And now we are back

To our regularly scheduled programming. Spinning. Of course.

I’ve been working on this BFL called lavender fields for months. I decided to spin a very fine thread but it is going so slow I thought perhaps a little plying might help kick my butt in gear and get it finished. I decided on a 3 ply and it is still very much a laceweight. 133 yards so far. I think in the end it will be a very nice serviceable laceweight but right now I am so not interested in finishing it!

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Just a Beginning

I decided I needed to knit a faroese shawl, since I’ve never done so before. I wanted a new shape to attempt. But in typical Shells fashion, it wasn’t enough to pick something simple. Instead I chose Dracula’s Bride. In black, since I’ve got a huge cone of black laceweight in stash. Then when I realized it had optional beads, I just had to add beads too. In red. It all seems a bit campy, but I haven’t been this excited about a lace project in I don’t know when, so I am going to go with it. So here she is, Dracula’s bride in the very early stages.

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Shall We?

Let’s take a look at a finished object, shall we? It has been entirely too long!

I bought a skein of Noro Sekku last year when we had a road trip to KCMO. I didn’t buy much yarn that day, but the odd color combinations and the fact that it was Noro, in laceweight, won me over and I purchased a skein. And there it sat in my stash simply because I was having trouble deciding what pattern might look ok with such an oddly colored yarn. Well, at some point toward the end of May of this year I was wandering through one of my knitting books, A Fine Fleece, and noticed the A Road Not Taken scarf. It caught my eye and I realized that it would even be ok with the colors on the Noro Sekku skein. So there you have it. It was a simple pattern, one which I was able to shove the project in my handbag and knit on it anywhere. The resulting scarf was pretty long and thin, it really did need the blocking in order to make it scarf like. I am guessing that the stitch pattern may mean that it needs to be reblocked often, but I haven’t had it up off the floor long enough to really know. The one thing I’d say about Noro Sekku is that it doesn’t take to a hard blocking. It is gently spun and a hard blocking will cause breaks in the yarn. I know this from personal experience.

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One Year

Last night I found myself with some time to knit. I worked on the brown cabled fleece sweater collar for awhile, until I got truly bored and my hands began to ache. I put that down, and picked up my white/silver fleece featherweight cardigan and worked on that. And I realized what is truly capturing and keeping my attention these days is the entire fleece process. The washing, combing, spinning, then knitting something with my handspun, rather than using commercial yarns. So, I’ve been giving it some thought and I think it is time to go on a year long commercial yarn diet. I’ll say until next July 4. I have no plans to go to any big yarn events in the upcoming year so I don’t think there is anything that would make me regret such a decision.

This decision does contain conditions though!

#1-I can spend gift certificates.

#2-I can purchase yarn for christmas stockings for family IF there is cause to do so.

#3-I can purchase yarn for commission knitting.

#4-fiber and fleece are not included in this yarn diet. Though I am hoping to keep any purchasing to just fleece.

This will force me to do a few things. I will have to knit from stash. I will have to get quite creative with my stash and my choice of patterns. I will have to make the yarn I have in stash fit the patterns I choose to knit. It may force me to spin more. And to spin with purpose. It will force me to be less selfish about the yarns I have in stash. Rather than saying “My yarn is too nice to use for that project” I’ll be forced to use it anyhow. After all, there is always more where that came from! It will also give me some time to do a few other interesting fiber related things that I’ve been wanting to try. Like blending colors on my drum carder and dizzing from the carder. Or making a basket to wash fleece in. Or do some more fiber/yarn dyeing. Or even allowing myself to try something completely new.

So there it is folks. I wrote it down, so it must be done.

And just so you aren’t truly bored with this post, it contains one picture of my Road Not Taken scarf. I’ve now gone through one entire color repeat. I’ve got this one sitting at work, so it gets my attention during lunch hour.

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Swatching

To my knowledge I have only ever posted a picture of a swatch one other time on this blog. It was for my first February Lady Sweater 4 years ago. This I know because it was directly prior to the last summer olympics. Last night found me swatching for the featherweight cardigan with my handspun corriedale. If I haven’t mentioned how much I love this yarn, stay tuned. I believe it will be quite a long love affair. I made up a little swatch and then admired it rather than measuring it, simply because I didn’t have my pattern at my fingertips. Since the yarn is particularly clean now, all that is left is the natural and silver tones. While I think this will make for a lovely featherweight cardigan, I am also wishing for a Forest Path Stole. Since that particular stole is knit entrelac, I think it might really highlight the silvery bits of yarn. This means I may be spinning corriedale thinly for 2 ply laceweight well into the coming year.

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Progress

But slow! I’ve made a bit of progress on my Road Not Taken scarf. The slowness has a lot to do with being out of town and not taking this project with me. Actually, I didn’t really do much knitting at all, so even if it had made the cut progress wouldn’t have been made. Mostly I’ve been knitting this in the morning while Bug gets ready for school.

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You can see I have worked through brown, natural, and am now working my way into some yellow/orange.

You know what real progress would be? Blogging. About warrior dash. About my plumbing issues. About stuff other than knitting!

Girasole Progress

I have a finished object to show off, but I forgot last night to block it. So it isn’t quite dry yet. Now, I’ve got another special project to work on, but the yarn for that hasn’t arrived yet. I figured this gave me an excuse to put a few rows in on the girasole I started at the end of last year.

It is starting to resemble a jelly fish pretty well!

Madli Stole

My friend Sarah and I often choose to do a shawl together in the summer. We do a lace knit along in general, but she and I often choose the same project. It keeps us motivated. I find it easiest to let her take the lead and I try to keep up. Not because I can’t keep up, but because I am a decidedly non monogamous knitter, and trailing along behind her keeps me motivated to finish, while still being able to work on other projects. She never sets a pace I cannot achieve, so it works out well for us. This time, Sarah finished on Saturday night and I finished on Sunday night. Right on track!

Well, this year there is a big wedding in our family, so for our lace knitting I chose a special yarn that should compliment my dress. It is skaska designs yak/silk blend laceweight. I purchased it at stitches midwest 2009. I have a ton left over, certainly enough for a scarf, perhaps even another shawl.  Thankfully the knitting was done in time for the event.  I added 4 repeats to this shawl. I probably should have added more. But, well, with all those nupps, I was a bit sick of it by the time I finished.

It looks great, filmy and delicate. But I wouldn’t knit it again. I suppose there are a lot more shawls with nupps to explore, but I think I need a nupp break!

Not entirely sure

What to show you! The messenger bag now has a side, the other is in the works. My madli shawl sits with 23 repeats complete. I’ve got a work project coming along well and a second long neglected sock brought to the heel flap as of last night.

I suppose the Madli shawl it is. It is growing! I’d say I am halfway there.

I love how it matches the car so perfectly. 🙂

Traveling Mariam Shawl

My friend and I decided to go for another trade. Knitting for pottery. I am all for that, since I am completely amazed by people who work with clay. Not something I can manage.

I saved this for my first finished stash dash project. 310 yards for the weekend. Pattern is traveling woman shawl, and the yarn is string theory caper. It turned out beautifully, I am very impressed with the blocking. A shawlette I dubbed too small turned into something just perfect once blocked!

 

Handspun project of 2011

I try to manage a large handspun project once a year. In July 2008, I completed the handspun, hand dyed lite lopi sweater. 2009 brought me my handspun february lady sweater. Sadly, 2010 brought a couple of smaller shawl projects, and nothing at all epic. You could say that I was already preparing for my 2011 epic handspun project.

Last year we attended the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival. While there, I purchased 8 oz. of Alpaca/Cormo/Silk and 8 oz. of camel top. I spun them 2 ply. The alpaca/cormo/silk was absolutely a bear to spin. What those pretty white balls of top held were only slightly processed blends that had a ton of vegetable matter and even entire bug carcasses. It was a slubby, dirty, awful, messy experience. But I still got good yarn. The camel was a different story. Lofty, light, perfectly clean, heavenly soft, and also gave me a ton of good yarn.  In December 2010, I began the Lilia Hyrna shawl out of “A Knitters Book of Wool.” The idea was to use the yarn undyed for this purpose. I knit on it in spare time between other projects, then at some point after Month O’Socks, I brought it to work and kept it there, working on it on my lunch break. After finishing the second chart and the set up rows for the final chart last week, I decided to bring it home over the weekend and give finishing it up a go. I worked on it Friday night. Saturday was busy and I had no time to work on it, so Sunday began a marathon of finishing. It took all day to do 6 rows and a crochet bind off. By the time I went to bed, the shawl was blocking on the floor and I knew I was going to be wearing a new shawl soon!

This shawl is far larger than I anticipated it being. The crochet bind off was a new experience for me. I love the natural, undyed fibers used on this shawl, it gives it a rich tone while still looking handspun and warm. I still have a ton of leftover wool, and have some dangerous projects in mind for it. But they’ll have to wait for the hottest days of summer.

 

Time for happy!

I must admit to being completely addicted to my handspun gradient scarf.  It is one of those projects that was like crack for me. I did actually spin and work on 2 other projects during the time period I knit this scarf, and yet it still only took me 6 days. Less than a week! Of course, if we count the time it took to spin the fiber, it would be a 2 week project. And so, I present to you my handspun gradient scarf.

The wool: Falkland wool from Dyeabolical’s first fiber club. This was the March installment. You should probably know that I adore her in a very big way. We will hear more about that later, I’ve got a very fun project coming up that involves her and her beautifully dyed yarn.

The pattern: Palette from knitty.com, spring 2007 issue. I truly believe this the perfect pattern for the scarf. It was not an “easy” knit. There is lace patterning on both sides. It took me some time and a bunch of ripping to get it right, but once I did I could knit it up pretty fast. I could never go without the pattern on this one though, it was not a portable project.

The spinning: 240 yards of navajo plyed yarn.

The scarf:

To say I am pleased would be an understatement.

Spinning takes project form

I really was powerless to resist the call of the gradient dyed spinning. Powerless. Even though there are plently of projects already on the needles I should be working on, yesterday called for a new project and I answered

I balled up my yarn, and took a quick shot of it because I even love how it looks in a cake. Then I cast on.

Knitting really is a most satisfying hobby!

Advent Stole

I’ve been called a touch knittist, and I think it feels true lately. I didn’t finish the advent stole quite as quickly as I had anticipated, but did work on it as soon as I got back from vacation. I completed every single clue to specifications. The stole is absolutely HUGE! The yarn is a lovely merino laceweight I picked up via destash at some point.  I am officially no longer afraid of nupps!

Seraphim Shawl Redemption

Years ago I began a shawl journey with jojoland harmony yarn. A circular shawl with clues, done in the thinnest yarn I’d ever used. And halfway done, for years that poor shawl sat on the needles in a major time out because I couldn’t bear to work on it and couldn’t bear to frog it after all the hours I had put in. I could tell that endless knitting would never be enough to complete it, and even if I had, I would never wear it. At the end of last year, I pulled it back out, put in my time on it, and then decided that it was now ok to frog the entire shawl.

As I did, I realized that the poor thing was so dusty from sitting around that it made me sneeze! A true sign that it was time to give it up.  I frogged the entire thing, and even that took hours. I then decided to start a shawl holding two strands throughout. I knew this would help inspire me to finish a project with the yarn. I chose the seraphim shawl full sized, since last year I had made one but it was smaller than I wanted. And this was the result:

Seraphim Shawl

I began this shawl with my kettle dyed sock weight in what I consider an absolutely perfect color. As the shawl called for more yarn than I had, I eliminated 3 repeats of the stockinette portion in order to make it small enough to use the yarn I had dyed.

I miscalculated in a very big way.  Very big.  And sadly, that was the last undyed sock weight I had on hand, so not only did I need to dye more yarn to hopefully match what I was knitting, but I had to dye laceweight and hold it double to finish the shawl.

The laceweight did not pick up color the same way, in fact you could say it basically ignored the blue tones that mingle with the turquoise and teal.  Thankfully since it is a triangular shawl, it basically looks like a border.  So, what do you think?

Quick Lace Knitting

After I finished my last big lace project (or during, I don’t remember now) I decided I needed to use up some of my lace stash and fast. So I pulled out a Tilli Tomas kit I had purchased on destash. The kit contained 2 skeins of Tilli Tomas voile de la mer as well as a pattern for a shawl called Mystique.  The brown tones of this particular colorway are tones I wear often in the winter and the pattern calls for size 10 needles so I knew it would knit up quickly. The pattern is only 4 lines long and easy to memorize. It is also pretty simple to see when you’ve gotten a little off in the pattern, so I would even call it lace you can actually knit in front of people.

I had it about half finished before I left for vacation, and I managed to finish it off the same day I finished the baby jumper. When I returned home I realized that I had dropped a stitch somewhere along the way, so repair was imminent. It wasn’t too tough to repair though, and Bug and I blocked it on Tuesday night.  I love the color on this one and think it will make a great indoor scarf for the winter. If I don’t snag it, which I’ve been doing if I even look at it sideways.

Summer and Lace

I try to knit lace during the summers when I can, and so I picked out my next project from Victoria Lace Today. I chose the Alpine Lace scarf in order to use up some knitpicks alpaca cloud I’ve had around for a long time.  The border has lace worked on both sides so it has been a bit of a challenge, but now that I am halfway through I am finding that I can knit quite a bit faster, even if the pattern is impossible for me to memorize.

This is my progress thus far in all its unblocked glory.  I have high hopes for this scarf, I think it is going to be extremely pretty!

Happy 2010!

I found my turquoise dye and was able to make a semi matching corner on my latest finished object. So it got blocked last evening.

It is still too cold to be going outside to take pretty pictures, so blog readers will just have to deal with winter indoor pics.

One last finished object

Or so I thought. Way to go me for deciding I could manage one more.  A pretty piece of lace knit on the bias out of my own handspun, and I run out of yarn in the last 6 decrease rows.  Look up on the left hand corner, this is the sad little piece of handspun in a different color I spun up to finish off the scarf.  I had intended to dye that little corner with some turquoise dye I had sitting around the house. Trouble is, I forgot that I used all my turquoise dye. So, hopefully Sandy will be able to give me a hand in dyeing that last corner. This will not happen until the new year though, so I guess I cannot claim to have one last finished object after all.

Next project up? Another KAL with Ummeyusuf. We will be attempting to knit Kelmscott cardigan in the upcoming month or so. I grabbed some Berroco ultra alpaca for mine, in a lovely tweedy gray that has shades of lavender in it.  I believe I will reverse the reverse stockinette in this one, since I don’t like my purling on the outside of my garments.

On a Roll

I’ve taken the snowed in holiday and used it as an attempt to get my outstanding projects finished. I think I’ve done pretty well, though it has left me with precious little mindless knitting. Yesterday I finished a lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today. This was done in Habu Textiles Tsumugi Silk.  This is the suggested yarn for the scarf, and since it only took one cone, I have another cone to do another scarf.  I love the very wide open flowers on the wide border, it complements the rather bumpy silk well.

We are continuing to dig out and are going to attempt to actually leave the driveway today. I am hoping a snowplow does not go through while my neighbor is at work, this would cause yet another 3 feet of snow to be pushed into my driveway. When she comes home, her car will protect the piles and I shouldn’t have such a mess on my hands.

My Gift

My parents got me something ultra cool for my birthday.

Can you see what that is? It is a hot pink headlamp! Know what it is for? So I can knit more of this:

all without straining my eyes.

That is seriously awesome. I might even try an all black beaded aeolian shawl now.

Snow day #2

The snow is piling up but thankfully it is no longer snowing. The trouble now is the blizzard winds and the bitter cold. Just a 5 minute jaunt of shoveling causes legs and fingers to go numb. So I’ve been doing it in shifts.  We have yet to see a snow plow on this street, and I know there will be much more snow to shovel once one happens along.

There is no where left to put the snow. The snow on my retaining walls are over my head. The snow at the side of my driveway is chest high. In order to shovel at this point, I have to walk each scoop down the sidewalk to find a free spot for it.

Sadly, as much as I’d like to say that tons of knitting has been done, it hasn’t as I have been too busy shoveling. But some knitting has been done…

The start of a lace stole that I have just begun working on. This is handspun 2 ply laceweight which I spun over the summer.

Distraction

I know I keep talking about the test knit sweater, and yet I don’t show it off.  I’ve now decided that it is so close to being done I’ll just distract you with other projects until I complete it.

I started working on this lace scarf before I left on vacation in October. It hung around in a state of half hearted beginning until I took it with me on my second trip back east.  I then finished the border and began to work on the body of the scarf.

The yarn is from habu textiles, and I picked it up at stitches midwest.  I love the shade of blue and the scarf will make a fantastic warm weather knit.  The pattern is from Victorian Lace Today.

 

The Bane Challenge

Our friend Phyllis came up with a fantastic new challenge for us.  The Bane Challenge.  Where we knit on the projects that have become the bane of our existence once a week.  I, of course, have a few bane projects left from my super uber cast on crazy woman phase.

So I picked the one which has been on the needles the longest.  And to be honest, I’ve been working on it more than once a week, because I really am nearing the end.

Mystic Waters:

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Additionally, even though I am not sure it can be considered a bane project, I’ve been working on the kauni only when I have others around to entertain me.  Somehow the desire to work on it has slowed considerably. I am finally nearing the end of the first sleeve, and will take this with me on my upcoming trip in order to see how far I can get in a short amount of time.

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My biggest question now is if I want the sleeves to match or not.  I think…maybe not.  Because I’ll be missing too many colors if I match them.