Monday, September 21, 2009

A Wool Gathering 09

I went to A Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, OH this past weekend. Last year, it was wickedly hot and just after that wind storm which caused us not to have power for a week. This year, on the other hand, the weather could not have been better. It was nice and cool in the morning and warmed up into the high 70s by the afternoon. It was great to meet up with my friend and her mom and to see vendors and other shoppers that I know. It's funny, the more I go to these events in my area, the more people I'm getting to know.

I was very happy that I stayed within my budget but I definitely didn't stay away from sock yarn or fiber.

Yeah, that is 3 additional skeins of sock yarn and a couple of ounces of different fibers. In my defense, one of those skeins was bought by my friend and I'm knitting the socks as Christmas presents for her. I've already thought up a good pattern for the variegated yarn. I should probably cast on so that the socks actually get finished for this Christmas rather than one far down the road. (Not that I've ever done that with a present *cough*) That skein and the other variegated one were from Earthly Hues and are going to be fabulous socks.

dandelion fields
madder, indigo and marigold
I think my best/most favorite purchase was the Greensleeves drop spindle and the fibers from Susan at the Trading Post. I took my spinning and knitting Estonian Lace class at Susan's shop back in April. She has wonderful crack fiber. Back in May at Wooster, I had wanted to buy one of her spindles but didn't make it back to her booth before everything closed down. I made sure that I made it to her this time around!

fiber from the trading postPurple = Ashland Bay Concord (I think)
Grey = Mongolian Cashmere & Mulberry Silk (again, I think)

I've found that I really like lightweight spindles that will spin a lace to fingering weight yarn. It doesn't hurt that all of the fibers I want to use at this moment really like to be spun thin. Right now I'm spinning the purple merino/tussah silk blend into a 3-ply fingering-ish weight. I'm using that chain plying technique where you spin then ply. The resulting yarn is REALLY nice if I do say so myself!

The other skein of fingering weight yarn that I bought was from Amazing Grace Llamas. Amazingly, I didn't buy any of her soaps this time around. Normally I come home with at least one of her cute shaped soaps but I was fickle this time and didn't find a scent that screamed to me. The ribbed socks that I just told you about were made out of her superwash fingering weight yarn. This time, I bought a semi-solid yellow that reminds me of a daffodil and other spring flowers.

yellow yarn
I have a feeling it will be very nice to wear those socks in the middle of dreary winter. I also have to confess that I bought that color for the leftovers. You might be wondering, huh? Well, I don't have many brightly colored squares so far for my sock yarn blanket and I know I will have plenty of leftovers with this skein.

Speaking of the sock yarn blanket, the cat found the squares. . .

cat and squares
She looks really comfy doesn't she? I'm up to 24 squares and haven't repeated a yarn yet. Actually, the full count of squares won't reflect the true number of socks I've made. On some of the socks I had only a couple of yards left and one pair only had an inch and a half.

Oh! I almost forgot! I received the skein of Noro sock yarn in the mail on Saturday. Yesterday, I finished the scarf and started a matching pair of fingerless gloves. I decided to do a garter stitch pair so the gloves would be similar to the scarf. Thanks to ravelry, I found a good pattern and I immediately cast on. The original pattern was written for a heavier yarn so I just increased the number of stitches cast on and did more rows that the pattern called for. I might lengthen the tops of the mitts by picking up stitches and knitting a couple of rows of garter stitch. We'll have to see. I'll still have yarn left over so I am going to have plenty for a fringe on the scarf. Anything to use up the rest of the skein!

Friday, September 18, 2009

and we're back!

Sorry, guys, that I've been gone for so long. I wish I could say that I wasn't blogging because exciting things were happening in my life. But in reality, I just didn't sit down and blog. Don't get me wrong. I thought of blogging and even went as far as composing things in my head (don't tell me I'm the only one who does this!). It seemed like I was never in front of a computer or was at work when I had a flash of inspiration. Oh, well.

Anyway, I've been up to much more spinning recently than knitting. This situation is going to have to remedy itself soon because the handspun stash is going to take over the world if I don't start using it. I really don't need another hobby but isn't weaving supposed to use up yarn quickly? That is looking like a really good option.

My biggest project to date (big in terms of both yarn and stash usage) has been a handspun sweater/jacket thingy. The pattern is from
The Yarn Girls' Guide To Beyond The Basics and is called Slip and Slide. When you imagine a handspun sweater, this sort of project comes to mind. It called for a super-bulky yarn and the linen stitch makes it look nobbly. Let's just say that it isn't a form fitting kind of sweater. When I first saw the pattern, it looked perfect for some yarn that I spun when I first started spinning. It was that beginners yarn that is super bulky then thin then bulky. A friend had given me a pound or so (I should have weighed it when I first got it) of brown wool roving. Well, I thought I could double the yarn and it would be the right gauge for the project. It turns out that it wasn't and I added a strand of a 3-ply worsted yarn I spun out of the Jacob fleece my cousin gave me. The fronts and back took me a weekend to do but then I hit a roadblock on the sleeves. I was going to run out of the original brown yarn. There is no more roving nor does my friend have any more and she bought it eons ago. You can see my dilemma.

My solution was to use some of the light brown in the Jacob fleece (I keep using it for different projects and the amount of fleece never seems to go down!) and spin it up in a similar style as the original brown. My cousin's sheep are rather elderly and their black and white patches have faded to light and dark brown patches. The light brown matched the original really closely which was very surprising. I had to card the fleece and make rolags because the original was roving strips torn off a drum carded batt. Next, I had to spin in a similar style as when I was first starting. Let me just tell you how hard that is! My default spinning style now is a worsted technique and very, very fine. The original was a woolen technique and thick and thin. Trying to replicate my previous spinning style has been teaching me a lot about how to use my wheel to the best advantage. I put the drive on a larger whorl and ratcheted the tension up so it pulled the fiber out of my hands faster and gave me a bulkier yarn.

The project has come to a slight halt because I've had to be prepping the fiber and spinning the yarn as I've been knitting. Hopefully the sleeves won't take too long after I get that yarn spun up. The only problem now is that I think I might run out of the 3-ply Jacob. That will mean I have to prep and spin for 3 singles and ply it up. At least I won't have to be as careful to prep only the light brown locks. I pretty much used everything in the 3-ply. My quick project is taking a lot longer and involving more effort than I thought it would.
Before starting on the sweater/jacket, I just had to knit a Milkweed Shoulder Shawl out of some yarn I had on hand. It is a fingering weight Cherry Tree Hill in the colorway Peacock. I have to tell you, I love this color. Everything about it makes me happy. It is a mix of lovely blues, greens, gold, and a dark fuchsia. Originally, the yarn was supposed to be a pair of Pomatomus and the color pooled quite interestingly in that pattern. Those socks, however, stalled out because I thought I was smarter than the pattern. We all know how that goes. Well, I saw the Milkweed pattern and, lemming that I am, I had to make it. After perusing the stash for possible yarns, I remembered the languishing Peacock.

This pattern is perfect if you want a very simple lace project. It is garter stitch and has a very simple lace pattern. It also took no time at all to make. This picture is from when it was unblocked. After blocking, the edges don't curl in the same way.

In other knitting news, I've been taking part in the Single Skein September over in the Stash and Burn Ravelry group. The goal for the month is to use up those single skeins you bought because they were pretty or because you used up everything else in a project. Let's just say that I have a number of those hanging around in the stash. The only problem is that my SSSeptember is turning into Startitis September because I've been casting on for everything under the sun. Let's start with the first project for the month.

I've been wanting to start using my handspun for a while now (see comment above about it taking over the world). So part of my goal for September was to use it in different projects because I usually had only one skein of the handspun. I started by making a pair of mittens out of some Gaslight Dyeworks roving called Wisp. It is a mix of wool, alpaca and different colored sparkle. As it so happens, the yarn I spun up was bulkier at the beginning and the sparkle was mostly blue/purple. By the end, it was thinner and the sparkle was pink. So the hand of one mitten is blueish-purple and the other is pink. In order to make them match(ish), I knit a blue cuff on the pink mitten and a pink on the blue one. I have no idea why I love these mittens so much. I'm not usually a sparkle kind of girl but these just make me smile.

lily and yarn
I had enough yarn left over to make a hat and have been doing an inch of blue then an inch of pink. I've kind of stalled out on it, though, because I don't like the way I've done in the decreases. It is a 1x1 rib but the decreases at the top look funky. It would be nice to get it finished before it starts getting cold so I can have matching sparkly mittens and hat (what in the world has happened to me?!).

In the middle of working on those mittens, I cast on for a scarf using some Noro sock yarn I had on hand. I bought the skein originally to make some sort of shoulder shawl but never got around to it. Unfortunately, that scarf has stalled too. I really like the way it has been turning out but then I ran out of yarn in the last inch. That wouldn't really be a problem if I were making a regular scarf but this one is knit diagonally so an inch short means I don't have a corner. Someone on ravelry happened to be selling a skein of the same colorway so I bought it from her yesterday. It's annoying to have to buy a whole other skein but maybe I'll use it to make some matching fingerless gloves and add a fringe to the scarf. Anyway, it's on hold until the yarn comes.

Another project I've been working on, was started a couple of months ago but finished this month. It was a pair of 2x2 ribbed socks made from yarn I bought up in Wooster this past May. I'm going to a fiber festival this weekend and the vendor from whom I bought the yarn will be there. I really wanted to finish them because I wanted to show her what I made from the yarn. The yarn base she used is fantastically soft and squishy. If she has more this time, I might have to break down and get another skein. I did remember while I was knitting the socks, however, how much I hate ribbing. You knit on it forever but the socks don't grow in length. Well, anyway, it's nice to have another pair of socks to add to the rest of them.

ribbed socks
Speaking of socks or rather fingering weight yarn, I've completely lost my mind. Like other sock knitters, I've been saving the leftover balls of yarn for a while now. Well, I started working on a sock yarn blanket a couple of days ago. For someone who hates weaving in ends as much as I do this is insanity. INSANITY. I've been using (kind of) the pattern from knit me a river. The only difference is that I've been using Judy's Magic Cast On so I don't have a hole in the center that I have to sew together when weaving in ends. In order not to kill myself with sewing in ends, I've been zealous about doing it the second I finish one. I've also been casting on for another square the second I finish one. When I have enough knit, I will weave in the tail so I only have one end to weave in upon finishing. As of this morning, I've finished 13 squares that will be about 4.5 inches when they are blocked. These things are like potato chips, seriously addictive.

sock yarn squares
I've decided to do this blanket a little bit like a quilt. I'm going to have at least one outside border of a solid color yarn (probably will have to buy a full skein or two for that). Then, rather than sewing the blocks together, I'm going to have a border in-between squares (see the purple sections on the highly "technical" diagram below). The plan is to pick up stitches along the square edges and knit the last stitch of the border and the picked up stitch together. Does that make sense?
quilt diagramOnly time will tell if this idea is insane. I'll see what changes I have to make along the way. This is definitely not a project that I expect to finish quickly.

Well, you made it through a very long post! I'll have to do another one soon to let you know what else has been happening recently.