Sunday, May 31, 2009

Knitting and Crochet

I've been taking a few days off to work on some woolen goodies for the newest member of our extended family (the first baby for one of my husband's cousins) who is due to arrive soon.

A while back I started knitting this February Baby Sweater, but never got past the garter stitch yoke. So yesterday evening I pulled it out, ripped it back (I had run into a few technical difficulties the first time around anyhow) and started fresh.

Pattern: February Baby Sweater on two needles by E. Zimmerman
Needles: US 4
Yarn: Mama Blue Knitting Goods Sea Merino in Palomino

I really like this pattern, except for having an idea that I would cheat a little and knit the sleeves in the round with some dpns, only to have my plan spoiled by not owning dpns of the correct size. I know I could go buy some, but don't feel like giving money up for new needles right now. I'll probably splurge on dpns the next time I use this pattern (assuming the stitch pattern would work well in the round at all -some don't). So, I'm working the sleeves on straights, while I hold the rest of it on a circular needle. I'm hoping to finish up with this by Wednesday.

In addition to the baby sweater I've been doing something out of character: crocheting a baby afghan.

Pattern: Granny Square by Purl Bee
Crochet hook: 4mm
Yarn: handspun and commercial sock yarn leftovers

Long before I ever started knitting I began my journey into the fiber arts world with crochet. I had learned the basics of crochet from a great aunt when I was a little girl and it seemed much, much less complicated than knitting (now, as a knitter, I don't entirely agree with this line of thought). To make a long-winded story short, crochet didn't really agree with me. I kept looking at knitted projects and patterns with longing, and eventually it got to me enough that I made the switch. I haven't ever looked back... until a couple of days ago.

I was clearing my stash out of the spare bedroom (it's going to be painted this week) and trying to decide what to keep readily available, what to pack up and what might need to be tossed, when I came to a big grocery sack full of sock yarn remnants. There was nearly every color imaginable in there. I save these to use for knitting barbie clothes, toys, etc. but even after knitting the occasional finger-puppet or outfit for barbie, there was still an overwhelming amount of yarn in that bag.

I was chewing on whether or not I should toss it when I remembered reading this post on Cosmicpluto Knits. I also remembered reading that crochet uses up 3 times the amount of yarn that knitting does. I had a flash-back of how fast I used to whip out a scarf with crochet and suddenly, I felt inspired to make a throw.

To my delight, the pattern was free, and I even managed to dig up the right size of crochet hook. It's coming along very nicely. When I think of the years it would take me to knit a throw from those sock yarn bits, I smile smugly to myself, feeling like a genius.

It's only been a couple of days and I'm almost done. I have spent no money and I have more room in my house. Crochet may not be my passion, but I do love that it serves a purpose.

Monday, May 25, 2009

First try...

Well, this is my first round with Bacchus. I like it, though I have to admit that so far merino seems to be the best fiber for this colorway. I love the way BFL takes dye, especially for lighter colors, but merino is still the only one that is just right. This superwash BFL took the dye in a way that made some of the gold turn rusty. It's still very pretty though. I can't help thinking of Marigolds when I look at this yarn.

3 ply Handspun SW BFL Sock Yarn
Approx. 4oz and 366yds
Bacchus colorway

I'm still working on my All Spun Up fiber for the May/June spin-a-long, and I'm already a few days into spinning for my big summer project. The first skein in the project is a merino/tencil that is making me fall in love with pink (as well as merino/tencil). My little girl gave me a very reproachful look when I told her it wasn't my fiber and I wasn't allowed to keep it.

Also, I've been knitting a pair of socks with this handspun, and I'm loving every moment of it. Spinning the predrafted fiber was a more challenging experience for me (even though it seems the opposite would be true), but I like the way the yarn handles very much. It's turning out a lovely pair of socks which I will share pictures of as soon as they're done...

I just realized that I forgot to take my camera (I really am terrible about taking pictures -I never take my camera anywhere with me) to the annual Sheperd's Festival this morning. I've gone for the last 3 years in a row and it's been a lot of fun. I love to pet the yarn, but I resisted buying anything as the size of my fiber stash (now located in my bedroom) can't be hidden from my husband anymore. I like the little Sheperd's Fest, still I hope so make it to something much bigger next year. Once the bridge is done (there is major work being done on the Hood Canal Bridge this summer, which pretty much keeps you stuck on the peninsula unless you want to drive the crazy-long way around) I'm going to have to make a day trip to Seattle to visit some of the amazing yarn shops I've heard about. I think it'd be good for me to have a fiber experience that's not entirely local.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have been a very busy bee since my last post and I wanted to share my favorites from the new dye batch as well as a new yarn. To start with, this is my first effort with corriedale. It took a little getting used to, but I like it.

2 ply handspun corriedale yarn
sport to light worsted weight
colorway: shipwrecked

I like the way it turned out. Corriedale is a lot softer than I thought it would be. I was anticipating that it would be more like Falkland, but it's much softer and spongier. I took the picture this morning before setting the twist so it still looks a little unruly, but I'm looking forward to seeing it after it blooms a bit in the bath.

Now to the fibers. I had so much fun with this round of dyeing. Here are a couple that I pulled out to spin. The first is a brand new colorway (let's hope my notes are good enough so I can repeat it)...


And the second is one that I can't seem to get enough of. 


This braid of Bacchus turned out exactly the way I want this colorway to be -so I set it aside to spin for the shop and also so I can take finished pictures of how this will look as sock yarn. (I'm trying to go down the list and spin one of each colorway into sock yarn, so I have pictures of finished yarns along side the pictures of rovings for my colorways set on Flickr.) 

I still have a few other things to finish up on the wheel before I begin my big spinning project so I think I'll spend my free time in the next few days finishing on those.

Also, on another note, some of the fibers from this last dye batch are already headed for new homes, but I still have a few bumps that will make it to the shop near the end of this week when I have a little more time. Next time I dye up fiber, I think I'll just have to surprise everyone, so people that have been or are planning on stalking the shop will have a better variety to choose from. So, there's more coming soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Batch

Yesterday morning I forced myself to drag out my dye pots, and I spent the better part of the day dyeing up all the remaining undyed fiber I had. (Except some shetland. I recently bought a 1 pound shetland sampler from Hello Yarn, which has been a treat for me but that is for a future post.) Here is the group shot.

From the left, the first 2 are so far un-named & then there's Sandy Bikini, Thelma, Surrender, Shipwrecked, Bacchus and Toad in a variety of merino, corriedale and falkland. I know there's at least one here (second from left, a merino still un-named) that I don't want to part with, and I plan on picking out at least one more -possibly two, to spin for the shop. I tend to want to spin them all but I know it's likely that I wont have the time. If I pick one or two of the longer-staple rovings and spin some sport/worsted weight yarns I might manage it, though. That could be fun.

I'm going to be taking it easy on the shop spinning this summer, as it looks like I'm taking on a special spinning project that should last the next several weeks. So, when I do add yarns to my Etsy this summer they will probably be of a sport-to-worsted weight nature. I will still be keeping the hand-dyed fibers coming, whenever I can.

Now, I'm off to work on my May/June All Spun Up SAL fiber. =)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yarn like sunshine...

I think by this point it's no secret that I seriously fell off the fiber diet wagon, so it probably can't hurt to share a new aquisition. This is a bump of hand dyed merino combed top from All Spun Up. I loved it, and was trying to be good and not buy more fiber, but eventually it became evident that it was time for me to adopt it (it had been in her Etsy shop for quite a while, all lonely and neglected and sitting there waiting for me). So I did buy it (as well as another one, but that's another blog post).

What made me want this one so bad was actually a pair of socks that Kristin knit herself from her own handspun yarn, a pair that I fell in love with. I've been trying to keep my eyes peeled at her shop for a blue/yellow/orange number for socks to imitate hers and this roving finally caught my eye. 

I knew right off hand that I wanted longer, more solid color repeats. So, I split the roving in four (lengthwise, and not all that evenly either) and predrafted out the thicker strips. It will be exciting to see how the finished socks come out, even if they're not all that much like hers. The experience was a good learning one for me and even though I don't like spinning pre-drafted fiber (for me it was a giant pain) I'm pretty happy with the end results. This is some of the brightest, happiest-looking yarn I've ever held in my hands. 

This yarn makes me want to cast on right now but I have way too many fiber things going on right now. I am clearly not over my start-itis. I have two (about to become 3) pairs of socks on the needles, a couple of sweaters for my daughter, a few baby sweaters, 2 scarves and 2 cowls (you don't even want to know about the pile of half-spun fiber and half-filled bobbins laying around my wheel -it's sad that my new kate is becoming a place to store my less-exciting spinning projects). About the only thing I'm really focused on right now is my May/June All Spun Up spin-a-long fiber. It's lovely sw merino in a gorgeous dark green/blue combo. It's already on the wheel and destined to become sock yarn.

Still, hope is not lost. I am close to finishing at least a couple of projects. =)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Koolhaas #2

In the last several months I haven't managed to get much knitting done and as a result I think I've grown hungrier for it than usual. I'm not usually a hat sort of person, but lately I've been indulging myself with hat knitting because of the instant gratification they offer. Here is the latest hat, my second finished Koolhaas.

I really like this pattern. It's not difficult to memorize (it's very intuitive), and well, I can't help but think they just look sharp as far as knitted hats go. I don't know if my husband is going to actually wear this (sadly, he has a grudge against hand knits which I suspect is because he's jealous of the time I spend with wool). He'd probably never admit it himself, but he looks pretty sharp in this hat, too. Hopefully, next winter when the days get very cold he'll come to appreciate it...

Here is a picture of the Bacchus SW BFL in progress.  

Up till now I've always balked at the idea of buying SW BFL from other sellers because A: It usually is more expensive and B: In photos it usually looks a little rough around the edges -like it's full of neps. But after my last SAL experience with All Spun Up BFL and the gorgeous, fine 3 ply sock yarn I was able to spin with it, I decided to give it a chance. I like how BFL spins, but I've knit socks with it before, and I don't want to knit socks with non-superwash BFL again. They turn out gorgeous, but I'm too hard on my socks and I tend to felt them when I wear them.

So anyhow, I'm loving this spin. For me, a good BFL/SW BFL roving can spin up into a lovely 3-ply in roughly half the time it takes me to spin merino. I'm hoping I can finish getting through this roving by tomorrow and ply in a few days. Maybe I'll be able to get a new pair of socks on the needles by late next week!

Oh, and here's a picture of the new kate. I just love the look of Kromski stuff. I know there are people out there who are a little prejudiced against Kromkski wheels for one reason or another, but (in my opinion) not many wheels out there have the aesthetic appeal of a Kromski. Especially the mahogany-stained (but obviously I'm biased). Also, compared to my last wheel, an Ashford Joy DT, I just love the way this wheel spins. It's much for comfortable for me to use, even if there have been days when it wanted to squawk like a murder of crows (white lithium grease does the trick, BTW).

Finally, in answer to the question in the comments from my last post, yes, I am really moving to Forks. Which is kind of sad, as Forks is not in truth a very exciting or wonderful place to be. Though I am intruiged by the idea of Forks-related colorways. I'm assuming these are supposed to be Twilight related? If anyone has any suggestions feel free to throw some ideas to me in the comments and maybe I could come up with something fun. I'm thinking along the lines of characters and places, etc. (though I'd be interested in hearing other ideas, too). 

Now, I'm off for a date with SW BFL...

eta: Notice the pretty new carpet in the first and last photos?