Friday, May 22, 2015

The Return of Spinning

Um, hello?
I swear I haven't fallen off the face of the earth. As a matter of fact, I find myself doing more with my knitting and spinning now than I was but that means even less time for things like blogging. I've also felt a little bit lost as to what to write about. Several of my projects have been big, big projects that are taking forever to finish. That means less to write about.
I have finished some things of note though.
Today I'd like to discuss some spinning although it isn't Tuesday and is therefore a little out-of-the-box for me to talk spinning. But it's Friday. The Friday before a long weekend no less so I couldn't walk away without posting something.
In December of last year my Gritty Knits Merino of the Month club arrived and I knew it was perfect. Not for me, for my knitting friend Catherine. She had knit a lovely cowl and gifted it to me since it didn't work for her. I had been searching for just the right thing to give back to her in trade. It was a little difficult since Catherine loves subtle, semi-solid colors and I tend to buy bright, multicolored things because they make me happy, even though they drive me crazy trying to find something to knit later.

I knew this was perfect though! It was subtle and green (just like something lovely I had seen her knitting so I knew the color would be right too). I didn't want to rush in without her approval so I took it to knit night and she agreed it would work and that she would love for me to spin it for her so I got it onto the bobbin.
The reason it has taken this long? It was laceweight. Four lovely ounces of laceweight and with my spinning mojo disappearing for great stretches in the winter, it was hard for me to bring myself to work on it. I tried to get a bit done here and there and it slowly started to add up. I got one bobbin finished and I moved on to the second. That of course feels like the home stretch so I worked diligently on it (although still a bit sporadically I'm sorry to say).
I finally finished the spinning, let it rest overnight like a good little spinner. That part is really hard for me. At that point I want yarn! I don't want to wait.
I finally plied. I was hoping it was going to get great yardage for her; we were aiming for somewhere between a laceweight and fingering weight finished yarn. When it took me hours and hours and hours to ply, I figured I had achieved my goal.

Finally, a finished bobbin.

The real test, using something to compare. So far, so good.
The only way to know for sure though is to measure it. So I wound it off onto the niddy noddy.

There it is, a thing of beauty! Yardage-wise, it came up to a true laceweight 830 yards. I'm calling it 800 to take into account any plumping or shrinking during washing and I carefully washed and twacked it so it's ready to go to its new home.
I hope Catherine loves it. I'm a little bit sad to be giving it away but I know she will knit it into something fantastic!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Galapagos

I'm happy to report that if you actually have your wheel out and ready to go, you often will actually spin! Crazy, I know. I've been working pretty diligently on the fiber I'm spinning for my friend Catherine. It's my Gritty Knits Merino of the Month from December 2014 and it's called Fun Fir.
I finished the first half of the fiber and doesn't it look lovely?

It's a great blue-y green and looks more green than these pictures.

It really is lovely but I have some trouble capturing the true color.

I'm spinning it pretty fine to make a two-ply lace to fingering weight for her so I decided since I have finished the first bobbin that I would take a short break and spin something less focused.
I've been wanting to add some yarn to my handspun blanket yarn so I decided to spin what I call a "quick and dirty" two-ply sport weight. I call it that because I basically let the fiber be what it would like and generally come up with a fairly quick two-ply that's about a sport weight. I'm a little out of practice with this method though. Mostly because I haven't been spinning much lately.

I chose another Gritty Knits Merino of the Month. This one from February of 2014 and it's called Galapagos. I liked the variation in the colors and I thought it would be a fun and unique one to add to my blanket squares. I didn't have any specific plans for it so it was a good choice for an easy spin. I split the braid in half and spun the first half straight onto the bobbin.

It took less than 24 hours, I love that. I split the second half of the braid into several pieces to get a fractal yarn because I didn't want the colors to sit together too much. I quickly finished that half as well and plied it up.

I really like the result but I can tell I'm a bit out of practice because it's a bit less yardage than I usually get with this style of spinning. Only 288 yards. Closer to a worsted-weight yarn. But still lovely.

I'm not sure about putting this in my blanket simply because I think there's so much contrast in the skein itself color-wise that it wouldn't contrast enough with the other color I would be using. I may still put it in there (or at least try it) I'm not dead-set against it but in the meantime, I've got a lovely new skein of yarn to play with. It might need to be knit up quickly into something springy.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

They Truly Are Cursed

Have you ever had a project that just doesn't seem to want to get made? You work on it and either the progress is so slow or the pattern doesn't work or you have to keep ripping it out. I am in the middle of a project just like that right now.

I went back and looked at my project page to see when it was actually started. December of 2013! Now, I haven't been knitting steadily on it or anything, I've put it down and in time-out several times. The reason? It refuses to get knit of course!
It's the Cursed Cable Mitts and it's a pattern I started only because a friend wanted someone to knit it along with her so she gifted me the pattern right when it came out. I'm not sure that she ever did knit it but I have been trying! They really seem to be cursed though. The yarn I chose is absolutely beautiful Malabrigo Sock yarn and I knit the first one, the right one, with little issues. Although at first I had some trouble reading the cable and easily lost my place, I managed to finish it, do the thumb, weave in the ends and call it done. The real problem came with the left one. First I knit the ribbing on the wrong size needle. Then I knit the ribbing on the correct needle but forgot to change to the next size needle. I had to rip it. Then I started again and I really busted a move. I worked on it wanting to have a finished object. I got really far.

Like I bound it off far. It looks like a lovely, long fingerless mitt right?

Beautiful yarn and once you're done knitting the cable, you decide it looks really good and it was worth it.
Until...


You put it next to the other mitt.

Does anyone see the problem?

It's not just that I did too many repeats or something, I used the wrong size needles for it. I tried to debate with myself about keeping it and not worrying about the difference but I really didn't like the fabric I had. It was too loose and I thought it wouldn't be very warm. The right one was so perfect, how could I leave the left one so not-perfect.
These pictures were actually taken last fall. I put the mitts away and thought about them occassionally and what I should do with them. Then at the beginning of the year when I dug out my UFOs (Unfinished Objects) I found these again. The right one is so lovely and wouldn't it be nice to have them finished. I asked my knitting group what they thought about them. Should I finish it or frog it? It was overwhelmingly voted to finish. So, the other day, I ripped out the left mitt and started again. So far, I've had to rip twice. Yup, it's truly cursed.
First, I was knitting with the curly yarn that had been sitting as the mitt for months, so my gauge was way off. I didn't want to take the time to wash it so I just rewound it and started from the "fresh" end of the yarn. Then, I managed to finish the thumb gusset and realized I hadn't placed the thumb right. I had to rip back. Again.
I think I'm on track for now but I'm warning everyone not to start these mitts. They truly are cursed* and the curse is you will just keep knitting them forever and ever and ever. But you never have lovely mitts.


*Disclaimer: I'm fairly sure the pattern is not actually cursed. It really is lovely and except for the thumb (which I don't care for how it is done) it is well-written and will be absolutely wonderful. Someday. If I ever finish it.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Knitting Huge

I've been feeling a little down about my knitting lately. Nothing has been inspiring me which means I don't even want to knit half the time. This scared me big time. I love knitting, why wouldn't I want to knit?
Well, last month, toward the end of the month I realized I needed to get something done and quickly to get uploaded for HPKCHC as I hadn't turned in anything at all yet. I knit and posted an owl puff.

I couldn't find my felt so I used crocheted circles for the eyes and it's harder than you would think to sew them on while the top part is still open and on the needles so his eyes are a little wonky but it works. He's cute and handspun and lovely anyway. There it was, that little rush of project-finishing. Just what I had been missing.
After I turned him in for a class and was awaiting the approval I realized what was holding me back and keeping my knitting enjoyment level down in the dumps. All of my projects are huge!

My Half Pi Shawl? Huge. Especially now that I'm on the second skein and the rows are so long, I can knit for an hour and make very little progress.
The Exit 0 Shawl? Gargantuan. It's three colors and the rows are the long way so even though it's pretty and simple short rows, each row takes a good, long time so again, you don't feel like you are making any headway at all.
The only other thing I've been knitting? Socks. Which are men's socks so they are huge too! I can see some progress but it's still not a simple, easy project that gets finished with what feels like little effort. That's what I've been missing, and it took a little owl to show me.

I think I will put aside at least one of these larger projects and pick up something smaller that takes much less effort. Just to see some progress and feel a little better about myself and my knitting. Plus, it will get this month's class done.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Sickly Spinning

I've been taken down pretty thoroughly by a terrible cold. Lots of fever and horrible coughing. It just seems to go on and on and on. I'm getting pretty stir-crazy as I haven't left the house since Saturday when I last felt mostly all right. It really knocked me down on Saturday though and I've been mostly resting since.
I did manage to start plying a bobbin of finished singles I found when I dug out my wheel for the first time in almost a month. That was Saturday for the craft day at our church. I dragged myself and my wheel over to the church, but only managed to spend a few hours there before I decided I just couldn't continue and I headed for home. I have spun a bit here and there over the last month but really not much at all. I was glad to get back at it and remember how much I enjoy spinning.
So then to the yarn I made. The finished singles were from some Targhee I got in the Zarzuela Fiber club a few years ago (before she closed up shop). It's called Stained Glass and it really is lovely and deep, all the colors you would find in Stained Glass.

I had known I wanted to keep the colors strong so I spun it all onto one bobbin and left it to rest. I just didn't expect it to get as much rest as it got.
When I took it out, I chain-plied it.

I love the round beauty of a three-ply, either chain-plied or traditional three-plied. I do love how it keeps the colors separate when you chain-ply though. I think overall it's a fairly even skein as well. Not many thin spots or thick spots.

I even dragged myself out of the house into the wind and the fresh snow to take these pictures of it. I just love it and can't wait to figure out what it would like to be. It's about 375 yards so it shouldn't be a problem to have enough to do something lovely.
For now I'd better get back to resting and coughing, as I cannot wait to get out of the house and go to work tomorrow and I should be as rested as I can be before I get back to the grind.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Confessions

Okay, I admit it, I'm a total blog-slacker. It's really tragic too because there could be so many great things that I blog about but I just don't. Maybe part of the problem is that my interests are varied and I need to expand the blog to cover other topics too. Like my organization goals. I am in absolute love with my filofax and could wax poetic about it for hours. Although I still sometimes struggle with juggling work life and home life, it has helped me so much!
Anyway, that's really a topic for another day. I'm here today to talk about knitting. I'm in the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup (HPKCHC) again this term which runs from January to March. Each month, you need to complete at least one class to maintain your "good standing" for sorting priority. Since I love my Ravenclaw tower and want very much to stay in the tower, I do try.
Usually it's pretty easy. I craft what I'd like and use some imaginative story-telling to make it fit one of the prompts. They love imaginative storytelling in that group. Sometimes I read the prompts first and pick something to craft based on one of them. That's what happened this time. The prompt was for a cowl and I was wanting to make a new one.
I had seen a friend's cowl and absolutely loved it. I asked her about it (she's a knitter too! Hi Jessica!) and she let me look at it at one of our knit nights. Then I stalked her Ravelry Projects and found the pattern she had used and the needles. It actually called for Bulky yarn but I had a skein of yarn I had just so happened to purchase from her destash that I was dying to knit immediately.

Three Irish Girls Springvale DK in Nightscapes. It was so colorful and lovely I just couldn't resist. I knew it would be perfect for this cowl. Although it's DK it seemed a bit thicker to me, more like a worsted weight so I chose the needles I thought would work with the yarn, guessed at a cast on number and started knitting. Within 24 hours, it was cast off. It was a really fun weekend project. It looked a little funny before blocking.

It really bunched up. But it blocked beautifully and came up to be just what I wanted.

I can use it as an infinity scarf if I wish or easily loop it twice around my neck for more warmth. I think I could maybe even get it around a third time if I wanted to.

Plus, I love all the colors. It goes with almost everything I own and I love that.
The confession that goes along with this project? I actually turned it in for January's HPKCHC. Oops, I sort of forgot that I was going to write about it. Here it is almost the end of February and I'm just getting to it. See? Total blog-slacker.
Also, I *may* have been stalking people's destash pages to find more yarn and make more of these. I love it and I think about everyone I know would love it too. In different colors of course.

Monday, January 26, 2015

An Actual Finished Object

I've been knitting away and trying to keep from casting on any new things. Since my goal is to finish up more of my UFOs this year, I'm trying to really think ahead and not blindly cast things on just because I randomly feel like something new. To that end I finished up these socks for my dad.

Just your basic ribbed sock in Gritty Knits nom Charred Browns. It's not my usual colors but I really like how it made wonderfully neutral men's socks. Since I met up with my mom for lunch last week, they're with him now and apparently he loves them.
I often worry about knitting gifts with "fancy" yarn like this that requires a little more care but over the last several years he has proven himself more than knit-worthy. Cherishing his handknit socks. He wears them only on Sundays to church (although I'm hoping now that he has several pairs, he might be a little bit less careful and wear them more.)
I've been working away on my Half pi shawl as well, although it isn't really easy to show it off at this point, it's really bunched up on the needles. I did join the second skein yesterday though so I'm happy to say I'm making some good progress on it. I still really like it but I'm starting to wonder why on earth I thought a half pi shawl was a good idea with all that purling back.
I did need to cast on something for HPKCHC this month so I whipped out a quickie project that I'm completely in love with. I'll share it later this week. Stay tuned.