Chitchat and the occasional in-depth analysis about fiber, knitting, spinning, crochet, cooking, feminism, self-image, and a modicum of personal blathering.

Monday, April 30, 2007

No re-ply at all

While the world went by, I have been fiber-mad. The sun is beautiful, and our grass is growing entirely too fast. As have way, way too many of these...

I've never seen dandelions come up so fast and so thick, and it's not just our yard.

The cotswold locks that I spun a while ago have become the base for a fulled handbag.

Needs a bit more fulling, but I want some stitch definition to remain. I've bought the lining material, so once the shape and condition of the fabric is what I want, all that I'll have to do is assemble.

I do like the way that it knit up.

Remember this?
daffodil single hanked
I have tried and tried to find a project for it, to no avail. So yesterday, I took it out and plied it with a rainbow dyed #10 crochet cotton.
It looks really neat, I think.

The colors of the cotton run through the colors of the wool and it's a nice effect, as well as making the yarn itself much more pleasing to handle and to work. I guess I'm just not destined to make singles yet.
I have enough to get a nice sized spring shawl out of it so that's what I started.

That opened the door to wanting to try plying with commercial elements, though. The next thing I tried was a set of very small batts that I had. Lovely things, a blend of alpaca and angora. About two ounces, not enough to do anything of substance with, and I had nothing that I wanted to ply it with, so i plied it with sewing thread.

I think it balanced out the skein nicely. There's about 200,220 yards there and it's soft, soft, soft. I don't think it will be very durable but it will make a lovely scarf.

And it was a good learning experience.

One last plying experiment, more crochet cotton, this time with a lime/neon green roving.

About 300 yards. It's gorgeous. No idea what to do with it, but it's "wow" pretty.

For what it's worth, I hated the single. Hated the green color. Too bright. The rainbow cotton certainly doesn't calm it down at all, if anything it makes it even brighter, but I love it all the same.

Still slogging along on the pinwheel sweater. I've had to put it down for a few days, it's making me insane with it's never ending circles. Over an hour for two rows... I will have it for the fall. I do not think it'll get done this spring.

My traveling sock project is just a pair of quill lace in Cascade Fixation, these are for me and are in a solid turquoise. I've just turned the heel of the second so they'll be done soon. My dear friend M gets a pair next. She loved the ones I was working on and I promised her a pair so she'll get the multi-colored Fixation. These are quick socks. Very rewarding, too.

Until next time-

Monday, April 23, 2007

from a sunburned monday

Over the weekend, I spent a bit too much time in the sun and boy howdy, am I paying the price now! This too shall pass, but I honestly don't remember ever getting a burn this severe in April.

In crafting, not much new. The pinwheel sweater of doooooom marches on. It's up to 488 stitches per round now. I think I have about 36 more rounds to go, maybe slightly more, before I can bind off the main body and get ready to do the sleeves. Two rows take me an hour-slightly more than 30 min to purl, slightly less than 30 to knit. So, what's that, 18, 20 hours more of knitting on the body of it? Yeah. If we get some cool nights in May, I might get to wear it...

I cast on a purse from the yarn I posted about last week-the cotswold locks. Just a simple clutch with plastic handles. I'm planning to full it rather than felt it, just to get it denser but still leave some texture and stitch definition. I also spun up the "other" colors, the green/brown/burgundy/peach bunch. It's a photogenic so and so.

Very pretty, but very scratchy. NOT suitable for next-to-skin wear. I'm glad I did the experiment, though, because it made me a better spinner and I learned a lot by working with this type of fiber.

In other news, the cats have thoroughly tested and approved the new furniture. (Last week, we went to Ikea and got Ektorped.)

(I got a little carried away because they were making me die of cute.)

Then Biscuit does this weird thing with his feet all the time...

Lily did get her turn in the chair...

But I think Dylan prefers the couch.

Lily is all like "whatevah!"

I've had Marx brothers movies on all day. Interesting background noise. I'm trying to avoid profound thoughts.

And now, the sunshine is back out!

Friday, April 20, 2007

lightning update

Unfortunately, I had to restart word verification on comments. I had spam!

Somehow that makes me feel kinda validated.

At any rate, sorry for any future inconvenience.

Real update sometime over the weekend.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Spinning from Dyed Locks

Today was my first experience spinning from dyed locks.

Reading a listing of sheep breeds, I was very interested in working with some Cotswold. No luck finding any processed all-Cotswold roving, but I did find raw fleece,and locks. The Sheep Shed, a marvelous merchant, had dyed Cotswold locks at a very good price, $10 for a pound, so I ordered one pound to see if I'd have any luck.

The locks arrived on Wednesday and I couldn't resist trying to spin a little with a drop spindle. I just opened out the ends of the curls and went (slowly) from there, drafting right out of the lock of wool. I've never experienced anything quite like it, nothing at all like roving, top, or batts. The locks were not a disappointment, either. They were lustrous and beautiful, soft but strong and a great mix of colors.

The results of the spindle spinning were promising.

About 26 yards of a DK-ish weight, very soft and knit like a charm.

I'm a bit out of practice with the spindle, but I was still OK with the results, and it gave me enough feel for the wool to be confident working with it on the wheel.

So, I split up the locks into what I thought would be interesting color combinations and divided the first batch into enough to fill a couple of bobbins.

Pretty tough to keep it even. Some of the fiber was practically ready to pull into roving...

And the majority of it that wasn't...

... I simply teased out the ends of the locks and worked through it, drafting it slowly and carefully so it didn't bunch up too much. Not a complete success,but certainly not a complete failure.

The colors are vibrant and shiny and I like the way they mixed in the plying. It's softer than I expected, and I think it'll make a nice scarf or hat. The total of this skein is between 4 and 6 ounces.

The skein is about 145 yards and roughly 12 WPI. There's a little thick/thin variation, but not much. I'm pretty proud of it!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

april snow showers

This weather sucks. A high of 40? Last weekend I was sitting out in the yard getting a sunburn, now it's snowing. Ugh.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system...

Many crafty things have occured since last I updated. I finished my mom's Quill Lace socks...

Detail of the lace pattern...

even more detail-I love the colors in the yarn when it's outside.

I wasn't crazy about the striping but it's not that noticeable and it probably only bothers me.

Also made up a pair of simple ribbed bedsocks for my grandmother. The yarn is the handspun in Steeler colors that I blogged about a while back, it made a nice squishy firm sock that will keep her feet nice and warm. Her circulation makes them cold, and since she's not going to be doing much walking in them, it won't hurt that the yarn is both spun more woolen, and 100% merino. I doubt she'll have time to wear them out.

I've made good progress on the pinwheel sweater. I'll be doing the sleeve openings within the next three or four rows.

It's getting pretty ungainly. I'm already using the 60 inch cable and I don't have a bigger one. In fact, knitpicks doesn't make a bigger one. As is the nature of these type of projects, the further along I get, the longer it takes for each row, so I'm entering frustrationland. It looks like it's going to be a great sweater, though, I'm sure I'll finish it and hopefully within the next week. On size nine needles it doesn't take long and the sleeves should be a breeze.

Anna, my #2 daughter, is in for Easter. We've been doing some productive talking. I'm pretty concerned about her being prepared for real life... somehow I think I've
shortchanged both of my daughters in that regard. Probably a common worry of parents everywhere.

Last week, while it was so warm and sunny, I took some photos of the weeping cherry tree. With this cold snap, I'm surprised it hasn't lost its blooms yet. If it makes another day it will be marginally warmer here. Keep fingers crossed! Anyway, here are some flowers, and some happy insects to close.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Mini-Vacation hits midpoint

I took Friday and Tuesday off, so I have a five-day break from work. Much needed.

Just some brief news and quick pictures.

My Grandmother is in the hospital again, though she's due to come home today or tomorrow. She's going to be getting in-home hospice care. I keep reminding myself how forturnate I am to have a grandmother still, and how lucky my girls were to grow into adulthood with a living, coherent great-grandmother. Her mind is as sharp as it ever was, which is good. Her body, sadly, is pretty much coming apart at the seams.

That photo is about ten years old, but she still looks pretty much the same. Frailer, much thinner, but still the same. That's my auntie with her.

In other news, the Yarn Harlot (link on the sidebar), Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, was in Pittsburgh to do a book signing and I went. It was so much fun! While we were waiting, I took this photo down the line of chairs-look at all the socks in progress!

Socks everywhere!

Stephanie was funny, charming, and gracious. Also, she apparently does not like hockey. I'll try not to hold that against her.

Here she is holding my sock with hers. She recognized that they were Knitpicks needles. I wanted to say that I really prefer bamboo needles but that the yarn I was using for the pattern of the socks is very elastic and grabby and the bamboo wasn't really working out at all. ("Quill Lace" from Knitty is the pattern, they're for my mom for Easter, and the yarn is Knitpicks "Dancing", which I have 4 more skeins in my stash and despair of ever using up... it's not ideal)

That sweater she's wearing is amazing. The colorwork makes me get tears in my eyes. Someday, someday.

In the meantime, the quill lace socks are finished now, I've gotten a good piece of the Pinwheel sweater started (15 stitches between yarnovers and one color change) and I want to get back to it. I also promised my grandma a pair of socks. I'm thinking squishy, warm bedsocks. I know her feet get cold and I have some great superwash merino handspun I could use for them.

We took my mother to Phipps Conservatory yesterday. I took many photos.
All of them can be found here, but this one is a particular favorite.

And for some reason, these japanese maple buds reminded me of ballet slippers...

(if you prefer viewing through flickr, they're available through the link in the sidebar as well.)

Have a good week!