May 31, 2009

Dianna - Day 2

If you are not a spinner or not interested in what a spinner does, then this entry is going to bore you stiff, but bear with me, I'll get some knitting done yet.

Before spinning lessons with Julie, I used to spin and stop, go to the kitchen, get something to drink, take a break, spin some more, watch TV and talk on the phone all while spinning. I was sure that I was spinning singles thin enough to get fingering weight after plying, but that was not the case.

After using the largest whorl (I'm told the correct term is "pulley") and spinning fast enough that the wind from the wheel was enough to blow my hair back, I'd end up with bulky weight yarn (size US 9 or 10 needle) instead of fingering weight yarn (size US 3 needle). It was frustrating.

Class is done, I learned what I needed to learn and now, just like when I first learned to knit, I can't watch TV or talk on the phone while I spin. I have to pay attention. Paying attention is the hardest thing I have had to do in a very long time.

I put the fast flyer on, but ended up not using it. The difference for me was like being used to driving an electric car and someone gives you a Maserati and puts you on the Audubon. Instead, I went one pulley down in size and pedalled like the wind.

End result:

I spun all day and got just one spool! All that paying attention nearly killed me! I'm taking comfort in the fact that I at least burned off enough calories to treat myself to a serious amount of M&Ms - if I had some.

It is pretty though. The solid color repeats are long and the tweedy parts short, so I can't wait to see what my Dianna looks like when it's done.

Anyway, I've got the spinning bug and I get the feeling that the next item to disappear from my stash is this:

Merino/bamboo, 4 ounces each, from Squoosh Fiberarts which I purchased last year. She almost always has items on sale, and I think this was one of them. I love these colors.

Hmm ... I wonder what it will turn out to be.

May 30, 2009

Dianna - Day 1

I know I have a fair isle sweater to work on, and I'm working on it. Honestly. It's just that it's so hot and that sweater sits heavy on my lap and every time I take it out of my 'to do' bag, which is loaded with 5 pairs of socks waiting for my attention, I get hot and cranky. Anyway ...

In the meantime, I just got finished with spinning lessons. It's about time. I've only had my wheel for about 2 years now. The instructor, Julie, was really good at answering my questions and I learned a lot by watching. I found that I was doing everything mostly right, but I wasn't understanding about yarn diameter and getting the yarn I want without making it 8 ply or some crazy number just to get sport weight yarn.

So... I was on Ravelry one night and found a pattern that I absolutely fell in love with. It's Dianna by Jane Araujo, and when I saw it I knew I would spin my own lace weight yarn to make it. So that's what I'm doing.

While reaching for something else, I grabbed this:

Dried Flowers from Colorful Life. It's 4.4 ounces of superfine merino and so soft to the touch it almost makes me weep.

I pre-drafted it:

And now all I can do is pray to Julie that I can remember what she taught me so I can spin some lace! I just purchased and received a fast flyer for my Kromski Prelude so here's keeping my fingers crossed and praying for the best.

For me, a shawl is the best thing for Summertime knitting because it's light and not fair isle ... I mean hot to knit.

May 25, 2009

When All Else Fails

Happy Memorial Day!

I hope you all had a good day and that if you had a family gathering, that you all had wonderful weather, food and company.

I cooked early so I'd have enough time to get some housework done and do some stash reorganization . While I was doing my thing, it came to me that Spring is my least productive knitting time. It seems like March-April-May gets the least out of me.

Not only that, but I've been going to spinning class and getting home at midnight in the middle of the week is not only ruining my sleep schedule, but it's also messing with my knitting. To offset the lack of sleep/knitting, I went to my old standby - garter stitch.

On May 11th, when I was supposed to be doing something else, I found a hank of yarn that I purchased several years ago from Mystical Creation Yarns (now out of business), and I cast on. I don't know what kind of wool it is but I do know that when I ordered it, it was supposed to be fingering weight. When it arrived and I saw it was lace weight it ended up in the bin. I knew I'd use it - one day.

I wish you could see the color as it truly is. It's light like air and the colors, which look kind of bold here, are really more pastel than that.

Well, today I finished it. Finally something is finished! The pattern is Daybreak Golds from Knitting Universe, I used US #3 circulars and easily I had more than 700 stitches on the needles, so if you're not used to knitting for 30 minutes to get across a row then think twice before casting on!

My special thanks goes to Amanda for posing in the pictures. She lives next door and was minding her business when I pressed her into service. She was a good sport because there was no way I could show this shawl off in the fading sunlight and snap a picture. Thanks Amanda!

So it was a day filled with family, food and finishing. A very good day indeed.

May 19, 2009


This past week has been a busy one. In fact, it's been busy for me the past couple of weeks with deadlines, birthday celebrations, knitting class, book club and my spinning class. Yes, I finally signed up for a class so I can stop complaining about the quality of my yarn.

Class started two weeks ago and even though it's only once a week, I've been twice, and I've honestly noticed a difference.

For the past week, I've been spinning and trying to do better. It's high time I took a lesson seeing as how I've had my wheel for more than a year. I've been taking what I get as far as spinning goes, but since class started, I've noticed a little change.

I took this 100% Falkland in Wood Violet purchased from Chimera:

I was very careful in splitting and drafting, which is to say I watched what I was doing:

And a week later I finally got around to spinning and plying, and I ended up with this:

This picture was taken before the soak, beat and dry phase, but my guess is it's about 200 yards of DK weight yarn. I'll have better stats after it gets dry.

And thanks to Julie, my spinning teacher, I have to say that the forward short draw has worked for me. Although it doesn't look like much in the picture, I'd say my spinning is at least more consistent, or rather, there are fewer 'flubby' parts. This is 3 ply:

It's still a little thick and thin in places, and the singles were a little over plied, but I straightened them out as I went. It was tough! And it didn't turn out so bad considering that the last time I spun anything was in December.

Anyway, this yarn already has a destination - and a deadline which is probably going to fly by, but there's always hope.

And by the way, that holiday knitting I was going to start in February ... well ... it's bust. I haven't knit one thing yet. But as soon as I can, I'm going to start, I just hope I can find time before November!

May 17, 2009

I Said I Would & I Did

I really didn't think I could do it. I was nervous, sweaty and nauseous. I'd read everything I could find about steeking and nothing made me comfortable. Nothing.

Anyway, I said I'd steek and I did.

First I read the directions for the sweater. Seems like every chance the designer got, she said to go online to find instructions for steeking. Yeah, thanks for that.

Then I hooked up my ancient sewing machine and lined up:

I was nervous just sewing! I went so slow that I gave myself eye strain.

Then I got the scissors - oh lord - and started at the bottom of the arm steek and worked my way up. I wished the whole time that I was a woman who takes an occasional drink (I never touch the stuff), but I'm sure it would have made matters worse.

Well, I cut even slower than I sewed. Now that's just sad. The sweater instructions said NOT to cut the top crossover stitch and I didn't. Whew! And then it was done. Those are my fingers peeking through the hole:

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more traumatic, I realized that I'd only done ONE sleeve! I have another sleeve, a center steek and the neckline!!

Sheesh. After all this, the only fair isle I'll be doing will be no larger that doll clothes.

I was so stressed out after all that drama that I took a nap. Maybe I'll have a dream about one day finishing the sweater. I guess I'd better work fast before I lose my nerve again. One steek at a time.

Maybe the next time I bring up the subject of the fair isle sweater, it'll be when I'm wearing it.

May 12, 2009

No More Excuses

OK, determination won over procrastination.

I found the book: Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified by Ann and Eugene Bourgeois. (Can you believe a used copy was going for $288.00?!) Anyway, it has everything I need to know about steeking.

But, while doing the research to find a book with the answers I came across a website at that suggested that maybe the difference between a knitter who is a beginner and one who is experienced is perhaps their level of fearlessness.

Well, maybe that's true, so call me a lily livered chicken head beginner!

My feeling is that I will be able to steek this weekend because of the information on these pages:

Diagrams and everything! Little Miss Kitty was kind enough to help out by pointing (with her tail) to the section which she believes would be most helpful to me. She must be sick of my whining too.

I guess now I'm going to have to stop procrastinating and produce some results.

It's reassuring to know that there is little chance of failure because:

1) the areas to be steeked are clearly knitted into the sweater

2) my sewing machine hasn't been used in YEARS and I kind of know what I'm doing

3) all I have to be able to do is count and then cut down the middle (I'm math challenged & doomed!)

4) even if I make a mistake, I can fix it (yeah, right) by either throwing the sweater onto the expressway or getting my gasoline and matches ready

Meanwhile, I've got some WIPs to work on ... to calm my nerves, you understand.

May 11, 2009

The Art of Procrastination

What I was going to do was find out how to steek from a fair isle book that's lying around my house somewhere. That was the plan. All I had t do was find the book.

So, to that end, I went on a book hunt. While hunting, I found this sock I started on the bus to MDSW:

I did a couple of rows, but then I felt guilty and started looking for the book again.

Then I found this sock which I started and hated, but figured I'd better make them anyway:

I got pretty far along when I started to feel guilty. So, after a few rows, I went on the book hunt again. On the way, I found this sock:

After a few rows, I made a mistake on the placement of the stitch markers and now I'll have to undo a row (or two). So, I put that down and decided I'd better look for that book - for real this time.

Near one of the stacks of books I found this lace yarn and knew I had just the pattern for it. Oh, now how can I resist? So, I started this shawl with the pretty Spring like lace weight yarn I got two thousand years ago from Mystical Creations Yarn (now out of business):

Yes, it's garter stitch nirvana and a really quick knit, but I really, really need to find that book! I thought maybe it's downstairs where some of my books are stored (there's so many of them). But I made the fatal mistake of passing my spinning wheel and the cabinet next to it with all that delicious fiber in it.

I'd purchased two braids of this Falkland fiber and I only remember drafting one. Well, the way I spin, I know that I can generally get two spools out of a 4 oz braid. I filled one, and while allegedly looking for the book, I spun one more spool:

After I filled up another spool and realized there was an awful lot of fiber left to spin, I realized that I did draft two braids and that I didn't have to put an ancient Indian curse on the cat for stealing a braid. Whew!

And before you know it, it was 11:00p and too late to look for the book or to finish a sock or shawl or the spinning.

So instead of doing any of those things, I started another sock with yarn I like. Just a little something to help me sleep after a stressful day of startitis:

I never did find that book, and to be honest, I probably don't even have a book about steeking.

And that, my friends, is the art of procrastination.

May 09, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

This afternoon I was in my son's room looking for towels that have a way of hiding out in his room. I looked up for one second and noticed this from his window:

I've been living in my house for about 5 years and I know this tree is there in my back yard. I just never noticed the view from my son's window.

In an attempt to get a close up of the flowers so I can maybe go online to find out what kind of tree it is I took this picture:

I may never know what it is, but what a sight. And since my son hasn't brought me flowers yet for Mother's Day, I think this is a nice substitute for a bouquet.

So here's from me to you, in case you don't get a bouquet either.

Happy Mother's Day!

May 08, 2009

Honestly ...

There are worse things in life than a stark raving fear of steeking. The fair isle sweater I'm working on is up to a steek part, the sleeve. The entire sweater is knit in many stages: one tube for the body, two sleeves, the neckline steek and the button placket.

Once the tube (body) is done, all you have to do to continue on with the sweater is cut the sleeve opening pick up stitches and follow the pattern. Easy peasy. Or at least it should be.

I've been all over the web trying to find the easiest way to get over my fear by finding bloggers that have more intestinal fortitude than me who found a way to make steeking seem easy.

I learned that there's three ways to get steeking done: there's the sewing machine steek, the crochet steek and then the fearless steek that requires no reinforcements at all.

Imagine that! Being a gutless wonder, the 'no reinforcement' steek is not the way for me.

So while I continue with my research to try to find the perfect way to steek, I've created a little diversion with some Cherry Tree Hill supersock yarn in water (gifted to me by my friend Irma):

While I knit the Kai-Mei sock from the Cookie A book on my US #1 Harmony dpns, I will ponder my steeking options.

Meanwhile, if anyone out there knows a good steeking website for the steeking challenged, please drop me a line. If it can get me through the first steek, I might be able to handle the rest.

May 04, 2009

Maryland Sheep & Wool

On Saturday, my friend SojournKnitting and I went to MDSW. We hopped a bus in midtown (Manhattan) thanks to Eve who arranged the whole trip, and we rode for hours to get to an event that was more than worth it. Not only was it a quick ride (almost no traffic), but I had good company.

The weather was horrible all the way down there, and I had visions of slogging around in mud and sheep pooh, but when we got there it was cool and eventually the sun kind of came out. So we went in every barn, booth, and stall - twice - at least. It was amazing.

When I went, I had visions of lugging home a spinning wheel. I saw my Kromski Polonaise there on a table begging me to take it home. Begging! But I held out. And I want that wheel like a fat boy wants cake, so imagine how I was drooling.


There were cutie pie sheep:

And there was the loot (yum!):

And la piece de resistance, my Signature Collection needles:

Beautiful, expensive and worth it! Middy points:

Two different tops (talk about LOVE!):

I'm so happy I want to start someting on every set! And they come with their own little pouches! How cool is that?

And when I made my purchase, they gave me a scratch off card for 10% off my next Signature Collection purchase.
I see some double points in my Signature Collection future.

Of course, the needles forced me over my budget, but there's always Rhinebeck (October 17).

And what's a sheep & wool festival without funnel cake? I snacked like there was no tomorrow.

It was a wonderful trip, and a wonderful day.