July 29, 2009

Picking Up Stitches

While knitting happily along, I was asked about picking up stitches and how it's done. In my humble opinion, I think you should pick up stitches in a way that makes sense, which leaves the smallest mark on your project. I also use a needle one size smaller than the one I'm using for my project.

You might not have two colors to choose from in which case I would make sure that I pick up stitches in the same place for every stitch so that my picked up line stays straight.

In the case of the Sipalu Bag where you have to pick up a lot of stitches (a lot!), the way that made the most sense was to pick up the pink bumps (not the red) because I don't want to get the red yarn on the pink:

That way I end up with only pink stitches on both needles:

Then, when I knit the stitches together there's no red showing through.

And there you have it, picked up stitches in a straight line.

The bag is coming along nicely and I'm more than half way done. Having this time at home to get things done and to be able to knit too is a beautiful thing.

July 28, 2009

Knitting Again

Now that the Tour de Fleece is over, I took a deep breath and looked around at my stash and decided that the big bags of yarn had to go and I have to start on my holiday gift making now

So, the first large bag contained the kit for the Sipalu Bag in Tranquil. It's cute and since it will be lined to prevent stretching, it's going to be a handy bag to have.

I'd consider this an intermediate project because the pattern is on a chart, the stranding and the provisional cast on which you have to do twice. Once you get past all that, it's full speed ahead.

First you make the sides and the bottom:

Then you go on to the front and back of the bag. They are exactly the same and if you can do it once, you can do it twice:

It doesn't look like much after only three days of knitting, but when I'm done hopefully half the bag of yarn will be gone.

While I'm concentrating on this project I am reminded of all the reasons why I like knitting in the first place. It's the feel of the yarn and watching the balls of yarn disappear, it's the emerging pattern that I sometimes can't see while reading the chart, and it's the satisfaction of knowing that when I'm done I'll have a usable (or gift worthy) project.

Yep, I'm back on knitting track and I'm loving it.

July 25, 2009

Last Day

Today is the last day of the Tour de Fleece for me. The last day of the race is tomorrow, but there's no way I could get up a skein in one day. I'd say "yay", but I'm kind of sad it's over because I was really getting good at spinning. For sure I'm better at it than I was last year for the Tour.

I spun 2 ounces of fiber from Freckle Face Fibers at Etsy which I'm assuming is a gift since it came in the box with no labels or other identifiers. It's pretty and I've named it Cranberries:

It turned into a nice skein which is Navajo plied:

It's ready for it's bath so I can measure it and put up the stats on it, but trust me, no matter what the yardage is, I'll find something to do with it. Seems I spun up more reds than I usually do, I have lots of reds left to spin, and I have more roving on the way. (I need an Internet intervention!)

I thought about how it would be if I actually was in the Tour de France riding the wind with Lance Armstrong. They'd have to change the rules a little bit so I could enter, then they'd have to lower the bike and the seat because I'm only 5' tall. And I'd need a 'girl' seat and training wheels.

There's no doubt that I'd probably have to shed a few pounds so I don't squash the regulation bike (which wouldn't be regulation anymore with the adaptations stated above). I'd get on the bike and if it didn't crush under my weight, I'd promptly tip over and demand 'diva service' - a rider on either side to keep me from tipping over. When I tip to the right, Lance would push me to the left, and when I'd fall to the right, Mark Cavendish would push me back into position.

Don't let me fall off because the race would promptly end. I'm not going to harbor any personal injury - oh no I'm not! Skinned knee - I'm out. If any body part hits the ground (including my sneaker) I'm out! Chipped nail polish or God forbid, broken nail - I'm out.

But I'd be bragging! Oh yes I would. "Yeah me, Lance and Mark were out riding ..." and I'd leave out the part that I tipped over BEFORE I got go the starting line. I'd leave out the part that we only rode 10' into the race. I'd leave out the part that I couldn't ride a bike to the corner without an oxygen mask. But I'd be bragging. Yep, I would.

The injuries with cycling are SERIOUS, broken bones, scrapes, ROAD BURNS, concussions ... horrifying. But the riders can't complain to me. I have my own spinning problems: "Yeah, you've got a broken collar bone, but look at ME! I've got hands that look like the crypt keeper's and just look at my cuticles!"

It's a good thing I only 'raced' in the Tour de Fleece. I sustained minor injuries but I'm OK.

Now knitting can resume, as planned.

Last Days of the Tour

The Tour de Fleece, like the Tour de France, is almost over. I'll be sad not to see Lance Armstrong race again until next year. I don't care how many races Mark Cavendish wins, Lance will always be #1 with me!

I was on a team called Hopelessly Over Committed, which is to say that none of us knew how much we would spin or even if we could spin every day, but we all made a valiant effort and did our best.

My last entry is this unknown fiber gifted to me by Freckle Face Fibers. It was a bonus fiber, I think, for making a custom order. it's soft and pretty and reminds me of cranberry sauce:

I found the yarn (if you want to call it that) that I spun last year (on the left) and compared it to what I spun this year (Starflower) which is two yarns plied together, one from Desert Peach the other from The Ranch (they're out of business now). Boy oh boy, is there ever a huge difference from last year to now. The yarn I spun last year is my work for the 3 weeks of the tour. The yarn on the right is what I spun in 3 days! It's no contest!

This yarn is Forest Floor from It's a Colorful Life, the one that Nilda, Amparo and Cynthia helped me spin. It is the best skein of yarn I've ever spun and I love it. It'll have to be a hat or scarf to show off the colors.

Here's some yarn I got from Sock Pixie called Portrait of a Woman. I've been calling it Portrait of a Lady because that's what comes to mind when I touch it. It's soft, lovely and squishy. In my heart, it is second only to Forest Floor.

And there was this little lovely that was a gift from my friend Sojourn Knitter who had some extra fiber that she didn't want and I did. Call me greedy, but it was a quick, fun spin and everyone loves the colors. So do I!

There's more yarn than this in my stash thanks to my stint with the Tour, and as soon as I get all the statistics on them I'll let you know what my haul was. I've got lots of yarn now so the yarn store won't be seeing much of me for awhile.

Starting Monday, it's back to knitting - which is my real life and spinning will take a back seat for another year. I'd like to thank all of my non-spinning readers who put up with all of my spin talk. It won't happen again - until next year.

Oh! And before I forget, my friend Aylin O. had a baby boy today, 8 pounds 13 ounces!! Wow! Details, and hopefully pictures will be forthcoming. My best wishes to Aylin and her new bundle of joy.

July 19, 2009

Thank You, Ladies!

I would like to extend a personal thank you to Nilda, Amparo and Cynthia, the ladies in the knitting class/circle for their help with Forest Floor.

Part of participating in the Tour de Fleece is posting pictures of your work. Knowing I would have to post a picture of some progress by the end of the day, I brought Forest Floor with me to class and began the pre-drafting process hoping to get a head start:

It's merino/targhee/rambouillet, and for those of you that don't spin or are not familiar with fibers, those three fibers = soft!

The colors were incredible and it's hard to believe that I left it sitting in the cabinet for over a year. What was I waiting for? At any rate, most of the hand dyed fiber I spin comes out 'muddy' or blended. Not this time! Here it is plied:

And before I could think twice, it was over, and here's what I ended up with:

The most lovely skein of gorgeousness on the planet! The colors, the feel of it I cannot describe how happy it makes me that I did a good job on the plying:

Now I have to scour the net to find some more of this in any color. I'm in love! I'm going to wash it up, skein it up and carry it around in my purse for about 3 months just so I can stare at it whenever I want.

So, thank you ladies, your help was invaluable.

July 17, 2009

You Do Such Good Work

Of course I love the compliment when someone says I do good work. They are, however, under the mistaken impression that everything I do turns into something good and wonderful. Of course, there have been my 'off'' days, but basically I tend to agree that I do such good work. But only when I'm done. Getting there is a whole other story.

There was the day I mistakenly believed that my swift could double as a skein winder:

Trust me, there is a difference between a skein winder and a swift.

Then there was the fair isle disaster:

Of course the sweater is still on the needles, but I did manage to use up some of these quaint little balls of wonder.

And let's not forget the Must Have Cardigan with the not so matching sleeves:

After all that time and energy, I ripped the sleeves out completely and started over. Not to mention the 50 rows of 'undone' sweater, I had to rip out a front panel because of a goofed up cable.

Yes, I do good work. Right after I get finished screwing up.

July 14, 2009

Still On Tour

This is going to be short and sweet, and yes, it has to do with spinning - again.

I'm up to here with my Forest Floor fiber:

It's spinning up even prettier than I ever imagined. The colors are coming along and are looking more like dark pastels - which I love, love, love! Why I didn't spin this up sooner is a complete mystery to me. It has so much potential (provided I can ply it well).

I'm going to scour the net for more of this fiber. It was totally worth the cost, and may well end up being the reason I'm happy about joining the Tour de Fleece this year.

And now for the answer to the burning question: why did I sign up for the Tour de Fleece in the first place if it's wearing me out. Well, there are many reasons, but the main one is that I need to destash.

Here's the reason, every time I sit at my wheel I see this:

And this is only some of my stash! I'm going to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in October, and I need room for my new fiber.

The other reason is because of the woman with the walker who is also in the contest. She's my inspiration and my competitor, so if she can stay in and work past the fatigue, the low yardage and risk crappy plying for a prize that probably neither of us needs (but wants), then so can I.

But I'm NOT competitive by nature. Honestly.

Just ask any of the ladies in knitting class.

July 11, 2009

Week 1 is Almost Done

For all of my knitting friends who do not spin, I'm sorry to say that the Tour de Fleece isn't even a week old, and there's two more weeks to go. I might be as tired as the cyclists in the Tour de France, but the risk of injury does not include a tumble over the handlebars or a broken bone (merciful Heaven!). It does include, however, a sore thumb and shin, I mean spin, splints.

You might have seen this BFL called Portrait of a Lady by Sock Pixie on a prior post:

Well, I plied it and it turned into this:

It's soft as 'budda' and is going to be draped around my neck this winter. I'll be wearing it and bragging, thank you very much.

Then I took this Forest Floor (merino/targhee/rambouillet) from It's a Colorful Life, and with the help of Nilda, Cynthia and Amparo, I was able to separate, pre-draft and bag before leaving knitting class today:

And I was able to spin a little bit of it up before my self-imposed deadline:

Thanks ladies! It's not enough spinning to get a real idea of what it will look like, but it kind of reminds me of camouflage clothing. Here's hoping it plies up into a beauty of a yarn that will be a nice holiday present for someone.

There's no time to waste, I've got to get onto the next fiber. I'll have to pre-draft alone, and by the time the so-called day of rest comes around (Monday), I'll have to finish up all the start ups I started. So the day of rest won't be a day of rest at all!

July 07, 2009

It's Wearing Me Out!

The Tour de Fleece is running me into the ground! I'm thinking I'm too tired to go to work all day, come home spin and watch the race on TV, take pictures, upload and blog. Not to mention dinner, dishes and fighting off Little Miss Kitty who thinks all the yarn in the house is hers.

As promised (even if I'm a day late) here's the progress on the fair isle sweater:

I got 4" done so far and it's quick knitting once I get going, but I can kiss this baby good bye for awhile. The Tour is taking up all of my spare time.

Speaking of the tour (not that you were speaking of it, but I am) here's some of the yarn I spun during the tour:

This is some merino that I spun and plied with Knit Picks Shadow Lace. There's about 400 yards of lace weight I spun with a drop spindle:

And here's the granite yarn (day 1) I spun that's bullet proof. There's about 80 yards of it, but I'm afraid to knit with it because I'm afraid of damaging my needles and scraping the skin off my fingers:

Here's a very small amount of merino. I didn't run it through the meter yet, so I don't know exactly how much of it there is, but I do know that it's softer than soft.

Here's some more merino in blue/black/purple (the purple didn't show up on the picture on my camera either), but the color is very vivid and I'm sure when it gets worked up it'll be beautiful. It took all of day 2, 3 and part of day 4 to get this far:

And also on day 4, I spun up a small amount of some blue faced Leicester (BFL) I bought from Sock Pixie and it is the softest fiber I've ever had my hands on. I just hope I don't wreck it! It's called Portrait of a Lady and I hope I don't spin it into a tramp!

All this spinning has my head spinning in circles. I should be thanking the spinning gods for the Tour de Fleece because if I didn't force myself to do all of this spinning, my house would be over run with fiber (and it all doesn't smell too pretty!) and living in mortal fear of moths getting into the house.

And last but not least, here's a story that should impress you with my technical witlessness:

I had a custom order on Etsy and the seller, who is a very kind and wonderful woman named Nicole, sent me a link so I could pay for it.

I followed the link - EVEN THOUGH the link CLEARLY stated that it would OPEN A SHOP for me on Etsy. I can read, apparently, but I can't understand - clearly.

OK, I'm not a technical genius but I'm sure that any normal person would have contacted the seller and asked her what was going on. The seller, being a normal and reasonable person would have told me then and there not to follow the link.

But did I do that? Of course not. So I opened the shop and looked for the link to pay the seller. Well DUH! No link. DUH!

Unfortunately Etsy lets you open a shop, but it doesn't let you close it. So if anyone out there has any ideas about what I can sell, please drop me a line.
And if anyone out there wants to sell me a bridge - send me a link.

July 05, 2009

Tour de ...

I think I might have mentioned that I agreed to participate in Ravelry's Tour de Fleece which is the spinner's version of the Tour de France. Like the cyclists, we're supposed to spin every day for the next 3 weeks until the race is over. We get a day off when the cyclists get one.

What's so amazing about the Tour de Fleece is that I've actually been watching the Tour de France. I do not like watching sports at all, but when I saw the uniforms those men were wearing, I couldn't tear my eyes away! Zoiks!

Anyway ...

Day 1 came and went, I spun some Romney (white) and Falkland in Geode:

Not too bad to look at. So, here's what happened. I plied the Falkland and the Romney together. There was a lot of the Falkland left over so I Navajo plied that. Then I plied the two fibers together and got this:

The color is good, but honestly, the yarn feels exactly like gravel. Bullets would bounce off this yarn. If I bit it, my teeth would crack. It's as hard as a chain on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Oy moy!

My goal is to spin 20 ounces of fiber. Doesn't sound like much, but normally it takes me a day to prep the fiber, 2 days to spin 4 ounces, it has to sit a day, then ply it and let it sit a day. Then I wash it, whip it and hang it to dry, which takes at least a day. That's 6 days! How'm I supposed to do 20 ounces in 3 weeks?

I haven't weighed the yarn I have yet, but if "Day 1" feels like rocks maybe it'll weigh a ton and I'll have met my goal.

Day 2 - I spun 2 ounces of merino top:

It's very soft and shiny and pretty.

I'm still working on the fair isle sweater. I finally found the needle I needed to work on it. I'll try to get you a picture tomorrow.

Time for bed - I need my rest if I have to spin again tomorrow.

July 03, 2009

Stranded and Entrelac-ed

Well, the socks are done and I'm glad I decided to keep them for myself. Making socks like these, with stranded knitting isn't any more time consuming than making basic socks, the only difference is that you have to be careful with how much you pull the carried color.

I should have pulled them up to the same height, but my son was upset that I made him take pictures of my feet on the front stairs with the neighbors watching.

These socks were made using a circular US #2 needle (36"), Yarn Treehouse luster alpaca (black) and Trekking XXL color #100, one skein of each. And there's plenty of the Trekking left over. I might use it to make another pair of socks, but because the colors are kind of bold alone, I'll again pair it with another yarn.

My friend Aylin is expecting her first baby on July 17th so we are only a couple of weeks away. I made this blanket a couple of months ago, just freehand, no pattern. I figured it was a good way to reinforce what I learned about entrelac knitting. By the time it was done, I was thanking my lucky stars. Boring!

Fortunately, the blanket is as lovely as can be! Made with bamboo yarn from Sarah's Yarns, 2 skeins of white and 2 of blue, and size US #6 needles. The blanket measures 36"x40" and it's as soft as a baby's bottom.

Now I must take the time to warn you - I signed up for the Tour de Fleece with Ravelry, which means that I must spin yarn every day that the cyclists ride the Tour de France.

I'll be spinning yarn every day starting tomorrow through July 26th. There are days of rest (for me), but not for YOU because I'm taking you with me through every spinning triumph and every spinning disaster.

You can thank me later.