May 2008


A few things I’ve been working on…

These were so close to being done before I went to Japan. All I had left was a toe. I wasn’t about to bring a project that was almost done, with airplane-incompatible needles, so I finished them right after we got back. The yarn is Pigeonroof Studios sock yarn, that I bought at Piedmont Yarn. I would kill to get some roving from Pigeonroof, but the yarn is almost as good. The base yarn is strong but soft, and has a nice sheen, and the short, random bursts of color make for interesting knitting, and almost no pooling! (Oh, and the pattern is Garter Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks.)

Last summer I started making granny squares for the Color Bar Blanket from the Stitch n Bitch Happy Hooker. I completed the squares in a few colors, and then they sat in a bag for several months. Lately I’ve been in the mood to make some more, especially during the heat wave we had last week. I’m almost through half the colors…just need to finish up this blue. There was a sale on Plymouth Encore at WEBS, so I got most of the other colors I need. If I don’t completely lose momentum, I hope to finish the squares and sew it all together over the summer so I will have an awesome afghan for fall!

This pattern came out last month over at Purl Bee. I instantly wanted to knit it…even though I’ve been queuing patterns and accumulating yarn for several bigger sweater projects, I can’t bring myself to start any of them right now. This shrug, however, is small enough, and wearable in the summer, so I finally decided to go find yarn and cast on. Our bamboo selection is a bit lacking at Piedmont Yarn, so I went to Article Pract on Sunday. There were several bamboo and cotton blend selections, but I couldn’t find a yarn I liked in a color that was inspiring (and wearable), or if I did, there wasn’t enough in the store (like a certain cotton tencel blend that I fell in love with). I went into the sale room and ended up coming out with several skeins of Berroco Glace, a rayon ribbon yarn, in an amazing deep indigo color. I’ll admit, it’s the color that did me in, but I’m pretty happy with how it’s knitting up. I just finished the first sleeve, and now I’m on the back. I’m trying to knit it fast and keep momentum because if I finish it, it will definitely get worn this summer.

James requested a hat last fall, I may have mentioned it at some point on here. It is to have mushrooms, snails, and squirrels. There will be earflaps, and we found some awesome buttons that will be integrated into the earflaps somehow (either decoratively or functionally, it is not yet clear). I did a little swatching a few months ago and started to cast on, but the size 1 needles and 190+ stitches were sort of uninspiring. I also realized more planning was necessary…I needed to draft an entire chart of all of the Fair Isle components, rather than just trying to wing it. I have been putting it off for several months now, but the other night I got motivated and drew up this chart. It looks like there will be 6 pattern repeats (3 repeats of the chart), for a total of 180 stitches. My chart is a conglomeration of several Adrian Bizilia charts (the mushrooms, snails, and swirls), and the squirrels come from a mitten pattern (pdf). The snails are actually significantly altered to fit into a smaller number of stitches. I have yet to start the knitting, but now that I have this chart I should be able to get at least to the crown decreases pretty easily. I know I will be using a provisional cast on so I can deal with the earflaps later on. If James is lucky, he might have this hat to wear next autumn…or winter. Those needles are still mighty small…

silk cowl

I knit most of this silk cowl while I was in Japan. I’d had the yarn for over a year, something I had purchased on eBay, but I never knew what to do with it. But when I saw the Butterfly Moebius pattern in Clara Parkes’ A Knitter’s Book of Yarn, the world of cowls opened up for me. The pattern only took 275 yards of yarn, and I had plenty for this cowl. I brought some of the yarn along on our trip, hoping it would be enough, but I ended up wanting it a little bit wider, so I finished it off after we returned home. I was so happy with it that I decided to make my Mom one as well, as a Mother’s Day gift. I made hers from exactly two skeins of Hempathy (about 300 yards). Unfortunately I forgot to get a picture of that when I finished it, but it turned out so different, and so lovely. The stitch pattern in the book is double seed stitch, but you could substitute other simple knit/purl stitch patterns just as easily. I love this pattern because it really shows off the yarn. Perfect for handspun…I’m sure you will see more of these.

Last night, after letting the idea brew in my head for a few weeks, I finally cast on for some striped socks for my sister. You may remember back at Christmas, when I finished only one mitten as her gift. Well, when I miss a deadline for gift knitting, I tend to lose momentum. I had started the second mitten, but as I got my comfortable with stranded knitting, my tension loosened up, and the second mitten was definitely coming out bigger than the first. I hid it away in the bottom of my knitting basket for awhile, and when I saw my sister at Easter, I asked her if she still even wanted the mittens. She said socks would be more useful to her, and since I was pretty much over those mittens, I happily dismissed them from my mind. After seeing the awesome spiraling stripe socks that Grumperina has been working on, I decided I would use some of the leftover yarn and do socks in this manner. Here are the beginnings:

I think they are coming along fabulously. I would like to finish them in a somewhat timely manner, even though I know she has no use for wool socks in the middle of summer in New York. Hopefully they will not languish for too long, and hopefully I will have enough of the fuschia yarn to knit both socks without having to frog the lone finished mitten. Because even if it’s not useful, it does look quite beautiful, and it would be a shame (and a pain in the ass) to rip it out.

Yesterday we went to check out the new Borders that just opened up in Alameda, and I bought Weekend Knitting with the gift card that was burning a hole in my wallet. There were a few other books I wanted that they didn’t have in stock, but Weekend Knitting has been on my list, and after looking through it again, I decided it was a must have. My most desired pattern in there is the Brioche Stitch Neckwarmer (and hat and scarf), but I realized there are also TWO Veronik Avery patterns, both of which I would like to make, and after I showed James the Backgammon Bag, it was a done deal.

For some reason Ravelry seems to be down right now, which totally sucks, because it’s the weekend and I need to be getting my fix before it’s Monday again and I have to go to work. I guess I’ll just have to keep myself busy with all this knitting I keep starting.

I was sad to be away from my spinning wheel when I was in Japan (I know, life can be so difficult…). After I finished Pie, I started spinning some mystery purple fiber that Larkin gave me with the wheel. I was spinning thinner, about a fingering weight single, so the going was quite a bit slower. When we got back from our trip, I finished up the purple singles, and then got out the remaining 2 oz. of my Spunky Club “Goblin Eyes” Romney. The first two ounces were used in spindle experimentation, spun pretty thin and Navajo plied…but I think the whole mess was overspun because it was more like twine than yarn. I didn’t really enjoy that spinning experience very much. So I spun up the rest of it on the wheel, trying to match it with the purple singles. Toward the end I got a little lazy and the singles became sliiiightly thicker, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out after I plied the two together:



“Purple Goblin”
277 yards, 3.95 oz.
sport-ish weight

I love all the purple! And because it wasn’t so overspun this time, it’s a bit softer, and even more so after washing. It’s not supersoft, but I’m considering trying to make slipper socks from it, if I have enough. Toe-up will definitely be the way to go.

Here’s a not-so-great picture of my wheel…I plan to take a better one later.

As you can see, it’s been “well-loved”. Everything seems to work perfectly fine, the wood is just a bit worn and nicked in places, especially on that horizontal piece across the front. The tension nob for the brake band looks like a dog chewed on it, and I plan to order a new one at some point. The scotch tension also is just a piece of string tied to a smaller piece of fishing line (rather than springs like it should be), but it seems to work OK. I’ll replace that when I get around to ordering my Ashford Maintenance Kit. The drive band WAS just a black cotton string, but I fancied it up with lanyard cord. I was looking for Pony Bead Lacing, but Beverly’s didn’t have it. I got some green sparkly lanyard cord (the flat kind) and managed to melt the ends together enough to stick. It works ok, but I’m going to get the lacing next time I’m at Michael’s. It has connectors so you don’t have to melt anything, and you can change it out really easily. I also need to screw in more cup hooks on the flyer because they are only on one side. At some point I’ll need to get another flyer too (probably the 3-speed, but maybe the jumbo), because this Traditional is old enough that it only has one ratio. So far it hasn’t been a problem, but as I get more experience, I think I will appreciate the added versatility.

I started spinning Merino for the first time a few nights ago. I’m working on Spunky Club’s March fiber, “Mud Season”:

It’s not as hard to spin as I thought it would be…though I think it’s going much better on the wheel that it would have on the spindle. The Merino is sooooooooooo soft and sort of like spinning clouds. I’m spinning a pretty fine single and I’m hoping to get a fingering weight yarn from it. The colors are coming out really nice as they get more spread out and soften up.

The more I do it, the more I realize how addicting this spinning thing is!

Oh, poor, neglected blog. I didn’t meant to ignore you for so long. Life has been busy. My main excuse is that I was in Japan for most of April. I kept an online travel journal while we were there, if you happen to be interested in our day-to-day adventures, you can visit my Yahoo travel journal.

I certainly haven’t been neglecting the knitting and spinning, but that will be the subject of another post. This post is about the awesomeness of Maker Faire!

The Yarn Harlot was there on Saturday, but since I was working at the yarn shop that day I couldn’t go. I enjoy reading her blog, but I have never read any of her books and I have never felt a strong desire to go to one her events, so I wasn’t really disappointed. Instead, we went on Sunday, and look who we got to see instead:

That’s Adam Savage, from Mythbusters! He talked about his career history…starting out in theatre set design and special effects, working for ILM as a prop and set builder on all sorts of awesome movies, working for a toy company, and finally getting the gig on Mythbusters. He didn’t talk about Mythbusters much, he mostly explained how he is crazy obsessed with making extremely detailed replicas of movie props, like the ZF-1 gun in The Fifth Element (which he has been working on for 10 years, and he still hasn’t finished it), and making his own Maltese falcon (as seen in the film noir classic starring Humphrey Bogart ♥). It was really awesome, but now we know for sure that he is absolutely insane. In a really good way.

The Bazaar Bizarre (craft fair) was really good too, albeit EXTREMELY crowded. It was hard to stop and look at stuff, or cross the aisle to look at a different booth, because of the constant river of people. There was a great selection of stuff from a lot of cool designers and crafters. James bought me a few belated birthday presents, and I bought for myself an awesome skein of Dream In Color Smooshy at the Imagiknit booth. I was too tired to get pictures last night but hopefully I will do that today, and I can properly credit the crafters that I supported.

My sister scored at the Swap-o-Rama-Rama in the same building…she found a plain white tank and then had it screenprinted for free. There were also sewing machines for public use so you could alter your “new to you” clothes right there.

We ate corndogs…James got a foot-long “monster” corndog (my sister and I opted for the normal size), and there was a guy mixing the batter with a drill.

There was also drivable cupcakes (click any picture to make it bigger):

Huge wooden dinosaur skeletons (remember the smaller ones you built when you were a kid??):

Belly dancers:

And a giant metal lady on fire!

There was a TON of other cool stuff. The rest of my pictures are here, or go look at the Flickr group pool of photos, because no one person could capture all of the awesomeness that was there. We had such a good time, and I can’t wait to drag more people with me next year. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t have a great time…there really is something for everyone.  Be sure to check it out next year, or see it in Austin in October.