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Monday, February 28, 2005

Houston, we have fronts!

Two fronts for the Boring Black Cardie (BBC?) are done and blocking. You can see the stitch marker for the button and you can even barely see the buttonhole. I think I'm going to have enough yarn, without raiding my Mom's stash. Thankfully, she has more of the same dyelot and has agreed to hold off on doing anything with it until I finish the BBC. The neckline looks funny on these because there is no shaping, since the stitches will be picked up again for the hood after I've sewn the shoulders together on the fronts and back. I've cast on for the back and that should go fairly quickly since I'll only be working with one ball of yarn (versus the two for the two fronts and two sleeves). Then I'll block the back, finish the sleeves, and knit the hood while the sleeves are blocking. I would love to get to wear this at least once before Spring comes so I'll need to get moving. Its snowing here right now and we have 2583 birds sitting in the backyard, eating. Poor Ramius can't sleep with all of that going on, so he is crouched down in front of the sliding glass door, making tiny squeaky sounds at them. I don't know if the birds like this or not but I've had other cats who make little squeaky sounds at birds too so apparently cats everywhere believe that this is a good thing. Anyone with birds out there know if they like this? Does it make them want to come closer and play with the squeaky kitty? Or are cats just delusional with their squeaking?

Friday, February 25, 2005

Sorry Ladies, he's married

I found out the other day that Caleb got married to one of the little girls in his preschool class. Apparently, she married him twice! It figures. I mean a cutie like Caleb who vacuums, can set the table, brings his dishes to the sink and is such a little love bug, isn't going to stay available for very long. Yes, we vacuumed this morning. The greatest thing about his little vacuum is that it actually picks up stuff off of the floor. Its not just a toy. When he first got it, he vacuumed up every little piece of lint or fuzz he could find (with a knitter/spinner and a dog and a cat in the house, you can imagine how busy he was). Now he pretty much only vacuums when I do, unless he spills something or makes a mess. You heard that right, he actually cleans up after himself! As you can see I started spinning some more yesterday. Its undyed white Coopworth which I'm spinning laceweight. Coopworth is the first type of wool I ever spun and I love it. It is a long wool and not particularly fine, but it has a sheen like pearls when its spun and its so easy to spin. I've also done some more on the Peacock Shawl, but it looks pretty much the same as it did the other day so I'll spare you a picture of it. I'm kind of in the middle part where I just keep knitting and knitting and it doesn't really do anything new. Hopefully I can get more done over the weekend and have something to show you next week. Have a great weekend and remember to clean up after yourself.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Plethora of Knowledge

More fun stuff in the mail yesterday! Not Ramius, the book he's modeling with. Its Barbara G. Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. This is the first book, there are four total. There are about 500 different stitch patterns and its just wonderful! I am constantly amazed at how much you can do with just two stitches (knit and purl) and the yarn over. You can see the excitement on Ramius' face that he feels at just being in the presence of such a collection. I will definitely be getting the other three books in the future. Just in case you're wondering, Ramius is sitting in his Kitty Pi that I made for him last Fall. Its done in Lamb's Pride Bulky in Chianti and Onyx. Its a nice warm kitty bed on a day like today. Its been snowing here since this morning when we woke up, we could get 8 inches or so by the time it quits later tonight, so its definitely a day for cuddling up in warm places. I've got a pot roast cooking for dinner and so the whole house smells cozy and yummy. I've been knitting on the black cardie and done a little more on the Peacock Shawl. I'll probably start spinning something again soon. Today looks great for spinning. Hope you all stay warm wherever you are.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

No Knitting, No Spinning, No Nothing!

Hi, today I have absolutely nothing to talk about. I haven't done any knitting or any spinning in the last 24 hours. I'm supposed to be getting my hair cut right now but my stylist is sick, so I'm doing that tomorrow instead. I went looking for some new jeans this morning and didn't find a single pair that I liked. What I did find was some khaki slacks that look magnificent! I almost didn't try them on because I'm not a big fan of slacks with a wide waistband and these have one, but I figured, oh well, I'll just try them on. I could not believe it when I got them on! It was one of those moments where you run out to the big 3 way mirror just to make sure they still look cute out there and that the cuteness isn't all just a freaky changing room illusion (you've all been there, you know what I'm talking about). As soon as I realized that they did in fact look just as cute in other locations, I went to find what other colors they had in my size. You know the best part of the whole thing? I got them at the Ann Taylor Factory Store at the outlet mall here in Leesburg, and THEY WERE UNDER $25 A PAIR!!! Cute pants at a bargain! Woo Hoo. If I weren't so lazy, I'd post a picture of them but you'll all just have to use your imagination.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This way lies madness

This might be my undoing. It is the Peacock Feather Shawl from Fiddlesticks Knitting. This is my project to work on when Caleb is in bed, the house is quiet, and the TV is off. It is also the reason that my other current project, the black La Gran cardie, doesn't make me go crazy from the boredom of straight stockinette stitch. I fell in love with this pattern the first time I saw it. I knew I had to knit it one day and I had heard (correctly, by the way) that the Fiddlesticks patterns were extremely well written and charted. So I decided to do it. My mom is also knitting one and we started together. After the first week, I had a nightmare where I kept finding dead peacocks all over the place, so I took a break for a couple of weeks. Mom kept going and is almost done with her's. She also scanned the pattern into her computer, reversed it and printed it out, which makes knitting the second half SO MUCH EASIER! You see, only the first half of the pattern is charted, for the second half, you just reverse everything: K2tog becomes sl1, K1, psso; you read from left to right, you get the picture. In theory, its not too hard to read a chart backwards, and the first part of the pattern is pretty easy to flip around. By the time you get to the medium sized feathers though, you get a headache after you've knitted 4 rows, you're eye is twitching uncontrollably, and you start having dreams of dead peacocks. Now, with the flipped version of the chart, its going much faster, I'm not talking to myself (as much) and I haven't dreamed of dead birds lately. These are all good things. Want to know the really sick part? I found a picture of this. No one in their right mind would do this twice, but wouldn't it be spectacular in white?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dying and Plying....Part I

Sock yarn singles, dyed and ready to ply...

Dying and Plying...Part II

Here is the 3-ply yarn, all finished! This weekend, I finished my spindle spun sock yarn! (See "This is a pair of socks" entry) I dyed the singles with Wilton's food coloring paste and spun them into a 3 ply yarn. It came out worsted weight, which is a little heavier than I was going for, but I had never spun yarn for a 3 ply before. I'm very excited about the colors that I got and I think they'll make beautiful socks! If you're interested, I used the Teal, Royal Blue, and Violet colors to dye the singles. The Teal and the Royal Blue came out pretty close in color, and you can't tell much of a difference in the pictures, but in real life, I can see the difference. I now have sock yarn for 2 pairs of socks, ready to knit. I do most of my sock knitting during the summer since they are small and it gives me a break from knitting cotton types of yarns.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Its a Fuzzy Black Square!!!

This is one of the fronts for the cardigan pictured. Can you contain your excitement? I know there's nothing more interesting on a blog than a black, stockinette stitch sweater, but hey, that's what I'm knitting right now. I'm doing it in black La Gran from Classic Elite, and I even included the button I'm going to use. Its a dichroic glass square with all kinds of colors on it. If you're curious, the pattern is in the Vogue Knitting from Winter '99/'00. The original cardigan has pockets, which I'm not doing, and it doesn't have a button. I've knit this once before in a completely different yarn and without the button, it kept moving around too much and wasn't keeping me warm at all. I ended up sewing a fancy hook and eye thingy to it, but this time, I will put in a buttonhole, since I (supposedly) know what I'm doing. I've almost got the sleeves done, but I checked the yardage required versus the yardage I have and I'm a few yards short, so I stopped the sleeves before the sleeve cap shaping and I'll knit the fronts, the back and the hood, then see how much yarn I have left. I hope to have enough to make the sleeves long enough to turn back, but we'll see. I've never stopped sleeves before halfway though, so I feel like I haven't really done very much on this sweater since I don't have a finished piece yet. I have recently started knitting sleeves first, since for some reason, I hate knitting sleeves. That way they are over and done with, and since I also hate doing gauge swatches (I know, bad Melanie, bad Melanie), I use the sleeves as gauge swatches.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Is this where Ramen Noodles come from?

This morning this was a cute little tank top type of sweater, now it looks like ramen noodles. Why, you might ask, did I unravel an entire sweater, which in my own words I described as "cute?" Because, dear reader, I messed up the lace pattern and did ssk where I was supposed to do k2tog. Quel Horreur! you gasp. I know, it wasn't a big thing, but I knew it was there, it drove me nuts, and I couldn't wear the silly thing, so some picking out ends, a lot of unravelling and here you have it...the unsweater. I will soak the yarn to get the noodly look out of it, then reknit it, probably using this pattern, which is my all time favorite tank top pattern. Its got curves, it looks great on, and you don't have to worry about bra strap peekaboo, because the underarm is high enough and shoulders are wide enough. I've knit it once already and I just love it! The yarn is Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in the worsted weight, which I find comfortable to wear until the temp goes over 95 (that's Farenheit, by the way).

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Introducing...my first 3 ply yarn! This is what I did with the blue roving I got in the mail last week. The colorway is Oceania and it is a Gulf Coast Native Improved/mohair blend. The mohair is the kelly green color and the wool is the blue. I plan to use it for socks. There are a few slubs and bumps (which of course came to the top of the skein for the picture) which I'll probably have to cut out, at least for the foot part of the socks. I'm pretty excited about it though. Let me know what you think!

Monday, February 14, 2005

Valentine's Surprise, Part I

Giant slippers, before felting, next to Caleb's little feet. These are the Surprise Knitting project I was working on last week. They are for Mickael, whose feet are much bigger than Caleb's. Mickael has always had cold feet, since we met when he was 21, so I figured some felted wool slippers might keep him toasty warm. For the after picture, scroll down to the next post....

Valentine's Surprise: Part II

After felting, they actually look like they might fit someone other than Shrek! Caleb's feet were at school for this picture, but I think you can see how much they shrunk. Just in case you were wondering, I used the Fiber Trend's Felt Clog pattern and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted in Deep Charcoal. In other news, I think my Weather Pixie has probably frozen to death. She's got on a short sleeved shirt and no jacket, and its 36 degrees (F) out there. I wonder if she'll get the flu next week? That would be pretty cool, The Under-the-Weather, Weather Pixie. It just scares me, I mean will the blog be X-rated in the summertime? Who knows, maybe my readership will go up. OK, I'm going to go find some chocolate and spin, leave a comment...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Lookie here...

Do you know what these are? They are silkworm cocoons and I got them in the mail yesterday. If you shake them, you can hear the dead worms inside (all together now...,"EWWWWW!") Some of the fibers on the cocoons have actually rubbed loose and yes, it really is silk! I'm so excited about these. The silk is being held together with saracin right now so I have to degum them in order to be able to spin the silk. From what I can understand, that involves simmering them in soapy water. Then, I should be able to unwind them and spin them. Each cocoon can have as many as 1000 - 1500 yards of silk in it. So, I figure if I spin the fibers together from each of the seven cocoons I have, I will have about 1000 yards of a yarn that is a slightly heavier weight than a spider web. Pretty cool, huh? If you're interested in the history of silk, which involves a Chinese empress and a cup of tea, check this out. Treenway Silks also has cocoons for sale for those of you who want to try spinning silk this way, but they have silk in other, more processed, ready to spin forms too. I also found a source for cocoons where the caterpillar/moth has left the cocoon, which will make for a shorter staple length, and less shine, but hey, no one was harmed in the production of this silk. In other news, I've started teaching Caleb to knit. I figure anyone who knows the phonetic sounds of all 26 letters of the alphabet, and can play a PlayStation, has the brains and finger coordination to knit. I cast on 20 stitches for him (I got him some 10" bamboo needles - so cute) and first I put my hands over his and helped him make the stitches but today, I let him make them without my hands there. He makes 3 or 4 stitches each time, then announces he's done knitting. We have 8 more stitches to go before he's finished his first row. I've taught him the little rhyme: Under the fence, Grab the sheep, Back he comes, And off he leaps. Yes, he does say it every time he makes a stitch. For those of you out there wondering why I'm teaching him, there are several reasons. Number one right now is that knitting is a sit still activity that uses your brain and your hands. Sitting still is hard for him, so this will help. It will also teach him spatial thinking, math, eye/hand coordination, and give him concrete results for his efforts. From what I understand, knitting is part of the educational curriculum for several countries in the world, for both boys and girls. OK, off the soapbox now. I hope everyone has a great weekend. Hopefully on Monday, I'll have some sockyarn dyed to show you, I'll definitely show you the Secret Project, and who knows what else will be going on.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sheepy Goodness from the USPS

I got the most wonderful packages in the mail today. This is some fleece I got in a trade with another Spindler. Clockwise, starting with the blue: Blue Gulf Coast Native Improved (GCNI)with green mohair from Running Moon Farm; Falkland top from Copper Moose; raw, white GCNI from Running Moon Farm; mohair locks; and raw, pale grey GCNI also from Running Moon Farm. Isn't it just glorious? I've never spun GCNI or Falkland so this should be fun. I'll have the mohair blended with the GCNI when I get that processed and probably use some of it for socks. I think my stash just doubled from the size it was this morning. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go pet some fleece! WHEEEEE!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

This is a pair of socks

Or it will be someday soon...This is 6 ounces of Romney lambswool and alpaca. Kinda makes you want to pet the monitor doesn't it? The best part of it is that I met the ram whose lambswool this is. His name is Eugene. I got the roving through a local farmer who was at the Leesburg farmer's market last fall. She didn't have the roving there, but had samples so I ordered it from her. When Caleb (my four year old) and I went to pick it up we got to meet Eugene and some very friendly goats. It was a big day for me and the little city boy! I'm spinning it into one ounce skeins of singles which I will then dye teal, blue, and violet. Then, with one single of each color, I'll end up with two balls, 3 ounces each of 3 ply. That's the plan anyway. I have a little over an ounce left to spin, then the dying begins. I've never done 3 ply before so that should be an adventure. Just in case you're wondering, the spindle I'm using is my Emily from Mielke's Farm. It's about 1.1 ounces with a rosewood whorl and its definitely one of my favorite spindles. I actually started spinning last June after going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for the first time. One look at all of those wonderful rovings and yummy soft colors, I just had to have an excuse to buy some, but I kept telling myself that I had too many other things going on. Well, obviously I gave in. I learned how to spin on the drop spindle and I'm so glad I did. I like that it goes a little slower than a wheel, gives you plenty of time to figure out how to draft and you can really take your time to learn how to get a consistent, well spun yarn since the "equipment" is so easy to use. I also have to say, I love the history the spindle has and it just amazes me when I think of how many millions of yards of yarn and thread have been spun on the simple drop spindle. Don't get me wrong, I love my wheel, and for a person with a short attention span like myself, the wheel can't be beat for spinning up large quantities of fiber. There's just something I love in the simplicity of spinning with a drop spindle. (As a side note, anyone who's interested in spindles should join Spindlers. Its a Yahoo group and there is a button on my sidebar that you can use to join. Its a very active group of people who chat about all things fibery with an emphasis on spindles.) In yesterday's comments, someone asked how I knew how many yards I had on my niddy noddy: most niddy noddies are made in increments of a yard (or a meter). Mine is 1.5 yards, so I just count how many times I go around it and multiply that by 1.5. Yes, I did count all the wraps of the pink yarn in yesterday's post, but each time I reached 100 I marked it on a piece of paper and started over. I figured that was the best way not to mess up. Finally, today is the Chinese New Year...this is the Year of the Rooster. Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Dude, Where's My Niddy Noddy?

Is that it, under 1192 yards of gorgeous, two ply, pinky goodness? That's right, almost 1200 yards of this glorious stuff is now mine, all mine. Any ideas what to do with it? Its laceweight, and no, I just spun it without a definite plan. I'm kinda thinking a wrap of somekind so if any of you have any ideas, let me know. Yesterday in the comments, someone asked about my spinning wheel. That's Arwen. She is a Majacraft Rose. I chose her over the Susie because the Rose comes with the lace flyer as well as the standard delta flyer and she has both the regular and the high speed whorl. I prefer the looks of the spoked drive wheel to the solid wheel of the Susie, plus Woodland Woolworks was having a really great sale on Majacraft wheels. As far as performance, I don't think there is too much difference between the Susie and the Rose. My wonderful husband, Mickael, got her for me for Christmas and I've been very happy with her. I haven't been doing too much knitting lately. I've got a couple of projects going though. One is a hooded cardie, done in black mohair (imagine something black and fuzzy and I don't even have to post a picture). The other is a shawl, that is having itself a little time out. Also, there is a surprise project that I can't post about until Monday. I guess now I should finish my current spindle spinning project which will be socks. More tomorrow.....

Monday, February 07, 2005

Pink Roving....Twisted

Hi there! Welcome to my blog. Sit back, relax and find out what's going on in my head. I'm warning you now, it may not be pretty. So, I had the harebrained idea that blogging would be fun. After all, I enjoy reading other people's blogs so why not share what I'm doing too? I've been trying to make the place look nice so that it at least looks like a real blog, and after messing with it for 3 hours...I've got a Weather Pixie! Go check out the sidebar, you'll see her, just scroll down some. She adds a nice touch doesn't she? As if any of you care what the weather in Leesburg, VA is. OK, so now that I've amazed you with that, lets get to the fun stuff. As you can see from the picture above, I've been doing some spinning. This is about five ounces (out of almost 10 ounces total) of some "Queen's Finery" roving from Greensleeves Spindles. I've spun it all and I'm plying now. (well, not now, now I'm typing this, hoping I don't hit some magic button that erases this whole entry and wondering why I can't hit the enter button and get new paragraphs. Sorry Mom) I'll let you all see a picture when its finished. Try to contain yourselves.

Ramius the Magnificent

Happy Birthday Ramius! Ramius is our Tonkinese and he's 10 years old today. The catnip worm (trust me its a catnip worm) he's playing with is courtesy of Caleb who obviously has very good taste in kitty birthday gifts. Also, I would like it noted that as you can see in the photo, it is daylight, and Ramius is awake. Let's not discuss the fact that I had to go find him and wake him up before we could get the picture, let's just enjoy the cat being awake. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My first spindle of handspun and my first picture published to the blog (crossing my fingers that this works). Posted by Hello The spindle is a Louet bottom whorl and the yarn is Coopworth wool. I got them both at my favorite LYS, Hunt Country Yarns

Happy Groundhog Day!

Happy Groundhog Day everyone! Welcome to my new blog. Bear with me for the next few days as I figure out how to use this.