Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sweet as Honey

I've been knitting away on my cowl, although it's now gotten so warm outside it makes a cowl look a bit ridiculous. I don't think I've mentioned before that it's the Honey cowl pattern, although I knit it with lighter yarn, fingering weight. The yarn is actually Gritty Knits, as I know I've mentioned about 15 times before, I'm in her Merino-of-the-month club and this fiber was from January 2013. I spun it awhile back and didn't put it away in the stash. It just sat there, looking at me, begging to be knit so I finally caved. I tried it in a lovely shawl pattern. It didn't work. The colors were great but the bouncy puffiness of the yarn completely hid the lovely lace. So, I changed it up. I started this cowl.
I used a fingering-weight cowl pattern to know how many to cast on and I can say; I don't love how big it is. It's a little too wide. I may have to stick a shawl pin or something in it to keep it close around the neck so it isn't too loose and not warming. I did manage to finally decide I'd knit it tall enough though and cast off. It's about 8 inches tall and that's plenty for a cowl in my opinion.

I really like the way it came out. The stripes are especially fun and the simple slip stitch pattern was mostly fun to knit. Toward the middle it slogged a bit but I decided to just keep going and somewhere along the way, I found my joy in the simplicity again.
One of the best things?

This little ball of leftovers. I'm thinking it just might be enough for some very simple, short little handwarmers. Which will totally match the cowl. How fun is that?
Sweet as (handspun) honey.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hazy Lace

Tuesdays are for spinning and today is Tuesday, although with Memorial day yesterday (here in the United States at least), it really doesn't feel like it could be Tuesday at all. I did finish some lovely spinning I've been wanting to share though. The Zarzuela Fibers BFL/Silk in January Haze.
It started out as a lovely braid of pinky-purpley fiber with sections of gray. Absolutely beautiful but for some reason it just wasn't calling to me to spin. I wanted to spin something fine and lacy though and silk blends are so great for that so I decided to give it a try.
To be honest after I started it, this sat for several weeks just waiting to be spun because it didn't hold my interest. They're all colors I love but for some reason, they weren't colors I wanted to spin. I brought my lovely Schacht Matchless spinning wheel to Shepherd's Harvest this year though, with this braid on it and all the quiet time around fiber and fibery people encouraged me. I got moving on it and finished the first half of the braid. I even got a start on the second half.
Once I got home I found my love for spinning returning and I decided since I was on the second half, I might as well keep on spinning. I did and soon finished the second half of the braid. The next day (Yes, that's right, I actually waited overnight like recommended. Sometimes I can be responsible.) I plied it up. Hours and hours of plying later I had this;

A gorgeous braid of fiber. I'm a little disappointed in my yardage, 520 yards doesn't seem like a whole lot when I think about how much time I spent spinning it. Although a great deal of that time was spent ignoring it so maybe that shouldn't count.

It's lovely and shaded and skinny though and I can't wait to figure out what it would like to be knit into. I think it's going to be amazing.
It hasn't had a bath yet so it's possible it will plump up a bit too, making the yardage much more reasonable, but we'll see.
A lovely lacy yarn just in time for the heat to kick in. It's just warm enough that I want to knit light, lacy things right now. Maybe a hazy sort of lace. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Shepherd's Harvest Recap

Life has been really busy lately with lots of family and real-life stuff getting in the way of fibery pursuits. I did have plans to attend Shepherd's Harvest Festival with a friend though and snuck away to do just that.
We drove down on Friday with a stop at Trader Joe's along the way, neither of us had been to one before so that was super fun. My friend picked up a little Rosemary plant that became her mascot for the weekend, like Prince William is mine. Yes, we are knitting nerds, we are also proud of it.
Friday we got to the hotel and checked in, lugged all our stuff up to our room and settled in to relax. I made a nice little nest of knitting and spinning on my bed and got all cozy.

The way we travel, we like the option to be anti-social in the evenings so we packed food for our little room fridge including these amazing little goat cheese medallions with herbes de provence. I could write a sonnet about them, they were amazingly delicious!

We crashed early and slept well; away from responsibilities like husbands, pets and children (hers not mine, the children at least). Saturday morning Prince William was raring to go.

He didn't want me to have a few minute to knit my purse sock and wake up. He wanted to get there!
Prince William loved the bunny agility.

Tested out a Sidekick wheel and tried desperately to talk me into taking it home with us.

It is awfully cute and he is awfully persuasive. One may have to come live here in the future.
All that persuading is rough on Prince William though, so he took a rest on the grass.

We decided to head back to the hotel for the day and have some relaxing time. I had barely purchased anything at this point, I seemed to just have trouble deciding what I wanted, that seemed to follow me all through the festival.  I just kept remembering the nice wool at home. Who actually does that?
Saturday evening at the hotel I relaxed and my friend attended the Antique Wheel talk downstairs. It sounded interesting but after all the outdoor time and wool fumes, I was ready to zone out in front of the TV. I didn't even get a whole lot of knitting done.
Sunday we got all our things together and headed back to the festival. This time I was able to make decisions (at least, to a point) I picked out a couple of things from the amazing choices at Cloudlover.

And because of these sweet little additions to my friend's home, we set up outside with our wheels.

Meet Sugar and Stinker, two adorable little red-eyed white angora rabbits. They're both females and are a mix of English, French and mostly German Angora. She's super excited to have fibery animals and is learned all kinds of things about their care.

Prince William really enjoyed the spinning outside, although lots of people thought we were demonstrators and asked us lots of questions. He even conceded that the Matchless is a very good, if heavy to carry around wheel and we could wait on the Sidekick (it helped that the one we tried was conspicuously absent from the festival the second day).
Eventually the time came to pack up and head for home. Rosemary and Prince William said a sad good-bye.

We headed off for home with some lovely things in tow.

It was a great time and I'm so glad we got away from everything for a couple of days. I really think I should get away again. Like today. (Too much real-life stress.)
I've definitely rekindled my passion for my spinning, which has been lacking the last couple of weeks, and I'm excited to actually get some knitting done too.

Some lovely things are kicking around needing finishing.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Starting Something

This weekend I seem to have contracted some sort of virus. A knitting virus that is. First, on Friday night I started some mittens. I know, it's a silly time of year to knit mittens but I've been thinking of knitting them for awhile and since they're colorwork (and will hopefully be a gift) I decided having extra time would not be a bad idea. I cast on and knit my little heart out. Sometimes colorwork is just what you need.

On Saturday morning I finished the cuff and moved on to the hand chart, the part with the actual Octopus. It was then that I noticed it looked a little small though. Too small. I tried to pull it onto my hand. Yup, barely fits me and I have fairly small hands. It needs a rip. (Although I might put them on waste yarn and try blocking first.)
I was so sad that these lovely mittens needed a ripping that I set them aside and decided to work on something else. The trouble was, nothing else that was already in progress seemed like a good idea. So I dug out some handspun that had been staring at me, begging me to knit it.

The staring at me was partly my fault. It didn't get put away in the Handspun stash, it stayed next to my knitting spot so I could see it all the time. It's the lovely two-ply fingering weight merino I spun awhile back. The amazing blues and greens were just calling to me. I dug around my patterns for just the right project and finally cast on Magrathea by Martina Behm. I knit along, using the recommended needle size through the set-up chart. It wasn't working. Too stiff. I ripped and went up to a size 5 needle. I started again. I knit through the set-up chart again. This time I kept going.

Isn't it lovely? Did you catch that?
I was loving knitting Magrathea and I was loving the yarn, but not together, it just didn't work. I think the blue-green handspun was just too plump or something. Not sleek and smooth enough. I ripped again and cast on Magrathea with this lovely purpley handspun. It's really difficult to photograph this purpley-pink color, it is so much lovelier in real life than this photo suggests.
Well, that solved it right? I could knit away on something lovely while I had the mittens on a (hopefully brief) time out.
Except, that didn't solve it. I still had some blue-green handspun wound up and yelling at me. I was also tired last night, too tired to pay attention to a chart. Something had to be done.

At this rate, I'll never reduce the number of UFOs in this house like I intend to. Oh well, at least I'm happy with what I'm knitting right now. (Let's not think about that too much, at this rate all my needles will be in projects.)
Hopefully these should get me through this week which is fraught with real-life stressors.

Friday, May 02, 2014

Finished Wingspan

My knitting time has been lacking lately but I did manage to sit down last night and finish the lovely Wingspan shawl. I was really nervous about having enough yarn to knit the 8th wedge and I almost, almost decided to go for the edging right away but I didn't.
I managed to finish that last wedge and knit two rows of edging, instead of the four or five the pattern calls for and then I had to make a decision, rip out all or part of the last wedge and use it to knit more edge rows, do a bindoff from the opposite end using a crochet hook, which wouldn't involve any ripping but would make a tight bindoff edge or some other crazy plan that I hadn't thought of yet.
I decided to do the crochet hook cast off, thinking that the edge could use a little stability since I was still seeing a few gaps from the short row turns. Ultimately, I love how it turned out. I'm glad it doesn't have too much pink edging on the blue areas and the tighter bindoff still gives me the stable edge I wanted.

I love the subtle transitions and how it almost looks purple in some areas where the blue and pink are twirled around each other.

The faux Cashmere is so soft and lovely that I would have no problem wrapping this lovely thing around my neck all day and all night. As you can see, the ends still need to be woven in and I will block it gently although I really don't think it needs any help, it looks lovely as it is. Despite what an easy knit it is, I didn't knit on it all over town either, I kept it at home almost exclusively, wanting to keep it away from the friend I'm considering gifting it to.
The best part? This is how much yarn is left.

Those few inches (plus the few inches of the blue tail) are all that remains, I didn't waste any of it! That makes me so happy, especially with special handspun like this.
So, here we go:
The Specs:
Pattern: Wingspan by Maylin Tri'Coterie Designs, the free version not the updated paid version
Needle: US Size 5 (3.75mm)
Yarn: Sparktickes Dyes Faux Cashmere in Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad Series) handspun 2-ply gradient
Notes: The yarn was spun in October and November of last year. The needle is a size larger than the original pattern calls for and really too big for the yarn weight but I wanted something soft and loose in this divine yarn, not too tight or firm. If I can bear to part with it, this will be a gift but I will definitely knit this pattern again!