Category Archives: spinning

Where We Are at at the End of the Year

(Well, it’s not the end of the end of the year anymore, I know. It’s the beginning of the year. I started this post yesterday, then I had some errands to run, then I set the oven on fire and burnt dinner – two separate incidents, by the way – and then it was late and I was tired and Dan says he woke me up at midnight and I wished him a happy new year but I seriously have no recollection of it, so. Here we are on January 1.)

I got my yearly wrap-up e-mail from the old blog (none for the new site, so I’m guessing it’s not something Word Press does for self-hosted blogs? ah, well) and thought I’d share some highlights with you here rather than there.

I got 2700 views at the old blog in 2012, plus another 207 here. 54 posts there and 8 here, which means I’ve kept up my 5 posts/month average for another year. I blogged about 14 finished projects , but my Ravelry projects page shows 14 completed this year including 2 I haven’t blogged about, so something’s off there but I don’t know what. (Also, that’s a terrible average and I need to finish more things in 2013.)

My busiest day was the day I launched the internet yard sale. Have you checked out the internet yard sale? It’s where I keep a running list of things I need to find a new home for. In fact, that reminds me I’ve got a few things to add in the near future, as well. Must get on that.

My most-viewed post of the year was the one I wrote about my Essure procedure. Did you know I want so fervently never to have children that I paid good money to have metal coils inserted into my fallopian tubes, there to scar over, ensuring virtually no possibility of pregnancy for me? Well, I do and I did! And you can read all about it here. (Well, not all about it. I haven’t actually written a detailed what-it-was-like-when-they-put-the-metal-coils-up-my-business post. But let me know if there is demand, internet, because I will tell you about it.)

My next most popular posts were about sweaters, one that came out just right and one that still needs a little work. Even now, almost a year later, Francis Revisited still needs a little work. Someday, someday. You know how it goes.

Fourth in line was a post about how much I dislike plying on a spindle. From the comments I received on that post, I found out I’m not the only one. That was quite comforting. Looking back at that post reminds me that I haven’t made much spinning progress at all this year. One of my 2012 goals was to spin more often. At the beginning of the year I did but I think working towards that goal had the opposite effect of what I was hoping for. The more I spun the more I realized my heart wasn’t in it. I got about halfway through some really beautiful fiber that I very much want to make socks out of, but I haven’t been able to make myself finish it. I’d still like to push through to the end of that fiber and another braid I have, but I kind of feel like that might be it for me and spinning. I might feel differently if I had a wheel, but it’s going to be years and years before I can afford one, so for now I think it might be time to set aside the spindle, thank it for the experience, and recommit to the knitting needles I was in love with all along.

The last of my top posts of the year was this one about my Aquaphobia Socks. I was so happy to finally finish them after sooooo long knitting them that I took a million pictures and stared at my socks all day long.

My top commenters for 2012 were Lisa from Wickedly Artsy, Ivy from Pumpkin Spins and Michelle from Tres Bien Ensemble. Go check them out – lovely ladies, all of them.

And that’s it for 2012, except for one more project I managed to squeeze in over the weekend. This brings my blogged total to 15, but Ravelry still says 14 but 1 wasn’t on the blog so I guess that’s 16 things I knit this year? Let’s say 16.

Pattern: Options Slippers for Women by Kris Basta (Now, I just have to say, nothing against this pattern or its creator, but there’s a “crisis pregnancy center” near me called Options for Women and I shudder every time I drive past it. So there was a small squick reaction in the back of my head that I had to get over before buying this pattern. It was worth it, is all I’m saying. You should buy this pattern.)
Needles: 4 mm
Hook: Yes, hook. I chose the crochet seaming option and seamed these with a round of single crochet on an I hook. The doubled yarn and the garter stitch and stockinette going at each other at all different angles made me not too keen on sewing the seams. I wasn’t sure I’d get the needle in the right place. Luckily there’s all kinds of fudging possible with a crochet hook. I think I pulled it off.
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool in Paprika, about 245 yds
Size: Small
Started: December 29, 2012
Finished: December 30, 2012

These were so quick and easy I will definitely be making more and I think this pattern is getting added to my gift knitting repertoire. In any case, I’m calling this one down, 348 to go.

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful 2012 but regardless I hope you all have a better 2013. I’m certainly planning to. I’m at least planning to knit 17 things. Seriously. 16 is shameful. There’s just no excuse.

Some Recent Knitting Progress

One blue sock is almost (re)done! I just need to finish the toe tonight, then decide if I cast on the second one of these or the second Kristi.

After finishing Apocalypta I went into Want All the Sweaters mode. I’ve made some good progress on the body of Plain n Simple. I think I’m maybe 2/3 through but it’s tough to measure all squished up on the needles. I’m really hoping to wear this before next spring.

I started a hat in some mystery yarn. I’m aiming for slouchy but I was too lazy to look up a pattern when I started this, so we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, a scarf. My first completed project with my own handspun. I think it needs an applied cord edge but I’m not sure I have a suitable yarn, so we’ll see about that.

Pattern: 1*1 rib over 20 sts
Yarn:
Berroco Peruvia Quick in color 9100/Blanco, all but about a yard of one skein, and handspun Mad Color Fiber Arts Superwash BFL Top, about 60 out of 75 grams. Not sure about the yardage or weight on the handspun. At first it was just about even with the Peruvia but after the first few stripe repeats it thinned out quite a bit. I might block this out a little to play up the difference between the dense white stripes and the lacier-looking teal stripes. But, then, I also might block it out longer and skinnier as right now it only goes around my neck once. Life is a serious of heart-rending decisions.
Needles: 6.5 mm/US 10.5
Started: October 20, 2012
Finished: October 21, 2012

Dreaming

I have this yarn, 1000 yards of it, all squishy and bouncy and wonderful.

I cast on for a lace shawl, but it turned out I couldn’t count. Several times in a row, in fact.

Then I started on Citron and made some good progress, but it turned out I was so bored I wanted to stab myself with my needles just to liven things up a bit.

So, I put the yarn back in the no-plans drawers and waited. While I waited I entertained vague thoughts of knitting a sweater, but no real plans materialized.

The last few days it’s been very sunny outside and a bit chilly in my cubicle, so I’ve been wearing this old pink scarf a lot. I don’t know what it’s made out of, but it’s a very light woven fabric. I can wear it around my head and neck when I’m outside to make a little shade and it’s just enough to keep the chill off my shoulders when I’m at my desk. It’s not as big as I would like, though, and it is pink, which isn’t totally my color. (Plus there’s fringe, which: meh.)

Which got me thinking. What if I knit myself something very light and very big and very not pink? Something I could wear around my head and neck to ward off the sun, but that wouldn’t be too hot, but that would also keep me a bit toasty at work? Something bouncy and flowy that would be good for Spring and Fall? And I remembered my thousand yards of squishy blue laceweight.

Now is the time for decisions. It can’t be all stockinette or I’ll die from the purling. It can’t be all garter or it will never get any longer. It needs to be a rectangle, but there’s no reason I couldn’t knit it on the bias. It needs to have some texture, but not a lot, and not the same texture all over, and not lace. Maybe it needs a border, maybe it doesn’t. So far, several pages of Ravelry’s pattern search have failed to give me just the exact thing I’m looking for. Next stop: stitch dictionaries and, if all else fails, a sketchpad.

In but-really-I’m-totally-going-to-knit-these-other-things-first news, I’m onto the sleeves for the baby sweater. I’m going to knit them both at once all magic loop-style. Must start sorting through the button boxes. The CTH sock (yes, still singular) continues slowly. I’ve knit enough of the scarf for the Grownup Bonnet to see that I do need to rip it out and start over. Not a ton of progress this week, but it’s been an official Bad Week for my left elbow, so I’ve been going easy on the knitting and heavy on the ice packs.

The spinning is another story, though. I’ve been spinning every day. I’m halfway through the second quarter of this fiber (so, that’s 3/8 done, yes?). I’m finding that my spinning technique is tending towards a mix of worsted and woolen – the fiber keeps changing direction in my hands. I’m also having a really hard time right now keeping the amount of twist consistent. I’m going with the Dory approach (just keep spinning, spinning, spinning) and figuring it’ll all get better at some point. In any case, I’m this much closer to handspun socks:

Also: steak for dinner tonight. Have I told you about my meat share? If I haven’t, remind me that I must soon. ‘Cause damn.

Bit by Bit

This has been a week for plugging away and getting things done little bits at a time.

I’ve been plugging away at the new sock. Just a little every day. Nothing better than some play time with your favorite yarn. I love it so much I’m not even thinking about the sock schedule (but for those of you keeping track: this makes about 4.4-ish pairs out of what should be 5 by now out of what will, I hope, be about 17.3 by the end of the year).

This weekend I’ve also been plugging away at the spinning. I’ve spun up about a quarter of the Mad Color Fiber Arts Superwash Merino/Bamboo/Nylon Top I’m trying to turn into sock yarn, wound that into a ball, and started on the next quarter. I’m trying not to tempt fate by keeping too much on the spindle at once. I suspect that if I spin this in 4 bits instead of 2, then (1) I can keep a better eye on the thickness of my singles and (2) if said thickness ends up more varied than I would like, it would be easier to have, for example, 2 thicker balls and 2 thinner balls that I could mix and match for plying, than to have just 2 balls, each of which has thick bits and thin bits. (Also, I just have to: balls! bits! thickness! OK, I’m done now.)

I don’t know a whole ton about spinning yet, but I found with the last yarn I made that spinning it in just 2 sections led to a finished yarn that doesn’t look very consistent. I’d say it goes from a fingering weight in some sections to a bulky weight in others, and I really wasn’t going for that. I was trying to be as consistent as possible, and didn’t quite realize how much variation there was until I started plying it. So, for this yarn, going very slowly with smaller bits and stopping often to let the yarn twist back on itself to see if it looks roughly like fingering weight when doubled is the strategy.

I feel like I’m getting the hang of spinning bit by bit as well. I’m starting to move away from park-and-draft. This feels very exciting. I can actually keep the spindle going while I draft, and it just sort of started happening at some point. I didn’t really notice the change. I’m finding a spinning rhythm that works for me, too. The thing I still need to work on is how to hold the fiber supply. I can’t seem to find a way that’s comfortable if I want to hold more than a maybe 6-inch long section at a time. If I have a very long section of fiber to work with, I can’t wrap it around my wrist or fingers because then I feel like I’m constantly stopping to unwind more of it (is there a good wrapping method that allows you to smoothly “feed in” more fiber as you run out?).  But if I let it hang towards the floor I find more often than not it gets caught in the spindle and things get sweary. Ah, well. I’m taking things little bits at a time this week, so I’ll just not worry about this goal for now. One of these days maybe it will just come to me.

I’ve been plugging away at the exercising as well, managing to get at least a half-hour on the bike or yoga mat every night, and on my less busy nights a half-hour on each.

Thanks to a horrid antvasion I’ve been plugging away at cleaning up the dinner prep dishes while I cook and keeping the counter tops sparkling every night as well. That’s not to say the antvasion was caused by my or Dan’s housekeeping skills – we just get a different bugvasion every year and this year it’s carpenter ants – but it’s fallen to us to deal with it. We’re trying as much poison and cleanliness as we can muster. So far we’ve avoided a resurgence.

Finally, I’ve been plugging away at a few City of Heroes characters. My sad, lonely game account was crying out to me. The last few days I couldn’t resist and I’ve been logging in and playing a bit while I have breakfast.

All these little bits are adding up to progress and that feels good. All this routine makes me wonder if it might soon be safe to tempt the cello out of hiding and see if I can’t squeeze in 10 minutes a day with him as well. It’s been years since I played. I’ve lost my calluses by now. Now that I think of it, this might be the perfect time for me to start playing again – you have to build those calluses up bit by bit too.

Realizations

Realization #1: I think I might hate plying with a spindle.

I can’t say for sure because I’ve never plied – or spun – with anything else.

It may be that I don’t like plying. I plied some of this from a center-pull ball and some from 2 separate cakes. Neither was pleasant and I still have several small balls of singles left over from when things got too difficult or tangled and I had to cut the yarn and start over.

It may be that I don’t like this spindle. I’ve been spinning with a very small, light, top-whorl spindle, but I plied this yarn with my first spindle – a larger, heavier, bottom-whorl. I am reminded that I gave up using this spindle after about 6 months because I found it very uncomfortable to use – too big for my small hands, too heavy to get it spinning easily.

So, the jury’s still out, but I do know that I really enjoyed spinning this yarn but did not enjoy a moment of plying it. It’s making me a little nervous about continuing with the sock yarn I’m working on right now, because if I keep spinning it then eventually it will need to be plied, too, and what then?

Realization #2: These socks are taking forever, and today is the deadline for pair #3. As you can see, I’m not even to the toe on the first sock. This is partly my own fault. I shortened the cuff in an attempt to finish these quickly, but then I decided to keep the slipped-stitch pattern on the sole of the foot instead of working the sole in stockinette as the pattern calls for. (After the work I’m putting into these, I don’t want the sole to wear through too quickly.) So, the foot is taking longer than it should because I can’t just zip through the second half of each round knitting every stitch. I have a plan for pair #4 that will keep me on track overall, though.

Realization #3: OHMYGOD I LOVE PROJECT BAGS. Why have I never had one of these before? I see them up for grabs on Ravelry all the time and never claim one. I just think, “that’s cute,” and move on with my day. I now must have ALL the bags. Since receiving the one in this picture I’ve arranged trades for two more.

This one came yesterday, and look what it’s the perfect size to hold:

The yarn baskets are soon to get both more organized and prettier, I think.

All the Pretty Yarnses

Up first, some pretty sock yarn in the process of becoming socks.


The yarn is Ivy Brambles Sockscene and the pattern is Aquaphobia Socks by Crystal Flanagan. This yarn definitely looked like a pooler in the skein, and I wasn’t in a very pooly place when I was ready to knit it. I am so impressed with how this pattern handles the short color repeats. It’s actually making little multicolored stripes, which is way cool. The only less than positive thing I can say about these socks is that, while each round seems to take no time at all, I feel like it takes forever for the leg to get any longer, so I’m cutting these a little short and doing a 5″ leg instead of the usual 7-8″ I would knit. The slipped-stitch pattern means there’s a double layer of yarn so I think these will be plenty warm even if they’re a little short.

Up next we have pretty yarn and more. I signed up for a Ravelry swap and received my package last week. Look at all the lovely presents:


There was yarn (3 skeins of Cascade 220!) and notepads and tea and stitch markers and Knit Klips and a little octopus who lives in my cubicle now and a project bag and a gorgeous hat pattern – Cloche Divine by Meghan Jones. I think I’m going to use the Cascade for something based on Wise Hilda’s top-down cowl-neck vest but with narrower shoulders and a hood instead of a cowl. Though, yes, yes, I know I have 2 other sweaters to finish first.

The last pretty yarn I have to show you isn’t really yarn yet. Well, it is, but it’s not the yarn it is meant to be yet.

I’ve been slacking the last few weeks on my spinning, but I have made a good start on my current project. I want this to become socks. I think it will make just beautiful socks. Every so often as I’m spinning I let the yarn twist back on itself so I can get an idea of what the finished 2-ply will be like (I’m not ready for 3-ply yet) and I think it will be ok. Maybe a bit lumpy, but I don’t think I’ll mind.

Progress Report

Progress on Kristi

I’m happy if I get about 3 rows done a night on this sock. I don’t think there have been any major mistakes and I’m starting to be able to read the chart without checking the key constantly. I don’t know if I’ll have a pair of these by the 21st, when the first of my 2012 socks are due, so I may crank out a single plain sock to complete a half-finished pair if the deadline starts looming.

Progress on Plain & Simple – moving along. Still in blob stage. No photos. ‘Cause it’s still a blob.

Progress with the Spinning

This is Mad Color Fiber Arts Superwash BFL, color Sweet Baby James. I bought a 4-oz braid of this at NH Sheep & Wool 2 years ago, spun about half when I was first learning, and picked up the rest last weekend to try to get back in the swing of things. I tore through it and just have a bit left to finish up this weekend.

Things are swinging more than I thought they would, so I think I may take a big leap this weekend and start in on this:

More from Mad Color (and from the same NHS&W trip), this is Merino/Bamboo/Nylon, color Winter of my Discontent. This needs to be socks and I have known that since we met. I bought this specifically to save until I felt my spinning skills were ready for it. I’m not entirely sure my spinning skills are ready for it, but since picking up the spindle again last week, I’m finding that I get into a rhythm very easily and my spinning is staying fairly consistent, enough that I think I can make this into a decent yarn. Maybe not quite a fingering weight, but certainly something I can get socks out of. Just to be safe, I think I’ll do a little sample first and set this aside again if things get lumpy and weird right off.

Progress Not Related to the AKB

After all the spinning I did last weekend (I picked up the spindle just about every spare moment), my hands needed some large-gauge knitting to help them relax. Not really having anything suitable in the AKB, I reached for the Xmas cashmere and started in on a Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together. I finished it up tonight, using every last inch I could squeeze out of it. I had to cheat on the cast-off. It was totally worth it.

Year-End Wrap-Up

So, all the Xmas and New Year’s celebrations are over, my vacation is almost over, and it’s time to start another year. From a yarny point of view, starting another year for me means starting another yearly goal.

Two years ago, it was a pair of socks a month, which I didn’t quite make.

Last year, it was a sweater every two months, which I also didn’t make. I started with this list in mind:

Drops 103 became Aidez instead. Owls flew off the needles in one weekend. Bonny is still queued, but (1) I don’t have the book with the pattern and (2) now that Knit Picks has come out with Aloft I may wait to get some of that and save the Felted Tweed for something else. I have 4-5″ of Plain and Simple done. Winding Path has been set aside until I find a yarn I like better. Apocalypta is definitely looming on the horizon, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. Francis Revisited, which was not in the original plan, still just needs sleeves. And there was the almost finished sweater I got in a bag of yarn from a coworker that I finished up. So, that’s 3 sweaters finished. Call it 3.75 including the progress made on Francis Revisited and Plain and Simple.

As I’ve said before, I don’t set these goals with the thought that if I don’t accomplish them it will be a failure. I set them just to keep me motivated to work on certain projects regularly. It’s one of the few ways I ever get things done, since sometimes I feel like my real hobby isn’t so much knitting as it is starting new projects. So, when I set a goal to knit a pair of socks a month, I ended up trying to work on some socks every month, and I ended up with several new pairs of socks. Setting a goal of knitting a sweater every 2 months served as a reminder to pick up a sweater and work on it for a bit now and then, and I ended up with 3 new wearable sweaters. So, there you go: success.

For 2012, I think it will be back to socks, but I’m going to speed things up a bit and try for a pair every 3 weeks. Some of my favorite hand knit pairs have worn through (side goal for 2012: learn to darn) so the sock drawer needs refreshing. I also want to try to spin more often, but that’s as much of a goal as I’m setting there. I just want to remember to spin sometimes. And I want to finish Francis Revisited and Plain and Simple before I start another sweater.

In other yearly wrap-up news, I published 59 posts this year, keeping up my roughly 5 posts/month average, and blogged about 25 finished projects.

Here’s the 26th:


Pattern: None yet. I made it up as I went, but it gave me ideas, so stay tuned.
Yarn: KPM & KPPPM left over from these mitts
Needles: 2.75 mm KP Harmony 40″ circular
Started & Completed: December 2011

These were an Xmas present for my sister and took care of one more item from the AKB. Not much more progress was made on the AKB over vacation, since we got a Wii for Xmas and so there has been so much Mario about the place. However, there was Xmas yarn, so I’m definitely committed to the idea of working on AKB stuff so I can clear the way for the Xmas yarn knitting.

ETA properly modeled finished shot of the hat and mitts on their recipient now that Dan’s awake to work his Photoshop magic for me (AT&Ticus takes dark indoor pictures).

Projects In Progress

From oldest to newest:

Toe-up 2*2 ribbed socks in Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Select, color Gingersnap.

Triangular shawl in Cherry Tree Hill Oceania, color Java.

Citron in Ivy Brambles Romantica Merino Lace, color Night Sky.

What shall, I hope, one day be a long-sleeved shrug, in Cascade 220.

Square shawl knit from the center out in my own handspun.

Aidez in Cascade Eco+, color 2452.

Annifirstary!

Yesterday was a day of plans changing and good things coming out of that. First, my Boston plans fell through. At the last minute, my friend was unable to go, and while I do love a good wander around the city, when you don’t have an itinerary, that’s really more fun with someone else than on your own. Plus, I figured if I hit a local yarn store, I could skip the train fare and have more to spend. So, I took a solo trip into Maine to a place I know sells Berroco Comfort. I need some Comfort Sock for a Baktus-and-narwhal-based barter I’m sorting out. I also wanted to pick up a shorter 2.75 mm circ for Plain and Simple. Well – day of plans changing, and all that – they did not have Comfort Sock in the colors I sought and they didn’t have any circs smaller than 3 mm, so poor little Randi had to find something else to do with her money. I came home with a half-pound of undyed Louet BFL fiber and my first Crazy Zauberball.

Do I need a third pair of socks-in-progress? I might.

However. On to the real news of the weekend. It’s been a year since my scintillating first post, so I suppose a little reflecting is in order. I started this blog to give myself another creative outlet, really just something for myself, but I’ve still been very excited to see my views rise steadily each month. I was hoping my friends would be interested enough in what I was doing to click over, but I was really thrilled when I got my first subscriber who wasn’t someone I’d met in person (hi, KnitSteve!). I’ve posted about 30 finished projects (I’m not going to attempt a count on the unfinished). I’ve documented my first successful sweaters. Most importantly, I’ve impressed myself by posting regularly. I’m not the best at sticking with things after I get started with them, but I’ve averaged 5 posts a month over the last year, and I’m rather proud of that. It’s been a good year.