Knitting


What is it about summer that compels me to join swaps? Last summer there was the Ravelry Caffeine Addicts Swap and the Knitter’s Virtual Vacation Swap. Those were fun, but I seemed to be sated…that is, until recently.

The Ravelry Fiber Swap is 3 months long, with three other partners, so it’s almost like 3 swaps in one. So far it’s been a ton of fun. I got my July package from Ravelry user ambergem.

There is 4 oz. of hand-dyed merino/linen roving. I’m slightly intimidated but very excited to see how this spins! It will probably marinate for awhile, but I am looking forward to trying it. She also sent a little superwash merino (burgundy) and some mohair locks (green). I love it!

I have pictures of what I sent for July but I keep forgetting to upload them to flickr.

I have a few other dyed fibers, but so far my attempts to photograph them haven’t gone very well. They’re red, and one of them is targhee wool which is so fluffy that the camera doesn’t want to focus.

Soon there will be more dyeing for the August installment of Fiber Swap. I know what I want to do, it’s just finding the time that is proving difficult.

The other swap I joined last week is put on by the Spunky Eclectic group on Ravelry. This is one of the chattiest groups EVER, and one of the mods decided it would be fun to do a swap. Luckily we don’t send until the end of the September, but we’re sending both fiber AND handspun, as well as goodies and extras, so I can’t procrastinate too much. In this swap the only secrets are what we are actually sending – we know who our partners are and hopefully we get to know them over the course of the swap. It should be fun! I don’t know if I will be dyeing for this. I am hoping to go to the California Wool and Fiber Festival in September and I want to try and get the unspun fiber there.

This is the 1oz. of dyed alpaca I showed you last time, spun into a worsted weight 2-ply. Spinning from the fold was pretty tricky, because the alpaca is very slippery, but for a first try, I’m happy with how it came out. More than anything, I love how soft it is. It’s only 50-something yards, but I think I might use it as an accent in a hat.

This spinning is a little more recent. I finally got brave and tacked some Wensleydale I purchased from Hello Yarn awhile ago. It definitely came out a bit fuzzy (they call Wensleydale “the sheep’s answer to mohair”) but relatively soft. I’m a little nervous about using it for a hat or a scarf, but we’ll see…maybe another idea will strike. It’s around a DK weight. I haven’t counted the yardage yet. I’m loving the colors though. The greens/teals you can see in the roving have kind of dissipated, but I think they’ll show a bit more when knitted up.

In knitting news, I’m trying to work through a few very late gifts, and I recently finished knitting Talia. I still need to weave in ends, block it, and find buttons. Buttons are the hardest. Maybe I’ll take my chances and order online. Life is just too busy these days for button shopping.

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Look!

Mystery Stole 3.  Yeah, the one from LAST summer.  I finished the knitting in March but just blocked it recently so it could go on display at Piedmont Yarn.  Go see the entire Flickr set here.

Noro Lace Ribbon Scarf.  Just in time for summer.  At least it’s nice to look at.

One helical striped sock, a la Grumperina.  For my sister.  In place of mittens.

Aspen (merino tencel blend), Spunky Eclectic club fiber from last August (my first ever!)
2 oz, 290 yards, fingering weight single.  So gorgeous!  Spun from this.

Awesome green two-ply.  Spun from a hand-carded batt purchased from Funky Carolina
3+ oz, 189 yards, worsted weight two-ply.  I love this yarn so much, it’s ridiculous.

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 got a spinning wheel! The Lady was kind enough to GIVE me one of hers – for free! It’s an Ashford Traditional, and I’m sure it’s seen many owners…but it still works beautifully and is simple enough for me to figure out. I got a quick one-hour lesson, which was enormously helpful, and since then I’ve just been learning by doing. I spun some green Corriedale for practice, and then I dove into my build-up of Spunky Eclectic club fiber. “Pie for Everyone!” seemed like a good place to start.


(click for bigger)

Can I just say that spinning on a wheel is awesome? I knew I wanted a bouncy, springy, bulky weight yarn, and that’s pretty much what I got. I spun and plied all 4oz in just a few nights, and I had so much fun while doing it. It’s not perfect, I could have given it even more twist in places, and my drafting needs work (though it’s loads better than it was with the spindle), but I love it.

Spunky Eclectic Club Roving, November 2007
100% Falkland wool
4 oz, 116 yards
something like bulky weight

I’m envisioning turning this into a squishy Urchin or Zeebee hat. I’m a little hesitant to knit it up because I love looking at it so much, but I haven’t knit with my handspun yet and I think it will be awesome.

Right before Stiches West, I sort of went through and reorganized my yarn. I had seen the Inga Hat a few weeks prior, and found some random worsted weight wool to use for it. It’s amazing how much nicer stranded knitting looks with real wool, instead of superwash.


Leftover Cascade 220 (lavender) and Galway Highland Heather (blue)
size 3 needles
I love the braid around the bottom. My excuse for casting this on (amongst my many other projects) was so I could try out the braid as a possible embellishment for the completely ridiculous hat James wants me to make for him. I think I’m going to give this to my sister, because I never finished her second mitten for xmas and I’ll be seeing her next week. These are definitely her colors.

Just for fun, my fabulous model:

Stripey mitts. Whipped these up a few weeks ago to use up some scraps of superwash wool, and keep my hands warm. I completely made up the pattern as I went and lucky me, they fit perfectly! We’ll see how long I can go before I lose one. (Speaking of losing mitts…I had been missing one of my Delicato mitts for awhile. Then I found it about a month ago…but I couldn’t remember what I did with the one that wasn’t lost. So I stashed the new-found one with some of my knitting stuff…and when I was digging through that spot yesterday, I realized they were both in there. Brilliant.)

Remember NaKniSweMo? Well…it only took 3 months, instead of one…but the Treeline Striped Cardigan is FINISHED. I lost my momentum in November during the long plain stockinette portion of the body. Over xmas (when I couldn’t work on my sister’s mittens because of her presence!) I got through some of it while hanging out with the family. Then, a week ago…something possessed me. I knocked out the last few inches of the plain body section, and once I finished that, nothing could stop me. All day at work I would think about going home to whittle away at those raglan decreases. I waffled about knitting the collar as written, but I went with it.


Yarn: Cascade 220 – 2.5 skeins of navy, with Artfibers Tsuki carried along; just over 2 skeins of periwinkle.

Friday night I picked up the button band (which doesn’t have any buttons…so what do you call a buttonless button-band?). I stayed up until 1:30am doing a new bind off (the double crochet bind off), which was completely worth it. It has just the right amount of stretch, and it gives a slightly bolder line that stands out from the muddle of color from the stripes worked in 1×1 ribbing. It rounds off the corners and connects to the solid-color ribbing at the bottom of the sweater. I was excited to have it done, but that bind off just…MADE it.

My motivation (however fleeting it might be) toward finishing, rather than starting projects has continued over to Mystery Stole 3. I finished chart H and started I last night, and I’m feeling just as excited to continue tonight. I really want to start Muir with the orange Hello Yarn laceweight I got awhile back, but I absolutely refuse to start another big lace project before finishing MS3.

For February, I’ve joined Thing-a-Day. This is it’s second year running, and by signing up, you commit to making something each day – it could be anything – and posting about it on their site. My goal is to broaden my horizons in what I make each day…knitting everyday is a given, but I want to try more digital photography, cooking, and sketching, maybe even some writing. Some days, I’ll no doubt take the easy way out with knitting or spinning. It will also be a challenge for me to post every day about it. I’m thinking of doing weekly recaps on this blog, but if you happen to be interested in my daily updates, you can read them here starting February 1st.

I made it a point not to overload myself with gift knitting this year, though I did strive to give handmade (whether by me or someone else) whenever possible. Still, in December I kept thinking of more ideas. There are a few little things I made that I didn’t get pictures of (felted bowls and a wrist pillow for my Dad) but these were the major achievements.

(from left to right)

-Seahorse stuffie! This is not knitting, it was hand-sewn. My first stuffie/softie toy like this of any sort. It only took me about two hours and it was a lot of fun! I made this for James’ sister; it was VERY well received. I bought the pattern here.

Phineas socks. I’m glad I started these early (at the beginning of November) because they took quite awhile, as socks always do. They were for my uncle who lives in Montana, so his feet need to stay toasty warm. The yarn is Louet Gems fingering weight. I haven’t heard anything, but hopefully they fit him ok.

Tiffany mittens. These actually are not finished. I had the first one done in time for xmas, so I wrapped it up. I would have had the other done, except that I was home with my sister (the recipient) the last few days before xmas. Since I have to mail them to her anyway, I took a little break, but I hope to have them finished up before the end of the month so she can actually get some use out of them this winter in New York.

Clementine Shawlette. This may look familiar. It was quite nice to have something done that far in advance, though I didn’t get around to blocking it until right before I sent it. My grandma loved it.

-Plain Jane slippers. This is a pattern that I acquired not long after I first started knitting. Unfortunately the link doesn’t seem to be active anymore, but luckily I have the pattern on my computer. This was my fifth pair, I think. I used Queensland Rustic Wool (superwash!). This pattern is awesome: fast and cute. Made these for Michelle, because she had wanting something knitted by me so badly. The little red heart buttons were the perfect finishing touch!

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