Monday, January 30, 2006

Better Late Than Never

A few photos, as promised.


The brown yarn is an unknown wool top that I bought with the wheel. It is much more chocolate brown in real life; the colors did not show up well on this one. It felt a little old and dry to spin up, but I like the finished product. Part of the top was used to ply with my first handspun (posted below).

The teal yarn is natural-colored Corriedale roving purchased from The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn. I dyed it using Wilton dyes after spinning and plying. I have no idea what I will do with it, but I do like the color.


This is the almost finished Saranac. I used nearly 14 skeins of Wool of the Andes, from KnitPicks, in Fern. I knit the smallest size. I really like the way this yarn knit up, especially for the price.

To finish the sweater, I need to find a zipper and sew it into the neck opening, sew down the neckband, and weave in the ends. It will also benefit from a good blocking.

I enjoyed the pattern. The instructions were clear, although I had to make some decisions myself (i.e., how to incorporate the sleeve increases into the pattern). I quite like making those decisions, because it makes me truly understand how the pattern works, but I know some people don't.

I originally wanted to make a nice gansey for my husband, but this is what he wanted. Maybe the next one will be a little more exciting.

Finally, half the pieces of Klaralund

This has been a quick, easy knit so far. I've been a little concerned about whether I have enough yarn, but I should have just enough. (And by "just," I mean seaming with another yarn to finish it up.) I may buy an extra skein anyway, but I'm going to wait and see.

In other knitting news, I frogged Kiri after realizing that I misread the needle size. I was using a 5.5 mm, when the original pattern was written for a 4.5 mm needle. I'm using Madil Kid Seta, which is essentially the same yarn as Kidsilk Haze, and I need to buy a new size 7 needle Crystal Palace circular.

Also, I think I'm one of only a handful of knitbloggers (if, in fact, I can lay claim to that title yet) who is not participating in the Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics. I have too many projects that need to be started soon (Kiri, the self-designed Aran afghan, one or two baby gifts), and I'm not going to commit to finishing one in 16 days.

There wasn't much spinning this weekend, because I'm fairly caught up in knitting projects. I'm trying to learn Paula Simmons' method (Spinning for Softness and Speed), which is coming along slowly but surely.

Next time, better photos, I hope. I unfortunately have a camera that is smarter than I am.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Brief Update

I found out yesterday that work is sending me away overnight, so last night was a chaotic mess of deciding what to wear and, more importantly, what knitting to bring. I'm on the yoke of Saranac, which makes it far too bulky to lug around. I started Kiri for my mother-in-law's birthday, but I'm only a few rows in. For me, lace and airports don't mix. Plus, the Madil Kid Seta is tricky stuff. So, I broke down and started Klaralund last night. I was waiting to finish Saranac before beginning this, but the opportunity presented itself. This will be a quick, mindless knit; it's 4 pieces, no shaping, and just a few stitch changes here and there. I brought 4 extra balls with me, just in case I get stuck in the airport. Of course, I need to be doing work instead....

On Thursday, photos of progress (if I remember)!

Friday, January 20, 2006

A Meme...

I don't normally do these, and I won't make a practice of it, but the lovely Laura tagged me, and I couldn't say no. She coerces me to buy yarn all the time, so how could I resist?

4 jobs that you have had in your lifetime (yes, many are food-related)
* waitress at Cracker Barrel
* research assistant calling extension agents asking drought-related questions
* hostess at Chili's
* To-Go specialist at Olive Garden

4 movies that you could watch over and over
* Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
* The BBC Pride & Prejudice miniseries (don't talk to me about the new movie--I won't see it)
* Persuasion (another Jane Austen)
* The Cutting Edge (although I don't currently own it)

4 places that you have lived (in order, omitting most current places of residence)
* South Royalton, VT
* Knoxville, TN
* Marburg, Germany
* Wartburg, TN

4 TV shows that you love to watch
* Grey's Anatomy
* House
* Arrested Development

4 places that you have been on vacation
* pretty much anywhere in Western Europe
* Charleston, SC
* Disney World
* Morocco

4 websites that you visit daily
* Gmail
* Knittyboard
* Gawker

4 of your favorite foods
* Fried chicken
* Chocolate chip cookies
* Peaches
* Bacon

4 places that you would rather be right now
* At home
* Tennessee
* Germany
* Disney World

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stitch 'N Bitch

If you want to read more about the Debbie Stoller/Sew Fast Sew Easy trademark saga, go read The Girl From Auntie. She knows her stuff, and she explains the legalese behind it all extremely well. And don't go posting evil things to SFSE's boards, okay?

And if you want to do something more substantial, buy from this site. The profits are going to a legal fund to fight Sew Fast Sew Easy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Changes and Progress

I decided the previous template was a bit dark, in the end, and decided white would be better. So, here goes with a new look.

I've done some swatching on the afghan project, and I've decided on the cables. More discussion about that in future posts, when I nail down the pattern specifics and start knitting. I'm worried about the tree motif, but I think I've done the math accurately and it will be the size I want.

I've also been knitting on Saranac (see post below) and am nearly finished with the first sleeve after a frantic knitting session on Monday. I like it, and the Wool of the Andes from KnitPicks has been wonderful to work with, so far. My husband actually picked it over Cascade 220, in a head-to-head softness challenge.

I also now have the pattern and yarn for Klaralund, which precipitated the knitting marathon. I'm forcing myself to finish Saranac before I start Klaralund. Of course, it took a trip to three yarn stores and calls to two more, before I found the pattern. The third store, closest to where I live (of course), was the winner. I'm very fickle in my affections for yarn stores.

There has been some spinning, too, and some dyeing, which I have never done before. Photos will come soon, I hope.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Visualizing the Design

This is the most difficult part of the process for me, I think. How will all the elements go together to make something harmonious? What should I use to highlight the central panel? Much of this will have to wait until the yarn arrives, so I can begin swatching. For now, though, I have the following thoughts and ideas.

1. All the cables other than the central twined trees pattern must be somewhat simple. At this point, they will probably be alternating narrow and wider cables, fairly basic.

2. The background for the trees is reverse stockinette, so the rest of the cables should have the same background stitch.

3. I will do a garter stitch border around 4" wide. The entire afghan will be knitted in one piece, unless there's some reason justifying a sewn-on border. (Anyone know a reason why this might be the case? Weight?)

In the meantime, I'm keeping busy with a new sweater project, Saranac from the Knitty Men's Issue. This is only my second adult sweater, and the first for my husband. I want to alter the neckline, but he likes it better that way. I'm several inches into the body already; the garter rib goes quickly.

This is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, in Fern, I think. The colors are fairly accurate on my monitor, though the red background always seems to alter color somewhat.

Last but certainly not least, I received my final package from my Knitty Secret Pal, Suzanne (aka gibbous)! Suzanne was extremely kind, and sent me so many wonderful things in the past few months! This package was certainly no exception, as you can see:

From left to right:
2 skeins MarL La, by Classic Elite
2 skeins Fortissima Disco (I think)
1 skein KnitPicks Shadow
Knitting Over the Edge
Lantern Moon needles (!)
Gorgeous handknitted and fulled bag from Noro (made by Suzanne herself)--it has the neatest looped cord handle!
A fair isle bag pattern
6 skeins Tahki Cotton Classic to make the bag

I have been extremely spoiled this round, so much so that I think I'm taking the next one off! Suzanne did so well, finding exactly what I wanted and turning me on to so many new things, from Lantern Moon needles to new Debbie Bliss patterns. I was exceptionally lucky!

And, finally, because I've talked about it enough....

The Schacht Matchless DT, in its natural habitat.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Yarn Selection (or, an exercise in stash enhancement)

First, an answer to Donna's question: Yes, the two entwined tree motif will be on the center of the afghan. I don't plan on changing the size, except for any changes that might occur because of my gauge size. But I'll know more when I swatch. The trees made me think of marriage--roots, entwined branches.

With the vaguest details of the afghan decided, we move on to the yarn selection. For an afghan, this is critical, I think. First, Sara will be gaining a young 2-year-old stepdaughter from this marriage (they will have her half the time, I think), and both she and her husband-to-be work full time. So washability is definitely a factor. Second, I've looked at relatively similar designs and estimated somewhere around 2400 yards of yarn for this afghan. This is not an inexpensive project, no matter what yarn you choose. Third, this is an afghan--it needs warmth (they live in Vermont), some degree of softness, and durability.

I started looking at the usual suspects--superwash wools and acrylic/wool blends. (Cotton would be too heavy in this blanket.) I was looking for worsted/aran weight, preferably more on the aran side; this decision was again based on my examination of similar patterns. Based on this, I narrowed it down to 2 primary choices: Cascade 220 Superwash or Plymouth Encore.

Then I remembered a yarn I had seen on Laura's blog last week. She had tested Cestari yarn from Chester Farms for a cabled sweater. This wool claims to be washable, and Laura put it to the test. It passed with flying colors and softened up beautifully. At $5.99 for a 210 yard skein, it was comparable to Plymouth Encore, and I've decided to give it a shot. After a quick phone call with an extremely pleasant employee, in which we debated the merits of several colors, I will soon be getting 12 skeins of a color somewhere between white and tan. Then the swatching will begin!

Next...Final Knitty SecretPal 5 package and visualizing the afghan design.
An exercise in design

Sara, a good friend of mine, announced last week that she is getting married on July 1. After some thought, I've decided an afghan would be a nice gift. She's the type who would appreciate it. I dragged out the pattern books, looked at the afghan and throw patterns, and decided a nice cabled, Aran-type afghan would be perfect--classic and timeless. But I didn't like any of the patterns I found.

And then, with visions of cable patterns swarming through my head, I thought of this. I've never liked the sweater, but I thought the center cable was very interesting and filed it away for future reference. Once I saw it again, I knew it should be the center of a cabled afghan for Sara.

So, the idea for an afghan is born. It is a very good thing that I have nearly 6 months to design and knit this; it is sure to be a challenge.

Stay tuned! Tomorrow--yarn selection and beginning ideas!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A Knitting Annoyance

There's a trend I've noticed among many knitters lately. They won't do math. Now, I'm not a math genius, and I don't particularly like doing math. But let's face it--knitting requires math. Sure, you can make all the fun fur scarves you like without ever writing down the first number (or maybe even counting), but you can't make anything as complex as, say, a hat, without a little bit of figuring.

It's a dirty secret, but it's true. Knitting (at any level beyond true beginner) requires a little bit of math. But doesn't nearly everything in life? If you cook, you know that math is required to adjust recipes or substitute ingredients. I am an attorney (a profession many pursue because of its so-called lack of math) and I have to do math--adding hours worked and random math required for cases. So why would anyone think that a hobby (obsession) that requires custom fitting objects to size would not require math??? It doesn't require much--it wouldn't be beyond your average 10-year-old--but some knowledge is needed.

What brings on this rant, you ask? An increasing number of questions like, "How do I decrease 15 stitches evenly when I have 80 on my needle? The designer didn't tell me how to do that, and I hate him/her because I paid good money for an incomplete pattern." I know I need my hand held on new techniques (and I screwed up more than I care to admit when I was a serious beginner--knots, no ends woven in, curling stockinette--you name it, I did it), but if it mattered that much, the designer would put it in the pattern. And it takes a few seconds to fudge it; it doesn't have to be exactly every 5.333 stitches, though I would love to see someone try that.

Okay, enough ranting. The wheel hopefully arrives today, and I'll set to using some WD-40 on the few unfortunate rusty areas that resulted because it was a shop model, give the thing a nice oiling, and take some photos for your viewing pleasure. I also got other knitting- and fiber-related Christmas gifts, but I'll wait until later to list them.

Monday, January 02, 2006

I'm back!

After more than a week in Tennessee with family, I'm exhausted. It's always good to go back, but there seems to be so much to do in such a short time! And we never get to see everyone.

I got my Schact Matchless DT for Christmas, and it's amazing! I went to the LYS where my parents purchased it and bought all the extra whorls and bobbins she had, which puts me at 4 regular bobbins, 4 hi speed bobbins, and 4 whorls. I only need 2 whorls to complete the set, I think.

Here is my first handspun. I feel pretty good about it, since it's so much better than my spindle spinning (no, I don't have pictures of the cat vomit I made on the spindle). I plied two different colors for these two hanks. The colors in the photos are fairly accurate, but the red wall throws them off a bit. What do you think? Suggestions, comments?