Friday, November 20, 2009

It fits.

There are actually two empty cubes. (Well, one full cube and one half cube.) And in the spirit of honesty, I didn't bring up all the spinning fiber. Since I have two pounds of Shetland roving in its own sizable cardboard box, I'm going to have to get more shelves installed above the existing rack before it can all come upstairs. Still. It's all there. It's all organized. And OMG there's a lot of it.

I have two boxes of yarn to go to my mom, but there's a problem. A few years ago, my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I asked for enough yarn to knit a sweater. I was hoping for Wool-Ease, since there are no yarn stores on her side of the river. She gave me five huge skeins of blinding white Red Heart Light & Lofty. Think Lion Brand Homespun without the color changes. It's wonderfully soft and white and bulky. I am bulky enough naked; I can't pull off a sweater made in this yarn. I can't really give it back to her. I don't really want to keep it. But I could knit stuff for charity with it. You know, in my copious free time.

Can't stop knitting, muppets will eat me.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Great 2009 Stash Turnover

I'm on "vacation" until next Thursday, thanks to our corporate "Use it or lose it" leave policy. So since it was too windy yesterday to clean up the front planting beds for the winter, I did this instead:

That's all the non-In Progress yarn, pulled out of the Stash Closet and somewhat organized. I'm taking inventory on Ravelry as I put it back in the Closet. The box next to the desk with the white wooly stuff in top? Going to my mom's for charity knitting & crocheting. The rest...heavenly sheep, that's a lot of knitting to be done. The truly frightening thing is, this doesn't include about two large totes worth of WIPs and three large boxes of spinning fiber that are still in the basement, along with three knitting machines and my sewing machine.

I originally planned to hit Main Street for the knitting store and coffee store while I'm off next week. I think I've changed my mind about the knitting store now. I honestly can't think of anything that I want that isn't already in this room.

For some reason, I have the strong urge to knit faster.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

News Flash: Winter is Coming!

Yeah, it shouldn't have been news to me. We've had our first frost, and last night the temps dipped below freezing again. But for some reason, it suddenly occurred to me two nights ago that it's getting cold and I hadn't even started M's fingerless gloves for work.
From DWBlog

This is some Plymouth Encore DK I had in the stash closet. I have a sneaking suspicion this was used to knit the previous year's gloves; the color is similar, but I also have a partial ball of Sirdar Country Style in the same color. Ah well, the old gloves didn't do too badly considering how much wear they get.

I'm also still working on the second Christmas Stocking, this time knitted inside out to try to control the long floats. I think it's even more difficult to keep the floats from puckering the fabric when using a worsted weight yarn for a smaller project like this. So far it's looking good, but it really takes a mind shift to get used to knitting from the back needle instead of the front.
From DWBlog

(I'm also working my way through Redshirt Knitting's archives. I started in 2006, and I'm up to April 2008. Yes, I do feel like a stalker, thank you. But I either have time to blog occasionally, or comment occasionally, and often I have time for neither one.)

I'm still spinning the BFMA Sheep to Shoe. After today, I'm 2/9ths through the final third bobbin. My right knee is most displeased with me.

Finally, a question. Why did I bother knitting this sweater? I could have just piled the yarn up on the futon and knit something I'll actually be allowed to wear.
From DWBlog

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The All-Sock Post

I had a few minutes of sunlight last Sunday to snap some pictures of the sock Works In Progress, and one Finished Object. Much as I try, I'm not monogamous to my sock projects; these are only the ones that I have in a basket on my desk.

First, the Andromeda socks from Knotions online magazine, in Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed sock yarn. I'm enjoying these (although you wouldn't know from the lack of progress); the lace pattern is only three working rows, and the yarn is very soft. It has just enough variation from the kettle dyeing to have a little dimension, but not so much that you can't see the lace:
Andromeda WIP
Next is Cachoeira from Knitty, in Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock. I'm nearly ready to graft the toe on this and start the second sock. The yarn is a soft single, which means it splits readily if the needles are too pointy; but since I'm doing traveling stitches, I need the pointy to get it done. I have no illusions that these socks are going to wear well; some stretches of yarn are nearly threadlike, and others are almost worsted weight. Add in the lack of abrasion resistance because the yarn is unplied, and I have to seriously wonder what I was drinking when I started them. But they're pretty, and like many pretty things, that's enough reason for their existence:
Cachoeira WIP
From the ormanmental to the utilitarian, these are finished bedsocks in WoolEase. Simple twisted cable, flap heel. Before you scoff about wearing socks to bed, keep track some cold winter night how long it takes for you to get warm enough to fall asleep. Bedsocks cut that time by a serious margin, and keep me from waking up in the middle of the night because I'm cold. I've even convinced my husband to start wearing them. This pair is for me:
Rose Bedsocks FO
And one more Finished Object, the Christmas Stocking Mark 1. Michaels store brand Impressions yarns, my own cobbled-together pattern, still drying on the blocking board for the sixth day:
Xmas Stocking 1
Christmas Stocking Mark 2 is in progress already, and it would be a lot further along if I hadn't forgotten the book with the 31-row chart when I left for Knit Group last Tuesday. Since I planned to work on just the CSM2, I didn't take any other projects with me. See? Project monogamy is a bad idea. I had to rip out five rows of the big chart and start a pine tree chart I had with me. My goal for today is to finish the pine tree chart, then start the huge chart again. I just hope this doesn't make the stocking too long.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The mystery is what I'm going to do with it now.

I'm finishing things with a vengeance around here. This morning I finished the first of the four Christmas Stockings (pictures to come after a wet blocking to even out the colorwork). Last Tuesday I finished a pair of bed socks in rose Wool-Ease (pictures later, since this post is already picture-heavy). Yesterday I wound up the last of the Corriedale three-ply off the Fricke spinning wheel. I'll give it a bath this weekend, then see what I can make with 882 yards of slightly scratchy, light worsted yarn.

But the star of this post is the final blocking shots of the Mystery Stole 3: Swan Lake. I finished this before the move over two years ago, but it was never blocked until a few weeks ago. The particulars: three skeins of Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud Lace yarn in Smoke Heather. Size 6 nylon needle. Glass beads from a very disagreeable bead shop on Main Street. Final length: 71 paltry inches long, 18.5 inches wide.

My photography assistant Logan checks out the quality of the light before the photo shoot starts:
Logan with MS3 Stole
Unfortunately the full-length shot of the stole:
MS3Stole Longshot
The "wing", an ingenious design that really needs a grander scale than I achieved, so it could be draped over the shoulder in a graceful hug:
MS3Stole Wing
A closeup of the beautiful sigil design at the non-winged end of the stole:
MS3Stole Motif

It might make a very warm neck scarf (100% alpaca almost generates its own heat), but bunching it up would obscure the beautiful lace designs and the pretty blue beads. I've already given away the remaining yarn, so I couldn't perform some genius-level knitting surgery to lengthen it and regraft it together again. To be honest, I haven't even properly sewn in the ends. Any suggestions on what to do with it now?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dammit x 2

As expected, I'm out of yarn for Aeolian. Knit and Caboodle doesn't have this color anymore. Evidently neither do any other stores; Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock color #952 is now mostly purple with some blues. I am trying to scrounge enough yarn to finish the last four rows and cast-off. I found one Ravelry member who just completed a shawl in the same color and PM'd her to ask if she had any leftovers. She responded, but I can't open any of my Ravelry messages. Nothing else but the main navigation menus are working for me either, so I can't even attach my blog entries to my projects. I've restarted my computer and restarted Firefox a few times; I'm not sure what the problem is, or if I can even send a message to Casey to ask for help.

So, I decided to finish plying the Corriedale singles on my Fricke wheel. I've worked my tail off all day, and I was finally going to take a break, listen to the most recent Lime & Violet podcast, and finish off this 3-ply at last. Everything went okay for about ten minutes...
That's the connector that holds the treadle on the footman. It snapped in two. I unscrewed the two ends and sent an email to Fricke Enterprises to see if they have any spare parts for sale. I have no idea what this is (other than plastic) or where to go to buy one locally, or how I'd manage to drill the two necessary holes in something this small and rolly. So, the Corriedale gets put on hold as well.

At least I managed to wax my Reeves wheel today. I can't spin on it until the Wood Beams has a chance to soak in, but it's one more thing (very nearly) off my List. I think I'm going to take the CPH (resurrected from Mr. Greenjeans) into the living room and knit for a while. The Significant Other is on his way home from work in a bad mood, and I think I'm going to need the tranquilizing wool fumes this evening.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Really Finished Object

I started the Pacific Northwest Shawl by Evelyn Clark years ago, too long to remember exactly when. (You'd think an accountant would have better records...sigh). I remember buying the Zephyr wool/silk lace yarn at Myers House in Florissant; I even remember that they just wound off the necessary yardage from a cone. I remember thinking the price was insanely cheap for REAL wool and REAL silk. It was probably my first major project with natural fibers.

The pattern was very entertaining, with its constantly changing motifs; if I wasn't so non-monogamous to my projects, I would have finished it a long time ago. Instead I worked on it a bit here and there, and finally finished it about three years ago. We were on the cusp of the move to our little cottage-with-a-porch, so I set it aside, then packed it away.

Recently I unpacked it while looking for something else. But now I have blocking wires, and enough room to actually lay out my blocking tiles. And so I have taken this:
PNW Shawl Preblocking

And subjected it to the tortures of the rack:
PNW Shawl On Board

To get this weightless bit of froth:
NWShawl Fountains
NWShawl Front

We took these shots by the fountains in the center of town, on the same day a huge motorcycle rally was moving through the St. Louis area. I'm not sure what the riders thought of the crazy woman having a photo shoot with a lace shawl, but any other time I would have been fighting for scenery space with a wedding party or two.

I had to have my husband take this shot as well, just a moment of serendipity thanks to a beautiful September Saturday and the afternoon sunlight:
NWShawl Shadow

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sometimes I'm a little too efficient

Knitting lesson #3578:

Forget wild optimism. Try on the garment BEFORE you sew in all the ends.

On the bright side: Evidently I sewed all the ends in on Mr. Greenjeans really, really well.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Short skeins and other knitting disasters

I think I should be worried now:

That's the Aeolian Shawl(ette), row 43 of 46. Note the meager pile of yarn. That is not scrap yarn from another project. That is what I have left to knit 3 more rows (at ~525 stitches per row), then bind off with yarn held double.

Yeah. I'm not going to make it. So tomorrow I will buy another skein of Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock, to knit the last two rows and the castoff. Silver lining: I'll have plenty left over for a pair of socks.

Speaking of catastrophes. I haven't posted much about my Mr. Greenjeans sweater, knit in a very, um, hearty tweed cone yarn from Webs. (It was so rough, I actually split the skin on my index finger while knitting with it.) I finished this sweater, hunted down the perfect pewter Celtic button for it, tried it on and looked in the mirror.

Then I took it off and stuck it in the "do something with this" basket of crap in my office.

The sleeves are huge. The neckline would fit a Packers lineman without strangling. The less said about what the ribbing at the bottom did when I buttoned it, the better.

I think I'm going to like the Central Park Hoodie much more. It calls for worsted weight tweed, at 18 stitches to 4 inches. What a coincidence.

Sweater: "Um, isn't that the ball winder? Why is it sitting next to me?"

SpinningPhoenix: "Oh, no reason."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


First, a cautionary tale.

Charts are good. Lace charts are great. It's quite helpful to have a visual display of just what is going on when you do that K2tog, k1, yo, k3, yo, ssk. So much better than trying to follow written directions for a 24-stitch repeat over a 300+ row shawl. Finish a row, check it off, move up. Finish one chart section, groove on to the next--

AFTER you check the written directions.

I forgot this on the Aeolian shawl. I went straight from the final Agave chart to the Edge Setup Chart without checking the written directions. The ones that say to use the Right, Left and Center edge charts, and not just make the center Edge Setup Chart work by use of creative decreases and increases. It didn't occur to me that I should be concerned that the number of stitches didn't work out, and that the edges looked wonky from missing yarn-overs. I didn't think to stop and check the directions until I was 23 rows into the chart, with over 270 stitches in each row.

I wasn't feeling well last Saturday, and it didn't help my queasy stomach to sit at Starbucks and rip out four weeks of work. See the picture above (with bonus helper cat)? Everything that's wrapped around the working skein was ripped out, including 50 beads. I managed to get everything back on the needles without sobbing or distributing fistfuls of hair into other people's coffee. I even re-knit the first three rows (correctly!).

It's a good thing that I love this yarn and these beads.

In spinning news:

Still working on the Blue Moon sock yarn. I'm almost finished with the second bobbin of singles. Yeah, trying for the Tour de Fleece was pretty much a waste of time.

In baking news:

That's one loaf of Oatmeal Maple Pecan bread and one loaf of English Granary bread, baked last week and now nearly gone. The Maple Pecan is for my breakfast during the week, and the English Granary bread is for dinners. I substituted honey for the golden syrup called for in the recipe; wonder how much it would cost to get golden syrup imported to the Midwest?

I baked another loaf of Oatmeal Maple Pecan today on my "day off". I'm hoping that as I get into practice, soon it won't take the entire morning. The taste is worth it, though. Dense, nutty and filling; toast a slice, add a spoonful of unsweetened peanut butter, and I'm good until lunch.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First, my non progress on my TDF goal:

I managed to finish the second third of the second third batch of roving. To recap: I split the entire roving into thirds, trying my best to match the color shifts in each third. I spun the first third straight through. Since the original roving is wider than my palm and as thick as my fist (and I have pretty wide hands), the color changes are quite long on that bobbin. For the current bobbin of singles, I split the roving lengthwise into thirds, and I'm spinning them each in sequence. So the color changes will be long, but not as long as the first bobbin. I'm toying with the idea of splitting the last third of roving into nine lengths, to truly have a fractal yarn. (I may be a slight math geek.)

Next, a rare Finished Object. These are the plain socks with twisted rib that I blogged about last time. I finished them mostly during my lunch hour and a few outdoor concerts. I grafted the toe while watching the Cardinals game Friday night.

They fit well enough, but the heel is a little baggy. I think they will be fine once they've been washed. I love Opal Southwest Collection's colors; I almost wish they'd reissue them. It seems like most of the self-patterning sock yarns in the stores are garish stripes. I debated whether to actually knit this yarn, or just keep it for posterity since I can't get more. My anti-hoarding, sock-wearing side won the battle.

And in the interest of fair play and including the mandatory Gratuitous Cat Picture, this is Logan. He's a little too fond of yarn, so all my projects live behind closed doors and zippered bags. (He's been known to fish projects out of tote bags, then take off across the house with them.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Such a nice girl. So sad about the crazy, though.

Evidently I've gone insane and joined the Tour de Fleece 2009. From July 4th to July 26th while the Tour de France winds its way, I've committed to spinning for 15 minutes a day, every day. My main target is going to be the Blue Moon Sheep to Shoe kit; I'm a little over halfway through the second bobbin of singles, but I'd like to finish it.

Not that I'm hating the process; BFMA roving spins like well-behaved silk, and watching the colors change makes the 15 minutes go by like the wind. I'm just anticipating the cool socks I'm going to get from the three-ply sock yarn that comes from this:

I'm just wondering when I think I'm going to chisel 15 minutes out of my overloaded evenings. I managed to get in 15 minutes tonight, but it took me until after 11:00 p.m. to do it. I guess the bookkeeping and the yoga DVD can wait one more day.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Saturday Morning

I have a rare unscheduled Saturday morning, which is good for blogging because lunchtime blogging is now impossible. Our corporate Mothership has decreed that we shall have no internet access that isn't 100% business-related. Unfortunately I don't think I can justify Blogger or Ravelry access for my accounting job.

My Saturday morning, the way I wish all my mornings were spent:

Good coffee from the french press, blogs on the laptop, a sunny day to enjoy through the back door window, and Cat In Bowl(tm). Well, I enjoyed it until the laptop battery crapped out ten minutes later. It's about time for a new battery.

I have an FO! Well, 50% of an FO. I finished the first Opal Southwest purse sock last night, grafted the toe and even took notes in Evernote so I can theoretically create an indentical mate.

This is a dead simple top-down sock with an alternating twisted rib, regular 50% heel flap, round heel and round toe, knit magic loop style. I'm almost done with the twisted rib on the second one. I love the colors, the blues and faded greens with just a touch of brown grounding it. It reminds me of an old pine forest.

Spinning has been hit-or-miss, depending on how well the air conditioning is working. At 99 degrees and high humidity here at the Meeting of the Rivers, it's way too hot to spin on the porch now. The wool would felt in my drafting hand if I tried. I'm still working on the BFMA Sheep to Shoe roving, which seems to magically propagate in its bowl when my back is turned.

We are supposed to have cooler weather tomorrow for my birthday. Eighty-six degrees should feel refreshing after this week of dangerous heat advisories and heat indexes over 120 degrees. Hopefully I can get outside tomorrow morning to flick-card the sandy fleece I washed last weekend; I want to see if it's going to be usable or if I'm going to have to crank up the hot water heater and try to wash it again.

Monday, June 01, 2009

All right, let's get this show on the road...

First, I'd like to introduce my porch companion, Kira.

We rescued her a week before Halloween about two years ago. I'm sure she's grateful for the warm, dry house (if not for the other feline resident's existence), but she still loves sitting on the porch with us and getting a little sun. When she sees the harness, she jumps up on the arm of the couch to "get dressed" to go out.

Proof that spinning on the porch doesn't always mean hauling out the wheel:

This is medium "mutt" roving from eBay, crockpot dyed with Easter Egg tablets, on a Kundert spindle. I love the wood inlay; I think this is the "Taos" one, but don't quote me on it. The roving isn't the softest, but it was cheap for four pounds. Note the colors; they're my favorites, so you'll see a lot of them.

Finished Objects report:

I actually finished the first two pairs of socks before we moved over a year ago. They recently came to light when I was unpacking something else; evidently I shoved these in a box during the move and completely forgot about them. First pair:

These are Fortissima Colori in some colorway for which I've lost the ball band. I call them "Delft Socks" after my favorite china. I think these were done toe-up, with a 3&1 broken rib cuff. I really need to take better notes.

The green socks are my "Expansion Joint" socks in Dream in Color Smooshy, colorway "Happy Forest". For a bouncy yarn, it seemed a bit on the non-stretchy side while I was knitting it, so I added the "expansion joint" ribs up the foot and leg. And since I have generous calves, I also added a few expansion joints in the back:

These are just simple purl ribs, with a few of the upper ribs spawned from increase stitches. Toe up, with Wendy's gusset heel. They fit well, but I wish I'd made them longer now. Oh well; the leftovers have already become a camera case for my mom, and Barbie shawls for little girls.

The last pair were finished in May. I started these right before my husband had a heart attack in March. I'd barely established the toe and the pattern (WendyKnits Waterfall Socks, Lime & Violet Sasquatch in "Rose Gelato") when everything in our lives went insane. 75% of the pair were knitted in the ICU Waiting Room or the ICU/CCU/Telemetry of St. Joseph Health Center. (I highly recommend this hospital, if god forbid you ever have a heart attack in St. Charles, MO).

"ICU Waiting Room Socks" pictured here on the front porch; note sexy rolled-up jeans to show off lace cuffs and picot hem. I'm lucky that my Mom had her crocheting with her when it came time to sew down the hem; for some reason I forgot to bring a darning needle that day. (4:30 am wakeup call to help with a 5:00 am pre-surgery prep, then a 3-hour surgery. I'm lucky I remembered my shoes that day.)

Next time, I'll make the picot hem more than four rows deep; it wants to flip up, and doesn't have as much stretch as I would like.

That's enough for today (in other words, my lunch break is over), so next time I'll go through some of the spinning and knitting Works in Progress littering my office/craft room. In the meantime, grab some fiber and head outside before it gets too hot to touch wool!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Yes, I do.

Spin on my front porch, that is. Last weekend we had a blues festival in town. Not really my husband's kind of music, but I like a wide variety of styles. And the Soulard Blues Band are excellent blues musicians. I could clearly hear them from my office with the window open to the fresh afternoon breeze. It took a few minutes to occur to me that I could work on the computer later that night, but I only had about an hour of good daylight to spin on the front porch (the sun is in the back of the house in the afternoon).

So I grabbed my Fricke and the brown Louet Corriedale roving I've been working through forever and headed out to the porch. Unfortunately the bobbin was already pretty full. By the time the band took its first break, I'd snarled the single around the flyer hooks and the bobbin shaft. By the time I took everything apart, decided to go ahead and ply all three bobbins now and finish the roving later (the lack of a spare empty bobbin factored into the decision), and set up the lazy kate, the band started playing again.

I should have taken a picture, but here's a small portion of my view:
Porch Perspective

There are few things I enjoy more than sitting on my front porch barefoot and spinning, listening to good music and confusing all the tourists.

(BTW, I didn't finish the plying; husband wanted to go for a walk. If the rain stops this weekend, I'll get it done and take some pictures.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

A little repair and renovation

That's what I'm doing to this old blog, and what I did to the fingerless gloves I made my husband. He wears these for work in an unheated warehouse. These made it through two winters with a little patching when the finger ribbing wore through or the thumb gusset ripped a bit. Then disaster:

Total thumb blowout. And I'm out of scraps of this yarn to patch it with. I dug through the oddball bag and found something at least slightly similar.

I backstitched around the hole to stabilize the remaining yarn, then I "warped" the hole by threading the yarn back and forth through the backstitches. Finally, I turned the glove 90 degrees and wove the "weft" through the warp yarn and packed it firmly. Result? Good enough to last the rest of the season, and possibly most of next winter.

Lessons learned: This isn't the first pair of fingerless gloves I've made him. The first pair were Dale Norway wool; although they were warm, the Dale just wasn't up to the stress. 100% acrylic yarn in the first patch cut the original yarn like a knife, making an even bigger hole. Also, 75% acrylic 25% wool isn't as durable as you'd think. I'm considering spinning some worsted Jacob wool for the next pair. If it worked for fishermen on the high seas, it should work for a warehouseman in a Midwestern winter.

Strangely enough, there's something satisfying about making these utilitarian gloves and knowing that they're going to be needed and used hard enough to earn honorable patches like this. It beats making another novelty yarn scarf any day.