Sunday, June 29, 2008

Saratoga Aubergine

I love this scarf! The pattern was easy to follow and really works well with the variegated yarn. I ended up with a great sized scarf for using only one skein of yarn. It did take me a couple tries to get the faux cable stitch to work right. But that all happened because I don't read - the directions are correct and actually very clear. I'm just one of those people that rush ahead without reading instructions.

I did try a number of different stitch counts for the cast-on to see if the pooling would change much. It did change a little when I decreased the stitch count, but not much. I didn't really want a wider scarf and I liked the way the yellow zigzags up the scarf so I went with the 34 stitch cast-on as written in the pattern. I'd definitely knit this one again.

Project Info
Pattern: Aubergine by Irishgirlieknits (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Heavyweight
color: Saratoga; one skein (I used all 350 yards)
Needles: addi TURBO Needles - US# 8 (5 mm)
Width: 5 inches
Length: 85 inches
Gauge: I didn't check
Notes: I followed the pattern as written; cast on 34 stitches

L is for Lycosidae

Or in layman's terms, that is one big ass spider! I saw it on my front porch one night as I was bringing in Sherman from a walk. At first I thought it was a piece of mulch or a rock, but when I got close I realized it was a spider. So I ran inside to get the camera and something to put into the photo for scale.

I put the quarter down on the cement and edged it closer to the spider with a really long stick. I didn't want to get that close to the thing. I was actually surprised how long the thing stayed there before running away. The word running isn't really too much of a stretch either - this sucker was fast!

I really had no idea what kind of spider this was, but I found this site online, You can post a picture of your unknown bug or spider and someone will help identify it for you. That is where I came up with the name for this guy. I did read that these spiders don't build webs, but instead live in the debris and leaves around a foundation of a house sometimes. And that was exactly where he ran off towards. It has definitely curtailed my interests in weeding those areas.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Handspun Friday - The Sock Edition

I knew it would happen sooner or later and I wouldn't have a new skein of yarn to share on Friday. But I made it all the way to the end of June with a new skein each week. I figured this week I'd show you something I knit with one of those skeins.

I love how these socks turned out. They are soft, thick, and squishy. I used my first 3-ply yarn to knit these and I plan on several more pairs. The yarn was great to knit with and the resulting socks are great. I could be a little bit biased though because of all the work that went into this pair. This pair is being sent to my mom as a thank you for the sewing lesson. My next pair will be for me.

As far as pattern goes, I did what I normally do. I found a stitch pattern I liked and incorporated it into my usual sock formula with toe up with a short row heel and toe. I don't change that basic part too much because it is easy and fits my foot well. I know problem people have with short row heels is little holes all along the diagonal line. I don't have that problem, but each side of the sock does look different. The photo on the left is the side that the wraps are picked up on the purl side and the right photo shows the wraps that are picked up on the knit side.

The toes I work end up looking the same with two slightly different sides - but I never really notice while I'm wearing the sock. I don't think either side is objectionable. It is just a little odd that they are different. The method I use is double wrapping when I turn at an already wrapped stitch and picking up both wraps. I don't know really who to credit with the method. When I was trying to figure the whole concept out, I ended up reading several different sets of instructions and setting everything down and giving it a try and this is how it turned out.

I don't have a square to post from this project. I used every bit of the yarn for the socks. So I decided to close the post with a picture of the fiber and the yarn. That way you can see all stages of this project. Hopefully I'll have some new handspun ready for next Friday.

Project Info
Stitch Pattern: Openwork Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: My own handspun; superwash merino wool; 324 yards/4oz; dyed by Pigeon Roof Studios
Needles: addi TURBO Needles - US# 2 (3 mm)
Gauge: 7 stitches per inch in stockinette
Stitches Around: 64
Notes: toe up on 2 circular needles; short row toe and heel

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Handspun Hootenanny Questionnaire

I've joined the Hush Hush Handspun Hootenanny Swap . If you are a spinner and want to join, sign ups are open until June 30th. We've been asked to answer the following questions on our blogs so our swap partners know more about us. Here are my responses:

1. How long have you been spinning? What skill level do you consider yourself?
I've been spinning since late last year. I bought a spindle in October and got a wheel for Christmas. I would consider myself an advanced beginner to an intermediate level spinner.

2. What kinds of yarn do you create (singles/2-ply/3-ply/art yarn)?
I typically spin 2-ply yarns, but have really started to like true 3-ply yarns; especially for sock knitting. Singles and art yarn aren't my main thing because I usually don't knit with those types of yarn - but it is fun to try spinning them.

3. What do you spin with (spindle/wheel/both)?
I can spin using both, but I primarily spin on my wheel. It is so much faster and I'm a little too impatient for the spindle. Right now I've loaned my spindles out to my mom so she can try to learn spinning . My wheel is a Lendrum DT.

4. What are your favorite fibers to spin with? Anything you don't like?
I'm not a big fan of coarse wools and mohair. I have spun a lot of merino, Falkland, and Bluefaced Leicester. I have some Rambouillet I'm looking forward to trying. I really just like soft squishy wool. (Who doesn't)

5. Who are your favorite crack dealers fiber sources (etsy or otherwise)?
My favorite is probably PigeonRoof Studios. I love Hello Yarn too. I tend to buy a lot at FatCat Knits and Yarn Wench. I'm a currently a member of the Black Bunny Fiber Club, the Loop Batt Club, and the Funky Carolina Fiber Club. All of those are great too. Oh, and I love Flawful Fibers and Crown Mountain Farms too, I could probably go on and on with this list.

6. What kind of fiber do you want to try?
I'm really interested in trying some various blends, like wool and sea-cell. I've got a merino/bamboo blend that I'm dying to spin up. I'm also interested in trying some more "exotic" fibers like quivet. I'm also interested in using some "natural" colored wools instead of dyed.

7. Is there any techniques you would like to learn?
I'd like to learn to Navajo ply and to spin a coiled type yarn. I'm not sure how often I'd used either technique but it would be nice to say I've tried it.

8. Do you dye fiber? If not, would you like to learn?
I've never dyed fiber or yarn. I'm interested in learning to dye fiber and I have registered to take a class in October at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair in Asheville, NC on hand painted roving. I'm not really interested in Kool-aid dying.

9. Do you have fiber prep tools (and like to use them) or would you prefer ready to spin fiber?
No prep tools yet. I've thought about buying some small combs and cards, but they seem a little expensive. I need to look into it more before I just go ahead and buy something I won't end up using. I really like ready to spin - just sit down and go!

10. What do you do with your handspun? What projects have you completed?
I do love to knit with my own handspun. My first project was a hat. I've also knit a feather and fan shawl. If you come back tomorrow you will be able to see my first pair of handspun handknit socks too.

11. Are you in need of any spinning gadgets (WPI Gauge, threading hook, etc)?
I love gadgets and have bought most of them already, but who could say no to another gadget? I need a new niddy noddy. I don't have a diz - I might need one of those too.

12. What colors "fall into your shopping basket"? Any colors you just can’t stand?
There really aren't any colors that I don't like. Pastel combinations are probably my least favorite. I like rich bold colors. I seem to be gravitating to a lot of green lately.

13. What is on your wheel/spindle right now?
Nothing! Isn't that sad? I plan on starting a new spinning project this weekend.

14. What other crafts/hobbies do you have?
I love gardening and houseplants. I've started to take an interest in sewing - small quick projects. I love to pick up fun looking fat quarters at the fabric store, so I need to be able to do something with them. I like photography and cooking too. I also love working with warm glass but haven't done that in awhile.

15. Other than crafts, what are you passionate about?
Just my family and spending time together. I love trying new things.

16. Do you have an online wishlist?

17. Is there anything that you collect?
I try to keep collections to a minimum. (I'm guessing that fiber or yarn doesn't count)

18. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What magazine subscriptions do you have?
I subscribe to Spin-Off and Interweave Knits. I can't think of any books I'm currently looking to get; although I love looking through books and patterns.

19. When is your birthday?
September 7

20. What book or movie character do you most resemble in personality?
I honestly had no idea so asked my husband and he said:
"Diane Lane with a sprinkle of Uma Thurman"

21. What is the climate like where you live around this time (need to know for careful shipments of anything meltable)?
Hot - the days in summer get in to high nineties all the time.

22. Tell us one weird fact about yourself!
I don't like driving over bridges, I always think about the car going over the edge into water. I also tend to (ironically) go overboard on a lot of things....if one is good; three must be better.


favorite painting/picture(link): I have a wide range of taste in art. I love abstract and representational art. It would be so hard to pick just one. But this print hangs above our mantle.

Candy: dark chocolate; fruit flavored jelly bellys

Food: fresh fruit - berries, pineapple, or peaches and thai food

Drink: iced tea

Movie(s): A Christmas Story; I love mystery type movies - like the books I read.

TV Show(s): Dexter, The Office, Deadliest Catch, Top Chef, Project Runway

Book(s): murder mysteries and thrillers; my selections tend to be on the dark side of things

Guilty Pleasure(s): usually overspending on a fiber or food type treat, like a decadent dessert or some really rich dark chocolate

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New Skills Acquired

My recent trip home also included a sewing lesson. My mom bought me a sewing machine for Christmas several years ago and for the large part it remains unused. I have tried to start several projects - I started with a couple small flannel rag quilts that I gave as gifts. they were actually well received and I didn't have to do much more than sew a straight line. So on the heels of that success I figured I'd become a quilter, always set goals right? I did end up sewing one complete quilt top and a partial second but slowly just lost interest. Probably a case of too much too soon and not enough finished product.

I've always wanted to sew more, but I've never been sure what to do or how to get started. So while I was at my mom's this year I decided I needed a sewing lesson. I wanted to learn to make something that I'd actually use and that could be finished in one setting. My mom and I decided to try a small project bag and set off to the fabric store. I love the fabric store and I think that is the reason I've always wanted to sew. So with supplies in hand we sat down and figured out how to construct this things and started sewing away. You can see the result in the photo above.

I think we ended up making 21 of these little things and they are perfect to hold a small project or even a spindle. I should have taken a close up picture, but these bags have a drawstring and a cord lock. They are also fully lined and can be reversed. Some of the bags in the photo were planned as gifts and for an upcoming swap and maybe a blog contest or two. I haven't decided if I'm going to post a tutorial on making these little things or make some more and try to sell them on etsy.

The small bags were such a success that we decided to expand the operation and go for a larger tote/market type bag. We made another trip to buy fabric and supplies and decided to base our project on a free pattern my mom picked up at JoAnn's a while back. We modified the pattern so we could use some fun quilters cotton. We ended up lining these bags too. These bags have already been hauled all over already and have even made a trip to the grocery - no more plastic bags for me. The last one we made got longer handles so it can be worn over the shoulder. Oh, and I only made one yarn purchase during my whole trip (not counting spinning fiber of course!) and i ended up with some Regia sock yarn that matches the colors in the orange bag on the right.

And just because we had a few minutes leftover, I asked about putting a zipper into something. So after another trip to the fabric store for zippers and a few stitches later, we had these! I love these little zippered pouches and it was a perfect way to use up some of the leftover fabric from the other projects. So watch for some more sewing projects from me. And those long forgotten quilt tops? They were sent to my mom for finishing. She is a wonderful quilter and almost has one complete!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fingerless Mitts - Stulpen

I completed these little mitts while I was on vacation and boy am I glad they are finished. For a while there, I thought these were doomed to the frog pond. It seems that I don't know how to pick up a dropped stitch while knitting cables. And for some reason I kept dropping stitches about halfway through the cable pattern on the first mitt. I tried picking the stitch up - but the twists and turns just didn't look right. So I ended up ripping it back to the cuff.

I also tried to lengthen the cable section a couple times and that didn't work. I couldn't figure out which rows to repeat and make the cables look right. I must have ripped the first mitt out about 7-8 times. I had to frog the second one too, but that was because I put the thumb gusset on the wrong side. So much for an easy travel project.

The pattern was nice and well written. The cable pattern was easy to do and the chart was easy to follow. I liked that the pattern contained a nice large printable version of the chart.

I only made some minor changes to the pattern. I started the cables just a little sooner than suggested. I thought the pattern would be too low at about wrist level and might hidden by sleeves. I also knit the top part of the mitt a little longer than suggested too. It just seemed to fit my hands better that way.

I'd definitely knit these again, but I think I'd use a plainer yarn so the cable pattern isn't as obscured and I'd try to figure out how to alter the chart correctly.

I was able to get an afghan square out the leftovers from one skein. But when I originally bought this yarn I bought two skeins to knit a pair of socks. So now a single skein is floating around the stash.

Project Info

Pattern: Stulpen by Petra
Yarn: Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett - color earth; one skein
Needles: addi TURBO Lace Needles - US# 1 (2.5 mm)
Notes & Modifications: Started thumb gusset at row 7 in the cable pattern.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

K is for Kentiana

I've always liked house plants. But since the deer have decided to eat everything I plant outside; I've focused even more on the plants I have in the house. I'm choosing plants that are easy to grow and have something interesting about them, like flowers or shape.

This plant is a Hoya Kentiana. The leaves remind me of pea pods that have been split open and the plant does flower as you can see. The flowers are small, but interesting. This is the second time it has put out flowers this year. It is also very easy to grow and requires very little care; it likes to dry out between waterings.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Handspun Friday - Another 3-ply Yarn

I really enjoyed the process of spinning and plying the first 3-ply I did, so I decided to give another try. I think part of what made the first attempt come out so good was the Pigeon Roof Studios fiber. I liked how the splotches of color in the fiber translated into the yarn. I had one more braid of Pigeon Roof fiber, so I decided to use it here.

I've been trying to use more of the versatility my spinning wheel offers so I used the fast flyer this time and that let me spin at a high ratio (faster for all you non spinners). I think the higher ratio should allow me to spin a thinner yarn with a little less treadling effort. I did have a lot less breakage when I was spinning this time, but I also ended up with a thicker yarn. I do think the higher ratio helped. I just need to give it another shot and go for a slightly finer yarn.

I know one reason people don't like to make a typical 3-ply yarn like this is that you can end up with a lot of leftovers. I tried to avoid that problem. I took the original fiber and tried to divide it up into to as many long thin strips as possible. Then, I weight all the strips on my kitchen scale and divided that into three even piles.

Each pile of fiber is then spun onto a separate bobbin. Then I ply them together. It never fails, even with the weighing of the fiber, one bobbin runs out before the others. Once one bobbin is empty, I took the bobbin that had the most yarn left on it and wound that into a center pull ball. Then I plied the last of the yarn on the remaining bobbin with both ends of the center pull ball. I joined all the strands together so I could continue plying to the same skein. The photo shows what was leftover from the three ply - not very much at all. And, if you use this center pull ball technique when spinning a 2-ply yarn, you won't have any leftovers at all.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Fiber Content: Super wash Merino

Fiber Source: Pigeon Roof Studios
Color: Jester
Weight: 4 oz
Yardage: 242 yards
WPI: 11 wraps per inch (average)
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 17 to 1
Plying Ratio: 17 to 1
Notes: super wash; 3-ply

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting

I'm home from my trip, but I've been struggling to get caught up at home and at the office. This is always the worst part of taking time off - getting back and trying to get things up and moving again. I have some finished projects things to show you to - later on this week or over the weekend. I finished my scarf and little fingerless gloves. I just need to block the scarf and get the camera out to get some photos. I also had a sewing lesson from my mom while I was visiting. I have a couple finished projects thereto share too. My trip turned out to be very productive as far as crafting goes.

So, instead of leaving this space empty until I can catch myself up with everything, I thought I'd share some of the photos I took at the Radical Lace and Subversive Knitting Exhibit at the Indiana State Museum while I was on vacation.

  • photo 1: the knitted pieces in the first display that opened the exhibit and are accurate, life-size snake skin replicas
  • photo 2: crocheted lace tabled cloth edges in 3-d skulls
  • photo 3: dress knit out of dollar bills
  • photo 4: small scale replica of an actual knitting project; there was also a video of the actually knitting process next to this display
  • photo 5: handing display that included knitting from shoelaces and nautical rope
  • photo 6: lace cut with a torch out of found auto parts
  • photo 7: more car part lace
  • photo 8: Persian carpet meant to evoke the feeling of decaying lace
  • photo 9: carpet detail
  • photo 10: knit suit (including fingers and toes!) and a collection of knitting needle
  • photo 11: socks knit from newspaper
  • photo 12: evening dress
  • photo 13 - 14: there was a lady giving a spinning demonstration and she was spinning yarn with a combination of fiber, reclaimed/recycled yarn and small scraps from other projects. She knit the scarf (13) using such a hand spun yarn and a commercial yarn. The square (14) she is planning to put into a bag and it is knit with were scrap hand spun and the tan yarn is from a recycled sweater.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Handspun Friday - Paint it Red

I think I have been lucky in my dealing with hand painted fiber up until this point because I really haven't had any color bleeding of dye transfer to anything. This roving sure was different. I noticed as soon as I started spinning that my hands were turning red. Most of it did wash off, but it was a lot of red. It looked like i had been dying instead of spinning the fiber.

Several other things ended up stained pinkish red too and it didn't wash right off. My kniddy knoddy is now pink from where the yarn was wrapped around and from were my hand rested as I wound the yarn from the bobbin. The flyer on my wheel now has a neat red racing stripe along the path the thread travelled from the orifice to the bobbin and half of the whorl on the flyer is also pink.

I washed and soaked the finished yarn at least five times and I still don't think all the excess dye is out of it yet. I may give it another wash before I try knitting with it. The colors in the finished yarn are not as crisp and distinct as they were in the roving. Part of that is probably part of the normal spinning process. Although I do think at least a small percentage is due to all the excess dye in the wash water.

I imagine the excess red dye on my wheel and kniddy knoddy will eventually fade; my hands are back to normal. I just haven't had anything like this happen before. I liked everything else about spinning the fiber and it was really easy to draft and I'm pleased with the finished yarn.

I have a couple more fiber bundles (in different colors) from Crown Mountain Farms and I'm hoping there isn't as much excess dye in those. They have a wonderful selection of colors and their prices are good. But, I don't yet know if I'll order from this vendor again. I'll see how the rest spins and washes up first.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Content: Blue Face Leicester
Fiber Source: Crown Mountain Farm
Color: Finding Rainbows
Fiber Preparation: thumb size roving
Weight: 8 oz
Yardage: 478 yards
WPI: 14 wraps per inch
Spinning Style: worsted
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 10 to 1
Notes: hand wash; 2 ply, divided into 2 skeins

Friday, June 06, 2008

Handspun Friday - A Little Sparkle and Glitz

I started this spin with some fun batts that were lumpy, bumpy, and full of color. So I decided to try and spin a thick and thin single that would highlight all the color from the silk threads in the batts. This is the first time I've actually tried to spin an uneven yarn and I found it a little difficult to let go and get into the rhythm.

As I started spinning, I just didn't feel the whole process was going to turn out pleasing results. I found it challenging to keep the color on the outside of the spun yarn and not let it get twisted into the middle of the brown wool fibers. I had to keep adjusting my hold on the fiber. I'd say about halfway through I finally got into a groove and started to really enjoy what I was doing. Then then all of a sudden, the fiber was gone.

I like the finished yarn and in the end I really enjoyed spinning it up. I'm looking forward to finding another fun batt like this, but next time I think I'll try spinning it at a lower ratio. that might help me get a more lofty type yarn. I need to be more adventurous and try all the variations my wheel has to offer.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn

Content: wool, alpaca, mohair, recycled silk, glitz
Fiber Source: Loop
Color: Natural Wonder
Weight: 3 oz
Fiber Preparation: carded batts
Yardage: 132 yards
Spinning Style: woolen
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1P
Notes: thick and thin single; not plied; hand wash

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Traveling Projects

Tomorrow I'm leaving for a visit with my mom in Indianapolis. So I need a couple small projects that I could carry with me and that would be nice and relaxing vacation knitting. I decided to start Aubergine last week and it will be perfect to carry along. It is a one-skein scarf project that IrishGirlieKnits posted a pattern for last week.

I was really drawn in by the colors and the stitch pattern that she used to create the scarf. I had a skein of Socks That Rock Heavyweight just sitting around so I decided to cast on immediately. I know the project will travel nicely and won't take up too much space in my luggage. It took me several tries to get the faux cable stitch down right. I kept leaving out the two knit stitched between the faux cables so the purl rows got really messed up. After about four or five tried I finally got it right. The yarn I'm using is Socks That Rock Heavyweight and the color is Saratoga. If you are interested in knitting a scarf, this is a good one to try. The pattern is well written and easy to follow.

I also started another project with sock yarn. I have a lot of sock weight yarn and it always can be turned into a nice little project for traveling. But I wanted to knit something different than socks this time. So I did a little searching for free patterns online and found a pattern for some fingerless gloves called Stulpen. The pattern is available in German and English and very easy to follow. I'm already partway through the first glove. It has been a while since I knit any type of cables.

The chart of the pattern if available in a larger printable version; which is very nice. I don't read charts very often. So I was pleasantly surprised that after only a couple rows I was able to figure out how to read the symbols without constantly referring to the chart key at the bottom.

I'll also be taking my Swirl Shawl project and an extra skein or two of yarn that can easily be turned into socks or a hat. I'm always overly ambitious when packing my knitting for vacation because I don't want to be left with nothing to do. It isn't like they don't have yarn shops there; in fact two of my favorite shops are there, Mass. Ave Knits and Stitches and Scones. Both of which I'm sure I'll be visiting while I'm there. The other thing we will be doing is attending the Hoosier Hills Fiberarts Festival on my first day. I'll have to be careful this time and leave enough room in the suitcase for all those souvenirs.

Monday, June 02, 2008

J is for Join

There are all kind of joins in knitting and in spinning too. All types share the goal of seamlessly or invisibly joining ends of fiber so you can continue with your project. In spinning it is important to achieve a smooth join so you do not end up with a bump in your finished yarn.

This is the way I have found that works for me when trying to create a smooth join while spinning. First, I have to stop treadling. That may seem like a very obvious step, but when I first started spinning it was very hard for me to do. I wanted to spin right through everything with no stops. So once I stop the wheel, I start by fluffing and fanning out the ends of my current piece of fiber; like in the photo above.

Then I take the new piece of fiber I want to join and fluff and fan that out to match the end of the first piece and lay them together in the hand I'm using to draft my fiber. I hold the ends together as one and then start the wheel and begin spinning and drafting.

If all goes well, you'll end up with a smooth invisible join in your spinning thread.