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Friday, July 31, 2009

The Rules Are There For A Reason, But Sometimes Breaking Them Works Too

The other day I was wandering through Ravelry's Cardigan listings (I do love me a good cardi!), and I came across the Summer Solstice cardigan. I love how simple the lines of it are, but like all of the best things that seem simple on the surface, there are a LOT of details on this design. Some stash diving found a rather embarrassingly large pile of Cascade 220 in a heather grey, but it also turned up quite a bit of Elann's Peruvian Highland Wool in red (Ruby - 2055), leftover from this project:
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According to the scale, I have enough yarn to do the Summer Solstice, but then I remembered - it's in two different dye lots!* I double checked and sure enough, 6 skeins are a different dyelot from the the others. Then I ran around the house looking at yarn balls from the two dyelots in different light. I can't tell the difference. I can't tell the difference in Western light, I can't tell the difference in Northern Light. I can't tell the difference up close, I can't tell the difference at a distance. I do not like it with a goat, I do not like it in a boat. I do not like green eggs and ham - oops, wrong story.

Anyway, there seems to be no visible difference in the two dyelots. On the other hand, in the back of my mind were the tragic stories of knitters who believed two different dye lots were identical, went ahead and knit with them and ended up with garments that showed the entire world that they used two different dyelots. Even the proverbial drunk cowboy riding by at 100 yards could see that they'd used two different dyelots. I do not want this to be me. Then I thought, "Hey, this pattern has sections where the knitting goes different directions. Different directions make light hit the stitches differently. If I use only one dyelot in each section, any differences in color will look like it's a trick of the light and the way the stitches are facing." I decided to go for it.
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Now I've got to get gauge (I don't even remember the last gauge swatch I worked) and then I'm off! (I'm showing my gauge swatch in progress in B & W because I'm using a different color of the same yarn for the swatch - no point in confusing everyone.) I've decided to do my Summer Solstice with 3/4 length sleeves since I already have a red cardi with long sleeves, but that's the only change I'm planning on.

*Just so you know, the reason I have two batches of two different dyelots of the same color yarn is because I ordered some of the yarn at one point, thinking I was going to do one thing, then changed my mind and needed more red, so I ordered a second batch. Elann didn't mess up the order and send me two different dyelots in a single order.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

First Bobbin of Polwarth Singles

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I've been trying to spend a little bit of time every day spinning, even if it's just 20 minutes if that's all I have. I haven't been successful every day, but I've been doing pretty well with it. Yesterday I finished my first bobbin of singles.

This is 1/3 of 4 ounces of carded Polwarth roving that I'm spinning worsted style at 40 wraps per inch on the singles. Because the Polwarth is carded, there are a couple of neps which I have mostly left in the singles. Also, since carding is a woolen preparation, even though I'm spinning worsted, I am getting a semi worsted yarn.

I've found the biggest thing I've had to work on so far is slowing down on my treadling. The Polwarth has a long staple length, so I can draft about 3 inches on each treadle stroke, but I have to slow down my treadling a bit to draft that far. I start out just fine, but as I relax into the spinning, I find myself speeding up on the treadling. I have to remind myself that it isn't a race!

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Cherry Blossom Shawl

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I've been moving along on The Cherry Blossom Shawl. I'm still on my first ball of yarn (Shibui Knits Silk Cloud in Blossom), but it would be about 2 feet across if I were to take it off the needles, and that's without stretching.

This is definitely a simple pattern and I've been working it while I watch TV. I think this would be a good pattern for a beginning lace knitter (or a fast one for an advanced lace knitter). You could work with stitch markers between every repeat, but except for the first round after an increase, you can quickly see if you get "off" on the pattern just by reading your lace from previous rows and comparing how it matches up with what you're doing. Learning to read your lace is an important skill to develop because not only will save you from using thousands of stitch markers on big projects (and the time it takes to move them all), but it will save you time (and frustration) in tinking back and trying to find where you messed up. By knowing how the row I'm working should stack up on the rows below it, I can tell if I'm off before I get one repeat past the mistake. It's easy to only watch the chart as you knit and not really pay attention to previous rows on your knitting, but if you try to see how the current row relates to previous rows, you'll soon find you're knitting faster and enjoying the lace more.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pooling

I've gotten a lot of work on my new Lava Flow socks - mostly because I don't have to think much on these and the weekend was CRAZY! I love Lorna's Laces sock yarns, but their multi colored yarns always seem to pool on the heel and gusset. Once I got past the first couple of pairs using their yarn and figured this out, I've learned to pick patterns that won't be affected by the pooling and just go with it.* Naturally, I was expecting some pooling, but I wasn't expecting this:
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Check out that heel flap! It's half pink and half yellow. I love it. I'm hoping, hoping, hoping that I can get this same effect on the second heel flap. I'm almost through with the heel flap and then I can see what kind of pooling magic I get on the gusset.

*For my own taste, if I'm probably going to get big pools of color on the heel and gusset area, I don't want a complex stitch pattern. If you get pooling, it will distract from a stitch pattern, so I like to keep to simple stitch patterns. If I can memorize it one time through, that's about as complex as I want in pooling yarns. Again, that's just my personal opinion. (FYI, the Lava Flow stitch pattern repeat is 8 stitches by 8 rows, with plain knitting on 4 of those rows - easy to memorize.)

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Friday, July 24, 2009

New Socks

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Having finished the Shur'tugal socks, I've started a new pair of socks (of course). This is my Lava Flow pattern from the Fire - Elements Sock Collection II. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Winona. I decided to use this pattern because it's an easy one to memorize and I wanted to see how it looked in a yarn with more going on. I'm really liking the way the stitch pattern is working with the stripey pattern in the yarn (and of course the color scheme is just about perfect).

I hope you all have a great weekend!

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yesterday

Time to reconnect with the wheel.

Stash diving. Something simple so I can get back to basics. A small batch. There. Polworth roving - a 4 ounce ball. Natural sheep's grey. Divide it into thirds. I will do a three ply, shoot for fingering weight.

Put on a fresh bobbin. Adjust the brake band. Check the feel of the wheel. Butter. Pull out the leader. Attach the first bit of the roving. Start treadling. Oops, wrong way. Reverse the direction. Follow the twist up the leader. There. The twist has joined the leader to the fiber. Draft gently. Treadle slowly. Breathe. The first bit of singles is wrapped on the bobbin.

Check the singles. 40 wraps per inch. Perfect for a three ply fingering weight. Polworth will full after it's finished. Treadle slowly. Breathe. Hold the fiber like a baby bird. Relax my shoulders. Breathe.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shur'tugals, Done.

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I finished the second of my Shur'tugal socks last night. I really loved this pattern and it seemed to work up pretty quickly. I will definitely knit this pattern again. I think this design will work for men as well as it will for women, with just an adjustment in stitch count (it's an 8 stitch repeat, so adjusting it won't be hard). Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, the red things at the top of the cuffs are not sock, they are my sock blockers, purchased from The Loopy Ewe.

All the details - Shur'tugal sock pattern, Woolen Rabbit Merino/Tencel sock yarn in Mo' Berry (The Woolen Rabbit doesn't use this yarn base anymore, but if you Google Merino Tencel Sock Yarn, you can find other dyers who use it.) I used US 1's DPNs (2.25 mm) for the knitting. As a side note about the yarn, it's not as bouncy a yarn as most sock yarns are because of the Tencel, but what the Tencel takes out in bounce, it adds in shine. The shine was just what I was looking for in dragon rider socks, but it made taking good pictures a challenge.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cherry Blossom Shawl

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I've gotten to the point in this shawl that I can now work on a circular needle instead of DPN's! It's on a 24 inch circ now and is the size of a small hat. Maybe this will help you get a better idea of size.
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He's gotten to be such a good model lately that I didn't even worry about him doing something to make the stitches fall off! Of course, he'll still roll in yarn and fiber if I don't pay attention and leave it out. But even the idea of putting this shawl on his head a year ago was a serious bit of craziness. I think the little guy is growing up!

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Finished Yarn

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This is 600 yards of light fingering weight Merino and Silk two ply. I was originally planning on using it for the Aeolian Shawl, and I think it would work well, but I'm not sure now if that's what I want to do with it - not that I have any other plans for it at this point.

I did a better job on the singles for this yarn than on the previous batch of handspun (the Polwarth), but I spun this in a more worsted style and the Polwarth was spun semi-woolen. I've done more worsted spinning than woolen spinning so I'm more comfortable with spinning this way. I still need to spend some time practicing so I can get back to my previous consistency, but I'm much happier with this yarn.

I'm going to spend some time reviewing my spinning books and the notes from the class I took from Judith Mackenzie Mc Cuin* and then I'll go stash diving and find something to practice spinning.

*By the way, her new book The Intentional Spinner contains pretty much everything she teaches in her 3 day class, so if you can't take the class from her (or even if you have), you should get this book. Really, if you spin at all you should own this book - it's just that good.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

My First Round Shawl

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I have knit triangle shaped shawls, I have knit rectangular stoles (even been known to design a few), but I've never knit a round shawl although I have plenty of patterns for them. Yesterday I cast on for the Cherry Blossom Shawl that was in the Spring 2002 Interweave Knits. (The pattern is now available by itself because the IK issue is out of print - here's a link to the Ravelry group for the Cherry Blossom Shawl KAL and there's information there about purchasing it.)

I will admit the first couple of rounds were a bit floppy and tricky to work, but I grabbed a throw pillow and kept my work on that and used it to turn the shawl as I went. That made things easier than working with 6 stitches hanging onto three DPN's in mohair laceweight in mid-air. It's a little bit bigger now, I have just under 100 stitches and it looks like a fuzzy jelly fish. I'm loving the yarn I'm using too (and not just because of the pale pink color, which would be reason enough for me to love it) - it's the ShibuiKnits Silk Cloud in the Blossom color. It's similar to Rowan's infamous Kid Silk Haze with the silk core surrounded by a blur of kid mohair, but the ShibuiKnits is slightly finer than KSH. (Just in case anyone is looking for a yarn slightly heavier than KSH, Blue Moon Fiber Arts has Silkmo.)

I'm just getting started on this shawl, but it's a nice and simple project so if you've never made a round shawl and are feeling a bit intimidated, this is easy enough that it's not a scarey project.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Second Dragon Rider Sock

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After pouring lots of caffeine into myself yesterday and sorting a mountain of laundry, I got back on my second Shur'tugal sock. I made it just past the halfway point on the leg last night and frankly, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself. We're still exhausted after the trip (we might need a vacation to recover from our vacation) and my hands were a little slow to get back into the rhythm of knitting. I got the first sock finished pretty quickly and I'm hoping that this second sock will work up quickly too.

I'm going to work on it again today in between loads of laundry and I hope to get to the heel flap. (Hey, I said I sorted a mountain of laundry, not that I did anything with it after I got it sorted!)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Knitting Today!

As you can tell by the title, I have no knitting to show you. I haven't knit anything in days. Why, you ask? Well, Mickael and I went on a little trip. Here.
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Need another hint? Maybe seeing it at night will help.
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Yes, we've been to Vegas! Neither of us had ever been before and when we found out that our neighbor from Virginia was planning a surprise party for her husband's 40th birthday (he was also our neighbor, of course), we jumped at the chance to go. So we got to see Vegas and see most of our neighborhood friends from Virginia too!

Caleb got to go to his grandparents' house with Finn and Ramius.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Dog in the Herb Garden

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I finished my Herb Garden Scarf (pattern is The Gift of Friendship Scarf) and even though it still needs the ends woven in and blocking, Finn agreed to model it for you. Here he is showing the Preppy look (love how it really shows off his chest hair).

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And here we see it folded in half and the ends pulled through the loop - much more appropriate for those chilly, cold days when a scarf is more than a fashion statement.

I better be careful, or Finn will start charging for his modeling skills.

I worked 400 rows of the pattern stitch for this scarf and it will be around 72 inches or so in length when it's all blocked. (For those who aren't knitters or who have never knit lace, blocking opens up the piece substantially and makes it much larger than it looks unblocked - I realize it looks no where near that size on Finn.) The width is probably going to be pretty close to the 9 inches the pattern gives and and I'd say 400 yards of the laceweight yarn is probably pretty close to what I used. I knit this on US 4's. It was a really easy pattern to do and I like the stitch pattern - it works particularly well on multi colored, hand painted types of yarn like this one. I did most of the last 300 rows of it watching the Deadliest Catch marathon over the weekend (love those for knitting!)

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Finn Blogs

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This morning Mommy told me I could blog and I was SO excited! I wiggled and waggled and pranced on my hind legs and made lots of wookie noises!

Then Mommy told me she wanted me to show you her new finished Shur'tugal sock. I decided the best way to show you the sock was to wear it. Then when Mommy sees how good I look in socks, maybe she'll knit me some. Don't you think I'm totally wearing this sock? I could get used to this. Lounging by the fire (OK, fake logs and gas started fire, but hey - it sets a mood), wearing socks, sipping on something warm and bacony... I think I could be that dog.

Hey Mommy, I need three more of these!

Mommy Edit: There was a request that I keep you updated on Finn's treatment for allergies. As you remember, he got a Cortisone shot at the first of June. That gave us 3 weeks of itch free happiness, but last week he started itching again. (The vet was hoping for 5- 6 weeks of relief, but with the severity of Finn's allergies, he wasn't expecting it to last that long. I called the vet and let them know and he is now on Prednisone pills - by the second day of taking them he is itch free again. They started him off with 2 a day but tomorrow we go to one a day and next week we'll be doing every other day. Fingers are crossed that this solves our problems.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Shur'tugal

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I've finished the heel flap on my first Shur'tugal sock. The stitch pattern on these socks is easy enough to be portable, but it seems to take longer to knit a round than the Vog On socks I just finished. On the other hand, since I tend to like to get to the end of the whole pattern repeat before I set the socks down, these seem to be getting knit very quickly. I love the way the stitch pattern looks in this yarn and (in my mind) at least, the shine from the Tencel in the yarn makes it look more "dragon like."

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Happy Fourth of July if you're American. (I realize that the rest of the world does indeed have a fourth of July in as much as it is after the third and before the fifth and I hope yours is lovely too, but we get fireworks and capital letters to celebrate the Fourth!)

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Cherry Blossom Shawl Yarn

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A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had joined the Cherry Blossom Shawl KAL on Ravelry. The designer was getting the pattern ready to sell because the IK issue it had originally appeared in was out of print. Well the pattern is now available, I have a copy and I have my yarn. This is Silk Cloud from Shibui Knits in the Blossom colorway (appropriate, no?) Now the astute among you (or perhaps just the better caffeinated) will ask, "But didn't you just finish that big wrap thingy with pale pink yarn?" Yes, I did just finish the Silky Alpaca Lace Wrap in Geisha from Blue Moon Fiber Arts in Rosebud, but Rosebud is a warm, soft pink while Blossom is a cool, soft pink. Two different animals entirely, see?

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Some Finished Yarn

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It's been ages around here since I had some finished handspun, but today that all changes. This is 1050 yards of two ply Polwarth spun to about fingering weight. The spinning isn't terribly even (I really got out of practice with spinning during the move), but it's done. I finished plying and then fulled* the skeins in the washing machine to finish them. I never really had a plan with this yarn, I just wanted to spin some of it the roving up. (I purchased a whole fleece, so there's more of this fiber in the stash). I'll probably use it for lace since it's just a two ply and two plies do lace better than they do anything else.

I've still got to ply up the lavender merino and silk singles that I spun earlier this Spring, then I'm going to go through my spinning notes, go through my spinning books, and start practicing everything that I used to know until I'm spinning consistently again and getting the yarns I want for specific projects again. Knowing that I used to spin much better and more even makes me frustrated when I look at this yarn. I've got several batches of fiber in my stash for sweaters, but I'm not about to undertake such a large spinning project until I feel confident in the consistency of my spinning.

*Fulling is a way to finish yarn. Fine wools like Polwarth and Merino (there are others but I'm not going to try to remember them in my uncaffeinated state) actually expand and push against each other when they're agitated in warm water. Don't do this with all wools because the same type of activity these two skeins did in the washing machine would have made felt of Blue Faced Leicester or Romney. Judith Mackenzie Mc Cuin has written an article in Spin Off on fulling and I'm guessing her spinning books also cover this.

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