Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Four Hundred and a Giveaway!

This is my 400th blog post! I feel like it should be epic. It really isn't though, just everyday knitting stuff.
My Vesper KAL socks for July are on a timeout because I managed to completely snap one of my needles. Really I can just swap out another set but I was kinda annoyed so they're taking a short break.
I've started a few new things recently. I started a baby sweater for a friend who is having a little one in January. She adores the color green (especially this bright, lovely green) so I cast on a green baby sweater.

So far it doesn't look like much of anything but it will knit up quickly if I actually work on it. The yarn is nom from Gritty Knits in the colorway Brazil and the pattern is Maile Sweater by Nikki Van De Car. They don't know the gender yet (although we have suspicions) so I'm hoping the color and pattern won't look too girly in case it isn't a girl.
I also finally started my Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief. It's knit from my Cloudlover handspun Merino/Silk in the colorway Ligeia. It's beautiful and over 500 yards of chain-plied yarn so although I'm knitting it on size US 3 needles, it should be a decent kerchief.

I cast this on then promptly went to a family reunion bringing ONLY this project. If you know me in real life, you know that's odd. I knit on it a lot in the car since my husband drove and while visiting with family. Then we went and hung out with our gaming friends and I knit on it some more. I got a good distance on it since it was all I had to knit! 
I also decided that my lovely little French Press Slippers, which I adore, were too worn out to repair so I had to knit another pair. This is my third pair! I just love them because I can wear them everywhere.
They're not too heat-inducing for the summer and they're great for spring/fall/winter too.

Hard to believe these will fit my feet soon isn't it? They're in felting right now though. I started these last night and finished them this morning. I only took so long to knit them because I spent a little time reading last night and also I really took my time sewing up the outside edges, reinforcing it because that's where the other two pairs have worn out. I don't bother with the strap part of the slippers, it's purely decorative and they stay on fine without so I just keep them as they are. I am hoping to dye these some other color but we'll see. The white might be cute.
The Garter Monster Shawl Take 2, Mini monster is finished too!

It's one of the three projects I finished knitting while visiting with family. I really like how this one turned out too and I'm going to be writing up the pattern (then looking for test-knitters) so I can release it as a pattern! You may remember the original Garter Monster knit from DK/worsted yarn. I wanted to knit it again to make more detailed notes about the pattern so I used a fingering-weight handspun. I think it turned out beautiful.

I'm going out of town again this weekend so I will probably take one or both of the Garter Monsters to wrap up in if the Air conditioning is too chilly.

The month of August is coming up fast and it's set to be very busy so there will be lots of running here and there. Hopefully it won't affect the blogging schedule too much because the travel will be mostly on the weekends.
In the meantime I really need a travel sock so it's time to dig out some other needles for that Vesper sock. It can't hide in it's project bag forever.
Also, since it is a special 400th Blog post, let's do a giveaway! 

This is a 4 ounce braid of Zarzuela Fibers Falkland. The colorway is Cinnamon Stick and it was part of her fiber club for September 2012.

I'm going to give this away as a custom-spin! You tell me how you'd like it spun and I'll do my best to comply! Two-ply lace? Chain-plied worsted? Let me know what you want! All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this blog post. I'll leave it open until August 15th to be sure everyone has a chance to enter. At that time I will close the comments and draw a winner! We will communicate and I will spin it up for you. (Please note, I hate that I have to say this but nasty and negative comments will be deleted and not considered for the drawing.)

Friday, July 26, 2013


I'm so sorry for the blog silence. I was working along on the Tour de Fleece and really enjoying it when things took a big change. Last week on Tuesday my great aunt was in a car accident. She was killed instantly. We weren't very close in the last few years but we exchanged Christmas cards every year and I had been out to her house for coffee a few times with my mom and grandma. She had health issues, including her heart but we never expected anything like this. It came as a huge shock.
Things immediately changed as I had to travel to be with family, help plan and attend a funeral. It's times like these when you truly appreciate the Elizabeth Zimmermann quote:
"Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises." 
That's what I did. I packed several knitting projects and some spinning because it was the Tour de Fleece and I travelled to be with my family. And I knit. I packed about 4 knitting projects. Over the week I was with my family, I finished 3 of them. They'll each have their moment in the sun but for now, let's focus on one.
I had taken my Multnomah out and was knitting away again. It didn't look like much finished.

But blocking is magical and it's waiting to dry now. It looks wonderful!

I really like this pattern and I would totally consider knitting it again, I love the idea of doing one that's larger too. I love the way it breaks up the colors in a hand-dyed yarn too. Although this Alpaca Sox is a commercial yarn, I had lots of trouble with pooling when I tried to knit other patterns.
The days were busy, full of family and lots to do but the nights, trying to sleep with your mind racing was difficult. Although we weren't close in the last few years, my grandmother and her sister were very close, they spoke daily. They lived close to each other and spent many days together, this will be difficult for her. I have so many memories of visiting her farm and playing as a child and yes, learning to knit. This amazing aunt is the one who taught me to knit. Coming to terms with the end of that has been difficult, more difficult than I thought it would be but I'm happy to say; I'm coming through the other side, thanks in no small part to my knitting and my family. This shawl's for you Gloria.
My husband did his best to understand why I was gone so long (although he was down for the funeral, he travelled home after) and to try to tidy up the house for me so it wouldn't be such a shock to come home. The lovely things awaiting my arrival from the mailbox helped too!

For now I'm going to settle back into life at home and take some time to knit.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Itching for Knitting

I've been really focused on spinning lately since it's the Tour de Fleece and I'm working on some lovely things!

Targhee from Zarzuela in Emeralds (that's the green), Cloudlover Shetland in Decay and on the Russian supported spindle, Cloudlover Rambouillet in Iris. It's just gorgeous stuff and I'm making great progress but I'm definitely missing my knitting time.
I managed to finish my Vesper KAL socks for June while down with family for the 4th.

Short socks are so great for the summer and this colorway, called Clover Kiss, reminds me so much of clover! I love them. The green is much brighter green than it's showing up here, much more like a clover green.
I did cast on my July Vesper socks but I haven't really worked on them in days and I'm daydreaming about knitting a sweater. Yes, during the 90 degree heat, I'm daydreaming about sweater-knitting. I did dig out my Multnomah and started working on it again, in the hopes that a bit of knitting after I'm tired of spinning for the day would be nice but it's not scratching the itch. I haven't cast on my Age of Brass and Steam yet either, the balled yarn is glaring at me right now. I may have to cast on my Monday Morning Cardigan like I swatched for awhile back, you know, just to take the edge off.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

I'm slowly but surely making some slow progress on my TdF goals for this year. My drop spindle has been slowly filling up and I really feel like my Supported spindling is getting better.

I've been spinning some Cloudlover Rambouillet in Iris on the drop spindle and some Gritty Knits Merino on the supported spindle. I love the colors in the Merino but since it's so similar to the color of the spindle, I found it a little boring and the drop spindling is tough on my back since I most often do it sitting down and spend most of the time with my arms raised high trying to get a decent length before winding, so I've decided to put away the drop spindle for now and concentrate on the support spindle, with the rambouillet. I did spin almost an ounce onto the drop spindle though so I'm very happy to have made such progress. It really is amazing fiber.
Since I got home from family events for the Fourth of July (Independence Day here in the United States) I have been wheel spinning too. I'm mostly working on my Cloudlover Shetland Decay. I really love this color and it's so unusual for me to love these colors together.

Browns, orange and some bright blue. It just looks great. I originally split the braid down the middle to spin into a two-ply. It's spinning very well and I'm not making any effort to make it super fine so I think it will be a sport weight if I two-ply it. Did you catch that? It was kinda subtle.
The truth is, I'm not sure I'm going to two-ply it. I just don't know how useful a two-ply sportweight will be in Shetland. I wouldn't knit a shawlette out of it since it's not the softest fiber and I have several hats and mitten sets, do I really need another? (I know, I live in Minnesota, I can always use another but let's gloss over that for the moment.) I'm considering changing my mind, making a three-ply and knitting bulky socks for the winter. The question then becomes should I chain-ply or traditional 3-ply. I have a little bit until a third of the fiber is actually on this bobbin so I will consider. Because I love the colors together and not necessarily individually, I'm leaning toward a traditional 3-ply but that will look completely different as yarn and then knit into socks so maybe a chain-ply will be fine. The color repeats appear to be long enough and then I wouldn't have to find extra bobbins somewhere in the office. Maybe now I'm leaning more toward chain-ply. You can see the trouble I'm having.
I'm also trying to go easy on the wheel-spinning because I managed to overdo it last week and my ankle is hurting. It's an old sprain that was never really given proper time to heal (long story involving a very bad doctor I couldn't change because it was a workman's comp issue. He retired soon after.) So I'm just trying to spin with my right foot which is fine as my Matchless is a single-treadle but I'm accustomed to switching to the other foot if one gets tired and I can't do that right now.
Maybe instead I'll just go knit this ball of handspun into an Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief.

It is calling to me. That's why it's wound up and ready to go instead of in a skein like it was before.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Slow Progress

I'm working hard on my Tour de Fleece goals. Saturday we had a great St. Cloud Knitters party and I got lots of spinning done. I'm really trying to keep up my momentum but it does take time.
I did manage to finish spinning my pretour fiber last night and today I plied it into yarn.

It's pictured here with my other spinning. The Zarzuela Targhee is started and I've been working on the Cormo/Cashmere batt I got at Shepherd's Harvest on my Russian Supported Spindle.
The yarn that's finished is that lovely purple though. It's chain-plied and I'm very happy to say it came out to be over 500 yards! I want to knit the Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief in the Smitten Yarns KAL so I'm very glad to have this finished and drying so I can cast on soon.

It sure does look pretty in the skein though doesn't it? It is definitely a little over-plied but after a wash and twack it's drying very nice and straight so I'm not worried about curling.

It's handspun so of course there's some variation in the yarn but overall averages a light fingering weight and I adore it. The colors are much deeper and richer than in the photos but I just can't seem to get a photo of it that has the right colors.