Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Tour de Fleece 2018

Things are a bit rough right now as my husband and I deal with some heavy family stuff. I don't really want to go into details here but suffice to say that I'm spending much of my time driving back and forth to his family. 
I am trying to participate in the Tour de Fleece this year though so Saturday morning when I got up I wiped down my wheel, cleaning off at least a year's worth of dust and dirt and re-oiled it then prepped my fiber and started to spin this lovely bit of business that has been in my stash for ages.

It's Freckle Face Fibers Superwash BFL in Guinevere. I purchased it from someone's destash years ago and it has been languishing ever since. partly because I am not particularly fond of spinning BFL anymore. I liked it when I was first starting and the longer staple length made for easier spinning but I tend to make it too dense now and I'm always disappointed by the yardage I get. Since this is Superwash I decided to give it a try anyway and split the braid lengthwise, then drafted one of the balls I wound up from the split and started spinning. I'm thinking it will make beautiful socks and I am hoping for something that will work to knit into socks. We'll see how it shapes up.
The biggest trouble for me right now is time. When I am at home I'm often too tired to do anything more than wash my face and collapse into bed. But I am trying to find a few minutes to spin here and there. And maybe that's all my goal needs to be this year, just try to find a few minutes for spinning each day.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Knit Night Trillian

My fiber-related mojo lately has lent itself more to my spinning. Which is good because I have lots of fiber and may have brought home some fleece from Shepherd's Harvest recently too. But because spinning takes time and I haven't actually finished anything completely, I don't really have anything to show off. I am considering it training for Tour de Fleece though. So far I'm just joining my local knitting group's team but that may change as time goes on. I've been thinking about digging out my supported spindle again lately. I miss supported spindling and I can do that even when I want to just sit quietly with my feet up after a long day.
Meanwhile, I went to knit night last night and I decided to start something new. None of the projects I have on the needles were really calling to me. Partly because some are big and bulky and I didn't want that heavy weight on me and partly because I just didn't feel like knitting some of them.
Since I decided I wanted something new right before I left, I decided to grab something that was already wound up. I ended up with this beautiful skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino DK that I got at Darn Knit Anyway last summer.
They wound it up for me in the shop. I also grabbed a needle I thought would work and hustled out the door.
Once I got to knit night I knew the trick would be to find something that would work with the colors in the yarn, be easy enough to start and knit at Knit Night while chatting and work with the single needle I had grabbed.
Thankfully that part was easy. I searched Ravelry and found a pattern in my library that I hadn't knit yet that I had been wanting to. It seemed simple and would look good with this particular yarn. So I cast on. It's Trillian by Martina Behm. A beautiful part of the Hitchhiker's Pattern collection.

I am in love with it! The pattern is simple, just a two-row repeat once you get it established and it's turning out so great. I think the needle I'm knitting it on is a little small but I'm liking the fabric and I'm looking for more of a decorative scarf than a warm bundle around my neck so I think I will be fine size-wise too.
The best test is that even after knit night last night, I didn't want to put it down and go to bed. I think this one will be a definite win!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


Sometimes I say things to myself like: I should wait to make a new blog post until I finish that project and have something to show.
Then I don't, so no post gets written.
Or: You should really do the dishes before you sit down to knit. And then I don't get any knitting time at all.
It seems to be a recurring theme with me. The feeling that I have to have things done before I can "reward" myself with some down time. But the thing is, there's always more to do. There's always 10 more things to add to my to do list and 15 more things I "should get done" also.
At the end of the day, I still find myself sitting down for a bit and listening to an audio book or reading or watching TV. Something where I enjoy a bit of time but I guess I'm not allowing myself to use that time for knitting if I don't feel like I got "enough" done that day.
I really don't want to be that way to myself. Knitting is soothing to me (mostly, there are those frustrating projects that make you want to shred the yarn with your teeth of course) and something that helps me relax and rest. Which we all need. You can't do the work you need to do if you are so exhausted you can't move or end up sick because you haven't gotten enough rest.
So I'm going to try to remind myself this week that sitting down to knit is a good thing. A necessary thing for my mental health. And something I want to do. So I'm going to do it.
Especially since May is Mental Health Awareness month and I know all of us, even those who don't suffer with mental illness, could use a little focus on ourselves and doing something that makes us happy once in awhile.
How about you? Is there something you're keeping from yourself that you use as a mental health break? Is there a way you can change your thinking about it so you don't feel guilty about taking that time for yourself?
I will be focusing on allowing myself to rest when I  need to rest and often, that will include some knitting.

Friday, April 20, 2018

New Pincha

As I've mentioned before, I've been feeling very lackluster when it comes to projects. I've always got my purse sock going and while I love the simplicity of a plain stockinette sock (almost always in self-striping yarn) I sometimes crave something more. 
We're going to be traveling this weekend to visit my in-laws and some friends. My husband will be doing the driving. That plus some down-time while we're with said friends and in-laws led me to wanting a new project. I briefly looked through everything that was on the needles and nothing really fit so I decided to go ahead and start something entirely new.
I've had my eye on the Pincha shawl for some time. (Linked to Ravelry but it's available on Knitty really.) It seems like such a unique shape and a really fun and unusual knit.
So I went stash diving. I found it difficult to find something that I thought would work for this pattern. I wanted something with some contrast between the colors in the variegation but not too much that it was shocking every time the colors moved. 
I finally settled on this skein of yarn in my stash. To be honest, I've lost the tag so I'm not absolutely sure what it is but I think it might be Schaeffer Anne. It was already wound into a cake so I thought it would be handy to grab and work with and I loved the jewel tones in it. I do have a little issue with mohair but I've worked with this yarn before so I hope it won't be too bad. If nothing else, maybe I can knit the shawl and give it as a gift.
I sat down yesterday afternoon when I had a little time and knit the first section which is called the first feather. I really tried to reserve judgement on how it was working until I had finished the first feather and I'm still not sure what I think.
It's difficult to tell in photos. It really just looks like a bit of a jumbled mess of garter stitch. It doesn't look quite so...wonky in person. I don't know that this yarn is quite right either though. The stretches of color are so short. If you look at the pattern pictures, it seems like their color repeats are longer and that might make a difference for how it looks knit up.
It's unusual, that's for sure and I do like the colors but I'm not sure it's right for this pattern. I will have to make a decision soon because we leave this afternoon.
The construction calls for a ton of short rows so it's all counting and turning. I'm not sure it will be the right project for this weekend either so I tossed another skein of sock yarn into my bag just in case I finish my purse socks and need to keep knitting. 
I am a little fascinated by how it works and I'm interested to see how the next feathers will work now  that I'm done with the first one so I definitely think I want to knit this pattern. Possibly in this yarn, possibly in something else. I looked over the project pictures on Ravelry and there's one knit in what looks like self-striping yarn that looks really fun. That gives me something else entirely to think about.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Fighting that Minnesota "Spring"

After I finished my Shamrockin' socks I immediately reached for another skein of Vesper because, let's be honest, I have a lot of it and also, it's beautiful.
Since the weather here in Minnesota has been decidedly un-springlike I chose something bright and fun. This lovely skein is from last year's Vesper Rainbow club.
Rainbows after rain was the March 2017 rainbow colorway and its sparkles and bright colors were just what I needed. Since I was still on a bit of a finishing high I was able to crank out the first sock pretty quickly.
I was at the toe last week actually and it was very awkward to take a picture so I decided to wait. 
In the meantime, I also got a pretty good jump on the second sock over the weekend.
I've noticed that if I'm excited because it's a new project or just a fun knit, I can make much faster progress and I haven't felt that way much with my projects lately. That's partly my own fault. Every project seems to have that middle part where it feels never ending and you have to sort of slog through. Sometimes I let myself get distracted at that point and wander away which leads to not getting it finished. (It may be more often than "sometimes")
Can we talk about another of my odd little quirks? I prefer to rewind the ball of yarn before I start the second sock. I don't absolutely have to if I'm out and am ready to start the second but I greatly prefer to, it just looks so much neater. Does anyone else rewind in between? Let me know if I'm the only oddball. 

Friday, April 06, 2018

Carrot Patch Brownies

I'm trying to make more time for my knitting as it seems to be what's keeping me sane at the moment. Everything is in fits and starts though. Usually when I do have time to knit, it's just a round or two and then I have 11,000 things I have to go and do. But progress is progress and that helps my sanity immensely.
Since I keep having to pick up and put down my knitting, I have been sticking almost exclusively with my simple stockinette purse sock. It's at an awkward place right now so I will wait and share it next week and instead share the fun little dessert I made for Easter.
I saw it online somewhere and I thought it would be SO CUTE! I think it turned out well and I was happy with it.
I made a pan of brownies and removed them from the pan (thanks to parchment paper underneath them). Then, I frosted them with chocolate frosting and pressed crushed animal crackers onto the frosting to look like dirt.
Finally, I dipped strawberries in white almond bark tinted orange so they would look like carrots. I even tried to drizzle lines across them so they would look more like carrots. Then added them to the "carrot patch" and put some mini Cadbury eggs so it would like they an egg hunt in the carrot patch. 
I especially wanted to share this with my niece because I thought she would get a kick out of them.
She did. I'm happy with how they turned out and they stayed nice and fudgey too. Which is perfect for a brownie in my opinion. This was all gluten free as well. And delicious!
I used the Aldi chocolate baking mix as directed for brownies (with oil not butter) and milk chocolate frosting in the store brand from CashWise/Coborn's. Then I used Kinnick kinnick chocolate animal cookies to crush for the "dirt."

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wait a Second, It isn't Tuesday?

I started writing this post on Tuesday but then an incident happened where our washer died and I had to drag the sopping clothes out and wring them out so I got sidetracked and forgot to finish. So you're getting this on Wednesday instead of Tuesday. We'll just say that for this week, Wednesdays are for spinning.
Quite some time ago, Hobbledehoy put up a pre-order for some Lord of the Rings Battlings. If you know me, you know that I love the Lord of the Rings and so, I placed an order. 
They were, of course, just as lovely as I had been imagining when they came. This set is the Rivendell Forest and they're lovely blues with touches of yellow. There's even a few places that are such a deep blue it almost looks black. My original plan was to spin it all onto one bobbin, spin the other set onto another bobbin (yeah, there's two. You didn't think this was all I got did you?) and ply them together. Once I saw them in person though, I decided I didn't want to do that. The colors are very different and I didn't want to tone them down too much. In either case. I didn't really have a plan but that didn't stop me from spinning up the lovely Battlings. 
Doesn't it look wonderful? I love the little hints of sparkle and how it goes from those pops of yellow back into the deep, rich blues. Such lovely fiber. (Don't mind the furry little legs of my assistant back there. My dear cats pretty much never let me do anything alone. Taking photos is included in that.)
At this point though, I needed to decide what I was going to do with it so I let it "rest" on the bobbin for awhile. And I thought about it. 
Eventually, I was watching the KnitGirllls podcast (probably my favorite podcast. I just love the interactions between Leslie and Laura, it makes me feel like I'm hanging out with a knitting group, even when I'm knitting alone). Laura was discussing how she had recently used some 100% silk thread to ply with and it got me thinking that maybe that was the right choice for this fiber. After all, at only 2 ounces, I didn't want to lose any yardage or tone down the colors by plying it back on itself. 
I thought about it for a bit. Then, I did some research on where I could find some silk thread. I ended up finding out that our semi-local (to me) JoAnn Fabrics had some. I decided to check it out the next time I was nearby. Then, I got a coupon in my email for 60% off and made a point to be nearby to get some thread. 
So exciting! 
There were limited color choices but I thought this bright royal blue would be good with the blues in the singles. I was completely and totally guessing on yardage. I had no idea what to expect! At one point during plying I thought I would have way too much thread leftover. Then, I thought I would completely run out of thread. Eventually, I had my lovely new yarn plied.
I just love it! It's a little unusual. Sort of lumpy and bumpy but I think that's really fun. You still get the great color changes but the thread adds something too. So, which ran out first? The thread or the singles?
The thread. But there wasn't much left of the singles so I didn't try to do anything with it. Just a few yards so I was pretty good on my guessing.
I really feel like this was the right choice for this fiber. It turned out so beautiful!
Now that it's off the Niddy Noddy though, it does need a bath, it's pretty curly. It feels a little bit scratchy because of the thread so I'm not sure what I will do with it but I really love it. I've got about 330 yards so a decent amount of a light sportweight or heavy fingering weight yarn. I can't wait to see if it puffs up in the bath!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Sometimes Finishing is the Hardest Part

I love to start a new project and I always have the best intentions. 
Like earlier this month, I started knitting my Shamrockin' sock yarn from Vesper in the hope of having new Shamrockin' socks for St. Patrick's Day.
Yeah. This is the look I got when I tried to finish them up on Saturday.

I'm pretty sure that's a no.
I did finish them now and as soon as it stops snowing (I know!!! It's supposed to Spring!) I hope to get some pictures taken.
Meanwhile I'll just be over here starting another new project. I did finish these socks after all.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Fancy Frogging

I've tried to post a few times and have had a problem with my pictures working. But it seems to be ok now. We'll see.
I definitely seem to have the winter blahs again this year so I'm fighting it with bright knitting.
Although as you can see, there's been some frogging too. Poor little Skew sock was too tight. I've only knit the pattern as written but I tend to be a tight knitter so I have to consciously knit more loosely or they don't fit. I wasn't. I decided that most of the pattern would lend itself *fairly* easily to an increase of stitches so I'm knitting it with 80 stitches around instead of 72 now. I'll let you know if it helps.
It sure looks fancy all piled up with curly yarn though doesn't it? Very pretty. Almost made up for the fact that it needed to be frogged. Almost.
In the meantime, I will try to soak up the sunshine and reasonable weather when I can, and make it through the winter once more. The days are already getting longer so we are on the way.