Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year

Another year has com and gone and the next is only a day away.

I have to say that I am not sad to see this year go. I have had a lot of stagnant time over the last 4-5 years, but this last year moved far too fast, and has included enough change to make my head spin.

In 2010 our family sold our home, and moved to a new town. We made it through having our 6 year old daughter break her leg during our move. We survived a very complicated pregnancy, the birth of a second daughter and the loss of a third. We experienced buying another home (much more involved than last time on account of the present damaged economy) and moved a second time. Finally, we have made it through the holiday season and juggling the time spent with the multiple branches of our family. 2010 is finally done, and I couldn't be happier about it.

I don't want to give the impression that I'm not grateful for the blessings that have come with all this change, because I'm am. Still, I'm glad that it's time for things to calm down for a while.

Today, I'm looking forward to 2011 and, like a lot of people, I am welcoming change with my resolutions in hand. Some of my resolutions for 2011 are...

1. Stop putting my body and health on the back burner and give it the attention and love it so desperately needs.

2. Organize my home the way I'd really like to (even if it means spending some money to do it).

3. SPIN DOWN MY STASH (yeah, I know. It probably wont happen, but I'm putting it here anyway.)

4. Spend a lot of time knitting throughout the year for Christmas next year.

5. Take on the huge project of overhauling both of the girls' rooms.

6. Plant and tend a vegetable garden this spring and summer.

7. Spend more time reading.

These aren't all of the changes I'd like to see, but for now the list will do. I'm feeling optimistic that most of them are possible, then again, I usually am at the start of it.

I'm going to spend the last day of 2010 catching up on my housework, organizing for my taxes and baking a cake (today is my husband's birthday). I hope everyone has a great New Year's!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Next Update Dec. 16th

The next shop update will be on Thursday, Dec. 16th at 6:00 (pacific time).

This weekend I was under the weather (I'm thinking it was some sort of food poisoning -ugh!) and I haven't got as much fiber done as I was hoping to by this point. Though, I did manage to get some beautiful sock yarns dyed up, and I will continue working on fibers for the update. By the time Thursday rolls around, I'm sure there will be plenty.

See you then!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Love and Hate Relationship

Since I reopened the shop at the beginning of last month, I've had a lot of ups and downs with re-learning how to dye using different techniques.

In the past I almost always hand-painted my rovings and this time around I'm using a form of immersion dyeing. Learning the immersion dyeing has been a frustrating experience for me. It can be very unpredictable, which can be both good and bad. When it turns out bad, it feels like a waste of time and fiber. But when it turns out good, the results can be magical.

This week I'm starting to feel like I'm getting a little bit better at predicting what will come out of the dye pots as I'm putting things in (I can't tell you how happy this makes me). This new confidence is pushing me to work a little harder and explore more with the colors I use (which means I should be having another biggish update soon).

I'm still working on knitting the second of my knotty gloves. I was almost finished with the cabled part of the wrist and then I made a very stupid mistake, which ended up with me frogging the whole thing.

The spinning is going slow as well. I've been spinning everyday, but haven't made much progress since the single I'm spinning is as fine as frog hair. It's been a long time since I spun a true lace weight yarn. I want very much to get it finished, but I'm already groaning inwardly at the thought of plying and skeining this one (my back and shoulders are going to be sore by the time I'm done).

As soon as I figure out when I'm having the next big update I'll announce it here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Finishing Bug

Today is a great day for getting cozy on the sofa, having an afternoon cup of coffee or tea and, of course, working with yarn. I have been doing exactly that. I've been getting some good spinning time in and this is the most recent yarn...

2 ply handspun merino
fingering weight
approx 400 yards

As soon as the wool order comes, I think I'm going to spin up 3-4 oz of plain white merino into a nice 2 ply to pair with this yarn for some colorwork mittens. I've always wanted some and this might just be the time to do it.

Yesterday I was bitten by the finishing bug. Before I knew what was happening, I started rummaging through the closet, digging out UFO's and deciding what could be finished the quickest and I ended up choosing 3 projects. One was Allie's baby blanket, which I managed to finish in about an hour.

The second project was this pair of socks, which I started back in September (I think). I'm really glad to have these done. The weather has been sooo cold and nasty lately.

pattern: Longjohn Socks by Anne Hanson
yarn: Mystery Fish SAL handspun
needles: US 1 dpns

I intend to finish project #3 (a pair of Knotty gloves knit with a lovely green sw merino/alpaca handspun) this week. I have a few other things in the works too, but for now these are the projects that I have time to share. More to come soon.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Sale

Once again, time has passed much too quickly in between blog posts. Tonight I'm just checking in here to mention that there is a Black Friday Sale going on in the shop. Right now everything is 20% off, including handspun, and the sale with continue throughout the holiday weekend. There are still a fair amount of goodies left but they're going quick!

I'm waiting for my next wool order to make its way here, reading up about different dyeing techniques and brainstorming for new colorways. I'm excited to get to work on the next round of fiber.

This year, we had family and friends over for Thanksgiving dinner at our house, which was wonderful but I'm glad that it's done. I haven't had nearly enough time with my spinning wheel lately and I'm a lot further behind in my spinning queue than I want to be. The amount of time it will take for the fiber order to arrive should give me a nice chunk of time to get caught up.

I hope everyone is having a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Monday, October 25, 2010


The shop update is almost ready!

The handspun is being re-skeined.

The wool is all dyed.

I'm just waiting for my shipping supplies to arrive. My plan is to list everything on Wednesday, November 3rd. On account of having a 3 month old baby I'm not going to arrange a set time, but I will aim to have everything listed by 1 p.m. pacific time. I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New beginnings.

We've been in our new home for nearly 3 weeks now and the unpacking is almost done. I still have a list of several things that need to be sorted through and given away, but the house is really coming together well, except for Allie's room. That room is a disaster in so many ways. I used to use the spare bedroom in our house to store my fiber, but I'm not going to be able to do that for much longer. At this point, I think the only thing that will empty the room is the spinning and selling of fiber.

Moving into this house has been one of the greatest and most rewarding moving experiences that I've ever had. The house is much smaller than our old house, but once we finish sorting through everything it'll be perfect. While arranging things, we found that all of our furniture and belongings fit in this house as if they were always meant to be here. In the living room, our furniture and artwork go perfectly with the colors of the walls and the carpeting. I've been having a much better time than expected putting the house back together.

Now that most of the work is done, I've started spinning again. I finished the skein of Pigeonroof corriedale, and am now working on some Pigeonroof merino/soysilk.

Also, here is the Freckle Face Fibers merino/silk I finished a while back.

I'm getting ready to open the Etsy shop. If you go visit the shop you may notice a couple of things: First, there's a new name, which pays homage to our new home in Forks. Forks is named for the four rivers that fork around the area, so the new name, Four Rivers Yarn & Fiber, seemed a perfect fit. The second thing you may notice is that there is nothing listed in the shop yet, but there is an announcement saying that there is one coming in early November.

I have wool on order right now (dyeing should begin by the end of this week) and I've bought a giant new dye pot so that I can do larger batches of fiber. I've missed dyeing so much over the last year and it feels extremely good to be getting back to it. There will also be several skeins of handspun yarn. Nearly everything I've spun in the last 4 months will be listed.

I'm getting so excited for the first update. I hope you are too.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's that time again.

Moving time!

Yesterday morning my husband brought in the first load of empty boxes to be filled. While I'm very excited to be buying a home and moving someplace nicer than where we are now, I can still feel myself groan inwardly when it comes time to pack up the house. (I'm thinking the groaning is a little louder this time. After all, this is the second time we've moved this year.) I managed to get these boxes filled and several of our shelves emptied and now there's already a new carload of boxes waiting to be filled. Fun times.

In between packing up boxes, I managed to get the Freckle Face Fibers merino/silk plied. This morning I skeined and washed it. Pictures to come as soon as it's dry.

And although I didn't have any time to knit yesterday, I did have time to take a picture of my second sock progress. This afternoon, we're driving into town to sign papers at the escrow company. One of the things I don't mind about the 1 1/2 hour drive to town is the knitting time I gain when hubs is doing the driving. I plan on making this sock grow today.

Hopefully I'll also be able to sneak in some spinning time too. I'm into the last half of some gorgeous Pigeonroof Studios corriedale. I'm thanking my lucky stars that I bought two bumps. I know I'll be keeping one of them for sure.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A first...

Another week has gone by speedy quick, and while I've been doing a fabulous job of keeping up on the laundry and household chores, I don't have that much to show in the knitting & spinning department. I did finish spinning a braid of delicious merino/silk from Freckle Face Fibers.

And today I managed to finish knitting the first of my longjohn socks. Here is Miss Allie posing with the sock. :)

In an attempt to avoid second sock syndrome I cast on the second sock right away, but just a few rounds into the cuff the unthinkable happened....

Somehow, when trying to place my knitting on the floor, I accidentally stabbed myself in the hand with a dpn. I really nailed myself hard too. It hurts. I really dislike injuring my hands. It makes cooking and doing dishes rather unpleasant. I can't believe I received this injury while knitting. It's definitely a first.

So, right now I'm taking a little break from my knitting and enjoying some live music. This weekend is the celebration of Bella's birthday in Forks and there is a lot going on in the park that's next to our house. As far as I know, there are several Twilight-oriented vendors, a Twilight look-a-like contest and live music all day (which has so far been a lot better than I anticipated).

I don't know how much more fiber stuff I'll be able to get done in the next week. The home we're buying is (I think) supposed to close next Friday. I am very excited. I'm thankful that we we've been comfortable in our rental over the last 7 months, but I'm thrilled that we'll have a place we can really call home again.

p.s. It really, really irritates me when half of my post is in one font and half of it in another. I've tried several times to fix it, but it just wont go. Errrg.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


For me, summer isn't summer without a good camping trip. Our family hasn't had a good camping trip for a long time (I'm guessing over 4 years) and this summer we decided to finally change that. A few weeks ago we bought a tent trailer, which we thought would be perfect for our little family. This weekend we took it out for the first time.

Although our trip was a little rough around the edges the tent trailer worked out perfectly. We camped at Lake Crescent, which isn't very far away from where we live and is very beautiful all year round. It is surrounded by mountains and forests,

which are crawling (quite literally) with beautiful wildlife,

and the lake itself is breathtaking. Most of the time it's too cold for swimming, but it's very refreshing in late July through August.

Our oldest had a great time. She went kayaking and swimming out on the lake and had a particularly great time catching (and releasing) itty-bitty trout in the creek by our camping spot.

For me, the weekend was quiet. Usually I would spend the majority of my time outdoors, but this time around with a six-week-old baby in tow and chilly winds blowing outside, I ended up spending most of my time relaxing with her inside the trailer...

And between naps and snuggling I managed to knit half a sock over the weekend. The yarn is the mystery fish polwarth which I spun earlier this summer and the pattern is the Longjohn Sock pattern by Anne Hanson. I didn't know what to expect from this yarn and pattern combination but so far I'm loving how they're coming along.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Catching Up: Part II

As promised, here is my post of recent finished objects. Starting with the yarn, here is one of my finished spins from the Tour de Fleece.

This is a fingering weight, chain-plied yarn spun from WoolPig Crafts hand dyed Merino in the Fern Gully colorway. I'm guessing that Gladys takes a lot of care when dyeing her fibers because this roving was an absolute pleasure to spin. The colors in this one were a lot of fun too. It kept making me think of sandy beaches, palm trees and bananas.

The next spin is from a fiber buried deep in the stash. It's All Spun Up sw merino/alpaca from a SAL she had a while ago. Because the fiber is one of my all time favorite blends I bought a double dose and was saving this one for a special occasion, which ended up being this year's Tour de Fleece as well. For this one I chose to pre-draft the whole braid and spin it from end to end. It's also a chain-plied fingering weight yarn.

There are more on the wheel now, one of which I will have pictures of as soon as it is finished.

Now to the knitting. Pretty much all of the knitting I accomplished over the late spring and summer has been for Allie. The first is a sweater set knit from yummy Funky Carolina merino that was spun a long time ago. The yarn had been sitting in the stash waiting to become a shawl (so I thought), but as I went through the stash searching for baby sweater yarn I changed my mind, thinking that it was the precise amount of girl-y I was looking for.

The hat is my modified version of Simple Newborn Hat with a Touch of Lace by Ginny Foreman and the sweater is the Top Down Raglan Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys (both links go to their free patterns). I really enjoyed both of these patterns but I have to say that the sweater pattern is fast becoming my favorite for utilizing handspun in baby knits. It's a very easy knit and it showcases handspun yarns beautifully. So beautifully that I had to knit two...

This one was knit from Funky Carolina merino handspun by Laurs of Bee Mice Elf and gifted to me during the summer round of the Funky Junkies handspun swap. I fell so hard for this yarn when I opened the package that I wound it up immediately and began knitting. It worked out perfectly combined with this pattern.

Lastly, I just finished this hat last week. It's the Norwegian Sweet Baby Cap (pattern also free) and I knit it with leftover handspun sock yarn. It's a great pattern and it looks so cute on Allie. It's also great for using up those leftover scraps of yarn.

So, that's all I have finished for now. I'm still knitting and spinning as I get things cleaned, organized and packed for moving. I should have more to share soon.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Catching Up

This has been one of the longest and shortest summers of my life. So much has happened but it feels as if only a couple of weeks have passed. My 7-year-old is headed back to school at the end of this week and I realized that the whole summer is almost gone and I haven't updated the blog once. It's disappointing whenever I let that happen, though this year I've had much better reasons for letting it slide than usual. Among the less important reasons is spinning. I've done a lot of spinning this year and here are just a few pictures of progress.

All Spun Up BFL/Silk

All Spun Up Merino

Freckle Face Fibers BFL

I have an embarrassing amount of yarn that has been done for weeks and never photographed. There's also a lot of knitting that I've finished, only some of which has been photographed but there's no room for the pictures in this post. Those will have to wait for another day.

The last several months we've been adjusting to the new town, which has been especially difficult for our daughter, Paige. She had a lot of challenging experiences this year. She had to move out of the only home she'd ever lived in, and into a new home in a new town. She had to change schools in the middle of the year (not an easy thing for any first grader) and make new friends while trying to hobble around in a cast on account of breaking her leg during the same week we moved. It has taken her a long time to adjust and even though a lot of time has passed since the move, she still misses her old school.

Thankfully, living in a small town isn't all bad. A week or so before school was out, her class had a field trip to the fire department. Unfortunately, the morning of the field trip Paige woke up sick and ended up not being able to go. A day or two later my husband was talking to a lady he works with (who also happens to be the wife of the fire chief) and he told her about Paige not being able to go on the field trip. She told him she'd talk to her husband and see if he could do anything. My husband figured they might be able to arrange a time when we could take her to the fire department to see the trucks and talk to the firemen. The fire department ended up going out of their way to give her an unforgettable experience. They brought a fire engine to our house to pick her up, took her and her dad for a ride around town and then to the fire department where they showed her around and talked to her about fire safety and then (again in the fire engine) brought her home. You don't often find that sort of kindness in a larger community.

They made a fairly crummy year much, much better...

As did this little angel.

This is Allie. Allie is the reason I've taken this year off from dyeing fiber and doing Etsy. (I'm glad I made that choice early on in the pregnancy because it saved me from a lot of unnecessary stress.) The pregnancy was long and complicated and I'm glad it's done with and that she's here now and healthy. I'm really enjoying having a baby in the house again and I'm currently trying to find where the new balance is now with two children instead of one. It's not as easy as some people make it look.

Now that we've had a little time to adjust to having a baby in the house again, we're looking at our next big project (and hopefully the last one for this year) which is buying our next home. We finally found a home we really like in the right price range and if all goes well, it should close near the end of September. I've been going through everything we have and giving away or throwing out everything that we don't want to take to the new house, as well as organizing everything so that packing and unpacking should be much easier this time around. I'm looking forward to this next move so much. Once we're in the new house and all settled, I'm going to return my focus to the dye pots (which I have missed very much) and re-opening my Etsy shop, hopefully as a full time endeavor.

I'm excited about re-opening the shop and have been brainstorming a lot. There are things which I'd like to do a little differently and new things I'd like to try. I'm looking forward to the next few months of work and will keep updating the blog on any new progress.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New books!

This last Tuesday, my family and I had to take a day trip to Seattle from the peninsula, and one of the great perks of day trips is that we get to go shopping. Our idea of shopping out of town doesn't often involve shopping for clothing but almost always involves stopping to shop for books.

This trip we stopped at a Barnes and Noble so my husband could pick up the latest book in The Dresden Files series (we've both come to love this series), which we haven't been able to find in any of the closer, local bookstores. We all came away from the store with new treasures. Here's what I ended up choosing...

I originally went into the store with the intention of picking up Cookie A.'s Sock Innovation, but after looking through several books that I've also had my eye on for a long time, I decided to add to my spinning library rather than my knitting. I have a lot of books on knitting (not as many as a lot of people but my collection is far from shabby) and have so far had only one lonely book on spinning- Essentials of Yarn Design for Handspinners by Mabel Ross.

So, instead of another knitting book, I picked out two on spinning: The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin and Respect the Spindle by Abby Franquemont.

A number of weeks back I had the opportunity to go to one of Judith's beginning spinner's classes. It was sort of like an introduction to spinning using drop spindles. I've never attended a spinning class like that before and I really enjoyed it. Judith is such a wealth of information (and a super-nice lady too). Up to this point I've worked a lot at developing skills for spinning the sort of sock yarns I like to knit with, but I hardly have any other spinning skills. I tend to go through slow times where I almost become bored with my spinning and I can't think of a better way to keep things fresh and interesting than learning and developing new skills to create yarns that are new and different. This book should (I hope) help me in this endeavor.

The other book, Respect the Spindle, is one that I've just really been wanting to be able to pick up and browse through since it came out. Even though the majority of my spinning time is dominated by my wheel(s), I still do enjoy spindling and I hope to get better at it. I have already started reading this book and am finding it very interesting.

It doesn't surprise me that the spinning books called to me the most. Although I haven't been spinning every day, I've still been averaging 4-6oz a week of fine singles for plied fingering weight yarns. I have more finished yarn (which I'm too lazy to share pictures of today) and a few bobbins spun which are still waiting to be plied. I'm getting ready for both the next ASU SAL which is just around the corner as well as the Tour de Fleece. I just need to pick out what I'll be spinning. Yay! -another opportunity to stash bust.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stash busting...

It doesn't feel like it's been so long since my last post. There's been so much going on, I don't even know where to begin -so I wont.

I have been spending a lot of time spinning, and I feel like I'm making pretty good progress. I don't have a lot to show for it yet (I've been really bad about taking pictures lately), but I have two lovely 4oz rovings spun and waiting to be plied, as well as the first half of a handspun swap project spun, that I will be finishing up in the next couple of days.

Both of the rovings that are waiting to be plied are All Spun Up rovings. One is the Ice Cave BFL/silk from the current spin-a-long and the other is a nice earthy-colored merino that I've had in the stash for a long time. I've been spending a little more time going through my stash and making an effort to use it. I think the stash has grown to the point where I get confused when I look at it because there's just too much pretty stuff to choose from. I was having such a hard time trying to decide what to spin the last time I picked, that I had to just close my eyes, plunge my hand into the bin and go with whatever it happened to get.

The lovely skein pictured in the photos is one I finished about a week ago. It's BFL from All Spun Up. For this one I decided to split the roving in half down its length and then pre-draft it before spinning. I like the way the color progression turned out and it's very soft and fluffy. I didn't quite get the yardage I was hoping for (especially considering it was on the heavier side at 4.5oz to begin with) but I'm still pleased with the finished project.

The knitting has come to a stand still. I was busting out with the baby knitting, but then I took a break to knit a birthday shawl for one of my best friends. As much as I love my friend this may have been a poor choice on my part...

I recently bought some very lovely yarn and I decided to knit an Akimbo shawl. I love the way this shawl looks, and so far I think the pattern has been very well written (I sort of despise working from charts), but I'm so bored with this shawl right now that I struggle to stay awake while I'm working on it. I can handle about 4 rows a day and that is all I can tolerate. I've been asking myself why I've been having such a hard time with it (after all I did knit a Simple Yet Effective Shawl without getting this bored and that one has even less going on with it than the Akimbo) and I think I have my answer: it's the combination of pattern & yarn. The yarn I'm knitting with is lovely and soft and perfect... but it's not handspun. The Akimbo Shawl is largely garter stitch, and while I'm confident that it will be beautiful upon completion I have to admit that as boring as garter stitch is for me, handspun yarn with it's lovely, wonderfully unpredictable color changes makes garter stitch tolerable for me. At least I only have about 12 more rows to go at this point.

For now I'm allowing my attention to drift from the knitting and I'm enjoying my time at the spinning wheel. I've ordered a couple more bobbins for my woolee winder and I'm gearing up for the Tour de Fleece. My (considerably more reasonable) goal this year is to spin at least one pound of fiber from the stash. I may end up doing more, but I'd rather not be disappointed in myself if it doesn't happen.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Be Not Afraid...

Over the last few weeks I've been going through my stash and digging through a lot of fiber that I forgot I had. I've managed to collect around five large rubbermaid bins full of fiber in a variety of fiber blends. Mostly, these are combed tops. Mostly. This last week I turned my attention to the handful of batts I've bought.

Batts are my spinning nemesis. Up to this point, my only positive experience with spinning batts has been in core-spinning. I love using batts for that purpose. However, every time I've tried to spin a batt into a standard two or three ply yarn, my best efforts have ended in disappointment. I'd never even attempted spinning a fine single like I usually would for a fingering weight yarn. Seeing another spinner's beautiful, even handspun created from batts, usually causes me a sharp pang of jealousy.

Recently I decided to do something about it. A short while ago I bought a pair of batts from a fellow Raveler's destash and decided to try my first sock weight yarn.

After untwisting and laying out the batt,

I tore off a strip and just tried spinning straight from it. This method didn't work well for me. Even after tearing that strip into a few much thinner strips I had a very difficult time drafting it out evenly as I was spinning.

Next, I tore off another thicker strip and pre-drafted it out as evenly as possible. This second effort (along with spinning a bit more slowly than usual) worked beautifully.

I don't really like spinning from pre-drafted fiber, but I'm usually using fiber that I've pre-drafted out from combed top. The fiber I drafted out from the batts was actually much nicer to spin, though I'm not sure why. My best guess would be that it's because batts are not as compacted and dense as combed top, so perhaps it's easier to draft them out evenly. Whatever the reason, the second try worked.

Here is the final yarn, spun from a sw merino Funky Carolina Batt in the Oak colorway.

chain plied ~ fingering weight
approx 3.7oz and 356yards

I still prefer spinning from combed top, but now I think spinning the occasional batt will be an enjoyable experience too. Now I need to figure out what my next growing experience as a spinner will be. Longdraw perhaps?

Friday, April 16, 2010


Yesterday I celebrated my 30th birthday. It turned out to be a very nice day. In the morning my husband took our daughter to school so I could have a relaxing morning for myself. Throughout the day I received several phone calls and messages from friends and family wishing me a good birthday. Then last night my husband took me out to dinner (just the two of us -which rarely ever happens).

And even though it didn't come by my birthday, my birthday present finally came in the mail today...

Mmmmmm.... Mama Blue. It's a rare and special treat for me. I'm really loving this order, too. I managed to finally get a hold of a skein of Kale (the rich green one at the top), a gorgeous skein of Palomino (the color is the most lovely, buttery shade of yellow) and... a beautiful and coveted skein of Corset (not exactly blue, not exactly purple, but something in between with possible hints of grey). They're all Smart Merino Sock and they're all very nice. I'm thinking that at least two of them will become baby sweaters, but only time will tell.

I'm excited that my birthday has passed. For me it usually signifies the beginning of warmer weather on the Olympic Peninsula. I miss blue skies, warm breezes and long summer days. Since we've moved I've felt lucky to see even 1 or 2 sunny days out of every week we've had. I'm even starting to daydream about getting in a short camping trip before my due date (and before it gets too hot).

Speaking of pregnancy and how it's been affecting life, I'm trying to get in both as much spinning and knitting as I can -while I still can.

The spinning has sort of hit a slow patch. While I have a few different spinning projects in the works right now, I've been working exclusively on one of them, pushing myself to get it done. It's approx. 20-24oz of baby llama. I agreed to spin it for a friend and at this point I've had it (still unspun) in my possession for way too long. It's taken me forever to get going on this project because the preparation of this llama is very rustic and to be honest I really just don't like working with it. Even so, I've been working on it whenever I feel up to spinning over the last week and I'm currently about halfway through it right now. I'm hoping that I'll have a very pro-spinning sort of weekend and that I'll manage to get through the rest of it by Monday. I really want to finish this project because I have such an exciting line-up of other things to spin when I'm done.

The knitting isn't super exciting, but I have been making progress. Right now all non-baby projects have been put on hold and stashed away in the closet. I'm somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of the way done with baby blanket #1. It's a pattern called Lullaby and I've already knit it twice before. I love it because it's girly, without being too lacy (which for me equals not being durable enough for daily baby wear and tear). I also like the pattern because it's very intuitive and simple to memorize. After that, I think I might take a break with a baby sweater before I jump into knitting baby blanket #2. My only hold-up is finding the right pattern. Mama Blue is to precious to waste on a plain, unremarkable pattern.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Simple Baby Cardigan

A few weeks ago I got together with one of my friends and was asked to knit a 2nd sweater for her 2 month old baby girl. When she gave me a rough idea of the sweater she was hoping for I realized I already had a perfectly-colored handpainted yarn in my stash. At home, I found the yarn, wound it into a ball and began searching for a 3-6 month-sized pattern. I searched through all of the pattern books on my shelves, all of the individual patterns I've collected and even spent some time searching for a pattern on Ravelry. After searching for a few hours and not finding that "perfect pattern" that would work with the amount of yardage and the gauge I had, I decided to work something out on my own.

After digging out one of Paige's old cardigans to use as a sizing guide for a 3-6mo baby sweater, knitting a gauge swatch and doing some quick math, this is what I came up with. (Please note: What follows is just me sharing my experience with putting together a sweater without the use of a pattern. Any similarities between this and any other pattern I'm not aware of are absolutely not intentional.)

Materials I used:
420 yards fingering weight yarn (I used Knit Me Now Handyed Sock Yarn- Chocolate Covered Cherries colorway).
3mm 24" circular needle
3mm dpns (set of 4 or 5)
6 - 1/2" buttons
tapestry needle

Gauge: 7 st to 1 inch

pm= place marker
k2tog= knit 2 together
kfb= knit into front & back of stitch

I began by CO 92 st (I used a long tail cast on, my favorite cast on method for garter stitch)

k 7 rows (or a total of 4 garter ridges)

1st row (RS): k 18 st, pm, k 14 st, pm, k 28st, pm, k 14 st, pm, k 15, yo, k2tog, k1. This row is the set-up row for the increases and the first buttonhole row. For this sweater I chose to make another buttonhole every 8 ridges or 16 rows, at the end of the row on the right side of the work.

2nd row (WS): k 5 st, purl across to last 5 st, k last five st.

3rd row (RS): knit across, making a kfb increase on each side of all 4 markers (increasing a total of 8 st).

Repeat these last two rows until there are a total of 42 st between the 1st & 2nd markers as well as the 3rd & 4th markers. Work one more 2nd (WS) row.

Begin working sleeve: k to first marker, move the next 42 st onto 3 dpn (14 st each) for sleeve. On the end of the 3rd needle and using a backwards loop cast on method, CO 8 st. Join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist st. After knitting the first round, rearrange the stitches so you have 18 st on the first needle, 14 st on the second needle (across the shoulder) and 18 st on the third needle. The beginning of the round should now start at the center of the underarm. Knit until sleeve measures 3 1/2 in. Then, beginning at the start of the next round, p one row and k the next to create a garter stitch cuff. On the 4th RS-facing ridge, bind off in purl. Cut yarn.

With the RS facing and leaving 12" of yarn as a tail, rejoin the yarn and knit across the back from the finished sleeve to the next set of stitch markers. Work 2nd sleeve the same as the first.

With RS facing, and again leaving 12" of yarn as a tail, rejoin the yarn at other side of underarm and finish working across to end of row.

On the next row (WS), work across to first underarm gap, CO 8 st using a backward loop cast-on; join to back section and work across to second underarm gap, CO another 8 st, join to left front section and work across to end of row.

From this point, continue working the piece in stockinette st, with a 5 st garter border on each end, putting in buttonholes as desired. Work body of sweater to 1/2" short of desired length. Work 4 ridges in garter st and bind off in knit on the WS.

Using the 12" yarn tails, seam underarms together. Weave in yarn ends. Sew on buttons opposite of buttonholes. Wash gently and block as desired.

So, that is it. A cute, super-simple baby cardigan with garter stitch edges. After finishing this one, I can already see a few things that I might change or experiment with the next time around, though, for now I think this one will do.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In a word...

...inconsistent. I spun this yarn from a lovely braid of Pigeonroof Studios sw merino in the Circus colorway -over a period of 2 months. This yarn is proof that spacing out a spinning project over two months (with little to no practice in between) isn't a great idea. At least not for me. This is by far the most inconsistent yarn I've spun in a long, long time.

approx. 4oz and 392yds
circus colorway

Though I wouldn't want to list this yarn in my shop, I know it will still be perfectly knit-able, so I'm going to turn it into a pair of socks as soon as I get my new needles in the mail. (I've ordered a pair of US1 24" circular needles to try two toe-up socks at once. I'm very excited about trying out that method of sock knitting.)

As for the fiber, this one was nice to spin. This was the first time I've spun Pigeonroof sw merino, and it was very silky-feeling. It's amazing how much the fibers vary from seller to seller. Some feel silky, others waxy and some have a much more fuzzy quality. I'm sure it has a lot to do with where the sellers are purchasing their materials from, but I also wonder how much of it has to do with the way each seller handles and processes the fiber as they dye it.

Now that our move is over I've begun discussing with my husband the possibility of getting a second wheel. I've been thinking that since there is very little to do here in the new town I may want to get involved with a guild after all, and while the Minstrel has been a very good wheel for me, I would love to have something that travels better. He really surprised me by telling me to just go ahead and "go for it". I think I've narrowed it down to getting a Lendrum DT (probably with a woolee winder, too).

Back when I bough my Minstrel, I was trying to get away from the travel wheels. I wanted something that looked more traditional, spun nicely and was within a certain price range. This time around, I'm not as concerned about traditional appearances, but much more in performance (and cost, too). From what I've read, it seems that the Lendrum DT will probably be my best choice for a second wheel. I'm going to keep reading and considering for a while before making my final decision, though I'm looking forward to ordering that second wheel soon. =)

Sunday, January 24, 2010


After months and months of hard work, waiting and nail-biting stress... we finally sold our house. And if you've ever heard anyone talk about how things always get really, really bad right before you break through to the end of it -they were so not kidding.

In the last two weeks before closing we had to get new windows installed, get a new dishwasher, get a new wood stove for the fireplace and have lots of expensive work done on the chimney, have stress-inducing (and smelly) inspections and work done with our septic tank & drain field, all while cleaning, packing and battling with morning sickness. As if all this wouldn't be enough to push a sound, stable person to the breaking point, the Tuesday morning of our last week in the old house, I got a call from the school...

Another girl from Paige's class fell on her during a game of tunnel tag in P.E. After an ambulance ride to the hospital and a tear-filled visit to the emergency room, we found out that her lower-right leg was badly broken. Both bones, clean through. If you've never been around a young child with a severe injury like this, I can tell you it's heartbreaking. The first week was like a nightmare. Every time we had to move her (which unfortunately, because of our situation, was a lot) she'd scream. Every trip to the bathroom was filled with sobbing and tears. Every time we went over a bump in the car it was a small agony. Now, thankfully, her bones are starting to mend and she's not in quite so much pain. She's scheduled to get her leg casted this next Tuesday. It's still likely to be several weeks before she can return to school, but we're holding on to hope that at some point during her recovery she might be able to switch to a walking cast, which would surely make her life (as well as ours) much, much easier. Right now we're not really able to go out, and we use one of the rolling chairs from the kitchen table to move her around the house. It's taken a while, but we're getting pretty good at it.

Here at the new house (a rental) we're still unpacking, catching up on laundry and getting acquainted with the area. My husband knows his way around quite well as he's been working in this town for the last 5 years or so, but I'm still trying to figure out where everything is. One of the pluses of living in a small town is that figuring out where things are usually doesn't take very long. I've only been out of the house on my own once in the week that we've been here and I was able to find out where Paige's new school is, as well as the location of the grocery store, post office and public library. Those are probably the only places I'll need to go, so I'm probably set.

One of the downsides of being in the smaller town is that there really aren't any great places to go out to eat, but the plus side of that is that we'll probably eat much healthier (I'm still holding on to hope that it will be easier to not put so much weight on during the pregnancy because of this). We'll certainly save a lot more money not going out to eat.

Besides, home-cooked foods really are so much better. They can taste so much better, too. To help get in the spirit of cooking at home, I started out with a freshly baked loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread. This took a long time to prepare, but it ended up being so worth the effort. The recipe is from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. I don't really follow Martha Stewart, and I've experienced a handful of Martha Stewart recipes that were pretty terrible, however a friend gifted the book to me a few years ago and so far, every recipe I've tried from it has been a winner. The recipe for this cinnamon-raisin bread was no exception.

I'm also happy to report that my morning sickness is beginning to taper off. Now, it's just morning sickness most of the time, rather than feeling sick all day long. This new improvement is helping me to get a lot more done during the day. I've even been feeling like knitting and spinning again. I've managed to finally finish the Pigeonroof fiber I've been slowly working at for the last couple of months. It's resting on the bobbin, and as soon as I get the motivation to sit for a prolonged period of time I'm going to chain ply it.

It's amazing how after going through so much you appreciate just having things become... normal again.