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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Wicked Case of A Needle Malfunction

So remember how the other day I showed you Wicked and said I only had 20 rounds until I cast off for the body? Last night I sat down with it and got to work, hoping that I would be able to finish the body before bedtime. Well, as I was knitting along, I noticed that the needle in my right hand was feeling a bit funny. The yarn kept feeling like it was catching on it, so I took a look and sure enough, the needle was coming out of the metal sleeve that covers the needle/cord joint. Fortunately I caught it before I lost any stitches, but it had to be glued before I could knit anymore.I don't know if this problem is a needle problem or just because these needles are several years old. These are size 7's US and with the weight of a worsted weight sweater hanging off of them, there is probably quite a bit of stress at the joint, and this is far from the first sweater I've knit on them. I have learned the hard way that I need to let the super glue dry before I try to knit again or I'll glue my fingers to the needles.* I put the clip on the cable to keep the sweater from getting glued to the needles also. At this point I have about 5 and a half rounds left before casting off for the body and I WILL get those last few rounds done today - maybe I'll even be able to start sleeves!

*I tend to be adhesive challenged. 9 times out of 10 I'll super glue myself to what ever I'm trying to fix or even just glue myself to myself. Mickael has rescued me with nail polish remover more times than I care to remember. Back when we were first married and had to do our own moving (we refer to them as the UHaul days), we had a tape gun to close up the boxes and more often than not, I would tape myself to the box in the process of closing it. He always rescued me from the boxes too. Now that our moves are taken care of by his job, my biggest adhesive concerns are super glue related. Its good to have movers.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sleepy Feline Tuesday


Yesterday, as Monday's tend to be around here, was filled with groceries, housework, and things that HAVE to get done. There was no knitting or spinning so I give you Ramius. As soon as we wake up in the morning and get moving around, he comes back to bed, makes a nest, and goes to sleep. He allowed his picture to be taken this morning before he fell asleep (probably because he'd already made the nest in the blanket and it was warm).

I did get a bit of reading done last night. Remember when I said I wanted to learn to dye wool with "real" (versus food color) dyes? Well, I have ordered a few colors of Landscapes Dyes and downloaded some information about various techniques with them (there are links in the page I linked to above, just above the color listing), and now I'm trying to decide what to do. I do think white wool, and the natural sheep colors, are beautiful, but I'm easily bored by spinning any great quantity of it, and without dyeing, I'm pretty much locked into spinning either natural sheep colors or whatever is available commercially, including the smaller fiber dyers. If I get a wild hair for a certain color of sweater, made out of a certain type of wool, I either won't find exactly what I'm looking for, or I won't find anywhere near what I was looking for and I'll have to change my plans. The food color dyes work OK, but I have yet to get a stable purple or pink and I can only get an orange red, not a blue red and for my coloring, I need to wear blue reds. So that brings me back to dyeing. At some point this week, I'm going to dye something, anything, just to get my feet wet. I chose the Landscapes Dyes because they don't require you to add a mordant for them to bond with the fiber (no additional acids are needed, they are already in the dye). Have any of you used these dyes? Any additional words of wisdom beyond what is on the web? Whenever I do get a chance to do some dyeing, I'll be sure to get lots of pictures!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

The Wicked-ness continues...


...I got quite a bit done on Wicked this weekend. I tried it on, figured out what I wanted to do for decreases, where I wanted to put them and how many I should use. Then I decreased down to the waist. I tried it on again and figured out increases for my hips the same way. At this point, I am about 20 rounds from casting off on the body of this sweater! I'm still making changes to the original pattern though. They call for a seed stitch lower border on the body. The neckline and the cuffs both have the little cable rib though and seed stitch doesn't make an appearance anywhere else in the design so I've decided to work a few more increases and then put the little cable rib at the bottom of the sweater. To me that just makes more sense, especially since I'm not doing the pocket (which does have the little cable ribs on it, I think.) I'm loving the way its fitting on me. The neckline is definitely not too wide (i.e. - no bra straps peeking out), and with the changes I've made to the pattern I think its really going to be great. The reasons I'm changing the shaping of the sweater are not because of any shortcomings of the design and pattern itself. I'm making changes to fit my own body. If you look at the pattern, the model is (I believe) one of the designers and she's very slim and willowy. I am definitely more on the curvy end of the scale. If I made the shaping exactly as the pattern was written, I don't think the sweater would be very flattering for me. I just wanted to mention that because I don't want to put anyone off this pattern who is thinking about making it. The pattern does suggest in several places that you try on the sweater in progress to double check fit and make adjustments for your own personal body type.

I'm also far enough along to know that I will have enough yarn to make the sweater. I started with 930 yards, the pattern calls for 800 yards to make the second size which is what I'm doing, but that just sounds like its not going to be enough. I tend to buy 1200 yards of worsted or aran weight yarn when I buy for my stash with no particular project in mind. I know I'm not the only one who gets part way through a project and freaks out that there won't be enough yarn, but its always nice to get to the point where you KNOW you'll be OK.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

More Wicked Than Before!


That sounds like an ad campaign - 25% more wicked than before! So, ahem, as to the sweater, there's more of it, too. I'm about an inch and a half below the underarm. The directions say to begin decreases 3 inches after the underarm, but when I tried it on, it seemed like maybe I should be starting the decreases sooner. I will probably be tweaking the decreases from the way they are written in the pattern to fit my own body a little better, but that's part of the fun of knitting. Later today I'll try this on again and really get a good look at where everything is falling and where I want to begin (and end) things like decreases.

On a completely different note, yesterday I went to the library to pick up a couple of things and since I had a bit of extra time, I decided to play around in the catalog. (Its not a card catalog if its in a computer, is it?) I was looking up historical textiles since I seem to have floral stripes on the brain lately and I was kind of wondering when they first made their debut. (If you care, it seems that woven stripe fabrics were first embroidered with flowers, long before fabric printing capabilities could create the type of thing I had in mind. If I had thought about it for 10 minutes I probably could have figured this out myself, but then I wouldn't have all this to babble about on the blog either.) So, I wrote down a number or two and went wandering, because half the fun of the library is the wandering. Anyway, when I got to the area of the first number I realized that either I had miswritten the number (probably) or the number was wrong in the computer (possible, but probably not). I found myself staring at books on hairstyles. Having way more time on my hands than is probably a good idea for a curious Pink Lemon, and my next appointment actually being a haircut, I began scanning titles. There were a number of books on matching your hairstyle to your face shape/lifestyle/attention span/ or doorway size. There were a couple of books on historical hair. The one that caught my attentions though was Big Date Hair. So my question is, is this book how to get hair for a big date, how to get big hair for any date, how to do your hair if your date is big? And why should an entire book be devoted to big hair/big dates with hair? Have I been missing out on some big hair possibilities? Does my husband feel like I haven't been putting forth the effort anymore because he never sees big hair? I mean, we've been married for 13-1/2 years and dated for 2 -1/2 years before that so for the last 16 years I haven't really been "out there." Apparently there are some hair rules that I missed out on.

Before I could really sink into the depths of Not Big Hair Despair, my eyes moved on to the titles a couple of shelves below. (You notice that I was never really quite curious enough to pull out Big Date Hair from the shelf and really take a good look at it. Somethings are best left to the imagination.) My eyes began scanning titles, and right after The Idiots Guide to Buying and Running Your Own Restaurant, (I think I should say right here and now, that if you use the idiot's guide to buy and run your own restaurant, maybe you shouldn't be in the restaurant business. I'm just saying) there it was: Solving Your Squirrel Problems. An entire book, 3/4 of an inch thick, devoted solely to squirrels. Not just a general treatise on smallish rodents - this was squirrels only, people. I've always felt that this kind of information could easily be covered in a brochure or informative postcard, perhaps free from your County Extension office. I had no idea that people had the kind of squirrel problems that required 3/4 of an inch of bound, printed matter. Maybe you're supposed to throw the book at them. (Side note to any Squirrel Rights Advocates out there: I am not condoning throwing books at squirrels, I am merely saying that maybe that is the author's/publisher's intention, however I did not take the time to really explore all of the techniques for solving one's squirrel problem so this might not be their intention either. We wouldn't want to give the little darlings psychological problems now, would we?) At that point, I had to get to my hair appointment, so the mysteries of Solving Squirrel Problems (maybe its a key part of restaurant management) were left for someone else to investigate. My stylist and I ended up discussing crazy neighbors we've had so I'm left to figure out my Not Big Hair issues by myself. I think I've got some hot rollers somewhere - that sounds like a good start...

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Let's not all run for the doors at once...


Yes, its the second bobbin of Opalessence singles. I know, you've seen the first bobbin being spun, the second one looks pretty much the same. No, I don't have anything interesting and new to add, but this is the only fibery goodness I have to show today so here it is. It does feel like it's zipping along pretty fast on the Symphony and I am learning all the little quirks of my new wheel. The Majacraft Rose, my first wheel, doesn't have too many things I can fiddle with on it. I can change the whorl and make it spin faster or slower, I can change the setup of the Scotch tension brake cord to change the direction of the spinning, and I can adjust the Scotch tension to give myself more or less takeup on the bobbin as the yarn demands. I have messed around with all of these things and have a pretty good feel for what will happen on that wheel when I adjust the different parts. The Kromski, on the other hand, has a lot more parts that can be moved and adjusted. If I'm not careful to make sure everything is where it should be, then I don't get yarn, or it doesn't wind onto the bobbin, or it can create drag on the flyer so I'm not getting 20 flyer turns for each drive wheel turn. I'm learning about all of these little things and each time I figure out something new its a big OHHH, so-that's-what's-going-on kind of moment for me. At the moment, everything is spinning smoothly, everything is adjusted, the Symphony (I've named her Giselle, by the way) is past the breaking in period where she needs lots of oil and I only have to oil her in a couple of places every few hours of spinning (not that I've had several uninterrupted hours of spinning). I think I'm figuring out her secrets, but I'm sure she has more to teach me. I will ply this yarn on the Majacraft (I have a giant plying bobbin for that wheel) so once I'm finished with this second bobbin, Giselle and I will move on to something else. I'm sure she'll teach me new things on the next batch of spinning we do.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

From the Depths of the Knitting Basket...


...comes a project almost forgotten. Remember this? Its my Flower Basket Shawl. (For those of you wondering about the yarn, its handspun. Details are in the August 2006 Archives - scroll down to the 22nd.*) I started it sometime last fall but it was put in time out so I could work on Mindy's Stole. I only like to have one lace project going at a time, so now I can get back to finishing this shawl up. I'm dying to start some things from the new Victorian Lace book next. Of course I also have yarn and beads for Icarus. I might break my one lace at a time rule for that one since so much of it is repetitive. I might need something with more going on to work on with Icarus. Lately I've had circular shawls on my mind. I've never done a circular shawl and I might just have to pull out EZ's directions for a Pi shawl and my stitch dictionaries and see what I can toss together. Lots of ideas floating around in my mind for so early in the morning...
*We brought Finn home in August too, so there are some really cute pictures of the fluffy little angel in those archives - you've been warned!

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Monday, January 22, 2007

SNOW DAY!

Yes, its the first snow we've gotten all winter (I'm not counting the 8 snowflakes that fell one night in December - if I hadn't had to take Finn outside right at that moment, I'd have missed them) and its the first snow day all winter. We only got a little more than an inch, but we had freezing rain fall on top of the snow for a bit. I have finished the first bobbin of Frostrosen singles and its such a pretty, happy color for this cold day!
The birds even seem happy to see the snow. They were at the feeder all day yesterday, but I caught a couple of them actually playing in the snow instead of eating. It was pretty funny. We have a bunch of these Mourning Doves in the area and while I love the different colors they have in their feathers, I have to agree with Caleb's assessment of them: he calls them lump birds. They tend to come eat at the feeder in the morning and then in the afternoon they just sit there. Right in front of the feeder so unless other birds are pushy and brave (lump birds aren't aggressive, but they're one of the bigger birds that show up at our feeder), they can't eat. Caleb watched this for a while one afternoon and then told me, "Mommy, those birds sure are lumps!" The name fit, it stuck, and around our house, if you are a Mourning Dove, you are a Lump Bird.
Being the first snow of the winter, and being Finn's first winter, it was also Finn's first snow. It was funny to say the least. The first time I took him outside in it, he thought it was a bit cold on his feet so he pranced in it. He also noticed that it was fun to eat, so he ate a little of it. The second time I took him out in it, he gave up on the prancing and started hopping like an espresso drinking rabbit. Straight up in the air, all four feet, Boinggg! This was accompanied by the discovery that he could sink his nose into it, snarfle the snow and make a little doggy nose snow plow. Boing, snarfle, look at mom with snowy nose, boing, snarfle, look at mom with snowy nose, repeat. After being out in it several more times, he seems to be getting the hang of it and its only taking about 20 minutes to get him to go to the bathroom. If I don't blog tomorrow, please send a rescue team to come defrost the frozen Pink Lemon. I'll be the ice covered lump next to the bouncing, snow snarfling puppy. Oh, and make sure he goes to the bathroom before he comes back inside.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Something Wicked This Way Comes

No, Macbeth isn't going to be blogging today, I started Wicked! If you haven't seen this sweater yet, go take a look at it. Isn't it cute? I'm doing the worsted weight version with the long sleeves (it IS, after all, wicked cold around here right now!). I haven't decided if I'll do the pocket yet or not. It doesn't look too bulky, but I just haven't decided if I'll use it or not. The best part of this? I didn't have to buy more yarn to knit it - I went stash diving and came up with this*! Its Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in the Opal colorway. (By the way, the link I gave for the yarn is for an Australian yarn company - you can save a bunch of money ordering Jo Sharp directly from Australia if you order enough for a sweater or two depending on the strength of the dollar- even with shipping.) I realize that right now it looks like I'm knitting some kind of Mobius nightmare, but once I get enough weight on the silly circular needle, hopefully it will be easier to see. I've already started making changes to the pattern - the original cast on number didn't allow you to end on a full repeat of this pattern. I don't think it would be glaringly obvious, but since you knit this from the top down and it would have been up at the top, I decided to tweak the numbers a bit.
I also got the hat felted, shaped and dried yesterday. I'm still running around in pajamas and Caleb was busy and Finn would only model the hat if I kept my finger on his beak which makes it really hard to take a picture (it looks great on him by the way), so you get to see it sitting on the floor. I really like the way it came out and I'll try to get Mickael to get a picture of me wearing it later. After my shower.

Finally, I wanted to give a little update on my brother in law, John. If you'll remember, right after Christmas he was hospitalized for Guillain Barre Syndrome which is a rare virus that can essentially shut down your body systems in its most severe cases. John couldn't support his weight on his legs and was loosing the ability to use his hands when he went to the hospital. He was released from the hospital after 6 days and is slowly but surely getting better. He can walk with a cane and his hands are much better and Wednesday night he was able to wiggle his toes. I just wanted to say thanks for all the prayers and well wishes you have sent his way. He's still got a long way to go before he's back at 100% and relapses of this virus are very common, but I thought I'd update you all on how he's doing.

*I'm not doing the Knit From Your Stash 2007 Challenge. I know if I try to limit myself like that, I'll probably end up buying way more stuff than I otherwise would. I'm going to try to use up stash yarn, but I'll be much better behaved if I don't have to adhere to any hard and fast rules. That's just me.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

I've got Pac Man Fever!


Doesn't this remind you of the Pac Man ghosts after Pac Man eats one of the power pellet things? Caleb looks like a little blue ghost. Its actually Bonne Marie's Felted Bucket Hat (in all its unfelted glory). Its finally gotten cold here so I thought I'd whip one up. I have several "regular" knit hats - the kind with ribbing that fit snugly over my head, but the problem with those is that they squish my hair against the back of my neck. I don't like the way my hair feels squished against the back of my neck and I don't like the way my hair looks after I take off one of the "regular" hats. I thought the bucket hat might do the job - it shouldn't squish my hair as much and it shouldn't squish it against the back of my neck at all. I'll be felting it later today so we'll see if it works as well as I think it will. I also figure that I shouldn't have too much trouble keeping it on since Bonne Marie lives in Chicago and that's the Windy City after all. If it stays on her head there, it should stay on my head here. Just in case you care, I used one skein of Cascade 220 Heathers in color 2423, a lovely periwinkle. I did have a tiny bit of yarn left, but not very much - towards the end I was wondering if I would make it. Post felting picture tomorrow!

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mindy's Stole - Free Range


Hmmmm, what's this? It looks like a pile of pink lace weight alpaca, but wait - there aren't any needles in it! Yes, Mindy's Stole is finished, at least as far as the knitting goes. Now it gets to test drive my new blocking wires (hopefully not nearly as painful as it sounds) and pose for a few pictures for the pattern. I can't wait to see it all blocked out to see what it really looks like. I'll be starting to write the pattern later today. The charts are all done, but I've been getting more and more requests for having the lace pattern in written out form as well so I'm going to play around with that.

Just as a question, for those of you who cannot read charts and need the directions written out line by line, would you consider purchasing the written directions separately from the main pattern? What I'm thinking is to write up the line by line directions but to package them separately from the main pattern directions. In other words, if the pattern says to work Chart A 5 times, those that read charts can just flip to the actual chart, while those who cannot read charts would go to the written addendum, find the part of the line by line directions that is Chart A, and work from that. I actually have two reasons I'm considering packaging the line by line directions separately: having two complete versions of the pattern for sale could get confusing and I could easily see myself spending quite a bit of time sorting out people who purchased the "wrong" pattern, secondly because I knit much more accurately from a chart, this is the way I prefer to work the sample for the pattern, thus creating a sample and checking the charts for accuracy in one step. Line by line directions will have to be double and triple checked against the charts to make sure I've written it correctly. This will take more time to do and will delay pattern release. Most knitters do not need the line by line directions, so dividing these from the main pattern seems logical to me. If I do start doing line by line directions, I could go back and add line by line addenda to all my patterns (this will take some time though), and that would make them accessible to everyone, not just those that can read charts. At this point I'm thinking of pricing the line by line addenda (which really need a better name) at around $3 so the total pattern price for chart challenged people would be $9 (Pattern $6 + Line by Line Directions $3 = $9). So I guess what I need to know from all of you out there who can't read charts is what do you think? Does this sound like something you would be interested in? Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Conwy Socks!

These are the first socks of 2007 to come off the Pink Lemon's needles! All the details: KnitPicks Color your own 100% merino fingering weight dyed with Wilton's Cake Food Colorings. Knit on US 1's using the Conwy pattern from Nancy Bush's Socks on the Road (I think - I just drew a blank on the name of the book and I'm feeling a bit lazy about running up and checking the title.) I've got a dentist appointment early tomorrow morning so I decided to blog tonight for Tuesday. I hope you all had a great weekend. I'll see you Wednesday morning with bright, shiny teeth! WOo HOo!

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

New Blogger


This is a test for the new blogger system. Does it work or does it only look like it works on my computer?

ETA: Thanks, I've gotten the comments and I'm guessing it switched over smoothly. Crossing fingers and knocking on wood that it was as easy as it appears to have been...

Friday, January 12, 2007

Uncaffeinated Poetry Friday!


Opalessence spun.
Purple singles of bunny
With sheep and worm too!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A Little Story

Once upon a time there was a Pink Lemon. The Pink Lemon was a happy, kind, and beautiful creature who loved to spin and knit. She also loved touching soft things, seeing pretty colors, and being around fluffy animals. Once a year she was given a opportunity to do all of these things when Heaven came to the mystical land of Maryland. (This was the part of Heaven that was fibery, not the part that strongly resembles Nordstrom's shoe department.) It was a wondrous event that she looked forward to every year, saving her money, arranging for the love of her life to take time off from work so that he could eat food-on-a-stick with their angelic son while she indulged in all of the wonders of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Show. (It would have been much easier to call it Heaven Comes to Maryland, but alas, they did not put the Pink Lemon in charge.) In the year 2005, the Pink Lemon had been asked by her mother (the Pink Grapefruit?) to pick up a few things. The Pink Lemon gladly said that yes, she would shop for her mother (being the happy, kind and beautiful person she is). One of the booths she visited that day was from a place called Kid Hollow Farms. The Pink Lemon gazed in wonder at all the beautiful rovings piled bag upon bag, just calling to her fibery, color loving heart. The Pink Lemon purchased a half pound of two different colors: Loganberry for herself and Kiwi for her mother. It was a wonderful blend of Border Leicester Lamb's wool and Mohair. At the end of the day, the Pink Lemon, her angelic son, and her saintly mother in law (who pitched in to help corral the angelic one that year as the love of the Pink Lemon's life was far away on a business trip) dragged their tired bodies along with their large bags of purchases back to the Pink Lemon's cottage (conveniently located within driving distance of the magical sheep event). The Pink Lemon carefully packaged all of her mother's purchases and shipped them off to a far away land called Colorado. Then the Pink Lemon began spinning her own purchases. The Loganberry roving was one of the first things to be spun into yarn. It made a glorious, soft yarn that was perfect for socks. So the Pink Lemon knit socks with it.
The first pair of socks was knit toe up, plain stockinette with picot hems at the top a la Claudia.
The second pair of socks was knit top down with the Blueberry Waffles stitch pattern. Both socks were spectacular examples of sockie goodness. The colors in the yarn made little speckles that danced on the Pink Lemon's feet and the Pink Lemon noticed that not only had she enjoyed spinning this yarn, she had enjoyed knitting this yarn and tended to wear these socks as soon as they were washed and placed back in her drawer.

The Pink Lemon remembered another half pound of roving purchased from this same vendor, but the Pink Lemon did not own this and could not spin, knit and enjoy it. So the Pink Lemon decided that in 2006, when Heaven once again came to the mystical land of Maryland, she would find the vendor and purchase more of their rovings. The Pink Lemon's plans were thwarted however, when she was unable to find the booth for Kid Hollow Farm. Downcast and needing to use the restroom, the Pink Lemon left the giant Sheeparama without more Kid Hollow Farm roving (she did take home quite a bit of other things so it wasn't really as sad as it sounds). She knew that her mother had not yet spun the Kiwi roving (her mother, like all good fibery people, tends to stash way more than she actually uses). The Pink Lemon could ask to purchase the roving from her mother, but there was a good chance her mother had forgotten about the roving. Calling her attention to it might make her want to spin it up herself when she looked at its soft, colorful beauty. Somehow, the Pink Lemon had to distract her mother with something else so that she wouldn't notice the subtle shadings, the fluffy softness, the perfect sockie potential of the Kiwi roving. The Pink Lemon thought and thought. She thought some more. Every time she wore her Loganberry socks (which was a lot), she thought even harder. Unfortunately, she never could come up with anything so beautiful, so wonderful, so distracting, that she would be able to get the Kiwi roving back. (Or at least so beautiful, so wonderful, so distracting, that she was willing to part with.) It seemed that the Kiwi roving would be lost forever to the Pink Lemon, relegated to marinating for all eternity in her mother's stash. The Pink Lemon tried to go on with her life, she tried to forget the Kiwi, but it sat stubbornly in the back of her mind, taunting her with its very existence as part of her mother's stash.

One day the Pink Lemon sat down to spin and decided to try to spin a yarn that was lofty and bouncy. She spun and she spun. The roving was dyed in the Beach colorway from Kendig Cottage. It was beautiful. It was fluffy. It was almost 1150 yards. It was also the unfortunate aqua color of babies whose parents wait until they are born to find out if they have dangly bits or not. The Pink Lemon couldn't get past the unknown baby connotations the color had for her. She figured that the yarn had served its purpose as helping her to learn to spin a softly spun but lofty yarn and that it could play in her stash (for she had one also) for all eternity. Then, the Pink Lemon's mother mentioned that she could give the Beach yarn a home. A good home. A home where it was loved and not mocked for being a unisex baby color. The little bit of the Pink Lemon's brain where the memory of Kiwi roving had sat, mocking her for over a year, woke up. The Pink Lemon could purge her stash of the Beach yarn and also finally, get the Kiwi roving back into her grasp. At last the Pink Lemon had the perfect distraction to get the Kiwi roving back by her side, where it obviously belonged anyway. Casually, the Pink Lemon asked her mother if she would be willing to trade 8 ounces of unspun fiber for 12 ounces of spun, gloriously soft and fluffy fiber. Her mother, not knowing that she was about to give up the most wonderful part of her stash- even better than the baby camel fluff (let's face it, she'll probably never spin it - baby camel fluff is scary)- said YES! The Pink Lemon heard angels sing the Hallelujah Chorus (or at least a six year old boy singing the James Bond theme with his teddy bear). Yesterday, delivered into the hands of the Pink Lemon, by the muggle postman who had no idea what he was carrying, was this:

The Kiwi roving is home at last!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Mindy's Stole - still knitting


Well, here we are 14 years after casting on for this stole and we're not quite done yet - but we're definitely getting there. Mindy, there's a great chance you'll be able to wear this in the retirement home! Actually, its not that bad - yet. I'm still on the second to last chart before the edging. This is probably the most difficult chart in the pattern because it's mostly yarn overs and their decreases, but there are still random knit stitches thrown in. The fact that each row is different and it doesn't really follow a visual pattern (you can't really "read" the knitting on the cherry blossom section the way you can on the basketweave), means you have to really concentrate on what you're doing. On the other hand, as long as your stitch count stays consistent, if you throw in an extra YO/Dec combo or leave one out, no one will ever know. Since I wrote the pattern and this stole will be the one photographed as representative of the pattern, I figure it better actually follow the pattern. Maybe I'm just being silly though.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

No fiber today

No real blog post today. Reality got in the way of fiber fun yesterday and this morning, so we're off taking care of that. I'll be back tomorrow with regular blogging. Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Opalessence


I did work on Mindy's Stole a little bit this weekend. I knit four rows. Then I started spinning. Spinning, spinning and spinning. Here are about 2.5 ounces of the Opalessence singles. I have another half ounce to go on this bobbin, then I have 3 ounces for the second bobbin. I figure there's eleventeen million yards here already (give or take). Today I'm going to do my best to ignore the siren call of the spinning wheels and get at least 28 rows worked on Mindy's Stole. (I've divided up the charts into 32 rows each, it makes it easier to feel like you're getting somewhere.)

In answer to Judy's comment over the weekend, Finn does not chew shoes (or he hasn't yet). He prefers to chomp on his bed, his back feet (see below) and Legos, which get left out on a regular basis around here, but at least they're easy to pass. When Finn was teething - I believe I mentioned that he took his own sweet time with it - around 5 or 6 weeks - he would sometimes get a funny feeling in his mouth so he would kick himself in the mouth with a rear foot. Isn't that how we all deal with funny mouth feelings? So, he would start kicking himself in the mouth, or at least in the general beak area, and kind of get into a rhythm with it, and so he'd keep doing it, and eventually he'd forget that he was doing it and then he'd start growling at his foot. Of course by then, his leg still had the rhythm of it, so it kept going, and when the growling didn't stop the foot from kicking him in the head, he would attack it and gnaw on it. As soon as it got free, it would start kicking again. It was a vicious circle of kick, growl, kick, attack, repeat. I think that because he did it for the whole time he was teething and because he took so long doing the teething thing, it became a habit or maybe a hobby. We're not sure exactly how much of a thinker Finn is. I mean he potty trained pretty quickly and easily, but the kicking himself in the head thing doesn't really make us want to sign him up for doggy Mensa.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Mindy's Stole - Part I'm-Getting-Close-To-Being-Done

Yesterday I finished writing the charts for the body of the stole and I got about 40 rows knitted on it! As of right now, this minute, the picture you're looking at above, I have 64 more rows to go before I start the second edging! I can see the light at the end of the pink alpaca tunnel now and that makes me happy. (I imagine this makes Mindy happy too since she's still waiting for her Christmas present.) This weekend I will be alternately knitting on the stole and writing directions for the pattern. Last time I blogged the stole, I mentioned a resemblance to Swiss Cheese and someone left a comment suggesting champagne bubbles. Well, I got to thinking and of course not everyone is going to want to knit this in cherry blossom pink, so I thought about other colors that could work for this stole. White could be either cherry blossoms or snow. A pale grey or blue could be raindrops. Of course an ivory or gold could be champagne (that would be pretty for a wedding, I'm thinking). There are really a number of things that the holes on the stole (hey, it rhymes!) can represent if its worked in different colors. Leave your favorite in the comments if you want to!
Here's some canine eye candy for your Friday! Silly puppy fell asleep last night on Mickael's sandals and the towel we wipe his feet on when he comes in from outside. Just look at that sweet smile. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Great Thing About Having 2 Spinning Wheels...

...is that you can spin two completely different yarns at the same time!Here is the Opalessence (Merino/Silk/Angora), I'm spinning the singles at 40 wpi on the Symphony,
and here is Frostrosen (a Kitchen Sink Batt from The Knotty Sheep - a blend of Romney/Coopworth and Teeswater/Wensleydale with some Angelina sparkle) and Finn's tail, I'm spinning these singles (not Finn's tail) at 40 wpi on my Rose. OK, so now you're thinking I've lost it - I'm spinning the same yarn in different colors, not completely different yarns. Well, if you only look at the wpi of the singles, you'd be right, but there's a lot more to spinning than just wraps per inch.

I'm spinning the Opalessence using a short draw with a ratio of 20:1. The way I'm spinning this is each time I treadle (since the Symphony is double treadle, I usually use the right foot to count) I draft 1 inch of fibers and allow the twist to enter it. The singles I'm spinning will theoretically be a consistent 20 twists per inch, since this ratio makes the flyer rotate 20 turns for each treadle stroke (which is one rotation of the drive wheel). I say theoretically because sometimes I might draft slightly more or less than 1 inch, sometimes the flyer slows down when it needs oiling and sometimes Finn jumps on Caleb on the sofa and has to be removed. Spinning at my house is never an exact art. The fibers in the Opalessence are all pretty slippery. Merino is the finest sheep's wool available, silk is fine and slippery and angora is fine, slippery and usually has a pretty short staple length. All these factors combine to mean that this roving must be spun with a lot of twist (getting into the yarn pretty fast due to the slippery nature of the fibers) to hold the yarn together. (For non spinners out there who are still with us, yarn is held together by friction which is created by twist - the thinner the yarn, the more twist is required to hold it together.)

The Frostrosen (which is spinning into a really pretty apricot color that just looks like Springtime to me) is a completely different animal. Teeswater and Wensleydale are both breeds of sheep that grow their fleece in long, curly locks - similar to the look of Angora Goats. The Wensleydale can have a staple length of 8-12 inches! Romney and Coopworth are both medium wools, Romney is a favorite for sock knitters (and really a pretty great all around wool as you can find a pretty big range of softness within the Romney breed) and Coopworth, while its not usually as soft as Romney, has a lovely shine. The first wool I ever spun was Coopworth and once I got past the initial skein - crazy amounts of twist - and started really getting a feel for the fibers, a skein of undyed white Coopworth bears more than a little resemblance to pearls. (Yeah, I love Coopworth.) So, the wools used in the Frostrosen are a little more coarse (which makes them more likely to grab each other than slip apart) and have a longer staple length than the fibers in Opalessence. If I were to spin the Frostrosen at a ratio of 20:1 with a short draw, I would end up with an overspun, wiry single. I'm hoping for a soft, drapy yarn to knit a shawl with, so obviously I need to spin this wool differently. The Frostrosen is being spun at a ratio of 12.7:1 and I'm spinning it using the Pink Lemon Twist Long Draw (probably not a perfect long draw since I do use 2 hands, but most if not all of the elements of a technically correct long draw are present, and I do get yarn in the end, so I must be doing something right). Long draw is less obsessive compulsive than short draw so to be perfectly honest I don't really know how many twists per inch the finished single is getting. I allow the twist to start to enter the fiber supply and grab some fibers, while at the same time, I'm pulling the fiber supply away from the twist, so it can't just grab everything. I'm getting a very consistent single, but it's just not as technically exact as the Opalessence. One of the first things a spinner learns is how to feel when there isn't enough twist - this is the slippery feeling you get right before the drop spindle drops. You learn to recognize this and either slow down your drafting or speed up your spinning until you don't feel the fibers slipping anymore. On this Frostrosen, I'm drafting just fast enough to get to the point of enough twist for the yarn, but not letting much more twist enter the singles. This keeps the singles strong enough to be plied and knitted with later, but it also keeps them soft enough to drape.

So you see? I'm not totally nutters here. They really are different yarns and I have to say that I'm really enjoying having two different types of spinning going on. The part that I'm particularly proud of is that 2 years ago, when I got my Rose I didn't know any of this. I would have spun both yarns the same way, not knowing that different fibers need different spinning techniques. When I started spinning the Frostrosen and realized that I was spinning the singles to the same wpi, I also realized that despite this, it was a completely different yarn from the Opalessence. I must have learned something over the last two years about spinning and it might be only me (or other spinners) who is excited about this, but I love that while they look the same at first glance, these singles are really very different!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Some Post Christmas Stash Enhancement


I've ordered a few books (and some blocking wires but they're not here yet) with some of my Christmas money. At the lower right you can see that I found the black sheep tape measure from Lantern Moon! I found it at Simply Socks Yarn Company (link is in the sidebar - feeling lazy today). I also picked up Spin to Knit. I've skimmed through this and it looks interesting, but I was a bit distracted by the other book I got, Victorian Lace Today. There have been a number of reviews of this book on other blogs so I won't bother with giving another one, but I do have to say that I was very impressed. My image of Victorian Things is covered with fussy, fluffy and highly intricate details that for the most part are WAY too overdone and cluttery. When I saw this book advertised online, I thought, "Hey, a new lace book! But its probably Busy Just To Be Busy and I doubt that there will be anything I'm really interested in." Then I started seeing reviews of it and it looked interesting. Then my Mom got a copy and called and just went on and on about how wonderful this book is. So I caved. I got it. Yes, there are 40 different designs, the majority of them are rectangular - stoles or narrower scarves that can easily be widened into stoles. The one thing that really stands out to me, however is that many of the designs are pretty simple. Fairly basic lace that's repeated all over the piece and then a border is added around the edge. This kind of design is exactly what hand painted lace yarn demands. We are all taunted and seduced by the glorious handpainted colors available in lace yarn, but when faced with the actual pattern selection to knit the yarn, we run into a problem. Even a moderately complicated design gets lost in the color and value changes of the yarn and the piece just doesn't work. The number of simple, repetitive lace patterns out there is fairly small, but these types of patterns are necessary to successfully use this type of yarn. Otherwise the yarn colors and the pattern's design end up competing with each other. This book is full of small, simple, repetitive lace designs just asking for handpainted yarn!

On yesterday's topic, I appreciate the pattern suggestions (and no Mom, I'm not sending it to you either), but my problem is primarily that the color is screaming baby (and it doesn't stop no matter how often I burp it and walk around with it and singing doesn't work, but taking it for a drive might). I love pale aqua greens, but they need a bit of a grey tone to them to make them grown up. This aqua is pure, sugary, baby aqua. If I do try to overdye it, I'll probably try to tone down the purity of the color, not darken it too much. A slightly greyed pale aqua is actually a really good color for me, but this is too sweet and bouncy or something. I've thought about adding black and white to it somehow (bringing in other yarns) because black and white will make rainbow and pastel things more interesting and less childlike, but for some reason black and white with this yarn seems like I'm trying too hard. There's got to be some other way to work with this yarn. Of course, I realize that most of this "baby aqua" stuff is in my head, but once the teacher made the comment about the baby blanket, its been stuck there.

And by the way, I haven't forgotten Mindy's Stole, I've got to do some more charts and I discovered last week, that writing charts with other people in the house just isn't working. I should have some time today while Caleb is at school and Mickael is at work and Finn usually sleeps in the afternoon, so I'm hoping to finish up all the charts so I can get back to knitting on it. I'll blog it again either tomorrow or Friday!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year!


I hope everyone had a great New Year's, now we all go crashing back into reality - unless you're a US Federal Employee and you get today off!

Before the end of last year, I got all the Beach singles plied and the yarn washed. I ended up with 1140 yards of probably DK weight, super fluffy yarn. I'm thrilled with the fluffy softness of this yarn, but there is a problem. When I bought this top I didn't really have any definite plans, I just like pale greens and blues. I had 12 ounces of it and if you remember, I spun it to give myself something with color and to work on getting fluffy yarn (I was coming off the Merino/Kid Mohair cabled white yarn when I started this). If you just consider those two things - color and fluff- I achieved my goal.

The problem? Well, when I demonstrated spinning to Caleb's Kindergarten class, this is what was on my wheel. One of the teachers asked what I was planning to do with this and I told her I had no definite plans for the finished yarn. Then she commented that it would make a lovely baby blanket. Now technically, she's right. Its the perfect color of aqua for those babies whose mothers "Don't Want To Know." You know these kids - they are the ones that wear aqua for the first 3 years of their lives because no one knew whether to buy pink or blue, tiaras or dumptrucks, so everyone bought aqua. Invariably, the little girls in aqua are all bald so their mothers are reduced to duct taping pink bows all over their heads so strangers don't complement them on their handsome baby boys. The boys in aqua have ridiculously long eyelashes, forcing their mothers to surround the baby in football paraphanalia to avoid the opposite problem. Either way, it would have been so much easier to just Find Out and then dress the child appropriately in the first place. (Please note Dear Reader, that I do not in any way refer to your own children, past, present, or future. I know that any of you who Didn't Want To Know, chose to wait because you wanted to be surprised and of course your baby was/is/will be such a paragon of feminity/pure definition of manliness that there is no doubt in any stranger's mind as to the sex of your blessed infant and you did not/are not/will not resort to such desparate measures as taping gender identification items to your infant.)

So now, every time I look at this yarn, I think "Baby of Undetermined Sex," even though this is not superwash wool, it would felt and only a truly sick person would gift a new mother with a handspun wool blanket that must be very delicately handwashed in order to keep it clean. (This yarn is way too thick to even enter into the shawl category and gifting a baby with an heirloom shawl to be used for a Christening and then later for the child's wedding is not evil. The heirloom baby shawl only sees the child at the actual event for a brief period of time before it is whisked away to safety until the child has grown and is hopefully not leaking strange fluids all the time anymore.) After all, when you give birth, you're lucky to get yourself washed let alone all the laundry the wee bundle of joy produces. (Someday I will devote an entire blog entry to "Diapers for Newborns: Evil Marketing Plot or Psychological Crutch for Sleep Deprived Parents?") So, since this will not be used for a baby or any baby associated activities, my problem is what to do with it. I've thought about over dying the whole shebang, probably a darker green, but I just don't know. I hate to over dye what someone else has dyed, it seems rude and disrespectful, but obviously my own neurosis are interfering with my enjoyment of this yarn. For now, I think I'll place it carefully into the yarn stash and let it age. Maybe I'll figure out what to do with it at some point. Or someone I really dislike will get pregnant and "Wait to Find Out." That would probably be the easiest thing to do.