Friday, March 30, 2012

A Grinchy Idea

Yesterday I got an idea. An awful idea! I got a wonderful, awful idea! (anyone else a fan of the Grinch?)

As you know, I critter sit on Thursdays. That means I watch my friends two little girls. We call them critters. Well, since I spend the day at their house, I don't have access to all my fibery pursuits. I usually don't bring my wheel but I do bring some knitting and some spindle-spinning. Last week, I got bored with spindle-spinning what I had been working on so I pulled it off and started wheel-spinning it. (That happens a lot. I'm just so excited for it to be yarn that I can't wait!) That meant that I had whipped the fiber off the spindle so fast it was sitting there empty. I knew that wouldn't work so I dug around a bit yesterday morning and came up with something, tossed it in my knitting bag and headed out the door.

After the preschool run I had a bit of time before lunch so I pulled out the fiber and the spindle. I opened up the braid and started drafting it a bit to get ready to spin it. That's when I noticed that this braid I had thought was just a dark piney green actually had some blue on it.

See it? Right there on the bottom left? Blueish. I drafted some out and started spinning and that's when a little niggling thought popped into my head.

I have some blue and green at home.
I have some blue and green at home.

Wait a second! I have some fiber at home that's blue and green. Fiber I haven't spun yet.

A couple of summers ago we had a spinning party at my house for Tour de Fleece. It was a fun and fiber-filled day. I ended up buying some fiber out of a stash and some fiber from my friend's etsy shop (actually the one with the critters). I had thought and thought about them and decided that I liked them both enough and they matched enough that I could spin them and ply them together to get a lovely yarn to be knit into something. I was thinking a two-ply laceweight. 8 ounces of laceweight would add up to a lovely something.

I wasn't sure what it would be when it was finished but it didn't much matter since I hadn't spun it anyway. It was marinating.

Then, this idea hit me. The one with this other braid and I started smiling my Grinch-iest smile. I would spin all 3 braids, ply them together and knit something. But what?

Well, here's one of the two marinating braids. It's Merino from Gritty Knits from before I was in the club.

Here's the kicker though. Here's the other braid.

Merino and silk! 80/20. Lovely and shiny and all the same colors.

The newest braid is also from Gritty knits, it's the December 2011 Merino-of-the-month braid and it's just lovely too. Darker though and more like a pine green in most places. I think it will give a lot of depth to the yarn.

It was decided. I would spin all three of them and ply them together. Then it struck me what I would knit.

It didn't take me long to land on the Wispy Cardi by Hanna Fettig. It's got an interesting construction and would be a very cute 3/4 length sleeve cardi which is perfect for me. But, would I be able to get enough?

I looked up the yardage requirements. The original pattern calls for 3 skeins (for my size) of Malabrigo lace. Each skein is 470 yards. I have three 4-ounce braids of fiber, I frequently get sock-weight yarn that's 3-ply that's about 470 yards so I think I can pull it off. A lovely Grinchy green (and blue) sweater.

Doesn't it sound like a fabulous adventure? I'm very excited. (Of course now that I've told you about it, I will probably crash and burn on this project but I'm gonna have high hopes anyway.)

The only problem? Now what will I spin on the spindle. That merino has already been whipped off the spindle. It's empty again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Finishing a Few Things

The weather of course turned on me. It has now been cold and windy so I have not wanted to spend much time outdoors. Tricksy March is like that. Tease you with a bit of spring and then snatch it away just as you get used to it. Of course, not spending a lot of time outdoors is okay because more knitting tends to get done.

I finished one of my test-knits.

I happily introduce the Crescentina Shawl. This, as I said, was a test-knit for SimpleKnits. It will be available soon on her blog.

It's knit sideways in garter stitch and has a lovely lace edging that you knit as you go. I knit mine on size 9 needles (there are 3 size options) and used about 358 yards of ArtYarns Supermerino in Color 138.
When I first finished this shawl I was a little disappointed in the size. It seemed far too small for my taste but a good blocking proved enough to make it grow.

It's now a lovely 56.5 inches across the top and 17.75 inches deep. Just right for wrapping around your shoulders on a slightly chilly day like today has turned out to be. I just love it.

That's not all that I managed to finished though. I also finished the sweater for Critter #1.

I'm so excited to give it to her and also excited to have met my Easter deadline with this project. They are going to look so sweet in their little dresses with these sweaters on.

I've got a couple of other projects with deadlines and then I'm happy to report that my knitting can go back to being my own again. Remind me of this feeling when I think about signing up for more and more test-knits okay.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Slow, Steady and Spring!

The knitting is continuing much in the same way that it has been. Slow and steady. I'm really enjoying everything I'm working on, it just isn't making a ton of progress since I've been working on so many things.

My test-knit is slowly growing. It's turning out just lovely!

I'm not sure how many details I'm supposed to share about this so I will wait and list them at the end. Although I will say that the yarn is ArtYarns Supermerino in Color 138.

I also realized that I haven't posted any pictures of a couple of projects I've been slowly working on. The first were my purse socks until the needles got swiped for the secret project.

They're sitting on 7" needles now and I don't love that length so I haven't been working on them. (I really have enough projects too. I don't need to be working on these.) Also, I apologize for the blurry photo, apparently I've had too much coffee.
These are handspun socks. The fiber is Fiber Optic Yarns Sweet Georgia Brown in Superwash Merino that I purchased from a destash quite awhile ago. I spun and Navajo-plied this yarn and I'm now knitting it on size US 1 needles. I really like how it's turning out. Someday I will get back to these.

Currently my purse socks, which really only get worked on when I'm out somewhere and just need a row or two are these.

The yarn is some lovely Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet in a color I call "Berries" that I got for my birthday a few years ago. Of course, I had to go to the yarn store and pick it out but that still counts as a birthday present.
The pattern is one I heard about while watching old episodes of Round the Twist with Carin. It's called Hermione's Everyday socks and it's a free pattern available on Ravelry. It's a very simple stitch pattern but it makes a lovely textured sock that I am enjoying knitting so much!

Of course, I've been spending lots of time knitting outside because this is a photo of a small portion of my back yard.

Yup, you see that right. It's the first day of Spring and it actually looks like Spring out there. The grass is starting to grow! Of course today it's sort of grey and looks like rain but it's still warm and lovely. I'm going to go and enjoy it for awhile now.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Same Old but with a Twist

A few things have been going on this week, although none of them are super exciting. Remember the first Critter sweater?
Well, here it is:

On the little one! Yup. My kinda kid, makes a face at the camera.

Well, I finished the body of the other critter sweater today.

I'm still wondering why I knit the smaller one first but I'm glad the body is done. I do think they should reconsider the sleeve-length though. Well, okay, maybe not. A girl can dream though. Hah!
I will probably wait to pick up for the sleeves tomorrow when I can have the older critter try on the sweater first. Just as a double-check. (If it came out too big I will probably cry. Although she does grow like a weed.)

I also volunteered to do a test-knit. (I know, what is with me this week!)
I'm using this lovely stash yarn.

It's Artyarns Supermerino and it's lovely. The color is somewhere between the two pictures so I'm posting both. Look for something lovely knit from this soon.

See, like I said, nothing super amazing or exciting this week, just the norm. It's kinda nice for a change.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day

Today is March 14. That is 3-14 or the start of Pi. You know, 3.14, etc. etc. Yes, I know, I'm a total nerd. I'm completely okay with that.

Not much has been going on that's new. I haven't finished any more spinning and I haven't finished any knitting projects either. I'm spending most of my time knitting one critter sweater but something about it makes my right wrist hurt so I have to work on it in stages.

My spinning time is spent spinning some lovely wool that I got from a lady at spinning guild. I have spun about 11 ounces of the two pounds so far and plied it into about 440 yards of lovely 3-ply yarn. The trouble with this is that it's dark grey yarn, it's not easy to photograph (or very interesting to photograph) and that's not even mentioning that the 3 skeins are still damp from washing last night. The good news is that the 3 skeins are outside drying on the clothesline now.

Yes, it's that beautiful outside, the sun is shining in a lovely way and I'm enjoying it immensely. I'm not holding out hope that spring is actually here yet though, March can be tricky and make you think that it is Spring only to kick you when you're down. I refuse to believe it. I will enjoy it though. I'm going to head outside and do some spinning out there for awhile.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Spinning Like a Fiend

Things have been spinning up a great deal lately. there's just something about spinning. I cannot for the life of me explain it but I've found myself doing more spinning than anything else lately. First, I was working on the 4 ounces of Merino from Gritty Knits in the September 2011
Merino-of-the-Month color.

I finally finished spinning it and dutifully waited overnight to start plying. I plied and plied and plied. Then I went to bed and slept and started plying again the next day. I plied and plied and plied and plied some more. (I really wanted this yarn or I would so have lost interest sooner.) I finally finished.

It came out just beautiful.

As I've mentioned before, it's navajo-plied to keep the colors together and I spun straight through the braid to make it almost like a gradient with one color on one end, a different color on the other and the center completely different. This picture doesn't totally do it justice, you can't see how the colors move through the skein.

I tried to hold it out so you could see a bit better.

It sort of worked. I think you won't really be able to see it well until I wind it up and I am vehemently resisting because I have a couple of projects on deadlines and I know I won't be able to resist this yarn once it's wound into a ball. I will have to cast something on at the soonest possible moment.

As I said, it came out lovely. I got (prewashing measurement) 658 yards of Navajo-plied yarn. I cannot believe the yardage. This is 4 ounces people! I think it's safe to say this came out as laceweight and I'm so excited and happy with it. I'm telling you, the resistance I'm displaying in not winding it up is amazing.

But that's not all! (Infomercial Style) Remember the Spunky Eclectic yarn that I spun up awhile ago. As you may remember, I didn't love it but a lovely friend from my knitting group did and we arranged a trade. The yarn has gone to live in it's new home and something else has come to live in my home.

Two of these amazing braids of Falkland. The colorway is Giza Shadows and they're dyed by Fiber Fancy which is a dyer I hadn't tried before. I think the soft subtle shading in these braids is amazing. I absolutely love them. As a matter of fact, I love them so much that although I received these on Sunday evening at Knit Night, I had this by Monday evening.

Well, look at that, it's a lovely skein of worsted weight yarn. I really debated about how I would ply this fiber, I knew I wanted about a worsted weight to knit some great spring project (once my deadline knitting is done of course.) I'm thinking a bag or purse as a matter of fact. Any suggestions?

Anyway, I really debated about how I would ply this yarn but ultimately decided to Navajo-ply. What can I say, I love how it keeps the colors together. I really love how it turned out too.

This first skein has about 200 yards and the second has a bit less so it might be closer to a bulky-weight. What's that? The other skein? Oh yes, that's right, today I finished plying the second skein of this yarn. I still absolutely love it and I'm so excited to get to knitting but I have things to finish first.

One of my deadline projects is a sort of secret but the other is not. It's the second of the Critter sweaters. It's the larger of the two, for the older girl and I had a minor mishap in that I had it come out way too big. I was past dividing for the sleeves when I realized it so I have some ripping and reknitting to do. If you need me, that's where I'll be.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Insomnia and a Cowl or How Sometimes Things Just Come Together

As you may have heard (since I've been whining about it pretty constantly) I have had a cold lately. In trying to stay bundled up and warm while not spending all my time in bed, I've been wearing my little shawlettes around my neck a lot. I do this all the time when I'm well also but in this case it was partly to stay warm and protect my neck. They kept falling off though and I was getting very frustrated. I decided, for the first time in my life, that I wanted a cowl that didn't come undone, that you had to pull over your neck and it would stay on. Since I'm still on a yarn diet and really, I wasn't going anywhere to buy yarn anyway, I went stash-diving and came up with some lovely pink yarn.

There's a big old sticker over the label so I can't really read it but it does say that it's made of Angora, wool and nylon and that total (with both skeins) I have about 250 yards. I cast on and started knitting. In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I got this yarn from a friend's destash and she originally purchased it from Tuesday Morning, I think.
The reason I'm giving you full disclosure is that I started to have a few issues. The yarn was broken in quite a few places. I was able to splice it but I wasn't too happy about it. It was turning out pretty nice and fuzzy and soft and suddenly I noticed that my nose was even stuffier and I was starting to get itchy.
I think it was the yarn. I think I somehow have an allergy to it. What finally clinched it was that I ended up with a terrible headache. Now, here's what's strange. I've worked with angora before. I like angora. I think it's soft and lovely. I wanted to work with this yarn but I just couldn't. I'm wondering if there's some issue with the cleanser that's used to process angora commercially. Angora straight off the rabbit is fine but this and some roving that I was spinning at one time that was Cormo/Angora (and absolutely fabulous) gave me the same issues.
The headache is what really sealed the fate of this poor little yarn.

There it is. Glaring out from its plastic prison. Hah! I win. Except of course that I still didn't have a cowl. I was completely through the first chart too. That's 10 rounds of 130 stitches. (Oh dear, I just realized that was 1300 stitches. A few hours of my life, then it was whisked off the needles and imprisoned.)

Anyway, I still didn't have a beautiful cowl so I went back to the stash and came up with this:

Remember this? It was easy to find since it still wasn't actually put away. It's a smaller than 4 ounces skein of Gritty Knits Merino of the Month from November 2011. (It's less than 4 ounces because I took some of the spinning fiber off the braid and plan to use it for a different spinning project.) I just recently spun it into 246 yards of a squishy and soft sport-weight yarn.
I decided it was perfect and I cast on. I was going to knit myself through those first 10 rounds and go to bed but I couldn't sleep so I just kept watching video podcasts and knitting and knitting and knitting. By morning I hadn't had any sleep but I did have this.

A very lovely cowl. I literally put it on and laid down and got some sleep. When I got up I wove in the ends and took this picture for the blog.

Here's what remains of the yarn. I'm thinking it will probably end up becoming hexipuffs.
Back to the cowl. Here are:
The Stats:
The Pattern: Eleanor Cowl by Audrey Knight from Knitty
The Yarn: Gritty Knits Merino of the Month November 2011. Spun into 246 yards of sportweight yarn. (I have about 54 yards leftover)
The Gauge: I didn't measure my gauge, I just used the needles called for in the pattern and knit. I like it though so it worked out just fine.
The Needles: Size US 7, Size US 5 and Size US 4. The pattern calls for circulars in 16" of each, I didn't have 16" circulars of all those sizes and didn't want to knit it flat so I just used DPNs.
The Notes: This pattern was an absolute joy to knit, it turned out extremely lovely. The cowl could do with a good wash and block now but that would involve taking it off so we'll see how long it actually takes to get to that point. It's a bit taller than I would have thought, it sits quite bunched up on my neck so if I were to knit it again and I might, I think I wouldn't do that extra repeat of rows 23-49 on chart B.
If you are interested in a cowl at all, I suggest you check out this pattern, it's really quite lovely and well-written. It has directions for both knitting in the round or knitting it flat.
The Modifications: I did make a few modifications to this pattern. Any time there was a knit stitch in between a bunch of purl stitches or right next to a bunch of purl stitches, I knit it through the back loop to keep those knit stitches well-defined. I think it really added to the look of it and I'd recommend doing the same.