Wednesday, October 2


It's that time of year! For the next couple weeks knitters and other fibery folks will be talking about Rhinebeck, whether it's their submissions or their travel plans or the budgets.

That includes me. This year I submitted two things.

The original plan was to send in just the BeeKeeper.

As time went on I thought about sending in some yarn. And then a shawl. And then something hand spun. Then nothing. After all, a 3 lb blanket is surely enough right? Wrong.

Enter: Chale Gaufrette. It was the best of everything. Hand spun, lace, shawl. As I was writing out my cards for the Bee Keeper, I glanced over and saw Chale sitting on the shelf, folded in a tidy little pile. I knew it was meant to be. Luckily, I had recently reblocked this with blocking wires so my points were nice and neat and firmly in place.

Both were carded, folded, and stuffed in a box. Based on tracking, it should arrive tomorrow. After that, it's just a matter of waiting. I was hoping to be there in person this year but no such luck. Next year maybe.

For tomorrow: a beaded shawl.

Friday, August 30

Shawl? What shawl?

I'm going to just admit it right now.

I knit shawls. Despite my many claims otherwise, it's time to just accept it.

Pattern: Olympic National Park shawl
Needles: US 7
Yarn: Superwash Merino/Mulberry Silk blend (bought off Etsy)
Mods: Only 1. The picot edge is done with 2 stitches. I worked mine with 3.
Start date: July 19
Finish date: August 29
Blocked dimensions: 41"x17" (vs. the patterns 39x16)

I have no idea why this took me over a month. It wasn't for lack of knitting time. It's an easy pattern. For some reason though, I had many a set back with it. In the end it didn't matter because it turned out better than I had hoped for. The picot edge was new for me. It's fiddly and time intensive but so worth it. So, so worth it.

 The tree trunks and stems are neat. A combination of twisted stitches (not to be confused with stitches knit through the back) and cables they just flow naturally. The first few inches can be hard to see but once things start to split and become more than the trunk it becomes rather intuitive.
 The leaves are just are easy to read once you get past the first one or two. I was sure that they'd be a pain in the butt based on the fact that I had to restart this 3 or 4 times (not sure wasn't hard) but I was happily surprised to see it wasn't.
 I'm not a fan of how the pattern was written out. It's formatted to be printed and while that is handy I think it's limiting. The charts are large with each one on it's own page (i.e. left side of the first chart is on a separate page from the right side) so there is a lot of scrolling back and forth if you read it from your computer. The chart legend is also on a separate page so if you forget something you have to go all the way to the top.
There are written instructions as well and I used those hoping to circumvent the scrolling issue. It worked BUT you have to read the written instructions similar to a chart. Odd numbered rows are left to right and even numbered rows are right to left. They are not written out that way though. Once I got the hang of it (it helped to highlight each row in each section as I went) it's irritating to have to zig zag back and forth across a pattern like that. It's an odd complaint because it's not a real complaint. The pattern is easy and intuitive. The hardest part about it is figuring out how you want to read it. That's not all that bad really.

Already on the needles: Cladonia. First 7 rows done and now that this is finished, I can work on it without guilt. Win-win.

Wednesday, July 17

And then there was poodle.

Alternate titles: Never, ever again.
What was I thinking?!
Think before saying yes.

Back in November I did a craft fair thing. I only had a half booth which meant I got to share space with another half-er. The lady I shared the space with did machine embroidery and made awesome ornaments. Near the end of the first day she started asking me about spinning. Being a spinner, and I imagine this is the case with any craft really, opens me up to a whole host of questions regarding what I can spin. I've been asked about everything from the obvious (cotton etc) to the less than obvious (corn silk). Without fail, no matter the person, I will get asked if I can spin pet hair. This is a resounding yes. Anything with fur/hair/coat can be spun. Technically. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. As is usual, she asked if I could spin dog. Then she got specific. Could I spin poodle? Would I need a carrier fiber for it? She wanted all the details.

 The next day she showed up with a tuft. A tuft of poodle. She asked if it was spinnable. I told her again that it was. She asked for all the details again and somehow, somewhere along the lines I agreed to spin it. She wanted it thin enough to do bobbin work but I told her there was no guarantee. A couple months later she gave me a call. She had recently groomed BOTH of her poodles and had found some wool roving to blend it with. She asked if 1lb of wool was enough. I assured her it was and we met up. She had 2.6 POUNDS of poodle. Not only was there a metric ton of it, she had washed it by shoving it in some pantyhose. Normally, this would be fine but it created clumps and balls of tightly matted curly poodle trimmings.
 Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of fiber and the amount of work it was suddenly going to take, I moved my attention to the roving. It was a nice large ball of a lovely white. And semi-felted. FELTED. A whole pound of semi-felted roving. This "easy peasy" spin was no longer easy.

I pulled out the drum carder and started putting the poodle through. This was a giant pain in the butt. No matter how much I spread it out and made it open, it was jamming things up and just becoming a giant floofy mess with no real direction. I ran it through again and again. And again. I finally had enough that I could run it through again, this time blending it with the semi-felted roving. I grabbed a chunk of it and ripped. It was all I could do. I ripped down the length and groaned. It sounded like ripping paper. Luckily, it opened up well enough that it went through the drum carder with ease.
The end result was nice enough that I had no complaints. I still hadn't spun it yet though. That would be the final test. I feel now is an appropriate time to mention again that just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
The bits that got double clipped resulted in tiny shorts tufts that wouldn't lay the right way or spin in easily. It would fly up and out of the wool and was generally a nuisance. Because both fibers were matted/semi-felted it made drafting rather difficult at times. The end result? Chunks of rough fiber that when forced to draft became rather sturdy. And unyielding. And not soft. It became such a mess that I didn't even bother to fill my entire bobbin. I couldn't. The fiber wasn't budging and I was tired of fighting it.
When I had first started this whole thing, I had plans of making a Navajo plied yarn with the entire amount of fiber. It did not end that way. I quickly spun up another single from just the wool and finished it off as a 2-ply. The wool spins fantastically by itself. Amazingly so. Ripping it all in half seemed to make it relax enough that even though it was hard to draft at times, it went smoothly. Well, in comparison to the blended portion. I quickly filled the bobbin and started plying. Which was another disaster. I lost a couple yards trying to get it all to behave but once it did, it was smooth sailing. Finally!
As soon as it was done, I finished off the wool single in a quick Navajo ply. It resulted in a mini skein of about 44 yds. The yarn is fantastic. Seriously lovely. There is more of the wool leftover and if I'm able, I will spin it to match this because AWESOME. The poodle though? Still debating.

Color wise, I love it. The delicate shifts from white to a light red are....well delicate. There are a few spots where it's a long blip of red but for the most part it's very blended. Unless you are holding it in your hand, you don't really notice it. It wasn't until a section of just wool passed through my fingers that I even noticed there was much color. The plain wool was significantly brighter and made it look like I had just attached a new batch of wool without blending it. I removed that piece and started again. The end result is a very subtle brownish red. When I say very subtle, I mean it.
The final yardage of poodle (prewashed...I'll re-measure in the morning) was/is 238 yds. Total between the two skeins is 282 yds. There is more. A lot more. I could easily get 1,000+ yds out of this but I don't want to. And I won't. Again: just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I will call the lady in the morning and explain everything to her and I know she will understand but this is not what I had in mind when I agreed to this. I was picturing this lofty, yardage heavy, soft yarn and instead I got a moderate yardage of yarn that smells (when wet) and feels exactly like the animal it came from. I envisioned whipping this out in a months time and having bragging rights galore and instead it took me about 2 months of fighting with the fiber and my equipment to get a yarn that I will happily never see again. I have no idea how this will work up (in any craft) and while I am curious enough to consider a quick swatch, I'm not sadistic enough to actually do it.
As a spinner (and knitter...this isn't just a spinner thing) I often have this grandiose vision of a project and the final outcome. I generally picture a serene evening where everything goes my way and I rock the hell out of the whole process. The reality is generally different and this project was no exception. It's a learning experience, as trite as that may be. I have learned a few things from this.
1. My drum carder is a beast of a machine and I love what it can do.
2. Poodle is something I never want to spin ever again.
3. Preset notions of a project will likely lead to a frustrating end result.
4. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Thursday, July 4

Alpaca everywhere

Back when I got my wheel I also got loads of fiber. One of them was a box full of the most gorgeous alpaca I had ever seen. Black and white and caramel brown and chocolate brown. All the colors layered and stacked together. The stuff was blissfully soft and clean and free of debris.

Except, it wasn't. The fibers were too short for easy spinning and the amount of grease left in this stuff was enough that it turned my fingers black. My lap would be covered in dust and various bits of dirt. It shed like crazy and was just, in general, a giant pain in the butt. I had started to spin it awhile ago and gave up because of how difficult it was. Then I had an epiphany late one night.

Run it through the drum carder. Why this hadn't come to me sooner is beyond me but I ran a bunch through and am thrilled with the results.

I can actually spin it now. Does it still shed? Heavens yes. Is my lap littered? Not as much. Running it through seems to have knocked quite a bit of dirt free and while I still get covered it isn't as bad. My fingers don't turn black nearly as quick either. That's always a plus. I ended up doing 8 bats and have barely made a dent in the box. I will be spinning this for a long time.

Wednesday, July 3

Shop spinning part 2

 Even more to come!

Saturday, June 29

Shop spinning

 174 yards of Wool of the Andes/Peruvian Highland Wool.

238 yards superwash merino and bamboo blend

92 yards silk

 Silk (white) and pima cotton (blue) blend

Merino blend

Saturday, May 25

The yin of swatching

I hate to swatch. This should come as no surprise since I have mentioned it before. As have countless other knitters across the world. It's boring. It's tedious. It takes time you could otherwise use to be knitting your desired project.

I know it has a place in the great world of fibery things. I've been redoing all the ones for Master Handknitters because I realized...they could be BETTER so I very much know they are an important part of things.

But it's swatching and it's boring and it brings me to levels of frustration that I'm sure Kindgeraten teachers face every day of the year. I have plans though.

Lots of plans. These plans of mine have brought out a degree of motivation and thrill that not only have I started a swatch (more than once) but I've drawn specs and done a bit of math.

This will be good. And that swatch WILL get done and be blocked (correctly, not with a steam iron) and things will move forward.

Sunday, May 5

Handspun swatch

One of my favorite parts of using my handspun is swatching (GASP! ).

Gauge: 24 rows, 15 stitches= 2 inches
Needles: size 2

Sunday, April 21

Rolags and navajo plying

There are certain things about me as a person that roll over into my extra curriculars, like spinning. I tend to find a way that works and rarely deviate from that particular path. As I sat here browsing spinning groups late one night I decided to try something new. Enter this fiber: nothing new but it was about to be used in a new way. Both are merino. The red is about 6 years old at this point and the yellow is only slightly newer at about 2 or 3 years old.

I pulled out the hand cards and got busy making some rolags.

There was no pattern with color placement. I layered as I saw fit and in a way that looked pretty. "Pretty" was my motivating factor here. I watched a couple videos that showed me how to do it to make sure I was right and quickly had a pile of rolls.

Some came out bright and varied while others came out more muted and dull. It was a lesson in patience and remembering that you won't always get what you envision. Having never made or spun from rolags before, I wasn't sure what I would get. Some were dissapointing. Others I loved so much I wanted to hang them in a frame.

Last night, long after kids were in bed and long after I should have been in bed I finished my single (624 yards!), got it on the lazy kate, and got ready to ply. Since the single itself had a wide range of color variations (some solids, some gradual shifts from one color to the next, and some completely blended) I knew it had potential to be busy looking. I had planned on navajo plying it from the very beginning. Having only tried it one other time with horrific results, I wanted to make sure I got it right this time. I watched a few videos and read a few links. I ended up using this one as my go to.

I'd like to say it went off without a problem but I'd be lying. I had the yarn break on me a few times. I had yarn break and then refuse to rejoin more than once. I have a small pile of scrap sitting on the table in front of me that came from needing to break ends to get a clean start. Was it frustrating? Absolutely. Was it worth it? So very much. The key, for me (and Yarn Harlot apparently), was to keep my lazt kate in front of me between my feet and to constantly keep the tension on it juuuust so. Too loose and it kinked up on me and refused to accept enough twist. Too tight and it would snap while resisting being drawn in. If I had to adjust the lazy kate chances were that the wheel needed adjusted ever so slightly as well. Now that I have the technique under my belt (or in my hands as it were), I can't wait to do more. Such a satisfying way to finish off a yarn!

Monday, March 11

Cast on redux: Version 3.0

Sometimes falling in love with a pattern right away is a bad thing.

Black laceweight alpaca with a provisional cast on. For the third time. I can do this, I can do this.

Saturday, March 9

With Love

The awesome thing about the way we use the internet is that we can find our groups, clubs, and various "hangouts" with ease. A bit ago I joined a knitting group on fb and have loved every minute of it. One of the perks is that it's a constant stream of "what I'm doing" that you don't get with blogs. It's a great way to see patterns you would otherwise miss.

Enter: From Norway with Love.

I'd seen mention of it but wasn't compelled to look it up. After a recent MBOY (magic ball of yarn) swap I had to. Someone had made one and sent it out and I loved it.

It was free (instant gratification!) and I had all the stuff I needed right then. I cast on that night. I finished the next day.

The pattern is fun. It's awesome. It is only free in one size at a time. Which can be a bit of a downside when it comes to making more than one for every possible person you come in contact with. I'm not sure what size I got (it wasn't listed) but it fits an adult human head so I'm guessing adult/large. I have some accidental mods to this which worked out in my favor quite well.

Pattern: From Norway with Love
Mods: size 8 needles (accidental), worsted weight yarn (on purpose), 4 heart repeats (on purpose), decreased down extra stitches (accidental)

I did have a hard time keeping it loose enough to not pucker. There is some still there post blocking but once on, it isn't noticeable. I'm not sure if it's the pattern itself or if it was me. I'm guessing me as much of this was knit late at night with minimal light.

Wednesday, February 27

A little bit French

Very rarely do I come across a pattern that moves me in such a way that I have to do it right that very second. Even more rarely is it not in English. Being interested in other things during high school (debate!) meant I skipped language classes. DO NOT SKIP LANGUAGE CLASSES.

A couple weeks ago I found Châle "Gaufrette" . It was such a simple design but the yarn, the color, the simple lines of it all. It wormed it's way into my heart instantly and took hold like I imagine a leach to an open wound does. It was fierce. And then I saw it. It was in French.

The wonderful thing about the internet is that we now have quick access to people who have skill sets and experiences that we do not. I went to a forum and asked for help. Within an hour I had the pattern in English. Within a couple minutes an error was spotted and corrected with the help of a second person. I was excited to say the least.

As soon as I saw the pattern I knew I wanted to use some of the lavender laceweight I spun back in November. I am so very glad I did. The drape on this is unbelievable. While I was blocking it I wondered if it would be stiff (this particular yarn is a single and semi-felted). As soon as it was unpinned and lifted off my board my worries vanished. It hung in such a way that I wished a breeze would come in and lift it. It has that kind of hang to it.

It's not very large (at least not compared to Color Affection) but it gets the job done. It's 49" across and less than 20" long. It's size does not limit it though. The lightness in it's final weight lends itself to a casual draping as a scarf or just across the shoulders.

If I were to change anything about it it would be blocking of the points. I may very well end up getting blocking wires and redoing it at some point. This will end up in the shop as a display so I'm not too concerned about it for now. The translation of the pattern into English wasn't perfect so the end of one side took some fiddling to make it right but it was easy. Just a matter of switching stitches around a bit.

If there was ever a shawl to convince me to become a Shawl Person? It would be this one.

Tuesday, February 26

I don't do shawls

Have I mentioned that before? I feel like I must since I'm pretty much the least shawl minded person on the planet. I should clarify that though because really? I'm not a non-shawl person. I just don't wear them. I don't know how. It's true. Do I wrap? Do I fold? Tuck? Tie? There are so many options and sizes that the thought (plus my short neck and lack of shoulders) is overwhelming.

I do knit them though. Boy, can I knit them. I even have one hibernating. It'll likely be taken out of hibernation and redone as something else at this point. The yarn doesn't fit. That's neither here nor there though. You know what is?

Color Affection

A couple months ago this seemed all the rage (and still is...I hear there were quite a few at Stitches West) and it was talked about everywhere I went. Knitters were loving it and non-knitters were wanting it. One such non-knitter REALLY wanted it. She wanted two actually. One for herself and one for a gift. We got to talking and soon enough I had the pattern and the yarn in my pretty little hands.

 The colors were, no ARE, amazing. When I first opened the package I was doubtful. I'm so glad the intended person was not.

Knit Picks Palette: I've never used this yarn. It is on the thinner side of fingering and it can rub your finger a bit rough but overall it wasn't bad. It is a bit hairy so if that bothers you, pick a different yarn.
Main color: Coriander Heather
CC1: Hollyberry
CC2: Sagebrush

If you go through the gallery on Ravelry you will notice a lot of folks did a mod for the edge. That's because that sucker is tight.

 Between the many increases (all 2 stitches from the edge) and the carrying of more than one color (3 in the 3rd section of stripes) it can just get tight. It does block out but it can be a hard block. This one kept a bit of ruffle. I was worried about overblocking and distorting the garter so I shot the person an email and asked which they would prefer. They loved it as you see it there so it's been folded and packaged and is ready to ship. There ARE ways around that ripple and if it's important to you to not have it, browse the gallery. There are a lot of helpful suggestions and formulas for avoiding it.

I guess I can figure out how to wear one afterall. The size of this particular one is...well large. It's a shawl and it's meant to wrap around you in the best possible way. It's possibly convinced me to cast away my issues with them and give one a go. It's convinced a couple others to try one themselves. It does get repetitive and if you aren't paying attention you can mess up. I did (misread the pattern and plugged along pretending I was in charge of my knitting) and that's frustrating on a row that's 300+ stitches but it is totally worth it. It's a keeper.

And since I don't do shawls, stay tuned for tomorrow. Where I have another shawl. This time in some handspun of my own.

Monday, January 21

Bee Keeper: part 2

*** Part 1 can be found here ***

This is going to be more technical. And short. :)

Pattern: Bee Keeper Quilt
Yarn: 10 colors, 27 skeins total (30 purchased)
Lorna’s Laces: Patina, MonkeyShines, The Bean, and Magnificent Mile (all Shepard Worsted)
Madeline Tosh Vintage: Ginger
Madeline Tosh dk: Dusk
Malabrigo: Butter, Rich Chocolate, and Applewood (all worsted)
Araucania Coliumo Solid: Color 24
Needles and Hooks: US 8 (knitting), 0 (crochet: seaming), and J (edge)

Modifcations: Hexagons were knit flat and in strips. Each hexagon was separated by a row of purl stitches. Each strip had 15 hexagons. 14 total strips were made (but only 13 were used). All hexagons started at 14 stitches and increased up to 28 except for those done in Araucania. Those were increased only to 26 stitches. Seaming was a basic single crochet seam (vs. ties at the corners). Entire blanket was done on bigger needles and with thicker yarns.

Total strip count: 13 strips out of 14
Total hexagon count: 195 (used. Including the 14th strip it was 210)
Total weight: 3 lbs
Total knitting time starting at the last restart: 7 weeks.
Total starts: 3 times
Final size: 60x65