Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rise and Shine

A good day starts with a healthy breakfast.  Well, now you can have your bacon and eggs with fiber.

This knitting project got started when a co-worker and good friend showed me these nifty fingerless gloves, saying "If I had a pair of those, I'd wear them."

And I said, "I can make that." So I did! Details on Ravelry.

Now dig in.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Purge

You can feel the season start to change. It's cooler. The leaves on the trees are looking dull, and many that were scorched by summer's heat and drought are already on the ground. There's an urge to prepare, to clean, to focus one's energy for the next shift.

This weekend, my cleaning energies fell on my yarn room. There were books strewn about, left behind as inspiration failed, that needed to be sorted and tidied. Many needles were caught mid-way in a project, abandoned as troubles slowed me down. These I liberated, leaving the project at loose ends, and sized them up to be slotted into their proper place. But the yarn.. ah, what to do about the yarn.

Earlier I had purchased a book, Knitting Plus, in hopes of learning how better to make myself sweaters that fit. I've learned a lot from it already and I'm eager to try out the patterns. Many are very simple, making good templates, and I think I could learn a lot from working them. Others have wonderful cables or pretty lace details that appeal to me.

In looking through my yarn stash though, I realized that I don't have the yarns to make these sweaters. My stash has overflowed its containment, and yet so much of it I don't want to knit with. So I purged.  I pulled it all out, bagged it up and called a friend. She's a mom, in school and on a budget. We were recently talking and she said she couldn't go to the KW Knitter's Fair this year. So I invited her over to shop my stash. The price was right (free) so she took it all.

Gosh it felt good to purge it! I feel so much lighter and now I can buy the yarn I need to make the sweater I want with no guilt about what's already at home.

And you should see how much tidier my yarn room looks.

ETA: Re-reading this, I realize it sounds as if I gave everything away. Well I didn't. Just the yarns that were holding me back. Several sweater's worth of yarns that I bought on sale that I can't find a pattern for. Much yarn is still left in the stash, mostly sock yarn, but there's some laceweight and sport weight and beloved odd balls and of course the Rowan for which I am now searching for a pattern.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Itchy!!  I've been so itchy the past week. Poison ivy got me and there's a rash on my leg, on my shoulder going up to my neck, there was a bit on my arm and a smidgen near my eye. It feels like ants crawling on you and you can't scratch. I used calamine lotion, and over the counter antihistamines and the best thing of all was plain ole Benadryl. The meds do take a toll though, and I've just felt flat all week. No spunk. Jim nicked named me Itchy-bitchy.

So how did I get the itch on all these different locations? Well, the one on my leg was the primary contact with the plant, I can tell because it's the worst one. I think the rest came from secondary contact, from something that I touched that touched the plant, but it took me a while to figure out from where. The new spots of rash kept occurring all on the left side. I was thinking about this as I was walking the dog and realized that his dangling leash could easily have dragged through the evil plant.

I couldn't get home fast enough! I threw the leash in the trash, washed down with some rubbing alcohol, then plain water, then a full on shower.  So far, so good, no more rashes.

To cope with my affliction I amused myself with stories of how much worse it could be. And I treated myself to some bright colors, spinning some FatCatKnits fiber in the colorway nerds, then knitting it up into these precious mittens:

They are size 6-8 and I'm going to put them aside for Christmas. The superwash BFL will make them easy for even a muggle to care for.

I was supposed to be tackling the zipper on my Folklore, and I tried, but it was ten stitches to the inch. I did three inches and it took an hour. Seriously? Times two sides?  Not happening.  So today, I took the sweater to our local tailor and he tells me he can do it, no problem, and have it done by September 9th, all for $28. It sounds like a great deal to me. Of course I'm nervous that something bad might happen to my knitting, but then again, if I were to do it myself, something bad might also happen. You could even say a bad something would be more likely to happen in my hands than in the hands of an experienced tailor.

Well, it's in his hands now. I'll try not to think about it.  Lets just look at mittens again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Kilronan, the second

Beautiful, non?

The first time I knit Kilronan for Jim it was from Lavold Silky Wool. Jim loved it. It was soft and the pattern let him feel like a knight wearing chain mail armour. It looked good on him too except... the Silky Wool soon gave up all memory. The cables went flat and the sweater flared out at the back, exposing Jim's lower back.  He wore it faithfully for as long as possible, and then requested another.

My first hurdle was finding the right yarn. Jim knew he wanted red, and that it had to be soft.  I found both these qualities easily in Cascade 220 super wash sport. I bought the yarn from Paula at All Strung Out in Guelph. The store has an impressive wall of Cascade in rainbow colors. I bought what I thought would be plenty of yarn, but forgot to reckon in that Jim wanted extra length. What luck then that Paula could get me two more skeins in the exact same dyelot, several months later. I used over 15 skeins on this project. It is a long garment:

But the Cascade makes for nice rounded cables.  I worked almost all of them without a cable needle.  The five stitch cable was a bit too much though.

The trickiest bit of this sweater was removing that center ribbed band that nips in the waist. It's very feminine, but not suitable for a knight's surcoat.  Removing the ribbing means that you can't follow Alice Starmore's detailed instructions anymore and instead, you must hash out where to end the cables all on your lonesome. 

And let us not forget the wicked sleeve caps. I ended up removing the last four rows of plain work at the top of the sleeves and then removed the extra stitches during the cast off round. I was hoping for a blunter cap to the sleeve. It almost worked, but they still want to puff. The sweater needs a good tug at the back and then Jim's shoulders fill out the caps.

I recently realized that I knit Jim sweaters and me socks. It's time to switch that up and give the man more socks and me more sweaters.  But I'm glad I took the time to resurrect this old favourite. Jim deserves it, if only for being such a good sport.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What season's next? Sweater Season!

The stores may be gearing up for back to school, but I'm gearing up for sweater season and I'm getting excited!

This week, I completely finished Jim's sweater, the one with the puffed sleeves, but I haven't taken any pictures yet as its hot outside today. I'm still not thrilled with the shoulder caps, but it will do.

Also this week, I finished the knitting on my Folklore sweater, but it is far from done. Today, I've been working on hand sewing the steeks.  Here's a steek peek, from the wrong side:

I'm catching every strand through the middle with my needle and thread.  This is a super wash yarn and I want to secure it as best I can. Here's what it looks like on the right side:

Can hardly see it, eh?  Still, this faint thread will be turned under to the back.

After I sew it, I'll cut it. Then I'll prepare my zipper according to this fabulous technique developed by TechKnitter and explained here by Eunny Jang:

After that, it's just a matter of knitting the zipper to the sweater with some i-cord, then capturing the cut ends of the sweater beneath the zipper tape with another row of handstitching, this time in a non-contrasting thread. Piece of cake, right?  No, I'll confess, I'm quailing at the thought of the amount of work left to do on this sweater. I even want to reknit the cuffs still.

It's just under a month till the KW Knitter's Fair and I'm hoping to be wearing it there. Will I make it?  I know you're just on the edge of your seats.

All this and I'm suffering under the handicap of being distracted by other projects I want to start. At first I thought I wanted to make Twist and Shout, then the Twist Collective Fall 2011 was released and I thought I wanted to make Eadon. For a long time I waffled between these two projects and then I saw a Drops sweater that trumped them both, except I want to make it a pullover, from the top down. 

Don't you love sweater season?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Sharing the good and the bad

I've got two items to share with you, which shall we start with?

Let's see, I guess we'll start with the good first. I've finished another pair of handspun socks, by best so far.

I'm so much in love with these, I don't know if I can stand to wear them anywhere. The fiber is by Lofty Fibres, a super wash silk and merino blend that I hope will last. I used the fractal spinning method, spinning one of the singles with long repeats of color and the other single with short bursts of color. I know a two-ply isn't the best for durable socks, but... so pretty!

And now for the bad. One morning this week I decided it was time to sew on the sleeve to a sweater I'm making for Jim. I haven't finished knitting the second sleeve yet, but I decided that it wouldn't hurt to get a jump on things. I worked on it for well over an hour, seaming, pulling it out, and seaming again. That evening I told Jim he had to try it on. Thank goodness he did before I started seaming the side and sleeves because the cap of the set-in sleeve had a decided puff. Jim is not a puff sort of man.

It's not so bad. I had a good laugh, I hope you have had a good laugh and it was easily ripped out again. That's an hour of my life I won't get back, but it's another learning experience under my belt.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Over Coming the Hurdle

I took a two-week hiatus from spinning: the week before and the week during vacation. It was great to get back to my wheel when we returned. The spinning wasn't co-operating though. I started working the targhee braid and the fiber was so compacted, almost felted, making it difficult to draft. Also, the fiber would pull out of my hand and then get lost on the bobbin.  Seriously! I was so frustrated! I couldn't find the end to continue spinning.

So I flipped to a different fiber I'd put aside before vacation because I was frustrated with it. It was doing the same thing. What the heck?  A search through Ravelry's forums soon put me right. It turns out that if you don't move the yarn guide to a new place on the bobbin often enough, the singles will pile up until they fall to either side, breaking the fiber and burying the end of it at the same time. I had recently changed how often I move the slider on my Lendrum and that's why this problem was now occurring when it hadn't before.

Other things I learned on Ravelry's forums was to lay a life line by spinning the yarn on in one direction, say bottom to top, then moving all the way back to the start in one move. This lays a thread along the bobbin and makes it easier to find the end if it gets lost. Also, to find the end, I learned one can spin in the opposite direction real fast to make it pop out, or cup one hand over the bobbin while spinning in the opposite direction to tease the end up. I didn't need any of these tricks though because moving the yarn guide more often solved the source of the problem.

So I finished up both these yarns. The first a mohair wool blend (Spinning Moon Farm), the color in keeping with our heat wave again:

The second the Targhee, soft squishy and fine:

I joined Natchwoolie's Take Out Club, snack pack size. I get one ounce of fiber every month for six months. The fiber arrives in cute little takeout containers. This month it was Merino:

Last month it was blue faced leicester that had a wonderful sheepy smell. I worked my first laceweight with it:

I'm hoping that I can work the other snack packs into more lacewieght that I can then knit up into one shawl. It would be a wonderful sampler.

Yeah, but I sooooo need to stop spinning and get back to the needles. I have a ton of almost-done projects that are pining for some TLC. I think I'll have to put the wheel into time out for a bit. Whaaaaaaa.....