Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tour De Fleece, Closing in on the End

The Tour de Fleece continues and while I have greatly enjoyed our two rest days, I have been making great progress on my spinning too.
I finished my Cloudlover Merino in Peacock.

It turned out so lovely I can't stand it! It's pretty well-balanced too. Just barely a twist in the skein.

With 730 yards of two-ply from 4 ounces, it's pretty much a true laceweight as well. It isn't washed yet (you have to stop carrying it around and petting it to wash it) I think it will be even more lovely when the twist is set.

I had a hard time stopping myself from taking more pictures.
I've been working hard on my spindle spinning as well.

I really wanted to focus on my spindling this tour. I'm spinning Cloudlover Polwarth in Haunted Vineyard on the Turkish spindle and I'm filling it for the third time. It seems like it's progressing well. Partly because I take it with me everywhere and spin whenever I have a minute. The small size is so great for that.
Next to it is the Spinsanity spindle that I'm spinning Gritty Knits Merino in the April 2010 club colorway. I love it but progress is slow and I haven't focused as much of my spindling time on this spindle.
To the right is the Russian spindle with the Cloudlover Rambouillet in Iris on it. I have filled the spindle once and I'm working on it more. I really would like to enjoy supported spindling and do well at it but some days it goes well and I love it, some days it is a struggle and lately it has felt like more of a struggle than anything. I love the fiber though so I keep plugging away.
I've also been spending time spinning on my wheel.

I just love my Schacht Matchless and the only thing I don't love about it is how heavy it is if you want to take it somewhere. On the left is the fist bobbin of Cloudlover Organic Polwarth/Silk in Artemis. It's so shiny and sleek (and a bit slippery to spin) on the right is the Gritty Knits Rambouillet in La Grande Boucle. I finished the first half of the Artemis last night so I decided to work on the La Grande Boucle and I have to say switching from a sleek, shiny, slippery spin into a bouncy, crimpy spin was a challenge but they're both so beautiful!
I've really been neglecting my knitting the last few weeks and focusing on the tour spinning but did start a new project with handspun on the rest days. I'll save that for next week.
Have a great weekend and if you're doing the Tour de Fleece; Spin fast! We're almost to the finish line!!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Tour de Fleece 2014

Last week sort of got away from me. Sorry about that. This week we're already to Tuesday though and Tuesdays are for spinning. Since it's the Tour de Fleece I figured I should at least post something here about my goals for the Tour.
I laid out all the fiber I'd like to spin.

At the top, on the bobbins is some coarse brown wool I've had for a couple of years. I've been spinning it into a traditional 3-ply for a sweater and I have had it partly finished for so long. I decided my very first goal was to finally finish it.
Below that, starting on the left, the peachy fiber is Merino/Bamboo from Zarzuela's Fibers (sadly no longer dyeing) To the right of that is the Gritty Knits Tour de Fleece colorway La Grande Boucle on Rambouillet. Then Cloudlover Organic Polwarth/Silk in Artemis. On the far right is Cloudlover Merino in Peacock. I had started it on a spindle and I'd like to finish it but I'll be doing it on the wheel.
Then in the front on the left is Cloudlover Rambouillet in Iris on my Russian Spindle. It was also already started and I'm planning to keep working on it. Then to the right of that is some Gritty Knits Merino from the Merino of the Month club way back in April of 2010! I'm working on it on a spindle as well. I really like how it's coming out so I plan to keep working on it.
At the last minute I also decided to add;

This Cloudlover Polwarth in Haunted Vineyard from the Knitgirllls SAL/KAL.
My main goals though are just to keep working on all these things, every day of the tour and make some progress.
The first thing I did was finish the coarse brown wool.

On the first day I filled 3 bobbins with the last of it and plied it up into yarn the next day. (Just the 3 in the front) It's all finished and I'm so glad. To be honest, I kinda hate it now so I don't know that I will knit with it very soon. As a matter of fact, I may just sell it.

I'm making okay progress on the other things though but sadly slowly because my spinning time the last couple of days has been seriously cut short.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Learning Experience (or Not)

The other day I was knitting away on my handspun socks.

They had a heel and I was working up the leg and enjoying the feel of knitting with handspun (as one does) and I noticed something. I noticed that the foot looked long. It looked too long really, I started to get a sinking feeling. I look at it, I held it up to my foot. I looked at it some more. I thought about the gauge I had checked and the math I had done to check on when to start the gusset increases. I decided to try it out. I pulled the needles out and pulled the sock on my foot. There was over an inch of sock flapping at my toes. Way too big.
I really don't know what happened. I measured gauge in a couple of places (partly because it's handspun and might be a little different here and there) I figured out how many increases I would need to do and how many rounds that would take. I added in a bit for the actual heel turn and away I went. I did actual math. They still didn't work.
To me, that's part of the trouble with toe-up socks. You don't know that it isn't right until the heel is actually done. At that point it's so demoralizing to have to rip back. I decided these needed a good, long time out. So then, this happened.

Yup, ripped out entirely. I'll reskein the yarn and wash it and then maybe I'll think about winding it and casting on again but maybe top-down this time. No sense getting all crazy again.
I also heard the other day that it's six months to Christmas. That caused me to do this (after ripping the handspun sock).

I'm not too sure who these will go to yet. I was thinking my stepdad but now I'm not sure. Is this too, uh, girlie? Time will tell. Please note: I obviously didn't learn from being frustrated with the other toe-up socks. These are toe-up too.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Molly Ringworm Socks

This week has been busy and full but very good too. My darling cat came home so I've been enjoying lots of furry snuggles and knitting plain, simple things. As evidenced by these purse socks that got finished.

Normally Tuesdays are for spinning but all I've really been doing for spinning is getting in a little practice with my spindles before the Tour de Fleece starts and the progress is slow going on those.
So, back to the socks. I started them some time ago and while they're just plain socks, they didn't actually spend a whole lot of time in my purse, which is why it took me so long to finish them. The purse spot was being held by my Vesper Smoke on the Water socks for a long time and only when they were finally finished did these fall into place.
The yarn is an absolutely beautiful 80 Superwash Merino/10 Cashmere/10 Nylon blend from Ethereal Fibers in her Autocorrect series and it's called; Molly Ringworm. I love all the colors in it although I'm not too sure about the way the colors lined up with my stitch count but they're lovely, soft socks and I can't wait for it to be cold enough for me to actually need socks again. (Although, I don't want it to come too soon!)
I did a plain top-down sock with these and worked an eye of partridge heel and decided to change up the toe and did a round toe rather than a flat toe. I wanted to see how it would fit. Except for this brief modeling session, I haven't worn them though so time will tell if the round toe is a new favorite.

When these lovely socks were done I decided to opt for sanity and pull out a languishing UFO to finish rather than start something new. So I dug out some lovely handspun socks I had started a long time back and I've been working steadily away on them.

Look, this one has a heel now! This is 100% Merino from Gritty Knits but I spun it and plied it very tightly so I'm not too worried about wear. To give you an idea of this yarn, I'm knitting with US 1s (2.25 mm) and it's chain-plied yarn. It's very fine. They're a joy to knit (isn't it always a joy to knit with your handspun?) so I'm enjoying them immensely.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Lack of Ideas

After a big spin, or even just a focused spin where I'm trying to get a specific weight of yarn, I like to have a little palate cleanse. I pick something I have no plans for in the immediate future and just spin it "quick and dirty" as I like to call it. It usually comes out to about a 2-ply sport weight and I have lots of fun taking the spinning pressure off.
Today's spinning I really debated though if I should chain-ply it or two-ply it and ultimately, since I didn't have any plans for it, I decided to two-ply it, thinking I would have more options then.

It sure looks nice lying on the mossy grass of my back yard doesn't it? It did come up to be about a sport weight and I have 300 yards there. A nice, round number. But let's look a little bit closer.

Do you see all the barberpole-ing of the light and dark? In some fiber I like that and even fractal spin (split the fiber in different ways) so the colors will barberpole but in this case, I was thinking that I may add it to the Mitered Crosses Blanket yarn and with the contrast I don't know that it will work. In that pattern I really need contrasting light yarn and dark yarn and I'm not sure this will fit the bill with all the light and dark contrast in the yarn itself.

It isn't bad though. I do like how it turned out. Bouncy and soft but sturdy. I just have no plans for it. So, give me a hint. After I wash it, what should I do with 300 yards of sport weight two-ply handspun? Any ideas?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Handspun Undyed

I'm sorry for the radio silence the last week and a half dear readers. I have had a pretty awful time. My dear cat Kiki ran away and I haven't found her. It's been over a week and my heart is broken with worry. That's not something I normally talk about here (you don't really need to know just how much of a crazy cat lady I really am) but I felt you deserved some kind of explanation.*
In between searching frantically, sobbing uncontrollably and calling people in a panic I would sit down and try to calm down by spinning. I've been spinning the 4 ounce ball of roving I got from Shepherd's Harvest this year from Riverwinds Farm. It's undyed cormo and it's amazing. About 3/4 of the way through it I realized I still had a ball of roving sitting here from the year before (or possibly before that. The wool fumes get to you, I can't remember exactly when it was from.) I decided to spin that too and ply them together. I did. It all came out to be a very nice light fingering weight yarn.

It's a two-ply and I really love it. I have no idea what it will be but it's so beautiful and plain and simple. It really makes my heart (at least a little bit) happy.
Although it hadn't yet had it's bath here, I did wash it now and it didn't plump too much so I'm a little bit disappointed with myself because I didn't even end up with 800 yards. With 8 ounces. I love it anyway and I look forward to knitting with it.

*My dear girl isn't fixed so at this point I'm hoping she is just overrun with little kitty hormones and will still come home. I have to believe that so I don't lose my ever-loving mind.

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.