with the hand control. 
Well, to keep the cost down and also thinking I could make something else work, I decided to order just the spinner and not the lazy Kate. The trouble was, once the e-spinner arrived I realized just how big the bobbins are and just how much they would not fit on my Schacht Lazy Kate. 
So I resolved to work out some sort of makeshift Kate until I can purchase a nicer one. (I think I would like to get an Akerworks Kate, they seem really nice and would be so portable and work with my Schacht bobbins too.) 
Well, time passed, as it's been known to do and I hadn't set anything up. Which means I was kind of stuck. It came with 3 bobbins which is a good amount but I spun up some quick fiber just to get a feel for it, intending to do one of my quick and dirty 2-ply yarns with it but then I started a new spin on the third bobbin. The first two just sat there. It was high time to at least wind them off so they could be plied right? But I still hadn't set up a Kate. 
That leads me to today.
Hooray! A very unscientific and temporary solution. But a very good example of necessity being the mother of invention! Now I'm off to wind these singles off and get these bobbins back.