Tuesday, January 29, 2008

An Open Window to a New Opportunity

Just when I had all but given up, we found a house to rent! So I'm busy packing and cleaning and getting ready to move ASAP. Finally it feels like we're moving forward.

I finished and blocked the Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and I *love* it!

Chevron Scarf

I had about 550 yards of singles, which I was afraid wouldn't be enough, but I couldn't find anything to pair it with in my stash, so I just knit it with straight handspun, and I'm glad I did. The scarf is about 8 feet long, and I still have a little handspun left over.

Have you noticed this spin-knit project monogamy that I've been practicing this month? I've been having so much fun knitting with my handspun. In February, I plan to go back and start finishing the carry-over projects from last year. So it's a good thing I finished spinning this in time to cast on before February:

Forbidden Fruit 3-ply merino sock

The fiber is from FreckleFaceFibers on Etsy. I bought a few tops from her with some birthday money because I loved her rich, saturated colors, and I wasn't disappointed. The fiber is a little coarser and crimpier than I'm used to in a merino, but it made a nice yarn.

I was lamenting the fact that my handpainted roving stash was dwindling when I got it, so I decided to spin a finer yarn so that it would last longer. I split the top six ways lengthwise and spun two segments onto each of three bobbins, varying the order as I went to avoid stripes. I just wanted a rich, semisolid purple, and I think I got pretty close.

Of course, as soon as I got myself started on a long, involved spinning project that uses all of my bobbins, I got packages from Spunky Eclectic and Flawful Fibers. The Flawful Fibers one especially made me want to hurry up and get the sock yarn spun, already!

January Fiber Club

The colors are based off of a little painting called An Open Window to a New Opportunity, and thats just so fitting right now that I can hardly wait to make it up into something that I can see and use every day.

So yesterday I spun and spun and spun and spun and plied and plied and plied and plied until my bobbin was too full to take any more, and I still have singles left on all three bobbins. I have about 290 yards of the 3-ply, so I'm thinking out of curiosity and to avoid leftover singles, I'll Navajo-ply the rest and maybe I can make socks and fingerless gloves.

Also, it's my 1-year knit-iversary! It was the last weekend in January last year that I decided to learn to knit. I did some research online, and contacted one of my LYS because they said they taught classes at X time, but if they didn't have enough students the class wouldn't make. So I emailed to see if they had enough students and they never emailed me back. Undeterred, I went to the big Jo-Ann on Friday after work and got myself some dishcloth cotton and a set of needles and sat down with the KnittingHelp.com videos and knit my first swatch.

My first swatch

Which led to my first UFO.

My first UFO

I think maybe every stitch in that blanket is twisted.

My first finished objects were all felted, which, in retrospect, was pretty smart, because I was able to learn a lot of techniques without my mistakes showing. Last night, Bruneaux decided to eat one of them, so here I am, almost exactly a year later, knitting another pair of felted clogs for my husband. It is interesting to be following the pattern again with some experience under my belt, remembering how challenging it was for me then. For one thing, the first time around, all of my M1s left holes, but I didn't know how to fix it, so I told my husband it was supposed to be like that. After a trip through the washer, no more holes!

Lastly, since I spent all morning packing it up, I might as well flash the stash.


That's everything in the plastic bins, including sock yarn and fiber stash, dresser stash and living room basket stash and ottoman stash. I might have one more bin for equipment and works in progress, or I might just transport that stuff in knitting bags; I haven't decided. And there will be a box or two of books and magazines.

Not too bad, right? I'm glad for it, though, because my fiber budget is about zero until the house sells, and maybe for a while after!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Lise has very sweetly given me a blog award!


The rules are as follows: “Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times.”

So here are my nominees:

Bea at Baa Baa Blacksheep is so crafty with her sewing and knitting.
Rebekkah at Bowerbirdknits is very serious about knitting and spinning, in a good way.
Peggy at Chasing Bunny has been churning out the beautiful designs.
Janine at Feral Knitter inspires me with her colorwork projects.
Loribird at From the Wool Room cranks out the projects, and they're all beautiful.
Adrian at Hello Yarn makes me want to cast on whatever she's knitting.
Meghan has a new podcast, Stitch It, that is delightful.
Ami at Sour Cherries knits, spins, and takes pretty pictures of it all.
Sula at Sulala is always doing something innovative.
Whitney at WhitKnits makes such pretty sweaters.

Thanks, Lise, you made my day :)

EDIT: I totally feel like a spammer, leaving all these comments to come see my blog!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


So how many days, exactly, is it appropriate to go around without getting dressed? I think I'm probably over that number. The thing is, we're really hoping to find a place to rent or whatever before we list the house so we can take our clutter and a little extraneous furniture and, more importantly, the dogs, and leave the house in show-condition. It's hard to make a house look like there aren't any inside pets with this going on:


So I've basically got the house base level clean so I can just pick up little messes and dust and vacuum here and there and keep it nice. Next step is packing up anything that we'd be able to take with us, but it's looking like it's going to be a week or 10 days before we're able to get into anything. And, I keep telling myself, we may just have to list it and I'll be driving around with three dogs and their food and other paraphernalia whenever it shows, so maybe I shouldn't start boxing things up just yet. Either way, I'm in no real hurry to get started on that. And my husband has run off with my Mini because it gets better gas mileage than his truck, so if I want to go anywhere, I have to drive something that's about 4 times the size of what I'm used to, and that makes me nervous.

So, instead, I wound up my Helleborus BFL singles and have sat on my tushie knitting a scarf all day.

Chevron Scarf

I've never really thought of myself as a scarf-knitter, but I just can't put this down. I don't know what the deal is. I keep thinking, what will my husband say when he comes home and I'm still in my pajamas and this thing is about three miles long?* And then I think, ok, after this repeat, I'll get up and take a shower and run some errands. But I'm still here in my PJ's.

I have some squishee things to show you, though, and after I post this I can run one of them to the post office, so blogging is sort of like being productive.

Baby Surprise Accompli

Ta-daa!! Here's the Baby Surprise, with buttons and everything! The baby this is intended for was, last we heard, measuring in the 95th percentile for size, and his head was measuring in the 100th percentile. The daddy, a college friend of my husband's, is a big guy, so I didn't piddle around with any newborn sizes. The kid might never wear it. Instead, I went straight for the 1 year size.

As I've said before, the multicolor is my handspun (Summer Cabin BFL from FatCatKnits) and the brown is your standard Plymouth Galway Highland Heather. I followed the pattern and then, once done, picked up and knit an extra 5 ridges in brown on each cuff to match the solid button band, seamed it up, and then knit an applied i-cord on for the neckline. The neck looks to me like it might be a bit small, but since it's a jacket, they can always leave the top button undone, so I'm not terribly worried. What do I know about the size of baby necks, anyway?

The buttons are little leaves carved from coconut, and I think they're perfect. They're the same color as the brown yarn, so they're a nice detail without stealing the show.

When I was ordering fiber for this jacket, I got a few colorways that I thought might work because I didn't trust myself not to screw it up a couple of times. One was called "Sweet Promise" by FatCatKnits, and it was a superwash merino orange and brown and yellow, but when I got it I thought the oranges and browns were a little rosy for a boy's jacket. So, in the interest of learning to spin thicker, I pulled it out and practiced, and, voila, squishy, bulky 2-ply, about 80 yards.

Sweet Promise Bulky 2-ply merino

Sweet Promise bulky 2-ply merino

I have no idea what I'm going to knit with it. Maybe a hat?

I don't know what happened when I was plying it, but I swear, I got stuck at a point where the bobbin was winding in a different direction from the twist. I could get it to wind on, but only if I spun clockwise, and then it would take the twist out, or I could get it to put more twist in, but it wouldn't wind. I had to break it off and start a new bobbin. Anyone have any clue how I managed that??

* Not that I need to feel guilty. Before last week, he was the one who was home all day, and he was not always productive with his time. And he's not really the type to berate me for my laziness (though he would tease me for it). Still, it's almost embarrassing. Almost.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


I can't believe it's been a week already since I last posted. The first half of the week I was working hard on the house, and the second half I've been knocked down with a cold. In fact, I'm typing this mainly to stay awake until I can have my next dose of Theraflu, so forgive me if I get a little incoherent. I did manage to get a little knitting and spinning in, though, so I have lots of pictures.

Baby Surprise Progress

The Baby Surprise Jacket is finished, but this is the only picture I have, so I'll tease you with it. I noticed a discussion of this pattern on Ravelry, about whether it was a process or product knit and whether it was dated. Someone said that whether it was dated depended on the yarns chosen, and I think I have chosen some dated-looking yarns, but, in my opinion, it adds to the charm. Let's just call it retro. I have never been really drawn to the pattern, and knit it mainly because I had about the right amount of yarn for it, but I really like how it turned out. There's something satisfying about folding a mess of knitting into a jacket.

Happy Handspun Sock, almost done

The handspun socks are finished, and they are just about my favorite thing ever.

Happy Handspun Socks

There's a visible difference in spinning quality between the first and second socks, but you can't tell when you're wearing them. (Yes, I broke them in before taking the FO pic, I couldn't stand to wait!) I love them for their imperfections, just like I love how my very first pair are noticeably different gauges and the grafting sucks.

Ashland Bay Carbon 2-ply merino

I spun up the other half of the Ashland Bay merino and plied it together. One bobbin had a lot more on it than the other, so I Andean plied the leftovers, and it wasn't as scary as it looked. Yay for new skills. Makes me want to pick up a spindle again.

I counted the wraps on the niddy noddy, but I didn't write down the skein length, so I kind of forgot. I think it was about 270 yards. I also didn't measure wpi or put a coin in the picture, but it's about a sport weight I think. Let's pretend the dog hair is for scale.

And then last night I did this:

"Helleborus" BFL singles

Low twist singles at a fingering-to-sport weight. About 260 yards. This is half the roving, split down the middle like I like to do, and slightly predrafted.

I need to work on spinning thicker yarns on my wheel, and spinning them evenly. Right now the only way I can get worsted is to three-ply.

OK, the dogs are driving me crazy, and it's time for my medicine, so I'm going to take it and go to bed.

I leave you with this funny moment from earlier in the week.

Tug of War

Duchess, the little one on the left, won the tug of war. She's tiny and mean, and the boys know to give her what she wants or bear the consequences.

Monday, January 14, 2008


In spinning and knitting news, I've started a Baby Surprise Jacket using my handspun Blue Faced Leicester in FatCatKnits' Summer Cabin colorway, cut with Plymouth Galway Highland Heather in brown.

Baby Surprise Jacket

Since BFL is a longer-staple fiber, and, as such, needs less twist to hold together, I tried really hard to spin it loosely and keep it soft. I Navajo plied it to get it up to a worsted-to-bulky weight and to keep the colors separate. I had a hard time with it after spinning so much merino, and I was worried that it was going to look like the dog's breakfast, but I think it's knitting up pretty cute. I think the colors will look good on what will probably be a strapping little red-headed boy, expected next month. Here's hoping he likes 1970's appliance colors.

Summer Cabin - BFL

The other big surprise going on around here is that we're going to be moving. My husband got a job over an hour away, so we'll be relocating to East Texas in the very near future. What this means for the blog is that, amidst trying to sell our house, find a new one to live in, move, and job-search, I'll either be knitting a lot or not very much at all. If you don't hear from me much in the next couple of weeks, that means things are going well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Second verse, better than the first.

The second half of the sock yarn is finally spun, plied, and dried -- but not until after that first sock was knit! As for my other responsibilities, the outside Christmas lights are down, the ornaments and such are packed away, some laundry was done, but the tree is still up and dust bunnies still prevail. Actually, since we got the new sofa, and Bruneaux, come to think of it, the dust bunnies aren't bunnies at all, no fluff, just piles of dog hair that collect in corners. I'm sure you really wanted to know that. I'm trying to shame myself into vacuuming.

Back to the topic at hand, I think it was really helpful to knit up some of my sock yarn before spinning the rest of it. I could see which parts I liked, and what I liked about them -- because you know, being handspun, and amateur handspun at that, it was just a long sampler of yarn possibilities. But once I figured out what possibilities I liked, I had something to aim for. Which is much better than, "Maybe I can make it thinner. OMG that's too thin! It's going to break! Now that's too thick," that I was doing the first time around. I was also afraid the first time of falling into the newbie pattern of overspinning my singles, so I deliberately tried to take it easy, and went too far the other way. My singles drifted apart several times while I was Navajo plying, and I had to tie them back together to get going again. (Is there a better solution in that scenario than a knot? I did find that if I just left the tails hanging and plied them into the yarn, it was pretty invisible.)

So, anyway, lessons learned, I went back to the wheel, spun the thickness that I knew to be just about right, put enough twist in, and Navajo plied it like in this video (so much faster and more even that what I had been doing!), and I got this:

Handspun sock yarn, part deux

I didn't bother with hot/cold dunking or whacking the second time around, either. I'm not sure it helps with superwash wool, which makes perfect sense, but I figured I had to try it to really know. I just washed it in a little Soak and vinegar (the dye ran a little the first time), pressed out the excess water with a towel, and snapped it between my hands. The second skein was actually well-balanced (yay!), so it didn't take a lot of abuse to get it to behave.

Handspun sock yarn, part deux

Excuse me while I do a happy dance. Right now I think this is maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I made that! I get it now. Knitting is just the gateway drug. This is the hard stuff. I'm done for. There is already talk of "my next wheel," at which, to his credit, my husband did not flinch. I guess it helps that his hobby is much more expensive than mine, and he has already watched me come home in a sour mood, sit in front of the wheel, and become human again. And every now and then he gets some woolly goodness. No new toys for a while, maybe a long while, just dreams and plans.

January RosesAnd yes, those are flowers in the background. Not winter flowers like pansies or camellias, either, although the buds on the camellia are getting fat, but roses. Lady Banks roses, which only bloom once, in the spring. Mine has gone haywire. The little pink roses in the front think it's spring, too. They say that we have four seasons in Texas: December, January, February, and summer. I'm really ticked that we've gone straight from fall to spring. I want my cold January! I live for ice days, when the whole city shuts down for no good reason and it feels like I have the whole frozen world to myself. Last year we went to the ranch for MLK weekend and got iced in and had to stay an extra day or two. Possibly my favorite birthday ever.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

ZOMG - Sock Yarn!

When I ordered this roving, I was thinking baby sweater, but apparently it wanted to be socks.

Halfway there

I split the roving down the middle and spun half of it up, then chain-plied it. I overplied it on purpose, because I had just read this, and I like how it looks.

I finished plying and started spinning the second single yesterday, and I could hardly wait for the first skein to dry. It came out at about 194 yards and 18 wpi.

Happy Sock

I am just beside myself, I love this so much. Here's hoping the second skein is a reasonable match.

Too bad I actually have to be productive today. Stupid Christmas decorations. Stupid laundry. Stupid dust bunnies. All I want is socks.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

4 oz. is a lot of fiber!

Back when I first decided to learn to spin, I bought eight ounces of Ashland Bay merino in a heathered grey and four ounces in carbon. I knew merino wasn't recommended for beginning spinners, but I was hardheaded and bought it anyway. And for a while, I practiced with my heavy spindle and my fine fiber and made craptacular little skeins every day, worrying more about figuring things out than making good yarn.

Handspun Improvement

Then we got Bruneaux and, fiber dog that he is, he interfered with the spinning. Since I could only spin if I locked myself in the 'yarn room,' I spun less frequently. Eventually I got some different spindles that I liked better, and some easier-to-spin Shetland wool, and I felt less like a klutz.


When I got my wheel for Christmas, I decided to spin up the rest of that original grey fiber. Since I had practiced with it a lot, I knew what I could do with it on a spindle, and I figured that it would give me a good idea what I could do on a wheel. I spun up two singles and plied them together, then fulled the yarn a little by dunking it in hot then cold water, which made it go from a fingering to more of a sport weight. It's tied with Knit Picks Palette, if that gives you a point of reference.

Ashland Bay Merino Multicolor Grey 2-ply
mmm... smooshy

I thought, since I had started with eight ounces, that I might have enough for socks, especially if I used the carbon color for heels and toes. I weighed the skein. Two ounces. 69 grams. Possibly enough for socks, especially with contrast heels and toes, but way less than I had expected. Who knew that I had spun six ounces already?

I pulled out the carbon merino, which was under four ounces since I had played with it some, too, and split it down the middle and spun half of it up onto a bobbin. I did spin it a little finer and a little more consistently than the heathered grey, but it felt like it took forever!

Ashland Bay Merino singles (carbon)

Four ounces is a lot of fiber! This late realization meant that I had greatly underestimated the amount of fiber I had ordered during The Great New Years Eve Etsy Raid of 2007. I got my first package today. Four four-ounce handpainted rovings from FatCatKnits. They're huge. And pretty. Good combo.

I started spinning up the Elfin Magic superwash merino already.

Elfin Magic

Elfen Magic on the bobbin

Isn't it delightful?

I had kind of intended to make a Baby Surprise Jacket with it, but I also wanted to try out the small whorl on my wheel, so, not surprisingly, it's coming out rather thin. Probably too thin for the BSJ. I'm thinking I'll Navaho ply it and make a stripy stockinette baby sweater. There are a couple of babies expected in February.

Considering I have 5 more 4 oz. rovings on the way, and new memberships to a couple of fiber clubs, I think I can hold off on the fiber consumption -- at least until shearing season at the ranch!