Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The state of things

The New Year is here and I am feeling the need to do a little knitterly house cleaning. All those UFOs piled in the corner... I'm bound and determined to get them all off the needles before I start anything else.

Stop laughing. I mean it.

1. Edgar's Cambridge Jacket - while The Boy was able to try the sweater on during his Christmas visit (he LOVED it, by the way! Go me!) I was unable to get the zipper in on time, and JoAnn's doesn't carry 26" zippers, so I'm going to have to order online. In the meantime I can try to do justice to the single crochet edge. Really I'm just happy to be able to put off the dreaded hand-sewing for as long as possible. I.do.not.sew.

2. Flared Lace Smoke Ring - 2-3 pattern repeats from completion, I conquered this one on New Year's eve, binding off just before 11pm. It's super cute and I love the way the grey yarn looks. Not sure I'll ever be able to wear it because of the Angora Factor - even while knitting it, I've spent a lot of time wiping invisible angora fuzz off my nose and out of my eyes.

3. Tim's American in China socks - I have had one done for about a year, while the other has languished as a yarn cake. I will complete a pair of socks. I swear it.

4. Lizard Ridge - I've been working on this for two years now and this past week I finished my last square. A quick run down to A Loom with a View for some black Ella Rae and it was time to face all that seaming. I'm about half done now and charging full speed ahead. I should have the seaming done by next weekend. I've decided to give up on the crochet edge and do a simple applied i-cord. I've seen it done this way by a few folks on Ravelry, and I really like the look of it.

5. Tim's Uber Cool Sweater - I have the body done and one arm panel. The disheartening thing about this pattern is also the thing I love about it - it's modular nature. It's very encouraging, because you're able to do a lot of casting off, which convinces you that you're getting somewhere.. when in reality it's just a big tease because there is always more picking up of stitches and knitting remaining than there are completed pieces lying about the place. Even when I finish both arms (panels and seedstitch) there's still the neckband, wristband, and waistband to go as well as... the seaming (shudder).

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I love to wrap gifts. I fuss about it, but deep down I love it.

2. Real tree or Artificial?
Real. I was torn about this from a "green" pov, but it turns out that studies show a fake tree has to be used for something like 15 years before it offsets the same number of years of real trees. So instead we buy a real tree from the Elks Club and recycle it when we're done.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Second week in December.

4. When do you take the tree down?
The first weekend after New Years.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Love it, but can't drink it. And the fake stuff is disgusting.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My grandfather got me a huge set of plastic dinosaurs. It even had little plastic palm trees and stuff. Super cool.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
My grandmother. She's 97 for heaven's sake! What you she possibly need that she doesn't already have??

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Husband and son. They both like me to knit them stuff. Aren't they great?

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Ummm... no.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?
..... cards..... ??..... heh

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A case of motor oil. No shit.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
I'm torn between "Holiday Inn" and "It's a Wonderful Life"

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I'll let you know when I get that far.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
I'm taking the 5th on this one.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
I haven't seen them in years, but Educator Christmas Cookies. They were made by a bakery in Worcester, MA that I'm sure is long gone. They were wonderful. All sparkly and anise-y. Now I make do by baking spiced nuts (pecans and walnuts with sugar and spices!)

16. Lights on the tree? Clear or colors?
Loads of lights. Usually clear but some years the hubby wins and gets colors. But they must always blink.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
"Christmas Island" by Jimmy Buffet. But the original version of "I'll be Home for Christmas" will make me cry each and every time. I'm a sucker for it.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
My sister has little kids, so we've been lucky enough to get to stay home or spend the day with friends the last few years. We have the family Christmas on my sister's schedule at our parents' house in NH, usually the weekend after the actual day.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

20. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
We usually give in and open ONE present on Christmas Eve. Depends how much champagne has been flowing... Honestly, I'm lucky to make it to Christmas before begging my husband to open his gifts. Which is why I try not to shop until the last minute.

21. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
Bell ringers.

22. Favorite ornament theme or color?

23. What do you want for Christmas this year?
yarn. No, seriously.... ummm.... I'd love it if I knew a knitter and they knit me socks. I love handknit socks, I just don't seem capable of making them myself. Also "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" by Clara Parks. A new digital camera would be nice too, but maybe a little pricey for this year.

24. Angel on the tree top or a star?
a tin star

25. Favorite Christmas dinner?
roast duck, or goose, with chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes, rutabagas, Kuri squash, and at least two bottles of Veuve. Yes, we do cook like that. With something chocolate for dessert.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Key West Part II

You never know what a trip to Key West is going to be about until you get there. It *is* winter, and it *is* an island so, just like here, when you're surrounded by ocean, the weather can be iffy. We had lovely warm weather through Thanksgiving, but then over that weekend took a hit from a cold front and had a couple of days of cold and wet and very windy to contend with. Then the rest of the trip was sunny and warm, but not beachy warm - highs in the low 70s only with nights down around 60. So we switched gears from the sailing/beach sitting/kayaking trip we had intended and settled in to a 4 star restaurant/walking tours sort of trip.

Can't really go wrong either way, can you?

It's hard to walk half a block without tripping over an amazing restaurant in Key West. Makes staying on a budget impossible but, hell, you're in Key West so what's with the whole "budget" thing, anyway? So we ate... and ate... and ate! Here are some restaurants to absolutely not miss when you next head down -

Hot Tin Roof - the gulf view is incredible and the food is to die for. We had Thanksgiving dinner there and it was a 3 hour and 4 course event. Just the way I like it! You can sit inside or out (we chose in) but either way you have a perfect view of the sunset. They also make a great martini.

Santiago Bodega - walk past Blue Heaven and keep heading straight into the depths of Bahama Village. It's a tiny little place on a corner in a residential neighborhood serving amazing sangria and wines by the glass with a tapas style menu. Get the dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. You'll thank me.

Nine One Five - another amazing meal served in a little garden right on Duval just a block down from La Te Da (one of my favorite outdoor bars - and be sure to catch a show!). Great wine list, fabulous food. We had several appetizers then split the Soul Mama Seafood Soup, full of lobster, clams and grouper. Awesome.

Maison de Pepe - right on Mallory Square, this place has mostly outdoor seating and a live band at sunset. The cuban food is delicious and they make an amazing Mojito. We eat there several times every trip, or just sit in the shade and listen to the band.

We also toured the Waterfront Theater (what a great space) and saw a Key West-style Nutcracker performed at the Tennessee Williams Theater over on Stock Island. I had never seen a ballet *or* a performance of The Nutcracker, so that was a real treat! The costumes were so beautiful, and the battle between the Nutcracker and the King of the Roosters was something to see. I think my favorite part, though, was when they visited the Snowy Egrets (I think it's Sugarplum Fairies in the original?). Great fun!

Oh, and in case you thought there was no yarn in Key West, never fear - Knit Wits has you covered.

Now for some more photos:

Obligatory shot of a Key West rooster.

Not a terrific shot, but he *is* in front of the sign for the Key West post office, so that's kinda cool, even if there is a palm tree in the way.

Palm trees make nice photos on their own, too.

But it's the harbor and the boats and the sunset that I bring the camera for.

And finally, our last sunset, taken at a few thousand feet as we flew out of Fort Lauderdale. Bye Key West! We'll be back soon!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Key West Part I

I'll let these speak for themselves... more to follow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

FO Extravanganza

In between a busy work schedule, the usual Autumn craziness, and getting ready for vacation, I somehow got an amazing amount of knitting done. I was driven by the approaching holiday season to get as many projects off the needles as possible, while still sticking a little special something in here and there. So I give you, the Cavalcade of Finished Objects!

1) Seafoam Shawl

US8 circs (and the longest cord I had) and almost every inch of 4.5 skeins of Artful Yarns Serenade (cotton/angora). The yarn is a very pretty lavender and mint green marl. I think the size came out just perfect for those cool evening boat rides in the Keys, and the little ruffle is uber cute without being too... girly.

2) Victorian neckwarmer

This is the Susie Neckwarmer done in Araucania Copihue (100% Alpaca) in a very pretty colorway called Winter Boquet on US11s. I spotted the yarn as an upcoming sale at Elann, ordered the pattern, then waited to pounce on the yarn when the sale finally arrived. Exactly five skeins and I may have enough leftover to trim a hat. I was that close. The pattern is easy to memorize and knits up like a shot - it took me just two days from cast on to cast off.

3) A Christmas Surprise

4) Kath's Estes Vest

[insert photo here]

(yeah, I know I promised a photo, but life got hectic this week for both Kath and myself, so you'll just have to wait. It's worth it - I promise! heh)

I am so fricking proud of this piece. It's the Estes Vest from the Fall 2008 Interweave Knits. It knit up quick and the cabling was easy to memorize without becoming boring in the least. I love the effect of the honeycomb and although I was apprehensive about all that applied i-cord the end result is so worth it. I pretty much followed the pattern exactly, although I did add a few more pattern repeats before the waist shaping and I moved the pocket opening away from the edge a little more. Also I did the i-cord in the same needle size as the pattern, not one size down as was suggested. I will probably knit this again in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky for myself.

Other than that I've been plodding along on Mister Tim's Uber Cool Sweater and have made decent progress on the oh so boring seedstitch side panels. I'm taking three skeins of this yarn with me to Key West to work on the entrelac sleeve panels. I also did another panel for The Eternal Lizard Ridge and swatched for Vivian from the winter issue of Twist Collective using Peace Fleece. Got gauge dead on first try, and Peace Fleece fluffs up so nicely on washing. I almost can't wait to get home and start this one for myself. My other travel project will be something I've been wanting to start for awhile. It's the Smoke Ring in a wonderful wool/angora handspun that I bought... o my lord, something like 15 years ago from a lady named Connie Lamm on eBay. The names of the sheep and bunny are Pepper Jack and Holly - I wish I still remembered which is which, but I love that I know their names! The yarn is about a fingering weight, so it should work fine for this pattern, although I will spend some time swatching to be sure. My main concern would be to run out, because there ain't no mo'!

I also attended The Northeast Handspinners Gathering the begining of November. It's the first time I've gone to an event with classes and everything and I have to say I was more than a little overwhelmed. I'm not a big fan of events with lots of scheduling, and this was definately one of those, but the people were awesome, the vendors were terrific (I gave in and bought just one thing - a pattern by Anne Hanson, Autumn Arbor Stole. Mmmmmm!), and the classes were... fun! I took a class on spinning cotton with Norm Kennedy who is fascinating to listen to even though I know I'll never take up spinning cotton; I took a class on spinning wool with Libby Sheen who is the most charming lady you'll ever meet and who actually got me to spin not only long draw but something called "from the fold" which is what I've been watching the ladies in spinning circle do all this time but couldn't figure out how they did it; and I took a jewelry-making class with Leslie Wind to make shawl pins with nothing more than needle-nosed pliers, a hard surface to bang on, metal wire and hammers of all sorts. We bashed and bent and laughed for three hours - it was the most fun I had at The Gathering! And here is what I have to show for it...

a cable needle necklace, 5 different sorts of shawl pins, an orifice hook, and a pair of earrings! How cool is that?

This weekend it's been non stop errand running and cleaning and packing in preparation for our Thanksgiving exodus to Key West. The condo is all set, the rental car will be waiting at the airport, the knitting has been packed (priorities, people!), and the weather looks like it will be terrific. We even have our Thanksgiving dinner reservations all set. Less than 12 hours and we'll be on our way... we'll have the laptop with us so I'll try to post a few pictures ever couple of days. But if I don't get to it, I know you'll understand! heh

Happy Thanksgiving all!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


1) I get to keep my son (he's 20 yo)
2) my (step) grandson grows up in a world where someone who looks like him can grow up to be President.
3) Alpaca Kathy - we don't have to move to Canada after all, but thanks for the offer. ;-)
4) There are not enough hankies in my house...

Congratulations, America. You done good.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Nesting in the Fall

I can't believe it's been over a month since my last blog post. So to the three people who read this blog, I apologize. However, Fall is a time for cleaning and sorting and putting-by, which is exactly what I've been spending the last month doing. Between Rhinebeck and fall house cleaning and The Mister's starring and directing in The Boston Fringe Festival's Second Place Winner "The Movie Mogule" (!!) and the fall push at work, I've had little time for anything fiber-y. Take this weekend for example - Saturday we finally had a whole day free so we popped up to NH to see my folks. Daddy (80), Mom (70), and Nana (93!). Picked apples in the back yard, knit, chatted and generally had a lovely day. This morning got up early, put in the laundry, made a full breakfast, and sent The Mister packing to view auditions at The Firehouse (he's directing one of the short pieces for the New Works Festival this year). Put in another load of laundry, cleaned off the front stoop (putting all the pernnials to bed and putting the annuals into the compost pile), and put on a big pot of potatoe leek soup to cook. Spun a bit and decided to enjoy all the sun that pours into my office now that the last leaves are off the trees and do a bit of blogging.


However, some knitting progress has been made.

Kath's surprise is nearly finished; I've got it done and seamed, and on Tuesday the ever-kind Blogless Sara (aka Mrs. Onion) has promised to show me how to do an applied i-cord. From the pattern I'm estimating about 20 miles of applied i-cord will be needed. *sigh* I'd post a picture but, well, Kath has been known to stalk my blog, so that will just have to wait. The curious can always check my Ravelry Project page.

I've also gotten the body of the Seafoam shawl done and have washed and blocked in preparation for the ruffled edge. I've got until we leave for Key West at the end of the month to get this done, so I've put it aside to spend a little time with The Mister's entrelac sweater, which has been languishing for over a month. I'm just doing the seed stitch panels at the sides - a little boring, but I can't move on to the sleeve panels until I'm done, so that's going to have to be enough incentive to stick to it. I'm planning on taking the panels with me on the plane, and in the car, and on the beach in Key West so they can be done and ready for their own seed stitch panels by the time we get home in early December. I'm relatively optimistic that this year The Mister will actually get his Christmas Sweater at Christmas (or at least before the New Year). Then their's Eddie James' Christmas Sweater - a Cambridge Jacket that currently has the front and two back panels finished and is waiting for the arms, collar and zipper. I figured, since he's at school in Maryland, I have a little extra time on this one.

And that's it for the knitting. It's been slow going with everything else going on. I've managed to get a little bit more spinning done on the special order roving from Sereknity, but nothing to write home (or here) about. I'm going to try to spend a little time each night at it this week, since I'll be attending and taking classes at The Gathering over next weekend and I want my spinning skills well warmed up. I have two spinning classes and one class on making shawl pins! I'm a little nervous about the spinning classes, but I gave the schedule to Julia months ago, and signed up for what she pointed to. I know she'll steer me right!

I'll leave you with a couple of shots from Rhinebeck. I went by bus, I had a blast, I got a signed copy of "It Itches" (thank you Franklin!), I shopped a little, and was completely and utterly overwhelmed. The place was a zoo - I've never seen anything like it. For example, there was exactly one person I desperatly wanted to run into at Rhinebeck - my friend Annie from Canada. She in her tiara, and I in my Happy Hat. You'd think two people so.. adorned.. could find each other even in a crowd that big, wouldn't you?... :-(

But we will meet up, dear Annie. I just know we'll manage it eventually! xoxo

Veeeery friendly sheep in the sheep tent!

Obligatory shot of autumn leaves.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What a lovely day!

I had a few hours free this afternoon, what with The Mister rehearsing for yet ANOTHER play (he's a machine, that boy, I swear), so I decided to take Miss Thing down to the river for a little one-on-one spinning time. There is a very nice spot right down the road from us, Alliance Park - it's directly on the Merrimac River at the juncture with the Powow River and it's a very pretty spot.

I usually take my knitting with me, but the day was so nice I decided to take Miss Thing on a little field trip, and spend a couple of hours and see how it went.

I went very well!

I sat quietly, happily spinning and watching the assorted birds and boats traveling up and down the river for about two hours. The sun was warm, the breeze was light, and Miss Thing was reasonably cooperative.

Isn't this pretty? I'm having a little trouble getting the color accurate, but it's fairly close, if a little flat compared to the real thing. It's the second color in the Evie project that Heather dyed up special for me - a superwash wool in a combination of yellow, peach, and rose. Lovely!

Birdwatching this weekend included a few Blue Herons, a Kingfisher, and what we're pretty sure was a Green Heron. No raptors however. :-(

Saturday, September 13, 2008


So maybe you've heard about the JCA warehouse sale going on this week. Today was the last day of the sale and I had debated all week the wisdom of going. I mean; Jo Sharp, Adrienne Vittadini, Reynolds... that's alotta temptation for a girl like me. So when I finally decided this morning that I was goin' in, I asked The Mister to go with me - you know, husband as hall monitor and voice of reason?

umm... yeah... right....

What I forgot in all the excitement is that The Mister is The Number One Yarn Enabler of all time. You remember - he's the guy who said "it's not yarn... it's unlimited potential". So when we walked in and he immediately commandeered a shopping cart, I knew I was in over my head.

We spent about an hour filling the cart, debating the merits of different blends, the likelihood that a particular color would suite, whether the gauge listed could be bent to my will...

And in the end, I came home with this (Booger helpfully stood in for a sense of scale)...

That's an industrial garbage bag full of yarn.

Dumped out, it turned into this...


Okay, from left to right we have: 3 bags of Adrienne Vittadini Mia 100% wool, two bags of Reynolds Ole-Ole (one in shades of turquoise, the other in shades of purple), a bag of Adrienne Vittadini Gabriella linen/silk blend in chocolate brown, a bag of Adrienne Vittadini Celia 100% silk in peach, and 4 bags of Jo Sharp Silk Road wool/silk blend in dark olive, hand-chosen by the mister for a Cambridge Jacket.


I did go in with a budget, I'll have you know, and I went just $40 over, which we decided was an acceptable "margin of error". And it's all The Mister's fault anyways, since he just had to have the Silk Road. Nothing else would do.

Before you ask, the answer is yes, I will rent him out for a small fee for all your fiber shopping needs. ;-)

Now to get it all listed in my Ravelry stash... then figure out where the hell to store it all...


Monday, September 8, 2008


September has got to be my favorite month. The sun is still warm, the days can be quite hot, and the evenings are delightfully cool so I get to leave the windows open a lot more often! The tourists are fewer and further between and the Portsmouth Farmer's Market is really in full swing. Saturday morning Kath and I ran up there in the drizzle and here is approx $30 worth of splendiforous BOUNTY!

OMG there's corn and heirloom tomatoes and salad green and chard and leeks and crazy cucumbers and tiny white turnips and apples and, and, and,... just zowie. Awesome.

I've also gotten more spinning done now that it's not so humid that I can't draw the darn fiber. I finished, plied, and sun-dried the green portion of Evie's yarn. I think this photo is a fair representation as far as the color goes (although it's still a tab bluer than the yarn)...

Just a reminder, this was 4 oz of Superwash Merino dyed specially for me by Heather of Sereknity in a "spring leaves" green. I think she got it absolutely right, don't you? That's exactly what new leaves look like with the sun shining through them. Perfect!

And my spinning is none too shabby either, eh? I got the weight I wanted and plenty of yardage - 158 yards total in a nice DK weight. It even appears to be nicely balanced (for the most part).


Julia should be proud - was it only a year ago that I brought her my spindle and begged for guidance? ;-)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Labors


2 oz of Spring Baby Green superwash merino from Sereknity for Evie's dress. I thought to weight out the roving ahead of time so I'd be reasonably sure that each spool would contain half of the yarn so when I ply it I won't have much/any leftover singles. As uneven as my spinning is, this is a pretty big stretch, but it will get me closer at least... don't you think??


The back of Edgar's Cambridge Jacket. I also cast on for both front panels at once and have gotten about 1/4 of the way up on that as well. The photo doesn't do the pattern justice - the ribbing that appears suddenly in the shoulder area is simple and elegant. I'm still unconvinced that the enormous rolling that's happening at the hem can be fixed with the single crochet edge specified in the pattern, but I'm going to give it a try anyways. What do I know, after all? ;-)

The yarn is Di'Ve superwash and it's a lovely, soft, squishy yarn but very splitty, so you have to keep a close eye on it. Which is a little unfortunate since the pattern is so simple. The other unfortunate thing is that it's so simple and attractive of a pattern that The Mister now wants one too. *sigh* Gotta keep an eye out for a cotton/cashmere blend for him, I think. Maybe a chocolate brown or a real reddish brown. Mmmmm!

We also walked about 5 miles this weekend, which is a good start to our renewed exercise/weight loss program. Another season, another shot at it. lol! ;-)

For those interested in such things, we also spent a couple of hours down at the river watching the boats and the birds and we saw: the usual mallard ducks and cormorants, two bald eagles, an osprey (unusual, as we're a little upriver from their usual fishing spots down closer to the mouth of the river), a great blue heron, and a large white egret. The eagles were there circling and hunting over the river the whole time we were there, which was a real treat. I'm assuming this is the pair that set up housekeeping a bit upriver from us in the spring. It was definately the two adults as the white head and tail were clearly visible, even from across the river. They never did come to our side for a visit, but the osprey flew right overhead and the white egret was no more than 15 feet from us as he flew up the Merrimac and turned right up the Powwow. So cool!

Now back to the usual work week... blargh!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Road trip = HAPPY HAT!!

Eight days from roving to finished hat. I present to you...

Happy Hat
"Making the world a happier place, one hat at a time..."

Pattern: Amanda Hat
4 oz of Wild Side superwash merino roving by Sereknity spun up to about 144 yards of dk weight yarn
US8 circs (magic loop)
one road trip to PA/NJ

We had a lovely trip, fabulous weather, and I got to travel my favorite road, the Taconic Parkway in NY. We saw deer, eagles, loads of scenery, and most of The Mister's old crew from his childhood in NJ. What a crowd! :-) When I wasn't sharing the driving, I was knitting and the Happy Hat was born. I finished it Sunday afternoon just as we were pulling into our last stop in South River, NJ. All the time I was knitting it I had a song in my head. I love show tunes, but I tend to change the lyrics to fit the circumstances. Who can name this tune?

"Knit a little, drive a little, knit a little, drive a little, knit, knit, knit, drive a lot, knit a little more..."


Monday, August 18, 2008

Fiber Obsession Strikes!

Fiber Revival Part Deux was held this past Saturday at the Spencer Pierce Little Farm in Newbury MA. The weather was incredibly beautiful and the place was packed! We had alpacas courtesy of Alpaca Kathy (the little guy in the center is just 3 weeks old!!)

Fiber, of course (that's Heather's booth in the front with Amy Boogie's on the left)

We even had a Turkey-In-Residence (turkeys love spinning)

I had every intention of taking more pictures, but I got enthralled with spinning some of Heather's awesome fiber on my new wheel, and when I finaly looked up, I saw this

As lovely as it is, this does not bode well. We delayed as long as we could but eventually we knew it was time to act, (possibly it was the distant thunder) so the crowd scattered to their cars to put away their own toys then came running back to help the vendors pack up their trucks before the rain started. That was quite a site I can tell you! People packing goods, breaking down tents and tables, packing everything into trucks - I think half of us had no idea who we were helping, but I tell you it went so smoothly we'd have made an army drill team proud. It certainly looked to me as thought we got done just in time - the sky opened up just as I was walking back to my own car with my last minute fiber purchases! ;-)

The obsession part of this post is all Heather's fault. She's the devil, truly. I adore her fiber and yarn (just look in my Ravelry stash - good heavens!) and I just can't seem to get enough. In this case, it was fiber. I had been watching Kelly and Cheryl spin her Wild Side colorway for months, and was intrigued. So I finally dove in and bought a hank for myself in a superwash merino, along with a hank of a gorgeous merino/tencel blend in Gothic Rose. It's a lovely rose/hydrangea blue/lilac color that I was just unable to capture well, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you how entrancing it is in person. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went back at the last minute and bought a skein of laceweight merino/silk in the same color so I could knit it sooner! There's plenty in a skein to make a shawl and the price is fantastic. You just can't go wrong in Heather's shop!

So... the Wild Side Obsession...

I bought the fiber and immediately went back over to my wheel and started in. It's addicting - the colors are so bright and the superwash merino so spinable - I just couldn't stop. I chatted here and there, waved to Julia and other friends passing by, stopped to chat with Blogless Sarah and Mister Onion, spotted a few famous knitters (I'm not sure, but I think most of the TwistCollective brain trust was there, yes?), went for a couple of wanderings around the grounds to say "hey", but mostly I just sat and spun. And spun. And spun! Joined the collective hive mind to get everyone packed up before the rain, went home, trundled my goodies into the house, and sat and spun some more. Gave up when it got too dark to see (we have serious lighting issues in our home. Bah!). Woke up at 6am Sunday morning still thinking about that fiber. Crept out of bed, fed the cat, and sat down to spin some more. By the time The Mister got up I was plying. By the time we'd finished coffee, I had the yarn in a hank and soaking in the sink. By noon it was hanging on the front porch in the sun to dry, and by evening,... I had this

It's awesome. Approx 144 yards of awesome.

I tried so hard to split the roving lengthwise just so and to join the strips just so so that the colors would line up when I plied... but I guess I'm just not there yet. I got long stretches where they did match, or close enough, but then there's at least as many long stretches of random barber pole-ing (is that a word??). It's lovely and squishy and I totally adore it. I was cooing over it so much that the Mister finally looked over with a grin and said "well - you have to swatch, don't you?"

Isn't he marvelous?

So swatch I did. I didn't save the result as I was off by 2 needle sizes from the fabric I think I want, but it felt good and looked really intense. I'm pawing through Rav now looking for hat patterns that might do. Maybe something with a herringbone pattern like My So Called Scarf would show off the colors nicely. What do you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A very Spinnery Weekend!

After what feels like years of rain, we had a perfectly lovely, sunny, DRY, weekend... so things got a little... fibery ... around here.

There was something fiber-y in a pot in the kitchen sink

(Trevor's BSJ being coffee-dyed!)

There was handspun drying on the porch

There was handspun hanging from the mailbox

There was yarn from the Portsmouth Farmer's Market

(If you are every near Portsmouth, NH on a Saturday morning you MUST go to the Farmer's Market up by the Police Station and you MUST stop in and say hello to Ingrid. Her yarn is amazing and she is a delight to talk to.)

And... there was something amazing in the back yarn

Yes, it is. It's a wheel of mine very own. It's an old kit traditional, made in Finland (that's what it says on the bottom) but no maker's name I can figure out. It was a gift from the every-thoughtful and ever-generous Blogless Alpaca Kathy, the same wonderful fiber enabler who has let me borrow her Fricke for all these months. This gem was apparently sitting in someone's garage for aeons when Kathy got it, so it needed a little love, to say the least. I took it to spinning where the every-patient and helpful Seedstitch Cheryl puzzled over it for a good portion of the evening, trying to figure out why the drive band kept jumping the track. We finally decided that a new driveband from Cheryl's bottomless bag o' goodies and a shim under the axle would likely set it right enough. This morning I got up early, took the wheel all apart and laid her in the sun to warm up. After about 3-4 coats of Butcher's Wax, a touch of tinted wax, and a little bit of wood glue, there she sits in all her glory in the flower gardens. Not only is she now looking much happier, but I spent some time fiddling with her and watching how she moved and I made a couple of adjustments that's got the mechanism running much more smoothly! Yay me! ;-)

I spun on her a little bit this afternoon and she treadles like a dream. I'm still fiddling with the whole direct drive equation, but it's a very cool little wheel and I'm just thrilled. This actually all came about at the perfect time, because something else fascinating arrived this weekend...

My first installment of Fleece Study!

Linda Williamson Hodgkins of the Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild in NY has come up with this great program for learning all about the fleeces of as many sheep breeds as she can gather up. My first package came with all you see her - study guide (which I'm revamping with color photos - pm me if you are interested and I'll share the PDF with you when I'm done), all sorts of samples of wool washes, a little lingerie bag for keeping the fleece segregated while you wash, and TWELVE one-ounce samples of fleece to play with. I've talked about wanting to do this since I started knitting, nevermind spinning. There are so many breeds out there, I've always wondered what they each feel/smell/spin/knit like and now I'm going to know! Part one has the following breeds: Cormo, Texel, Polworth, Columbia, Rambouillet, Corriedale, Black Welsh Mountain, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Romney (my personal favorite sheep), and California Variegated Mutant (CVM). I like that the samples run the gamut from fine to coarse and include breeds that I've never heard of before like Texel, which weren't even bred for their fleece. I do realize that I have to go out now and get a set of hand carders which are dismayingly pricey ($50/pr and up), but I know it will be worth it to go from raw wool to finished yarn for each of these breeds. I'll be posting here as I run through them, so stay tuned! If you're interested in playing along, you can reach Linda on Ravelry as fleecestudy and order your very own Kit One for about $35 (postage costs vary). Linda has said that she will continue providing more breeds as long as interest keeps up.. which means she'll be selling me little packets of fleece for the next, oh, 40 years or so. ;-) Hooray!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've designed.... a sock?!

Yes, my first foray into designing and it's a sock... you can stop laughing now. ;-)

I am no sock knitter, although I love sock yarn and handknit socks. It's just that, well, I get one finished and I'm so excited and proud and then... I realize I have to do it again. Exactly the same.


So I don't usually knit socks. But I ran across Flippant by Sivia Harding while wandering aimlessly through the patterns on Ravelry and it's just the greatest idea ever. So I sat down with it and thought a bit. I knew I loved the idea, but the execution was not my thing. The pattern would bug the top of my foot and I'm pretty sure that a band protecting the bit between my toes was not going to be enough (hey, I'm a delicate flower, alright?). So I started from scratch and last night I ended up with this.

I got the yarn (a partial skein of TOFUtsie) from Grumperina (thanks Kathy!), figured out my gauge and did a tubular cast on for 62 stitches, 1/2 " of 1x1 rib then switched to 2.5" of 3x1 rib. Put 17 stitches or so onto a holder to be worked later for the big toe cuff. Knit in pattern until you get to where you put the stitches on the holder. Using a provisional cast on, cast on 5 stitches, then carry on in pattern once around. Now's the part I need to write up better but, in essence, I built a ramp so that there would be more material on the side of the second toe without making the sock longer overall so it would cover up my little toe. To do this I knit in pattern to 6 stitches past my last cast on stitch, or to the third knit stitch after a purl. Wrap and turn. Knit back in pattern to approximately the same place on the other side of your cast on stitches. Wrap and turn. Go back to one stitch before your wrapped stitch. Wrap and turn. Do this back and forth, working one less stitch each time, until you have three wrapped stitches on each side (more if you want a higher "ramp"). Knit one row in pattern, picking up and knitting the wrapped stitches as you go (there's a better explanation of this in the Lizard Ridge pattern on Knitty). Switch to 1x1 rib for 2-3 rounds. Use the kitchener bind off.

Now for the toe cuff. Pick up your stitches off the holder. Carefully pull out the provisional crochet chain and put those live stitches on a needle. Knit one round in 3x1 rib pattern, picking up stitches as necessary to close the gap between the picked up stitches and the cast on ones, and to maintain the pattern. I was not fussy here when I knit it - it's a sock for heaven's sake, half of it will never be seen. ;-) Carry on until you have enough cuff - I did about 1/2". Switch to 1x1 rib for the same number of rows you used for the "ramp". Kitchener bind off.

Using the provisional cast on for those stitches between the toes means no seam to irritate, so I went with that. The tubular cast on and kitchener bind off are just the nicest looking finishing techniques I've seen, so I used those to make it prettier, but you certainly can use any cast on and bind off you prefer, so long as it's stretchy.

So there! A pattern from me to you! TAH-DA!!!

*insert applause here*

In other knitting I have made good progress on the front panel of The Mister's sweater. He's completely thrilled with the colors... which is a good thing since he picked the colorway out himself. What a guy! This is going to be the Entrelac Sweater (WS 105) from Sarah James. So far the only thing I've changed is to use the entrelac instructions from Alison LoCicero's Entrelac Scarf because they're easier to understand, I like the slipped stitch along the edges, and the 8 stitch square just looks better, imho.

Blocked, this panel will be about 16" wide, which should be just fine. This sweater is knit so modularly that just about anything goes. You knit the front and back center panels of entrelac, join them at the shoulder, then pick up stitches all along the edge and just knit in seedstitch until it's wide enough to fit. Easy peasy! And the entrelac is so easy to pick up and put down, it's an ideal "in between" project, so I can keep on with this and maybe finally cast on for Edgar's jacket in time for fall...

... hey, hope spring eternal. Back off...