Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Major Award

I won this prize from The Kelly Green Rogue. She started a contest on her blog right before she left for her vacation in Italy. This package was so wonderful it felt like opening a Christmas present.

You can see all the wonderful stuff, but let me point out a couple of my favorite things in the package. The little mesh bag is holding wine glass charms that she made. This set has sweater and knitting needle charms. She has the wine glass markers for sale on etsy.

Of course I have to mention the wonderful yarn too. It was raised, spun, and dyed right there where she is from. It is about 400 yards and is 80% alpaca and 20% merino. I'll be knitting it up very soon!

Thank you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Handspun Friday - Tea for Two

I had fun spinning this wool blend. It was nice and spongy like merino really. I'm not sure how much of the other wool types are represented in this blend. I bought this roving because I liked all the rich brown colors.

These skeins are destined to become a hat and probably thrummed mittens for Brad. I should have enough yardage for those two projects. I just need to get some fiber for the thrums. I think just about everything I have in my stash is dyed in bright colors. I think I'd like to find something more natural in a brown or off white.

This yarn ended up a little more uneven with more thick and thin sections than I've had in a while. I'm going to put that down to speeding through the whole process. This time I was just spinning to relax and go through the motions.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Content: Wool blend of Merino, Targhee, and Rambouillet
Fiber Source: Crash into Ewe
Weight: 212 grams
Fiber Preparation: combed top
Yardage: two skeins; total of 530 yards
WPI: 10 wraps per inch (average)
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10 to 1
Details: 2-ply

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Simple Socks

I finished my second carpool project and it is another pair of simple 4x2 ribbed socks. The pattern was simple and the socks are short so they knit up fairly quick.

I don't think I've knit socks this short before, but I didn't have much choice if I wanted the two socks to match. Can you tell why? Each sock is exactly one repeat of the pattern in the yarn. I've never seen such a long pattern without any type of repeat in this type of sock yarn before. And there is one small section of blue and tan in the heel part of each sock that isn't repeated anywhere else. It seemed really odd while I was knitting and I probably wouldn't have noticed if I wasn't trying to make sue that the socks matched. I like my stripey socks to match.

This is the second project I've completed while carpooling to work! I like knitting in the car and I've now finished two pairs of socks I wouldn't have otherwise. I haven't started the next socks yet because I'm trying to decide what to do. I'd like my next pair to be with the handspun I showed last Friday, but I'm stumped on what pattern to use. I'm trying to decide between a simple ribbing or something a little more involved. I think I'll go home and pull out my comp of Sensation Knitted Socks and see if anything jumps out at me.

Project Info

Pattern: 4x2 Ribbed Socks
Size: Women's medium
Yarn: Trekking XXL - color 83
Needles: addi TURBO Lace Needles - US# 1 (2.5 mm)
Notes: Socks were knit toe-up with a short row heel and toe. I have a lot of yarn leftover. I think enough to make a baby hat.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sherman Goes to the Beach

We had planned a very simple weekend of yard work and watching movies on the couch. At the last minute we were invited to spend the weekend with our friends at the beach and take Sherman. We live about 2 hours from the beach, but Sherman had never been before. He's not one for trying new things and sometimes; well, he can be a bit neurotic. So we decided to go for one night to see how it would work.

We left late Saturday afternoon and arrived at the place we'd be staying. Our friends have a fifth wheel camper that is in an RV park right on the beach. It was a very nice place and was really crowded for the holiday weekend. Sherman did really well at the campsite, but refused to go up the stairs of the camper. We thought about leaving him tied up to sleep outside, but were afraid he'd make a lot of noise barking. He would bark each time someone went into the camper.

We are used to similar behaviour at home. He barks anytime someone goes up stairs. Sometimes he'll even try and keep you from going up; I think it is because he can't go himself and doesn't like it when anyone else does either. The problem is he has a very loud voice and had a very big baroo, which is kind of like a howl. We didn't think the other vacationers would find this at all pleasant, so Brad slept with Sherman in the car. This was only possible because of the really cool weather we've had lately.

Needless to say we were up early and headed out to the beach to see if Sherman would like the water. the first obstacle was the wooden boardwalk over the dunes that lead to the beach. I would guess for 99.5% of dogs this would not be a problem, but steps are not Sherman's thing. But for some reason he went right up the ramp and down the steps on the other side to the sand.

We walked up and down the surf for a while to get him used to the water and at first he was a little hesitant as the surf hit his feet.

But we took everything slow and eventually he has comfortable enough to relax a little bit and stretch out and enjoy the sand.

We actually spent the day going to and from the beach. We'd go and stay for a little bit and then head back to the campsite so Sherman could rest and drink some fresh water.

Sherman got to meet a lot of new people too. There seem to be two basic reactions when someone new sees Sherman. Either they want to come pet him or there is a quick move to the other side of the street. but we had a lot of people come up and want to pet him and find out if he is friendly.

He is friendly and usually will let anyone pet him, but every once in a while he'll let out a big baroo when someone approaches. I've never been able to peg what is that sets him off this way - it must be only something he sees. But people usually step back and take notice when he barks.

I think we all had the most fun on about our third trip down to the water that day. Sherman actually decided to get in the waves. I wouldn't use the term swim because his feet never left the ground but I think he had fun just the same.

It really was a successful trip. Sherman slept the whole way home and straight through until the next morning. On the first trip outside in the morning, he headed over straight to the car. I think he wanted to go back.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Handspun Friday - Harlequin

This is my first three ply yarn. My understanding is that there are really two ways to end up with a three ply yarn. One way would be to spin a long continuous thread and chain ply/Navajo ply it into a three ply yarn. I've read that the process is similar to making a chain in crochet. One of the advantages of this technique is that you can keep colors together as you ply.

I didn't use that method. Instead, I spun three individual threads and plied those together just as I would normally do with two threads. It was a little awkward at first. I had to get used to holding the three threads and controlling them so they plied together evenly. But I got the hang of that aspect pretty quickly.

The trickiest part was dealing with any type of breakage of an individual thread. It was challenging to manage each thread and get them to reconnect with a nice smooth join. The bad part is that I had that problem more that I ever have. I think in part this was due to how thin I attempted to spin each thread so I would end up with a three ply that could reasonable be used for a pair of socks.

The results seem to be worth it so far. The yarn seems strong but not too hard if that makes sense. I've decided that this will be knit up into my first pair of handspun socks instead of last week's two ply fingering weight. I've read that a three ply yarn is much more likely to stand up to the wear and tear that socks experience. After the spinning and knitting, I'd like the socks to last as long as possible.

I like the way this three ply turned out and I'd really like to try the other method in an attempt to create a striping yarn. But so far I haven't seen much that really makes it click in for me. I'm hoping to see the process in person at a guild meeting or SAFF in the fall. If you have a link to instructions that worked for you, I'd love to check them out.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Content: Superwash Merino wool
Fiber Source: Pigeon Roof Studios
Weight: 4 ounces
Fiber Preparation: combed top
Yardage: 324 yards
WPI: 14 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10 to 1
Details: 3-ply, superwash merino

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A New Project

I've finally started a new knitting project. It is the shawl I posted about trying out in the Noro Kureyon sock yarn. So far it is going well, just a little slow. The pattern is called Swirl Shawl and is from JoJoLand brand yarns for their Melody Superwash yarn. It is a variegated yarn that stripes I think.

I was immediately attracted to the hexagon motif of the pattern but assumed it was crocheted. It just looked like one of those crocheted motifs, but I found out that it is in deed a knitted pattern. and there for possible for me to complete But I didn't like the colors of the yarn the pattern specified. I don't know anything about the yarn other than they picked an awful color to work the sample that is pictured on the pattern.

So the easiest thing to do was substitute another fingering weight variegated yarn that stripes. Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn was the first thing that came to mind. I have wanted to try the yarn out ever since I saw it, because I'm a Noro junkie. But I just wasn't convinced that socks were the way to go. Plus everywhere I went the yarn was back ordred.

Well one Saturday I was out shopping with ZKnitter and the shop had a small selection of Kureyon Sock color available. So, I bought three skeins and came home and ordered the shawl pattern. Now that I've used the yarn a little, I have no qualms saying that this really isn't the best yarn for socks. With so many wonderful sock yarns available, this would not be on my list. but I do think it will work well for this shawl. the yarn is a little rough, but the biggest problem I see is the lack of strength. It is very similar to Kureyon in that way. I have had this break in my hands with very little pressure. I don't think it would hold up to well with the normal wear and tear that socks should be able to handle.

The pattern is pretty easy to knit. Each little hexagon is knit individually in the round from the outside in to the center. There is now seaming. Additional hexagons are started by picking up stitches on the previous one and casting on the remaining stitches needed.

That process is what is going to make this project take awhile. There is tons of starting and stopping and the inevitable weaving in the ends. Then of course this thing will have to be blocked to get the nice detail of the hexagon shapes. The image to my left is my swatch that I blocked. There is a big difference between that and the unblocked shapes in the pictures above. I can tell I'm going to need more blocking pins already.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I is for Iris

I love all the different types of iris and probably my favorite are the bearded varieties. there are so many colors to choose from. Iris run the gamut from white to almost black and everything in between; including some breathtaking color combinations. Some of my favorites are the blues and purples.

One of the great features of iris is how hardy they really can be. The rhizomes aren't to be buried deeply and that makes them fairly easy to plant. Iris can grow well in poor soil and don't require a lot of watering and that helps make maintenance easy. They also seem to multiply fairly quickly and you can dived them to spread them out or share with other gardeners. I even have some iris that are from my mom's yard in Indiana.

I've also had really good luck buying iris on clearance at wall mart in those little bags too. Sometimes for less than dollar. This dark colored iris is one I got from Walmart. It's growing well and I think I'm going to have to divide it out this year.

The best thing about iris so far is that the deer aren't event touching them. I have a terrible time keeping any type of plants in the yard. They seem to end up as deer food shortly after planting, but for some reason they aren't even touching the iris. I can imagine the foliage isn't all that tasty, but I thought they'd love the flowers. Oh well, I'm not going to question it, just enjoy it now because the iris are almost finished for the year.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Handspun Friday - Hannah

I finally got a lot of yardage out of one braid of fiber and I think it is finally thin enough to count as sock yarn. The key for me was slowing down the whole process. I usually just speed right along and still end up with a pretty nice yarn. This time I took my time and tried for something thinner than I usually do and it worked!

The color did end up a lot lighter in the finished yarn than it looked in the fiber. I think that has to do with the white portions of the fiber and how it mixed with the colors as I drafted the fiber. I like the results, but I liked the deep colors that were in the fiber too.

My understanding is that Colonial wool is actually a blend made of wool from unspecified English sheep breeds, raised in South America. The nice thing is that this fiber is washable, so I think I'll be knitting a pair of socks with this skein.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Colonial Wool
Fiber Source: Fat Cat Knits
Weight: 4 ounces
Fiber Preparation: combed top
Yardage: 440 yards
WPI: 18 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Details: 2-ply, superwash

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Halfobi Gets a Done Stamp

This is the second H for the week. I finally finished up the seaming and the border on my little Halfobi sweater. I finished it right on time to fold it up and put it in the closet until winter. But It will be nice to have to pull out as soon as the cool fall weather hits.

This was really easy and fast to knit. It was knit flat from side to side. Then it was folded in half and seamed up under the arms to finish. the seaming was actually quick too, it just took me a while to sit down and actually do it; but it is finished now.

I didn't bother trying to match up the stripes of the Silk Garden. I'm not bothered by the fact that the stripes aren't symmetrical and the sleeves don't match. I think I'd be much more bothered if I had tried to math the stripes and things had ended up even slightly off - say even by one row. It would drive me nuts, so it is much better for me to go with no matching.

I also managed to add a single crocheted border around the edge of the body. I didn't add the crochet to the cuffs. I like the rolled edge on the sleeves but maybe I'll go back and add the border; I definitely have enough of the yarn. I decided that the Silk Garden might not be the best thing for seaming so I found an almost perfect color match with Simply Shetland. It is a wool silk mix too. I bought two skeins but only used a little bit on this project, so I plenty left over for a scarf or something.

Project Info

Pattern: Halfobi by Ivete Tecedor
Size: Large
Yarn: Main Color - Noro Silk Garden; color # 245; lot E; 8 skeins
Border and Seaming - Simply Shetland,
59% silk noil, 41% shetland; color: 034/ardvreck
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 7 (4.5 mm)
Notes: I used an extra skein and made the sweater longer. Yarn for the border and seaming was held double.

Monday, May 12, 2008

H is for Homemade

Actually this whole week is going to brought to you by the letter H, but I'll start with something yummy. Saturday morning I went strawberry picking.

Last time I did this I took Brad and we ended up with an obscene amount of berries and I ended up making lots and lots of jam. The jam was good, but I ended up giving most of it away. I realized we just don't eat a lot of jam.

I still ended up picking a whole bucket full of berries and it ended up being 12.5 pounds of fruit, but it is so hard to resist those sweet ripe berries. We will be eating strawberries a lot this week. We have already had strawberry shortcake and a strawberry smoothie. This morning I had strawberries with my yogurt for breakfast.

I also wanted something else to make since I wasn't going to be making jam again. So, I scoured the Internet to come up with a recipe and found a recipe for strawberry banana muffins that turned out to be pretty good.

We liked the muffins so much that I ended up making a second batch and stowing them away in the freezer for later. Homemade treats are always the best - especially warm out of the oven. Later this week I have a finished project to share and of course I have a new skein of handspun fro Friday.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Handspun Friday - Mediterranean

This fiber is from Loop on etsy and started out as a beautiful 3 ounce batt of bamboo, alpaca, silk, and Corriedale. Steph's batts are almost too pretty to spin.

It was fun to spin the mix of fibers. You kind of have to pay attention because of all the different fiber lengths but it was great watching the shiny fibers of the silk and bamboo mix with the alpaca and wool. It is amazing how slippery the bamboo fibers really are.

The resulting yarn has a beautiful sheen and a very nice drape. I wish I had more of this to spin.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Bamboo, alpaca, silk, and Corriedale
Fiber Source: Loop
Weight: 3 ounces total
Fiber Preparation: carded batt
Yardage: 152 yards
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Details: 2-ply, hand wash, air dry

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

G if for Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

This is what Sherman looked like on the day we brought him home. He was about twelve weeks old and already weighed 25 pounds. He is now four years old and weighs in at 150 pounds.

We also have two kitties and they learned very quickly how handle Sherman regardless of size. Biscuit is actually still top dog in this house.

Sherman at six months old in the woods behind our house. This has always been one of my favorite pictures of Sherman.

Sherman likes to take time to smell the flowers.

The best thing about Sherman is that he is always there to be a friend.

Monday, May 05, 2008

First Carpool Socks

My first traveling project is complete. The colors are a little crazy, but it was easy to get the stripes to match for both socks. Matching isn't something i usually care about, but when I use this kind of self patterning sock yarn - it's nice if the socks are twins.

These socks went a little quicker than I anticipated. My daily commute is about a 70mile round trip so I was able to finish these socks quickly during my trip last week. Luckily I had also stashed an additional ball of sock yarn in my project bag. So I've already started my second pair of carpool socks. Airports and layovers create a lot of knitting time.

Project Info

Pattern: 4x2 rib

Yarn: ONline Supersocke 100; color #765

Needles: addi TURBO Lace Needles - US# 1

Notes: Knit toe with a short row toe and heel.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Handspun Friday - Insect Wings

The fiber for this yarn is hand dyed Bluefaced Leicester from the Hello Yarn fiber club. The fiber club was a three month commitment and this was the first installment. I did order a double size portion for each of the shipments and I'm really glad I did.

I ended up turning the ten ounces of fiber into just under 600 yards of yarn, so I should be able to knit something nice. Though I'm not sure what I'll knit. I'd guess that the yarn is somewhere between a DK and worsted weight.

I think I will spend this weekend seaming up my sweater and starting my shawl with the Noro sock yarn. The pattern finally came yesterday.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Bluefaced Leicester
Fiber Source: Hello Yarn Fiber Club
Weight: 5 ounces each / 10ounces total
Fiber Preparation: hand dyed combed top
Yardage: two skeins; 588 total yardage
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Details: 2-ply, hand wash, air dry