Friday, February 24, 2012

Cast on Mania

I haven't posted in a while.  My beloved Linus passed away after his nasal lymphoma returned at the end of December and I was heartbroken.  So was his sister Lucy, who's taken to patting my face with her paws and was otherwise acting quite strange.  She's only laid on the back of what was their favorite chair since he's been gone.  So I did little knitting in December.  Until he passed away, I spent every moment at home that I could with Linus in my lap, mostly just petting him.

Then January was a bit stilted as well.  The dog, Riven, got diagnosed with spinal arthritis.  He was having his back right leg go numb and was panicking.  He got some medicine that helped, but it's expensive and it can cause liver problems.  I'm working with the vet trying to figure out how often to give it to him.  He's just now (about 4 weeks later) starting to have a bit of trouble with it again.

I have been doing a good bit of spinning.  I took a class from Judith MacKenzie in January.  Right now, I want to spin all the things and knit all the things, so I'm going to do a bit of a collage of what I've cast-on/spun lately:

 This is a 3-ply cashmere silk merino blend.  It faded quite significantly when washed, so I'm a bit dissappointed about that.
This is some Corriedale from a fleece I bought in September at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool that I carded.  I might still change the color of that little ball, it's not quite right.
This is the Corriedale shown above before being blended (so just the locks I dyed).
Socks from Handmaiden Fine Yarns Casbah received as a Christmas gift.
Melpomene by Romi Hill knit in Lorna's Laces Solemate in "The Bean" colorway.
 The start of Pulelehua in Claudia's Handpaints 100% Silk Lace in the paprika colorway.
The start of Manu, well this is technically the swatch of Manu, but it is started.  The yarn is a very rustic 100% shetland wool from Rach-Al-Paca Fiber Processing.

Double-Thick Mittens from The Knitter's Book of Yarn knit in Quince & Co. Chickadee in the Frank's Plum and Sweet Pea colorways.  I love these.  These were actually for someone else, but I still love them.

And lastly, the above is about 720 yards (probably a bit more) of an aran weight handspun dyed sage green.  It's being knit into an afghan (1 skein + a small one have been used up).

I have other projects that ahve been finished and others in progress even, but this post is plenty long enough.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nothing and Everything is Working

I feel like the last month has been all about lessons learned and things breaking or otherwise not working.  I set out to fix some projects that had problems in September.  I worked and worked on two sweaters to fix the sleeves on one (the originals somehow made me look like a linebacker) and the whole top of another (the neck was too big, the armholes too deep, the shoulders too wide).  So in September, I merrily ripped these out so pleased with myself for deciding to fix them so I would wear them more.

While I was doing all of these (which all used US 5 needles), the finish on my Knit Picks nickel plated size 5 needles wore off.  They're sending me a new set of tips as I type.  I can't live without my 5s.

Well the first sweater (the one with the wonky sleeves) has less wonky sleeves, but I still feel like I didn't choose the right style.  They look much better, but I don't love them. 

Here was the before, somehow I don't have an after yet, probably because laying on a flat surface, they look the same (I really need to look into getting a tripod):

This is the sweater with the too big shoulders and the too wide neckline.  I've pretty much finished "fixing" it, but now it has new problems.  I need to rip out the crocheted edging and redo it and might need to rip out the shoulder seams again and add more length, but it needs to be blocked before I decide either of those.

This is what it looked like before (yes, that is an insane amount of yarn behind me, I was in a yarn shop - they have lots of yarn).  Right now, the sweater looks like a mess.  In removing the sleeves, I managed to cut the knitting on one of them.  I can easily graft it, but just one more thing that didn't really work as intended.  The keyhole doesn't quite look right and I'm not sure the armholes are deep enough.

These are Skew.  These socks hate me.  See that left one?  I knit it three times.  I only knit the right one once.  When I put them on (a tad of a struggle, even after about 5 modifications to the pattern), they seemed perfect.  Then I wore them for about an hour and a half.  I think that they STILL don't fit, either one.  I haven't blocked these yet either.  If they get 1/8" bigger, they will fit.  Given how things are going, they're not going to do that.

Now this, I'm reasonably happy with (I think the back looks pretty awesome, so I'm showing it off).  This is Forest Fiesta from the book knit, Swirl! by Sandra McIver.  I knit it in Malabrigo Rios.

The only things that came out great in September were my spinning yarns.  Given that I've only been spinning since March, I'm exceedingly pleased with these:
This is Blue Faced Leicester in the Lucky Star colorway from Frabjous Fibers.  It turned out as a 3-ply light sport weight yarn.  It's some of the nicest dyed top I've spun so far.
This is the very first fiber I washed from raw fleece, carded, and spun.  It's a two-ply lace weight yarn, Cormo, from the Spinning Loft

It looked like this when I carded it (kind of a mess, but a fluffy mess).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fleece Washing Adventure

After buying the fleeces last week, of course, they need to be processed.  I've been washing the 7.5 lb Corriedale fleece and it's doing this magical thing - the original big laundry bag I loaded it into seems to still be about as full as it was before, but there are 6 bags of washed fleece in the basement (drying on my laundry rack), each containing 1.5-3oz of washed fleece AND I have what looks like a good bit of washed fleece in a comforter bag in the family room.  How is it doing that?  It's expanding.

I'll take more pictures tomorrow, but I took a few pictures earlier this week:

 Fleece about to be washed

 Fleece after washing.  It's not QUITE as white as I was expecting.  I wasn't sure if it didn't get clean enough because the tips were a bit compacted or if it's just not completely white.  Today I experimented with opening the tips with a dog comb before washing.  When  I take a look at the hopefully mostly dry fiber in the morning that I washed this evening, I'm hoping for improvement.  It was a bunch of extra work to do that.

I combed a bit of the stuff I washed earlier this week, just to see how it looked after the tips were opened.  These are St. Blaise 2 pitch combs.  They're bigger than mini combs, but smaller than big English combs.  I'm using some lovely Irwin clamps (from my tool area) to hold the combs to my deks on top of some pleather for a non-stick surface.  It works really well.  Those clamps hold like iron (they're also quite heavy), but they don't damage anything.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival

Great but exhausting weekend.  I'm positively droopy right now.  On Friday, I drove to Mount Horeb, WI, where I joined the Cultured Pearls Knitting Guild for their knitting retreat at Blooming Escapes, which is West of Madison.  The place was really nice, as were the ladies of the knitting guild.  Had ample room and light for knitting (or pretty much any other craft), a nice kitchen, good sleeping accommodations and nice bathrooms, with bedding and towels provided.

On Saturday, I headed over the the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds in Jefferson, WI.  I got there at 9 so I could watch the fleece judging.  I wanted to learn something about fleeces from the judges and I did.

These are judges from the UK judging a Shetland fleece.

This is a selection of all the fleeces judged that day.

After the judging was finished (around 3:30pm), they took a bit to get organized for the silent auction that started at 5:30pm.  It was unseasonably hot that day and the fleece judging building was extremely warm, making the day quite exhausting.  I only managed to knit an inch or two on two socks..

I did manage to do some shopping in the market.  I got some Unicorn Power Scour and Fibre Rinse and a set of Schacht Cotton Hand Carders.  And then I got some hand-dyed tops from Yarn Hollow and Creatively Dyed Yarns.  I also picked up 2 oz of Tussah Silk & Cashmere from Anne's Fiber Expressions and 4oz of Gotland Roving (which is pretty rare to find here in the US - that was a gorgeous grey and felt like a cloud of joy) from Illinois Will of Fiber Mill and, 4 oz of natural Cormo Top blended with 20% silk from RiverWinds Farm.  Lastly, I picked up some yarn from Miss Babs to make the Kleio shawl by Romi Hill.

After I walked the market, I went back to wait for the fleece sale.  I registered to get a bidding number.  Then waited some more.  Then I picked out which fleece I most wanted and 3 or 4 others I might bid on.  I ended up winning these two fleeces, and was the only bidder.  The one on the right was the blue ribbon Corriedale fleece.  The left one was the red ribbon (2nd place) fleece from the dual-coated category, an Icelandic fleece.

I've already started washing the Corriedale.  It will take...a while.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Swirl Part 1

I'm making good progress on my Forest Fiesta from the book knit, Swirl!.  I'm trying to figure out exactly where I want to modify the sleeves to make them shorter.  They seem like they will be too wide at the bottom and 4" too long without modification.  Generally, I'd rather sleeves be too short, as I can add a cuff.

I might wash and block what I have to confirm the row gauge before deciding.

Also, one thing I didn't remember to post earlier was my spinning from the Tour de Fleece.  This is a Border Leicester purchased from Celestial Designs Fiber Arts:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Cuteness Leads to Exhaustion

I think this may be my most favorite project knit to date.  It's Sugar Bear Hooded Cardi by Kate Oates.  The pattern is very well-written and straight-forward.  I love how cute it is with the little ears on the hood.  I love the buttons (which were graciously provided by someone from the Ravelry Stash Knit Down Group).  It's so cute, it almost makes me want a baby to put it on.  It's destined for my friend's unborn baby, who I refer to is "He Who is Not Yet Named."  I will probably enjoy that when he's wet or tired and crying, that I can hand him back.

The only things I didn't love were totally my own fault:
  1. I failed to read the part about needing DPNs for the sleeves until I was in a car for 8 hours.  Luckily, I had cell phone YouTube and figured out how to do magic loop.
  2. I forgot that baby heads are big.  So when I finished the sweater body, I'm thinking "Yay, almost finished" when really it was more like "Yay, one third finished."

Yesterday, my poor sweet Linus (the cat) had chemo in the morning.  I worked from home the rest of the day and realized later that I forgot to get more pills for Linus.  So called the vet and after I finished work, I loaded Riven in the car and drove to the vet around 6pm.  Riven loves to go to the vet.  He thinks the scale is some kind of dog biscuit machine.  So when he walks in with me, the vet tech looks at him and says "You look like you need to be weighed."  He dutifully races to the scale and refuses to move until someone (preferably more than one person) gives him a dog biscuit.  He had no interest in the fact that he weighed 77.0 lbs.

Then we went to the pet store to get a bag of dog food.  He ran up to each person that the leash let him get close enough to and ran through his repertoire of tricks; sit, stand and then sit again more forcefully with the end of his tail wagging, lay down, sit again and throw a paw in the general direction of the person.  His hope was that he could turn these people into dog biscuit machines too.  He did score some kind of jerkey and another dog biscuit.

When he got home, all this manipulation and trickery resulted in a dog that looked like this for the rest of the evening, too exhausted even to chew on the dog bone next to his head.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Time

There's so much more time in Summer to do things outside, which seems to automatically lead to less time to do things inside.  However, I've also been on an organizing kick lately.  I'm NOT a naturally organized person.  It's not at all unlikely for a telephone to somehow find its way inside my refrigerator.  I own at least two camera battery chargers and if I think about it really carefully, I might be able to find one of them, but probably not the one I'm thinking I will find.

I reorganized my entire bedroom. I'm hopeful that I can keep everything where it is.

I also went on vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC.  I flew to Washington DC, standby.  Then rode in a car for 8 hours with my parents (my brother, his wife, and their kids joined us as well, but were in a separate car).  The first night, we stayed in a hotel.  My dad did a phenomenal packing job on the trunk.  Everything's super in there and full, every nook and cranny.

The bit he failed to consider is that when you stop at a hotel, you usually need things like clothes and toothbrushes.  The overnight bags are under those chairs, the bread, the towels, the stoneware pan, the beach umbrella and pretty much every other thing in the trunk.  It was problematic.  Dad thought we were stupid for packing clothes and toothbrushes into the overnight bags...  He never did explain where he thought might be better.

While at the beach, I started and finished Alcyone by Romi Hill from my handspun, hand-dyed yarn.  It has not yet been blocked, but the knitting is complete.

This is the yarn I dyed after the last post.