Spinning the Day Away

I spent the better part of the day prepping and spinning.

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This is Merino that I dyed with my nephew a few months ago. We were going for rainbow and got it, just a little more pastel than I planned. I love it though!
I split the fiber in half and then halved each of them. I’m planning to spin them 2 at a time together, first from pink to purple then back from purple to pink. Then I’ll ply the two singles together. I’m hoping to end up w it a sport to DK weight yarn. This is the first time I’ve tried to plan a yarn from the beginning. Fingers crossed.
Here is what it looked like when I put it up tonight…

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Love the way the soft colors blend together. Can’t wait to knit it.
I’ve also started a scarf for the same nephew using this crazy acrylic yarn I’ve had forever. It’s called TCL Wiggles. It’s loud and garish and gorgeous.

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The Valkyrie yarn is put up until I figure out what will suit it. I would love suggestions for a shawl that can be knit with 2 skeins of Socks That Rock medium weight and that is right for a yarn that needs to be the star of the show.

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An actual knitting post

This post is actually going to be about knitting and only knitting.  It won’t be super long, as I’m in the midst of WIP’s and have no real FO’s at the moment.

Having finished my Christmas knitting, sort of (I still have the shawl to finish, but am working on it rather slowly b/c I got so sick of it in those last months of trying to finish it in time), I’m not really in the middle of anything, rather at the beginning of several things.  I’ve gotten one of a pair of Fetching mitts done in Alpine Pearl Malabrigo (there should be a law about wool singles that butter soft) and I’ve been totally slacking about finishing number 2.  It’s the knitting ADD I tell you.  I know it would only take a day at most to finish, but I’m all caught up in trying to pick patterns, yarns etc. for new projects.

First up I have Secret of the Stole ii.  (BTW, Emily, it is still open for sign ups, in case you didn’t already check for yourself)  I’ve chosen my yarn:  a rayon/silk blend from Over the Rainbow yarns.  It’s listed as sport weight, but feels a bit lighter than that to me.  The colorway is Vanilla Parfait and it’s gorgeous.  The instructions say we shouldn’t use varigated yarn for this shawl, but the varigation is so subtle that I think it will be okay.  Even if it’s not, so what?!?!  It’s my shawl and I can do whatever I want with it, so there!!  LOL  It’s a blend of cream and some very pale taupe and tan.  I really love this colorway and plan to snap up more of it if/when it’s offered.  I’m thinking about socks with this yarn, but I don’t think that rayon/silk is a great combination for socks; not enough elasticity and I think they would sag terribly.  We’ll see.  I’m in the process of swatching it right now, from written directions that I copied by hand b/c the printer is being a butt.  LOL  I like the pattern thus far and I think that I’m going to like the number 4 Harmony needles for this, although I have to finish the swatch before I’m sure.  It may not be lacy enough.  This will be my first mystery knit-along.  I’m going to be gone for 3 weeks of it and I’m not sure if I’ll have my laptop with me as it has some “issues” (like it’s falling apart and I need a new one, but won’t be getting one before I go) and I’m worried about getting behind, so I’m going to make sure that I’m up to date before I go and hope that I’ll be able to borrow an aunt or cousin’s computer a few times a week to check in on stuff.  My email alone will get completely out of control with me not checking it for 3 weeks.

Next project in my mind:  The Silken Cowl from Sensual Knits.  This is a pattern and a garment that I REALLY love.  I used to have a silk tank top just like that.  I loved that thing and have no clue what happened to it.  I’m guessing one of the roommates from hell has it in her collection of clothing at this point.  I started swatching with the same rayon/silk yarn that I’m using for SotS ii but in a different colorway, but the gauge is off.  The weight called for in the pattern is worsted/aran and the rayon/silk is more like a heavy fingering to light sport weight, so I’m having trouble getting to where I need to be gauge-wise.  I don’t want to spend all this time and yarn on something that isn’t going to look right.  I have a fingering weight 100% silk that I might use, doubled in two different, but similar colorways.  I would just double one colorway, but I don’t have enough of it and I bought it at least 2 years ago from Ebay and doubt I could get an exact match for it, or even a close one.  It kind of sucks, b/c I really had my heart set on the colorway in the rayon/silk blend.  Any suggestions on using a much different weight yarn for a project like this?  My only real concern, other than weight, is that the pattern states that the yarn is un-elastic, which seems to be true of the pure silk yarn that I have as well.  The rayon/silk combo, however, does have some stretch to it.  Will that be a problem in the wearing of the tank top?  Any suggestions/opinions are appreciated.  Thanks.

Other things I’ve been playing with:  I’ve got yarn and needles chosen for a pair of Jaywalkers (my very first pair of socks).  The yarn is also from Over The Rainbow Yarns (do we have a pattern here or what?  LOL) and it’s rainbow colored. In the skein it transitioned from red to violet ala ROYGBIV and wound into a yarn cake it’s just as spectacular in a different way.  I’ve been holding onto it for about 2 1/2 years or so.  I wanted to make sure my knitting skills were up to par for sock knitting and not end up wasting the yarn on a non wearable effort.  I bought the Giselle pattern from Stitch Diva; I’ve been stalking the site waiting for this to come out for a LONG time.  It’s also one of the Sexy Knitter’s Club KAL’s this time around.  I’m going to do it.  In fact, I might put my thoughts of the Silken Cowl aside for now and concentrate on Giselle or Belle Paquita (the other SKC KAL choice for Jan-March).  I figure three weeks in CA without a computer to speak of will allow me to get a lot of knitting done – I hope.  At least I’ll have 5 hours of plane ride each way, if Jake cooperates.  I’ve also got the pattern for Fiber Trends Felted Clogs and lots of Cascade 220 and Philosopher’s Wool also, as well as the first SotS pattern, Guenivere.  It’s an unusual stole in that it’s got a forked end, like a renaissance  banner or flag.  Very pretty.

I guess that’s it for now.  Oh, I also got two spin your own sock kits from Fiber Fiend that I can’t wait to work on.  I have two of my three Spinsanity spindles (She does AMAZING spindle work, btw, go get a spindle from her right now, you won’t be sorry) full of singles right now waiting to be plied.  I also want to be a little more proficient at sock knitting before tackling them.  Any advice for spinning yarn for sock making (I have one braid of superwash Merino and one of Angora to spin) would be much appreciated.

That it for me.  I hope all of you are doing well, and 2008 has been full of joy thus far.

AHA

I’ve had it. That “Aha” moment in spinning that everyone talks about; the one where your brain and your hands start communicating about what needs to be done without any extra effort on your part; happened to me yesterday afternoon. Of course I’m no master spinner and won’t be for a long time to come, but it’s no longer a struggle for me, nor does it require the amount of preparation it did just a week ago. The night before last I ripped off a chunk of roving to pre-draft it so I could spin it. The only way I’ve been able to spin any sort of consistent yarn to this point has been to pre-draft to the point of being even narrower than pencil roving so that there was very little drafting required during the spinning process. That wasn’t a bad way to spin; anything that makes yarn at the end is “right”, but it certainly was a very time consuming way of doing it. I watch Shannon or Em spinning at knit nights or here or wherever and for them it has always seemed to effortless and I’ve been so jealous of that ability, thinking I was never going to get there. So I had the chunk of roving in my hand and I thought “what the hell, I’ll give it a shot the “real” way, at least what I think of as the “real” way. I held the roving in my right hand, used the hook to grab some fiber (rather than using a leader) and pulled a little fiber out and started to spin. It just happened. There I was holding a fat ol’ chunk of gorgeous bright blue and pink roving and drafting it pretty well. The singles are fairly consistent. There are some fat and thin places, but not as many as I expected and it’s really renewed my passion for spindling. I’ve been so anxious to get my wheel ASAP b/c I thought it would be so much easier to deal with the drafting issue with two hands free from having to spin the spindle by hand etc.. I’m still very anxious to get it, but not to get me away from spindles now, rather to add to my knowledge. I’m going to visit my mother for three weeks in Feb. and I had told TJ that I didn’t want to go without my wheel, but now I don’t care. I’ll be perfectly content to bring my spindles and lazy kate and to keep working on the skills I’ve developed. AHA!!

I’m having another really cool spinning/knitting experience today as well. I’m knitting a swatch with my own handspun for the first time ever. There’s not enough singles here to do anything else with, not even ply, but it’s been in a ball for about a month now; I took it off the spindle and balled it quickly one day when I needed the spindle and didn’t have a free one. It’s silk and it’s really pretty and it’s REALLY slubby. When I picked up the ball yesterday, I realized that it was perfectly balanced now, no twist at all when I pulled a length out and let the tension off of it. I will post a picture when I’m done playing with it. I thought that I spun really thin, but I guess I’m not a great judge. I started swatching with my Harmony needles using a US 5 and that was way to small, right now I’m up to a size 7 and I’m still not loving it. I’m just going to keep swatching with bigger needles until I’m out of yarn or until I love the result.

Exciting stuff, huh?!?!

Project Update and getting ready for Halloween

Halloween is tomorrow night.  Do you think we are prepared here at the Dwire house?  That’s a big N-O good buddies.  As I’ve told you all, I’ve been sick as a dog for the last few weeks.  (Why do we say “sick as a dog”?  My dog has been “sick” about twice in his 13 years…I’ve never really heard of a dog being  sick, per se, unless it was something pretty bad.  A common cold or bronchitis, though, haven’t heard of that.  Oh well, something to look up on the internets later…)  We have roughly 30 hours until the big trick or treat  and we are very poorly prepared.  This will be Jake’s first real Halloween experience.  When he was 2 months old we dressed him up and propped him in a pumpkin.

Jake’s first Halloween

I thought this was going to be the beginning of many great baby/toddler Halloween costumes.  You know, the ones where I got to pick what I wanted to see him as.  Not so much, though.  His 2nd Halloween, we were living up north and since the trick or treating wasn’t a very feasible option (it’s hard when you have about three neighbors in a mile radius and no mall or any other big place like that to take the kids) we planned to go to the Halloween party at the local Eagles club.  When we took him shopping for the costume, though, he wanted NOTHING to do with it.  He had a full on fit at the costume shop when we got near him with any costume, even Thomas the Tank Engine which he was obsessed with at the time (still is).  So he went to the party in a sweatshirt and jeans; we called him the cutest baby in town; clearly we don’t have a problem with humility when it comes to Jake.  Last year, he still wanted nothing to do with costumes or parties etc.  so we took him shopping, got him some candy and a Halloween toy and we called it good.  This year, we’re in Kalamazoo, in a house in a subdivision and he’s going to have his very first “real” Halloween experience.  He’s been saying that he wants to be Scooby Doo, not that he understands what dressing up means, really.  He’s mostly excited about the fact that he gets to ring doorbells.  He’s been practicing saying “trick or treat” and he knows that he’ll get candy.  We’re going to go shopping for a costume tonight and we’ll carve the pumpkins (we grew them ourselves this year) tonight as well. I’m thinking about taking him to the “zoo boo” at the zoo tonight as well.  Tomorrow will be a family day.  We’re going to take him to the pumpkin patch/cider mill to do the corn maze, maybe a hay ride. I want him to experience the whole season.  I feel like my illnesses and my physical problems have caused way too much missed opportunities for him.  He’s been cheated out of a lot b/c of me and I hate that.

I still have a lot of problems with follow through on what I plan to do.  It’s so much easier for me to stay at home and take it easy, to assume that I don’t have it in me to do this or that.  I always regret it and I always swear I’m going to do better, but I never do.  I really want to, but I’m a creature of habit and this staying home all the time is a hard habit to break.  It’s like quitting smoking only scarier!

On to the knitting.  I’ve been reading a lot of people talking about their UFOs and the things that either need to commit to finishing or send to the frog pond.  Knitting Daily has been doing a series on it and it’s got me thinking about my UFOs as well.   Off the top of my head I have:  Fifi (which is about 5% or less done), Lizzard Ridge (still on square #1), felted boxes (still on #1), felted bowl (need to work on the decreases and then felt), Booga Bag (done but for the felting), multidirectional scarf (about 50% done), garden path shawl (10% at best)… this is only partial and it’s very sad.  The Lizzard Ridge blanket is something that I plan to do for sure, it’s not on a time schedule and I’m planning to work on that as I go, buying the Kuryeon as time/money allows and going from there.  All the others, though, really need to go to the frog pond for now.  Fifi was part of my first KAL and I liked starting it and I think it will be an interesting and challenging (first garment) knit.  I put it up when I started working on Christmas gifts (which was a disaster in and of itself).  The Garden Path Shawl was a part of the Christmas thing and I had high hopes for it.  I put in weeks of work on it before admitting to myself that it might have been a little bit too ambitious for a first lace project.  I ended up choosing a faux moebius pattern for a scarf and doing it in a gorgeous cashmere blend.  It’s a much smaller gift, but something within my abilities and really quite beautiful.  I hope the recipients love them as much as I’m enjoying making them.  I really don’t have as much time to knit as I’d like, but I think it’s mostly due to poor planning and time management on my part.  My newest crafting love – spinning – is taking a lot of time.  I recently spent too much money on roving and other fibers for spinning.  I’m determined that I’m going to completely master the spindle before I get my wheel for Christmas.  I started spinning the Kareoke fiber (50/50 wool/soy silk) that I got and it’s a dream to spin!  The problem that I have is that I buy gorgeous fibers and I don’t want to use them until I know what I’m doing so as not to “waste” the fiber.  I keep telling myself that there will be other gorgeous fiber and that I’m never going to learn if I don’t give in and use it.  I’m quite excited about practicing dying with the silk hankies that I just got.  They are going to be fun.  I can’t wait to learn more about spinning them.

I’d love to write more, but Jake is clamoring for attention and I don’t think I can bear watching Cinderella III again…more on my spinning obsession when there is more time.  Happy Halloween!!!

Sick again

You know, I’d heard that you get sick a lot more once you have kids, but I thought that didn’t happen that until after they started school.  I’ve had so many little colds and things in the last year – the kind that come and go in a few days – that you would think I worked in a germ factory (what a horrible thought, working in a factory full of just germs).  This time, though, was worse.  I got myself a wonderful little case of bronchitis.  At least it didn’t turn into full blown pneumonia like it normally does, though.  For the last five or six days I’ve done nothing but sneeze, wheeze, cough, blow and spit phlegm.  Not fun.  I haven’t been able to sleep, to eat, to knit, to do anything really.  I didn’t think it would ever end.  I went to bed last night (early this morning) planning to call the doctor today to go in for a chest x-ray to check for pneumonia but woke up this morning with my nose clear (ah, the taste of food and drink) and my chest feeling lighter than it has in a week.  I think I sweat most of whatever I had out; my pillow was soaked this morning when I woke up.  The best part, though, is having some of my energy back.  I’ve felt like something the cat not only dragged in, but threw up on and then pushed down a flight of stairs all week.

I’ve decided to start a small business hand dying and spinning yarn eventually.  Of course I have to get a wheel, learn to use it and see if I have the talent needed to do this, but I’m hopeful.  🙂  I’m getting my wheel for Christmas and I can’t wait.  Ever since I got to use Shannon’s a few weeks ago, I’m hooked.  Admittedly, I haven’t done much spindle spinning in the last weeks, but I’ve been working on the knitted X-mas gifts for family.  I’m using totally different yarns and patterns than I originally planned.  My first ideas were a bit of a reach for my skills.  I think I could have gotten them done, but definitely not in time.  Maybe next year.

I’m becoming quite the little matchmaker.  I set up Andrea with Bubba (an old friend of mine) and they not only hit it off, they fell instantly in love.  I’ve heard of love at first sight, but never seen it actually happen right before my eyes.  I’m so happy for them.  Both of them are great people who haven’t had the best luck with love in the past.  They seem to be a perfect fit.  I hope this is the forever love that they are both looking for.