Monday, May 29, 2006

Amazing Lace--Meet Team Sooner!

I decided to join Laura and Monkee in the Amazing Lace Knit-a-long. I think this is my first official knit-a-long, and I've already broken one of the few rules. I'm a Sooner. No, not that kind of Sooner--the real kind. I started two days early, on Saturday. What can I say? It was a 3-day weekend and I want to try to finish the shawl in time to wear to a wedding July 1. As penance, I promise my next lace project will be a doily to make Monkee happy.

So, meet the team! You'll notice I'm not in the photo, because the photos with me in them turned out very badly.

The essentials are there: size 4 needles, about 1600 yards of Jaeger Zephyr, the pattern, and the indispensible Post-It notes. That's 8 repeats of the first half of the center; there will be 34 total repeats in the center, or 17 in each half. It's a relatively easy knit so far. I used Sharon Miller's provisional cast-on, which is extremely easy. Cast on the required number of stitches loosely in a yarn of a similar weight, knit one row, then join in the main yarn. When you pick up the stitches, you simply cut away the contrasting yarn. It's much easier than a crochet cast-on for me; I hope it works as well as I think it will.

The Amazing Knit button will be appearing in my sidebar soon. Once I have the motivation and time, I plan to do a bit of an overhaul of the sidebar and incorporate some helpful links.

Next up, photos of the completed throw, some alpaca handspun, and the new wheel!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Light at the End of the Tunnel

This weekend, I managed to make a lot of progress on the afghan, realizing I needed to finish it to preserve my sanity. I'm now halfway through the eleventh skein, with just one more skein to go! Given that the garter border will suck up a good portion of the final skein, I'm feeling very confident I can finish it this weekend, even with a spinning group meeting on Sunday.

That last bound of stitch is going to feel very good. The project hasn't been that bad; it's not difficult or even particularly time-consuming. But it's BIG and unwieldy and preventing me from knitting on other projects that have been languishing in the basket. I hope that the recipient really loves it, because it's been a good portion of my knitting time these last few months. (I think she will; I hope I've learned my lesson about knitting gifts that are really so I can show off.)

I also decided to add sleeves to the Green Gable top. I'm fairly dissatisfied with the finished product. It isn't as form-fitting as I would like, but I think 3/4 length sleeves will balance it out a lot. I may end up ripping back the castoff and taking off an inch or two, as well.

Next up are two newborn hat and booties sets for twin girls that will be born this summer. I'm excited about using the Ellen's Half-Pint Farm yarn for those! I also hope to finish Lady Eleanor Entrelac and another in-progress wrap, since my office is freezing all summer. Fingerless gloves may also be required.

The Ashford Joy isn't here yet, but it will ship this week! I've been obsessively checking my email and credit card statement, waiting for the shipment notification. I had hoped to have it by this weekend, but I don't think that will happen now. It will have to make its debut at the Seaport Second Saturday Spin-In next month, I guess. I can't imagine how it will feel to spin in front of others!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

I did it!

I ordered the Ashford Joy DT from The Woolery today. Think this will assuage the wheel lust for awhile?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Maryland Sheep & Wool (Bonus: Adventures in Dyeing)

I had a great time at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival on Saturday! I shopped, tried out wheels, and met Pam and Jen! I'm relying on Pam's blog for photos of the day, since her husband Kris was busy filling his camera's memory card with photos of yarn and sheep (and I was too lazy to take my camera--needed room for fiber!).

I tried out five wheels, searching for a good wheel portable enough to take on the subway to spinning guild meetings. Here are the results, in order of preference:

1. Ashford Joy DT: I loved this wheel, even though I did not expect to. The treadling was very smooth, and I was able to spin right away on it, with minimal adjustments. It's lightweight and compact, especially with the addition of a padded carrying case. I couldn't find any downsides to this wheel, and it was all I could do to leave it at the festival.

2. Lendrum DT: This was also a great wheel, and it sold me on a Woolee Winder for my Schacht. I can see why so many people love the Lendrum--it's smooth and comfortable. The only drawback is portability. For my purposes, it's just too big. I really only tried it to see if I liked the Woolee Winder, but I would definitely try it if I was looking for a wheel to keep at home or transport in a car.

3. Journey Wheel: The Journey Wheel is a very interesting concept: a wheel that works very much like a vertical charka with treadles. It folds up into its own wooden box, and a padded carrying bag is available. I liked the wheel, but something did not fit me. In addition, it's fairly expensive at $800, and the box weighs quite a bit.

4. Wee Robin: I've never spun on one of the full-size Robin wheels, but they are beautiful, and their owners seem to love them. I really wanted to love the Wee Robin, for its great design and beauty and in spite of its $900 starting price. I tried it, and it felt a bit unbalanced. I don't know if it is a problem with the floor model, which is quite possible with dozens of people spinning on it daily, or if my treadling motion doesn't work well with a wheel this small and lightweight. It is not the wheel for me, though.

5. Majacraft Little Gem: I did not get along with this wheel. If you'd asked me which of the five I expected to like most, this would be it. The tiny wheel wanted to reverse on me with no warning, and the tension had either no uptake or ripped the yarn out of my hands. After about ten minutes of fighting, I gave up.

I've decided to wait until my birthday, later this month, to buy the Joy. I think this will satisfy my wheel lust for a bit. I've really wanted to be able to spin in front of others to get feedback.

On to the purchases! I was disappointed with The Fold. Apparently no one told them of the huge cult following Socks That Rock has right now. They sold out of all their skeins in less than two hours. Sock yarn is apparently very hot right now. I bought these two skeins from Ellen's Half Pint Farm--enormous at 500 yards per skein--and they were among the last dozen or so skeins she had.

I'll be knitting booties and hats for twin girls due later this summer, then socks for myself. I think I'll have enough to get two pairs of ankle socks in addition to the baby gifts. How's that for value?

I also found some nice handpainted superwash merino roving from The Yarn Barn. Each is 4 ounces, enough for a pair of socks each. I love the colors!

I also bought quite a bit of natural-colored roving: 2 pounds of Blue-faced Leicester from Haltwhistle Fibres, 1.5 pounds of Finn from Misty Mountain Farms, and 4 ounces of gorgeous Polwarth from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. The Polwarth was a definite splurge (and was quite overpriced), but it's very special. It will become a hat or pair of mittens for me, I think.

I had been toying with the idea of buying some professional dyes, having seen so many beautiful results from other bloggers, so I bought three jars of Jacquard dyes. I dyed some of my handspun today, which will become the Roxy Lady bag. Here is the process at work:

And the finished product--in a different color, of course:

I plan to buy some other colors soon and dye some of the beautiful roving I acquired this weekend!

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Yarn Store Meme and a Maryland Sheep & Wool Shopping List

Tamara created this meme, and I like it!

1)What's your favorite LYS? I go back and forth between The Point, Seaport, and Brooklyn General (which I'd like to visit more often)
2)What about it do you like most? The Point's cafe, where it's perfectly acceptable to buy a cup of coffee and knit and chat with friends for an hour or two. Seaport's selection is outstanding, and I like the laid-back feel. Brooklyn General is a beautiful store with yarn, fabrics, and hard-to-find children's items (and it should be carrying more spinning supplies soon!).
3)What is your 2nd favorite? With three favorites, I don't think I'm allowed to have a second favorite!
4)What would you improve about it to make it a tie with your first? I'll answer this a little differently--what could any of the three favorites do to become my absolute favorite? I think a combination of the three would be perfect: the selection from Seaport, the gathering area of The Point, and the beauty and general ambience of Brooklyn General.
5)What's the last thing your bought at your #1 LYS? I think the last purchase I made at any of the three was Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and 2 skeins of Cherry Tree Hill Supersock at Seaport.

I'm not tagging anyone, but I think it's a great meme, if you want to do it!

I wrote about New York City yarn stores awhile back, in this post, if you want to know more of my thoughts on this.

With great trepidation, I'm publishing my shopping list for tomorrow! (I'm so excited, I feel like a kid again! I just hope I'm able to sleep tonight.)

1. Koigu, mainly for baby gifts.
2. Socks That Rock, just because (and I also have to pick some up for Karen).
3. A dpn/sock case for Tamara. Karen bought one at Rhinebeck, and it is the neatest thing! I'll post photos if I find one.
4. Prepared fiber, of various types and colors. Maybe some silk blends.

I'll also be looking at dyes and travel wheels. I'll probably buy some dye, but I plan to wait on the travel wheel--unless I decide that the Wee Robin is for me! There's about a 12-month wait on those wheels.

Will post more when I come back!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Boring, pre-Maryland Sheep & Wool post

Yes, I know there are better ways to start a post than "boring," but my knitting has been rather boring lately. I've made some progress on the cabled afghan, as evidenced in this photo:

That's 7 1/2 skeins in, with 4 1/2 to go. My goal is to have it finished by the first week of June, but I'm not sure I'll make that. It doesn't have to be finished until June 30, at which time it must be dry and wrapped for the trip to Vermont.

I do like the cable pattern quite a bit, and I think washing it will do a world of good.

I spun this a week or two ago for Helen, who admired the roving I dyed.

I'm quite pleased with how this turned out. The spinning is getting slightly more even, although there are still a lot of inconsistencies. The colors blended much better than I thought they would, as well. It's enough to make me consider buying more professional dyes.

Next time, I'll have a report from Maryland Sheep & Wool!