Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday morning dreams...

My Sunday morning waking dream was the design of a sweater using the much neglected Cascade 220 Superwash that's nearing a year in my stash.

Ya know, cuz the best time to knit a sweater is the cusp of summer, right? :-/

This lovely yarn has been the subject of several design schemes, none of which came to fruition, including a sweater or two. The heathered tones scream out to become the vining twine leaf pattern I used in Project Stole. I'm thinking of just transposing the stole's motif right onto the front and back of a sweater, paired with a mini cabled rib for the neck, arm, and waistbands.

But before I even think of designing something as ambitious as that, I've got to find the end of the Sunshine and Shadow Shawl, which has, by nature of my pattern dyslexia morphed into a leaf and medallion triangle. Who knew that the patterns in a book called "Knitting Lace Triangles" were the size of large hankerchiefs and not adult-bodied-sized shawls.

Yes, that would be me.

Once I realized what a 98 rowed project would beget, I took matters into my own hands. Translation? I knit two of the three lace repeats over and over until I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to complete the final, third pattern needed at the end of the project.

So what did I do? I worried on it and castigated myself and then worried some more. I then came to one conclusion and abandoned it. Rinse, repeat, rinse repeat. Cue a month and half and I finally stopped the cycle and hauled my butt out to the LYS where I purchased the yarn and by the luck of the gods, scored the last two skeins in the dye lot.

I should add, in my defense, finding the time for the 35 mile round trip was not a priority over the past month. So now that I have what I need to bring this baby home, what did I do last night?

Could be the start of my first cuff down sock in nine or so months, the lovely Embossed Leaf Sock (rav link).

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hobby Guilt

Knitting has taken such a back seat to the spinning. I've got major hobby guilt. Once I put down the knitting and did some plying last night I was ennervated beyond all expectation. I'm am SOOOOOOOOO addicted to plying, even more than my recently acquired addiction to spinning. Knitting seems like so much yesterday's news. What is to become of me?

Last night I washed my first wheel-plied yarn. I haven't weighed or measured it yet, but I'm hoping it's at least 200 yards.

After following the (very poor) advice I found in several spinning books and online sources, I find my finished yarn to be very poorly plied the more I followed the directive to consider my yarn balanced only when it didn't kink.

It turns out the kinkier sections look much better after left to set for two days and then washed. The "balanced" yarn looks barely plied at all. Either way I am ecstatic over this seemingly inconsequential pile of yarn.

While this yarn soaked in its bath last night, I decided to try out the one ply plied into three/Navajo method on the bobbin leftovers. One bobbin's remants were pretty irregular, as this was essentially my first spun yarn. The second bobbin was much more consistent and its content hovered near a laceweight.

With my newfound conviction of "Viva la Kink" I think what I plied will look pretty darn good once they set and are washed. The waiting is hardest part of this process.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer, how I love thee...

I woke up with a dime sized, multy-pimply bump yesterday morning, right above the bridge of my nose. And although it had the familiar telltale signs of something else, I immediately coughed it up to my neglecting my skin, as well as everything else over the past few weeks in order to get my fiscal year end work in on time.

This morning as I peered at a much redder, larger series of bumps on my neck, below my left ear, I finally acknowledged that which was only subconsciously registered yesterday: I have poison ivy.

Hello summer, nice to meet you to you, now F off, would ya?

I'm trying not to be a drama queen, but it's plainly a less than valiant failure. I've already begun wishing the rash was considered a communicable disease so that I could stay home from work for a few more days, or more. Yes I would like some cheese with that whine. And ice cream and french fries too, if you wouldn't mind. :-/

I'm just now trying to get back in the groove of my fiber sports. After trying to cut the displeasurable task of high speed work by alternating it with spinning and knitting, a cloud of misery soon infected both obsessions. Hating on both, all of last week's free time was spent ignoring all but the basic responsibilities (yes, my hair must be washed, and no, Kit Kat's are not a meal). I finally had to bequeath my non working body and soul to mindless movie watching, with some home improvement shows thrown in to spice things up.

We've all been there right?

The knowledge that this miasmic state would end soon enough surely hastened it's departure at the end of last week. Taking a comp day Friday, for a holiday I had recently worked through, I found the mental acuity I needed to face a long suffering stand off with my Sherbert Bayerische project.

As I've mentioned previously, the toe up pattern conversion I began with has major issues. So I found myself with a well established toe and only a vague idea of where to go. Vagueness in a new to me pattern is like knitting poison. So Friday, I opened up my MS Excel, and after reviewing several pattern sources, I rewrote the pattern, through the gusset, using a more familiar charting key, the one employed by Yarnissima.

I still have to reconcile closing a heel with greater circumferential stitches than what you begin with, but now that the first quarter is made concrete in my new charts, I am confident I can fudge my way through the rest. One step at a time.

Finding my way through this problem project is a must, as the soothing, mindless knit of my lace scarf, has turned the corner.

It's gotten to a size where the joyful knitting for knit's sake has been hijacked by the knitter's nemesis of "when the F is this scarf going to be done." At over 30 inches, I fear it will be sloggsville from here on out if I don't have other knitting to distract me. I'm still hoping (delusionally?) I can navigate away from the path of slogg so that the next 30 inches wont be a repeat of the hate which most of the chevron scarf was.

This is where I leave off for the week ahead. I hope to finish some lingering chores so that I will have time today to take a couple of new steps with my spinning sport.

Using this niddy noddy, made by my dad, I will pull off some single ply scraps on one of the bobbins to make way for plying together the two bobbins of the natural romney I have spun over the past few weeks.

The excitement of this task was what percolated my sleeping mind into consciousness in bed this morning. I had dreams of perfection not to be met with, surely, but I plan to be be proud of whatever I come up with. So off I go...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Boldly Going...

I probably should have saved last week's post title for today. As of Saturday afternoon I became the proud owner of a third-hand wheel, a Louet s10.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The hubster and I hit the road Friday afternoon, with dogs in tow. We headed north to my Dad's house in the Adirondacks to celebrate my Dad's 70th birthday. My brother had flown in from Pittsburgh and I think Dad was looking forward to having us both at the pancake breakfast being held directly across the street at the local heritage museum.

In the afternoon on Saturday, my dad's wife, Chris, brought out the wheel. She inherited it from an old family friend, and as she has another wheel she prefers, she was more than glad to part with this one when she saw learned how interested I was becoming in spinning.

Chris gave me a quick demonstration. I marveled at her spinning ease. As is to be expected, when she gave me the reins I fumbled terribly. I was unable to keep the wheel going clockwise. It was obvious it would be best to learn the rhythm of the wheel first before introducing the fiber. When I suggested using waste yarn rather than roving, Chris agreed. By this time, though, the heat was settling inside the old farmhouse and the desire to spin quickly faded. We both settled into a night of looking over her massive collection of knitting books and knitting.

We had originally planned to leave first thing Sunday morning. Later that night, as the hubster and I contemplated a sticky night sharing a full sized futon with our very needy dogs, in contrast to the king sized bed swathed in dry air-conditioned air waiting for us at home, a night ride home was quickly agreed to and set in motion.

Waking up at home on Sunday morning I quickly set myself up with some waste yarn and after an awkward start I began to understood how to work the treadle and felt confident enough to try actual roving.

After an hour or so I was pretty worn out by the process but proud that my bulky beginnings were making way for some sport weight singles.

The roving I'm using is romney, I believe. Perusing the spinning boards at Ravelry the week before Memorial day I lucked upon a post from raveller Lesleyluu (rav profile). She was looking to unload two pounds of romney roving for some sock yarn. Before one could say fiberlicious! I had posted I had yarn meeting her wants and it was a done deal!

I unloaded this beauty purchased at NHSW

for this 13 gallon treasure trove

Within a few minites of spinning again last night, I 'got it.' A few hours later I felt like the world was my oyster! I feel invincible, beautiful, masterful, brilliant, confident. I've never learned how to do anything as quickly and painlessly as this and I'm pretty darn full of myself.

I'm sure the equilibrium gods will set me straight soon enough but before they do let me get one last thing posted before I slink away for another silent week. My resolve loosened by some blogger startitis (it's always best to blame anyone but oneself, right?!?) I cast on a new project last Wednesday. And it is not socks.

I purchased the most velvety yarn at NHSW. It had to be knit. Needing to satisfying this and an urge toward lace, I killed two birds with one stone with this scarf pattern from Jojoland, also procured at NHSW.

I'm nearing 20 inches and it's still bliss....

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

You spin me right round baby right round...

I don't know my bum from my belbow these days. My mind just wants to zone out; it craves indolence. Life, however, has other plans. It needs constant vigilance. Some casualties of this ennui have been my writing and my photography. No matter what I do I can't seem to muster much cogitation, and so blogging has fallen by the wayside.

This lassitude has also spilled over into my work life during my biggest crunch time. I usually relish this time of year, and the work that needs to be done, but not this year. It go so bad I panicked and brought home work last weekend. And for the first time in weeks I had a little fire in my belly. It felt awesome. I took turns knitting and working and wouldn't you know it, I got through the entire Bleak House Masterpiece Theatre program, knit almost an entire sock in a 24 hour period, and accomplished all the goals I set for myself with work.

Dad's Midnight Derby Socks are finis! And just in time for our upcoming weekend trip to visit him, in honor of his hitting the big 7-0. No matter how old my parents get, they'll always be like 45 to me. I see the aging, but my mind refuses to equate my parents with older people. It just doesn't and I'm not sure why, but I'm sure it's like that for most folks.

Back to my utter amazement at how fast I knit the second sock, I have to say that loving the yarn and the colorway probably helped me along. I'm a big fan of blue in general, and this deep navy, specifically.

When I untied the skein on my swift, I saw the knotted yarn holding the skein together was undyed. This was a first for me and seeing the natural colored yarn contrasted with the deep blue of the skein gave me pause, instantly fueling expectations of major bleeding when I washed the socks. It turns out my worry was for naught. I soaked the socks in eucalan for an hour or so and the water was barely discolored. The difference in the original yarn and the washed sock is indiscernible:

I began these socks on May 15th and finished them on May 31st.

Dream in Color Smooshy in the Midnight Derby colorway
100% superwash wool
I really like this yarn, even if it wasn't as soft as I had expected. I will definitely knit socks with this again. The 450 yards makes this a great yarn for men's socks.

I started out with 2.25mm circulars on the toe and it was pretty obvious the gauge was a little too dense. Instead of frogging, I decided to switch to 2.5mm circs once I completed the toe. I returned to the 2.25mm circs for the heel. Once I began the ankle I reverted to the 2.5mm needles for near half the leg until for reasons of shaping I went up a needle size to 2.75mm.

I cast on 36 stitches, increasing to a total foot circumference of 72 stitches. Once I finished the toe I knit even for five rows, rather than begin the rib right away. The top part of the sock was the same k4p1 of Blue Wavering. I can't remember how many rows I knit before beginning the gusset. I made 17 gusset increases. The leg was the same as Blue Wavering, at about 66 rows including the bind off row.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I'm a winner!

Most times life is just plain ordinary, wouldn't you agree? Then there's those one in a million days where you're a winner. Me, a winner, whodathunkit? Thanks to the generosity of Knitting Kris, I just came home from work to find a beautiful package in the mailbox. In .5 seconds it looked like this.

Impatience should have been my first name.

Once I had both hands to work with, this is what I found inside:

Beautiful superwash merino sock yarn by Fleece Artist, in the perfect colorway of Woodland, matching stitch markers, a pack of stylish notecards, and a sweet card addressed to my real self.

The yarn is fabulous, and the first I've even seen in person of Fleece Artist. I feel so happy schmappy, I'm awash in guilt. Kris's generosity is astounding to me. I only wish I had more mental energy to expound upon what a lovely package this is and what it means to me. Thanks again, Kris. Absolutely fabulous!!

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