Why yes I HAVE been crafting!

I finished Nicks orange socks today.  I used a short row heel and toe and made them toe up, using a tubular bind off.  I do hope they fit him!

Tubular bind off is a technique I will need for 2 projects, one of them is a brick red scarf that I promised Nick last year, and the other is for the neckline of the modified and upsized cricket pullover.  I finished the front, and have just began the back.

The neckline will be 1×1 rib using the 2 colors of gray.

And speaking of gray….look at my latest spinning!  A merino/tencel blend in lovely shiny steely shades of gray.


I’ve been anxious lately, about many things.  Some of which will be off my plate shortly and some more long term issues.  Nothing to be concerned about really, just you know what we can do when we start to worry about something!

I notice that my anxiety takes on the form of dreams.  I have restless sleep, anxiety dreams, and nightmares.  In the past week or so I’ve had the following dreams:

One dream in which everything with the international conference I am planning that could go wrong, does go wrong.  I was informed by a coworker that if this particular dream was occurring while I was fully clothed, then I was not anxious enough.  I beg to differ.  This one served the purpose of motivating me to get a bunch of work done, so I am rather grateful for it.

Then for 2 nights in a row I dreamed that there was an intruder in my house.  I would wake up in a panic just sure that I could hear footsteps.  Every two hours I woke up with this dream, for 2 nights in a row.  I’ve begun sleeping with my phone by the bed and fully clothed.  And yes, these require a full lights on search the house because so panicked am I after I wake up.

Last night we moved into the nightmares.  Anyone who knows me, knows I have a terrible fear of snakes.  Seeing a snake can just about throw me into an anxiety attack, and even in my childhood, many of my reoccurring nightmares were about snakes.  Still are.  Snakes and zombies.

In last nights dream I am in the backseat of the car with my brother.  We are on the highway going fast and someone else is driving.  All of a sudden my brother is holding 2 snakes.  He is not being malicious, he is just holding them but my panic is such that I just HAVE to get out of the moving car right then and there.  But I can’t because of the child locks.  So I keep trying, and pounding on the windows and screaming.  Luckily at that point Miss Bug woke me up.  I couldn’t be more grateful for my daughter to wake me up at that moment!

Let’s hope these taper off a bit next week.

Weekend of Lace

Remember this post?  Well, the gal who gave me a discount on roving as well as a bunch of free rovings agreed to let me spin one up for her.  It has been on the back burner as I left on vacation soon after I received the rovings and life has been a bit insane since then.  I did finally start her 2 ply laceweight, and I am now more than halfway through.  It should be done sometime this week so that it doesn’t conflict with the large conference I have to host here next week.  I tell ya, this sanguine gryphon roving is just as gorgeous as it can be!  Richly colored and very saturated, and the silk just makes it shine so much!  I guess 35% silk will do that.  This colorway is “Kate’s Beach” and I just happen to have 2 more in different colors left in my stash.  This one though is truly gorgeous because of the coppery browns in it.  I can’t wait to see it finished!

In knitting, I am working on my MS4, and it is going really well.  I am currently on clue 3 and the part I am working on is lacking beads, so it is moving a bit quicker now.  Keep in mind, as you see this, that I have 2 of these exactly the same.  So though it might not look like that much, double it!  I think I will be much more inspired to finish a symetrical stole if I do both halves at once.  You know, because of my distraction problems.

I am particularly fascinated by the scalloped edges.  I’ve never done them before and I can’t wait to see what they will look like when I am blocking it.  Also, any guesses on a theme???

Bug’s Room

Bug and I have been hard at work this weekend finding ways to organize her toys because “Mommy doesn’t want to see my toys all the time!” as she tells people.  It is true, I am sick and tired of the house being all aclutter because she doesn’t put away her toys.  But truthfully, I hadn’t been giving her a specific place for her toys, so it isn’t really her fault.  I was lucky if she’d contain them to one corner.  We went shopping and got her some bins with drawers for downstairs.  And upstairs I just designated some of her dresser drawers to toys since she really doesn’t have a lot of clothes anyhow.  Additionally she has been itching to take her crib down, so I decided that a deep cleaning and rearrangement was in order.  Now that it is basically done, she wanted to show Nana so I had to take pictures. I will probably rearrange her dressers again, but this is a start.

Sleeping corner:

Playing corner:

For those of you who haven’t seen her room, she has the entire upstairs, and it is in an”L” shape with windows at each end of the “L.”  She has big plans for the playing corner, she plans to set up her train tracks in the biggest track evah! She is very pleased with her room right now, she said “It looks WONDERFUL!”

Yet Another Endeavor

I’ve been talking about doing it, thinking about doing it, preparing to do it, anticipating it, and yet I just don’t.  Until this weekend.

Dyeing fiber that is.  I just….felt like everything I make is going to turn out ugly as sin.  But I also know I have to buckle down and experiment a bit before I decide to do this officially.  So this weekend was the weekend!

I had picked up some jaquard dyes from knitpicks to begin the experimentation process.  Primary colors mostly, so I can mix my own.  It went somewhat successfully though I am just not getting the deep rich colors I desire.  I like what I got, don’t get me wrong, but they aren’t what I wanted.  I’d be proud to spin any of them though.

In fact, I did a little test skein, as I wanted to make sure my lovely prepared merino did not felt at all.  And it didn’t.  The test skein also gave me some idea of how one might look all spun up.  And I like it!  Much more subtle than I thought.

Yep, I liked it, I’d like to do it again!

What is this?

A spinning blog all of a sudden?

I’ve apparently gotten reinspired, and since my last roving was very subtle in colors, I thought I’d got for the brights this time.

I should finish this tonight, that is the hope anyhow.

I also finished up one of Nicks orange socks.  I call these practice socks, since I needed to attempt a tubular cast off.  I was quite pleased with myself at lunch time today, and cornered my coworkers to show them what I had done.  The conversations went like this:

Me: “See the top of this sock? Can you even see the bind off?”

Coworker I’ve cornered: “No….where is it?”

Me: “You can’t see it. Know why?

Coworker I’ve cornered: “No, why?”

Me: “Because I ROCK!”

See?  I rock!

My Best Yet

This is, by far, my favorite spinning I have done yet.  3 ply sock weight, 373 yards.  Enchanted knoll farms 100% merino in pumpkin soup.  I am not positive that I will list this one, it might make it straight into my stash.  I love it too much!

Applying myself

I’ve been putting off finishing my grandpa’s socks.  Not that I don’t want to do them, it is just that I am fickle and some new project I have never made before calls to me.  I knew that all I needed was one weekend to apply myself and get them done.  So this was the weekend.  I decided that no other project could be worked on until they were done, and lo and behold they were done by Sat morning!

So these will get mailed out tomorrow.

Then I began Nicks next pair of socks.  He wanted burnt orange socks and that just happens to fit in with September Sock down in Sock Knitters Anonymous, so I thought I would cast on this month.  These will make a fantastic work project.

I have a crazy busy week this week, so posting may be a bit light.  To top it off, all weekend I told myself I was NOT getting sick, but when I went to pick up Bug from her dads, I realized that she was quite a bit sicker than I was feeling.  I do not have time for sick this week, so it will have to be postponed.

Thurdays are for Spinning

My knitting friends and I discussed the other night the implementation of a “Thursday’s are for Spinning” day in my week.  I am complaining that I have too many knit projects to get spinning done, and I don’t like it.  If I choose one day of the week to dedicate to spinning, I will accomplish 2 things.  First, I will get a bunch more spinning done, which will make me happy, my shop happy, and my readers happy.  Secondly, it will give my poor hands a break.  They really have been taking a beating lately with my manic knitting, and ache all the time right now.  In the interest of having something spun for Thursdays are for spinning, I spun last night as well.

This is what I have on my wheel right now, Enchanted Knoll farms merino.  From a solar and wind powered farm off the power grid comes the most nicely prepared fiber I have ever spun in my entire life.  This colorway is called Pumpkin Soup, and though it is a bit different than colors I normally pick, I was so very drawn to it.

This will eventually be a traditional 3 ply sock weight yarn.  My first traditional 3 ply yarn actually, since I am a navajo plying freak!  For all you spinners who read, do tell the new spinners JUST how much easier it is to spin fiber that is prepared beautifully! It almost floats onto the wheel!

My latest conquer.

Do you know what that is?  Perhaps you are asking yourself why I would post a picture of my recycle bin.  I’ll tell you why.  In the bottom of that recycle bin is a torn up pattern.  The pomatamus pattern in fact.  I tore it up in an indication that I will never again knit this pattern.  This pattern became the bane of my existance and I am glad to be done with it.  I’ve worked so hard for so long on those socks and it was not an enjoyable experience.  If someone were to come to me and say “Shells, I’ll pay you $200 to knit me a pair of pomatamus socks” I’d probably just twitch.  I cannot understand how the same designer of my beloved monkey pattern could design this pattern, this twitchy, complicated, annoying, slow pattern.  Where I spend every single day now trying NOT to cast on another pair of monkey socks since I’ve already knit 4 pair, I can’t get rid of this pattern fast enough!

But I finished them last night.  It took a glass or two of red wine and the encourangement of my friends, but they did get done.

And they are very very beautiful.

(Yarn, chameleon colorworks glacial moraine.)

A quick project

Miss Bug wanted a purple scarf to match her purple malabrigo hat which she doesn’t have yet.  After I offered her a few options which she wasn’t satisfied with, we found some purple lambs pride in my stash.  When I realized that I didn’t really have enough for a scarf, I decided a neck warmer would do.  I realized that the lambs pride was a bit too itchy to wear around the neck, so since crafty coworker had just given Bug some yarn to practice with, I decided to grab the lavender fun fur and add it to the mix.  That helped to soften up the feel of the lambs pride.  I finished it last evening and sewed on some buttons.

I also stayed up too late last night finishing up the silk hankies.  I ended up with 430 yards of very laceweight yarn, pure silk.  It feels scrumptious, it has that smooth dry silk feel to it.  It reacts so very differently than wool it is almost uncanny.  Keep in mind that spinning silk hankies leaves you with a less than smooth yarn, it is almost boucle like with its nups and slubs.  I think it has great character!

Handspun socks

Last evening, while at a gathering of very nice women, I finished my handspun socks for the Sock Knitters Annonymous September Sock Down Challenge.

The challenge is that one will knit a pair of socks out of orange yarn.  The yarn needs to be at least 75% orange.  The general rule is if you have to ask “Is this orange enough?” then it isn’t.  Yet people still ask, causing much annoyance to the group moderator and much amusement to the rest of us.  So I have named these my “Are they orange enough?” socks.

This was poorly spun from poorly prepared BFL, reinforcing my disgust with BFL over all.  I knew I couldn’t put the skein up for sale as it wasn’t spun nicely, very rustic.  So it sat hiding in my stash lest I give it daily dirty looks.  When I heard orange yarn for September challenge, I knew I could give this yarn its chance to redeem itself.  And so it did, it is rather cold here today and I do not want to take off my new socks.  They are warm, they are softer than anticipated, and they are bright and sunny looking.

Oh, and pattern notes.  I did them toe up rather than cuff down.  I did a short row toe and short row heel.  I am getting better at them, I don’t get too many gappy spots.  I made a small error in the first sock that turned into a “feature.”  I patterned them on the bottom of the foot as well as the top.  Since I was not willing to take that portion out, I decided to pattern both socks on the bottom.

A few random things

I wanted to pull out a few things I made BK (before Knitting) and get them documented.  Because even though I did not create in myself the obsession that was created AK (after Knitting) I did very much enjoy my learning to crochet.  I specifically enjoyed filet crochet for awhile, and though I gave away most of what I created, I do have a few things floating around the house.  Specifically 3 doilies of which I used variegated cotton yarn in.

The other day I sorted and organized my stash.  I am finally at a point where I have no desire to give away yarn I do not like anymore, so the stash stays.  It is also abundantly clear that I should put myself on a yarn diet for awhile.  While sorting, I came across some roving that I had koolaide dyed but turned out quite ugly.  At stitches midwest, I had seen people felting wool over soap which while looking quite interesting, I wasn’t ready to do since I didn’t have any roaving that I was willing to felt!  So when I came across this stuff and refused to put it back in my stash, I realized that it would work perfectly for this project.  Bug and I tore up some roving and did a test soap.  It turned out quite nicely!  We learned to use a little less roving next time and that a cookie cooling rack does not a washboard make.  Since the felting worked fine without the washboard, we will skip that step entirely.  Bug was not happy to be using hot water on this project, but as the weather cools she just may get used to it.

Here is my first felted soap.  I think it is very cute and hope to do a few more in the near future.  The wool creates a felted loofah type case around the soap, and it shrinks as it is being used to fit the soap inside.

As I work on J’s sweater I realize that it is going quickly (for the amount of time I am spending on it).  Which, of course, leads me to think about my next sweater project.  I think that I should next work on a nice thick warm sweater rather than a cardigan, because the need for it will be soon enough.  I’ve 2 choices and would love to hear which my readers would like to see first!

I have this lambs pride wool in prairie fire.  This has been sitting in my stash forever!  Even BK!  I had bought it to work on a large crocheted afghan which I never got started on.  I still love it and would like to use it on the Urban Aran sweater.  I love the lines on this sweater, and I think they could look very flattering.  And it is a different take on cables than I am used to.

The second option is an Alice Starmore from her Aran Knitting.  Since I have already done Irish Moss and Na Craga, I’d like to do either St. Brigid or Aranmor.  I have this fantastic Black Water Abbey yarn I got at Stitches midwest.  An Irish import which isn’t overly soft but shows cables in the most lovely way.  I will also avoid the great felting disaster of 2007 with this yarn.

So the big question is, which sweater do my readers want to see next?

Conversations with the Bug

Bug:  (refering to the handspun montego bay scarf) “Mommy, I want a scarf like this!”

Me:  (thinking I might have an out of knitting a purple hat out of purple malabrigo) “OH!  Do you want me to knit your purple yarn into a scarf like this?”

Bug:  “No!  That is gonna be a hat, we need to go back to the yarn store so I can pick out more yarn for a scarf.”

Heh, I’ve made a yarn addicted child out of her already.

A joiner

It has become apparent that when it comes to knitting, I am a joiner.  You see, it all started last July with Mystery Stole 3, or MS3.  I joined up and knit that lace in a surprisingly short amount of time.  And then I was hooked!  I promptly joined quite a few other mystery lace knits, 1 of which was frogged, one of which was completed, one of which is hibernating, and one of which I am actively working on.  I joined other mystery lace knit alongs, but I didn’t even begin those projects.  Then the joining branched out.  I started joining other knit alongs, and initiated a few of my own between friends.  The most famous of these was perhaps the ravelympics completed not long ago.  So, I am a joiner.

I’ve given myself a rule that I cannot start more lace before finishing one of the 2 lace projects I started but are languishing.  But, as you all know, I am not so good at sticking to my rules when it comes to knitting.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I have joined yet another KAL.  Mystery Stole 4.  I thought I would join and not knit until later.  Until other notable projects were done.  But…the first clue came out and the beads sang me their siren song.  I went out and bought new beads, beads that would show up better in my yarn.  I cast on.  I knit.  And I ended up with this:

So…that means I need to finish THIS one before I start any new lace.  I’ve justified my decision somewhat by realizing that I don’t intend to join anymore mystery lace KAL’s as I am tired of them.  (No, seriously.) And I am knitting from stash.

I am using knitpicks shadow in vineyard.  I love it.  Knitpicks has some issues, but their laceweight yarn is very nice.  It is just about the exact weight I like to knit with, and has a fantastic feel and great stitch definition.  And the colors are rich.

I chose, this time, much larger beads that I typically use.  I ran into some lace shawls at Stitches Midwest which used beads that were quite a bit larger than I could imagine using, and I loved the effect.  Pair that with the weaving my aunt does that uses about the same size beads, I thought I could think out of the box a bit and give it a try.  The suggestion for the stole was beads which show well, as they are an integral part of the pattern, so I didn’t figure I could go wrong.  I love the effect!

Speaking of joining….I also joined Sock Knitters Annonymous.  This is a group with various sock knitting challenges which help us knit up our sock yarn stash.  September sock is orange, so I am using my poorly spun and navajo plyed bfl from awhile back.  The sock is coming out better than I expected, and I am thrilled that I am using up yarn which probably would have sat in my stash for no apparent reason forever.

Spinning silk hankies

While I was at stitches, I had some purchasing rules.  I stuck to them like glue.  One of the rules was, when buying spinning fiber, buy fibers which I am not accostumed to and have not experimented with.  I’ve always wanted to try spinning silk hankies, and never was there a better place to pick some up than stitches.  In fact, it was one of my first purchases.  I purchased 1 oz during the first day there, when I was feeling so overwhelmed and knew not what to buy.

Since silk hankies were quite a mystery to me, I thought I would give you some pictures so that those of you unfamiliar with the process would be able to understand without searching it all out for yourself.  Basically, silk hankies are silk cocoons, stretched and spread on a form.  They are then dyed and sold for spinning.

Looks a lot different from the fiber I usually post huh?

Spinning silk hankies in practice is as different as the fiber looks.  The first step is to peel off one layer of silk, one cocoon.  This is easier said than done.  The silk is sticky and the layers are so thin!

You can see one layer being peeled up here.

This is a single layer peeled off.

I then poke a hole right in the middle!  Don’t worry, the stuff is strong and it isn’t as alarming as one would think.

Then I pull and pull and pull on that ring, from all angles, until it gets very thin.  This is when you realize just how strong silk is.  Even in unspun form, it takes a fair bit of muscle to pull this into a thin strip.

I then break the strip somewhere in the middle and start to spin.  I can continue to draft it out into more even fiber, but the majority of the work is already done.  And the resulting spun fiber is amazingly strong and shiny!

In this picture you can see the spun silk shining on the bobbin.  This is currently cobweb weight so I will have to ply it in order to get some laceweight yarn.

On another note, this evening was so lovely, and I was so enjoying my time spinning on the porch.  Until I realized that a police helicopter kept circling overhead.  I had thought that perhaps I should go inside but ignored it initially.  Then I started to see the biker cops patrolling the area.  And I’ve never seen them here before.  So I did go in, and shut and lock all the windows and doors.  Things seem to have quieted down now, but I did get somewhat alarmed!

Conversations with the Bug

Bug:  Mommy, when are you going to have a baby?  I want to be a big sister.

Me:  I can’t have a baby right now.

Bug:  Why not?

Me:  Because I am not married, so I can’t have a baby.

Bug:  Oh, so when are you going to get married?

Me:  I don’t know Bug, might be a long time.  Who is mommy supposed to marry anyhow?

Bug:  (going through her list of most important men) Can’t you marry Pop Pop?

Me:  No sweetheart, Nana is married to Pop Pop, and Pop Pop is mommy’s daddy, and we don’t marry our daddy.

Bug:  Ok, then how about Uncle Willis?

Me:  Remember?  Uncle Willis got married to Kyle, and besides, Uncle Willis is mommy’s brother, and we don’t marry our brother.

Bug: Then JJ! You can marry JJ and I can be a big sister.

Me:  Ah..Um…maybe JJ doesn’t want to get married right now.

Bug:  I’m gonna ask him!

Me:  (under my breath)  Now THAT will be a bloggable conversation!

Conversation with J

J:  What is this?  My hair is falling out!  It is falling out worse than ever!

Me:  Well, sometimes men lose their hair as they age.

J:  Not me!  I’ve never lost hair like this, this is ridiculous!

Me:  What do you think the problem is?

J:  I don’t know sweetie, maybe I am lacking something in my diet.  Maybe I need to eat meat.

Me:  If eating meat means you can keep your hair, would you do it?

J:  I just don’t have the heart for it!  I might try once a month or so if I thought it would help.

A little while later:

Me:  J, where are your eggs?

J:  I am not eating eggs.

Me:  I need them to make your banana bread.

J:  I haven’t had eggs in the house in 2 months.

Me:  Wait a second…didn’t you say earlier that your hair has been falling out for a couple weeks now?  So much so that you are considering changing a vegetarian diet that has worked for you for 20 years now to retain your hair?

J:  Yes…

Me:  And now you are telling me that you don’t have eggs and haven’t eaten them in 2 months….your main source of animal protein?

J:  Yes…..

Me:  You are a smart man, don’t you think these two things might be related?????

J:  Maybe we should go get some eggs.

A Critical Point.

I’ve hit a critical point on the mandala shawl.  The last time you saw it, it looked like this.  Quite frankly, to the untrained eye it doesn’t look much different at the moment.  I am about 4 rows away from the end of clue #4.  It will not be large enough for a shawl as it is, even with the knitted on border.  I can either double the stitches again, and add more clues, or I could consider it done and use it as a lovely circular tablecloth.  I am not sure what to do, and there are pro’s and con’s to them both.  I don’t know if I am going to like the color changes in the shawl form, but they would be interesting in a tablecloth.  But to put THAT much work into the “shawl that never ends” (yes, it has its own song now) to not wear it would be a bit sad.  Any suggestions?

I knit the shawl this weekend, as well as a bit on my pom sock, and I started my La Digitessa sock.  This La Digitessa business is blowing my mind!  It all started with a short row toe, which I have never attempted before.  I got grumpy during the knitting of it, but I love it so much now that I will use the toe again.  Yarnissima’s instructions are stellar, and this is the first time I have made short rows that look good without gaps.

Isn’t that a pretty toe!?!?  At this rate, J may get more socks yet.  His biggest complaint is the standard toe of the socks I have been knitting him, he doesn’t like that they look square.  He was well impressed with this one.  I really like it too.

Then I began the pattern.  Er…um…this is a TOUGH pattern!  I am not just saying it.  I think it is gorgeous, but it is hard to do.  I like to knit my socks “quick and dirty” which means simple quick patterns that I don’t have to think about.  There is nothing quick and dirty about this sock, this is all about elegance and difficulty.  Please understand that this is not a shot at the way the pattern is written, as it is written beautifully and thoroughly, but rather a divergence from my regularly loved simple sock knits.

I struggled a bit with the travelling stitches, the pattern is marked out in a way that was not immediately familiar to me.  It took me awhile to get that under control.  Just when I got the travelling stitches under control, I began the gusset.  Erm, to be honest, I haven’t gotten the hang of that yet, but I am not frogging.  We will have to call that a learning experience.  I am fairly certain I am understanding that part now too, so I am sure it will all change the next time I knit at it.

I have to admit, she is pretty though…

Yeah, please ignore the mistakes which are so glaringly obvious to me!  Learning, remember?  That wollmeise yarn knits into a very shiny and thick sock.  I like!