December 27, 2010

Snow Day!

Happy Holidays to all!  I hope everyone had a wonderful day with family, friends, food. 

It snowed here last night.  A lot.  I did a little shoveling last night, but it was useless.  The snow was coming down so fast that there was no way to make any headway so I brought myself inside and prayed that the wind would blow it all away.

As it turns out, the wind blew the snow right up to my front door.  After I shoveled my way to the front gate, the snow beyond it was almost 2 feet high.  Not good.  The gate swings out, you see, and I was on the wrong side of it.  Oh no!

My son had to climb the fence to get on the other side to shovel a hole so I could open the gate.  (You know I wasn't going to climb a fence!  Couldn't you just see that!).  Anyway, I had hope when I saw that the snow plows had come along and attempted to plow my street.

Unfortunately, the plow did what it always does and as you can see from the picture, I won't be going anywhere anytime soon.  Thanks for that snow plow driver.

So after shoveling, I made myself a hot cup of coffee, contemplated going to the local grocery for some snacks and thought better of it.  Instead, I came inside to do some last minute (post) Christmas knitting.  This is the Palindrome hat and scarf set.

I used 3 skeins of Patons SWS in natural violet, US #7 needles for the hat and US #8 needles for the cowl - which was supposed to be a scarf but I ran out of yarn.  Apparently I had only 2 1/2 skeins of yarn.  Either way, it's a nice warm set and that was the last of the Patons SWS.  Stash down 3 skeins.  Yay!

The Soundview Stitchers have agreed to my sock challenge of 2011.  It took me almost  4 years to realize my dream of sitting with a group where everyone was knitting socks, and now my dream is finally coming true.  They don't have to knit 10 pairs, there are no prizes and the only thing I want them to get out of it is how to tackle any sock pattern. 

I've invited any of my readers to join us, and how you can do that is to knit the sock patterns I choose, and when you are done, send me a picture of the socks and I'll post them here on my blog.  The knitting circle won't meet until January 8th, but they have the pattern already and they promised NOT to start until after January 1.

The first pattern is Nutkin.  It's a fairly easy pattern to memorize, and the only 'challenge' is the folded cuff. 
 I'll be knitting the socks as well and will provide what help I can along the way on my blog.  So join us.

November 06, 2010

Good Deal!

Last weekend I went to the Stitches East Convention which was held at the Connecticut Convention Center and Hartford Marriott Downtown in Hartford, CT.  The place is huge, like a Costco store with stalls instead of shelves.  Huge!

This is what I bought:

It wasn't much, but it made me happy to get my hands on some tatting materials.  I saw a woman tatting on the train and I thought how pretty her little 'circles' were and I wanted to try it.  It's fairly easy with the needle, but I'm having a little problem learning to use the shuttle, but I'll get it.  This is what I learned in just one day:

How cute is that?!   I don't know what I can do with it, but for now I'm thinking that I won't be giving up my knitting needles any time soon.   I did see some cute little butterflies made with tatting and I think that's what caught my eye.

And look what came in the mail today:

New fiber from Smoking Hot Needles, spun by her, sold in her shop, and in my greedy little hands.  I wish you could see how pretty they are, my camera doesn't do them justice.  I love them!  Thanks Monika!

Now that I'm happy, I can go back to having the flu - which involves lots of fluids, lots of cough drops, tissues and Vicks Vapo-Rub.  So in addition to sounding bad and looking bad, I smell like the medicine cabinet.  Oy!

Thank goodness the clocks go back an hour tonight.  Hopefully the extra hour of sleep will aid in healing.

October 27, 2010

Critter Knitting

When someone from my job placed a classified wanting to hire a knitter, several folks from work either called me or forwarded the ad to me.  The ad was placed in September and said the job needed to be done by December 1 - two whole months away.  That's plenty of time!

But as soon as I saw the ad I had two problems:
  • If I say 'no', then I'd be turning down a challenge and a paying gig and who would do that?! Everyone that knows me knows I can't say no to a challenge, and I've been knitting since forever and no job is too big or small, etc. and blah blah blah
(OK, like I said before, it's not that I'm competitive - it's just that the lady with the wheelchair competing in Ravelry's Tour de Fleece 2009 set a really high standard which I still feel compelled to live up to).  Besides, everyone believes me so capable, and
  • What if I say 'yes' and then can't finish, or screw it up, or the hirer (my new boss) hates it and the hiree (that would be me) gets fired without pay and he ends up with no garment and I end up with a bad reputation as a knitter?  Oy! 
The whole thing had me stressed out until I saw the pattern.

Morehouse Merino's Gecko Scarf.  made with Morehouse Merino in orange and taupe, and US #7 needles. Total time to make, 10 days out of five weeks.  All garter, all the time.  The only challenge, staying awake while I knit.

OK, you can stop laughing now.

October 26, 2010

Baby Surprise Jacket

It took me a couple of weeks, but I finally knit my first Elizabeth Zimmerman garment, the Baby Surprise Jacket.

Now I understand why it's knit in more than one color, so you can see the direction of the knitting change.   I used Rowan Felted Tweed, 2 balls in a blue/gray tweed and US#7 needles.  It's longer in the body than I thought it would be and it's going to look like the baby is wearing a dress, but I hope not.

There was no button drama this time, I already had 5 buttons.  Yay!  And the best part, the sleeves won't be too long (for a change).  EZ is a genius and now I understand why.

I got a request from Sojourn Knitter who wanted to see my new Golding Spindle, so here it is:

And so to full out my list of purchases, here are the spools I bought at Rhinebeck:

Just a few more days until Stitches East and I'm hoping to get there, too.

Now before I forget to mention this, the Soundview Stitchers are taking on a new challenge.  They will start in January and make 10 pairs of socks in 2011.  The sock patterns will be of my choosing and the goal is to make all 10 pairs before year end.  The socks will be lacy, toe up, cuff down, cabled, multi-colored and anything else I can find.

My readers are invited to join us for the challenge, if you'd like.  All you have to do is make the sock patterns as they come up and when you're done, send me a picture and I'll post them during the course of the year.  Imagine your socks [here].

OK, back to knitting or spinning or something.

So, Did You Go to Rhinebeck?

Right after I rented the bus for the 2010 trip to Rhinebeck, I downloaded the vendor list and the map so I could pick a few barns and tents I had to visit - just a few, mind you.

Then I rented the bus and gathered the Soundview Stitchers, my knitting group, and piled into the bus:

We set off and ended up at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival 2010! Yay!  The weather was perfect, in spite of the occasionally chill wind.  The scenery was beautiful, if you don't mind crowds.

And then I shopped until I dropped!

Polwarth from Into the Whirled

And two ounces of an angora blend fiber.

Say hello to Mom's new sweater! Two skeins of BFL, 660 yards each.  Yum!  From Maple Creek Farms.

Some lovely sock yarn from Creatively Dyed Yarns, lots of yardage and I see more than one pair of socks from this baby!

I also bought a Golding Spindle, and a Trindle which is this little sweetie:

Cute, right?

I also bought a DPN needle case from Crippenworks, some bobbins for both spinning wheels.  I made out like a fat rat!  Can't wait until next year!

October 11, 2010

Deceptively Easy

I'm working on the Baby Surprise Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmerman which I have been working on for a couple of weeks now.  It's all garter stitch which, for any experienced knitter is a dream pattern.  I mean, what's easier than garter stitch, right?

Well ... let me tell you.  Garter stitch is easy, so easy in fact that I just zipped past the instructions as if I'd designed the sweater myself.  Until I realized that there's a bunch of decreases and then a bunch of increases.  I blew right through those rows like they didn't exist and then tinked back about 5 rows.

I love how the sweater shapes itself (if you follow the directions):

I'm using the left over yarn from my Cabled Yoke Sweater, Rowan Felted Tweed in blue gray tweed and US #5 needles. The thing is that this sweater is 'baby' size but the pattern doesn't offer measurements, so it's a crap shoot as to how big or small the sweater will end up being.

Anyway, I'm going to trudge along and read the directions from now until row 97 when I'll be finished - presumably.  I only pray that the baby I'm making it for won't be surprised if the sweater is (God forbid!) too big or too small.

Meanwhile, I'd like to thank the commenter on yesterday's blog regarding the hole in my kitchen ceiling.  I'd like to think of it as a sun roof (Cozy Town you cracked me up!), but I'm looking up into the bathroom and the only sight I could possibly see is moon shine!  And thank goodness I don't see that!  LOL

October 10, 2010

Me, Upset?

I knew there was cause for concern when something from upstairs dripped downstairs into my kitchen.  Fearing beyond belief that it was the toilet and the contamination that could be happening over my stove, I called the plumber and he fixed my loose toilet which he said was loose but wasn't leaking and my tub looked fine.  OK.  The leak in the kitchen stopped and I assumed everything was fine.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and my son told me that after his shower, he noticed the kitchen floor wet.  So I turn on the shower and ask him to wait downstairs to see what happens.  In a few minutes he says, "It's raining in the kitchen!"  Sure enough the water is dripping from several places.  Yikes!

I call the plumbers again and in comes Ricky and Dwayne.  Nice enough guys.  They showed up at 4-ish and said they would be done promptly at about 10p.  Gulp!  Guess there won't be any dinner cooked on this night.  They went to work.

First they pulled the wood of the soffit to expose the pipe and made a little hole in the ceiling:

Not too bad.  How much trouble would it be to replace a couple of tiles?  So I went into the living room and tried to ignore the noise coming from the kitchen while I did a little spinning.  Until I heard a saw, and heard banging.  So I went to have a peek:

Bigger hole and crap all over the kitchen floor and I'm looking up at the bath tub and it's related pipes.  OMG!

So, I went back into the living room to spin and tried not to hear stuff hitting the floor and my stove, not to mention what germs were swirling around in the kitchen now.  Ugh!

When all was said and done, I ended up with this:

But I was out $1300 bucks, and some of it was my NY Sheep & Wool Festival budget!  Drats!

No more raining in the kitchen, but the hole has to stay open until the wood that was below the leak dries, six weeks he said.  Six weeks of staring up at my new pipes.

Moving along, I did finish the socks I made for Yvette.  They're called Embossed Leaves which can be found here, and made with Koigu KPPMG, 1 1/2 skeins worth because the knitting gods never let me run out of any yarn - ever.  I used US #2 for the cuff and US #1 for the socks because Yvette has tiny little size 6 feet.

Nifty little pair of socks and cuter than they look on the blockers.

And as for the spinning, well ... it's not a good idea to spin when the plumbers are whacking away bits of your house and you're concerned about what's falling out of the ceiling, but I managed.

This is merino/tussah from Cloverleaf farms, one of the millions of braids of merino I'm trying to pare down so I can have room in the fiber cabinet for my new stash that I was planning to buy this weekend. 

Now all I have to do is figure out how I'm going to function for weeks with the hole in my ceiling.  I just pray that there's no wildlife living in there!

September 13, 2010

Rainy Days

Because it rained all day on Sunday, I was forced to stay inside and knit (and spin).  I recently purchased a fiber 'flower' from Spinning Awesome Good, BFL/Tussah in Moonlight Shimmy, 3.9 ounces:

Which turned into this squishy,soft and lovely yarn which is Navajo plied:

Other than it's obvious beauty, I don't have all the particulars because it just came off the spool today, but I bet it's going to be just great as a little colorwork for a baby sweater or hat.  I can't wait to use it.

Saturday was a busy day for me since I had a bout of start-itis.  I cast on for socks from Stephanie van der Linden's book (which I have in German, but it recently came out in English).  The book is called Around the World in Knitted Socks.  I love every pair of socks in the book, but if it wasn't for Monika, these socks would not be possible.  Thanks Monika!  These socks are called Kilim:

They might look complicated, but they're not.  I'm using Knit Picks Bare in fingering weight and Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett in Landscape Fire.  Lovely socks and perfect for me and my cankles, but these socks were originally intended as a gift for someone with skinny ankles.  Unfortunately for her, she won't be getting these socks ... fortunately for me, I will!

Most of the sock patterns in the book will have you casting on 70-80 stitches for a sock.  Even using the smallest needles, the socks don't get smaller, just tighter.  That said, this book isn't for everyone especially those of you with skinny ankles - unless you're really, really good at math.

Lastly, I cast on shawl #10 yesterday and I'm already at the halfway mark.  The shawl is called Spring Thaw and what I love about the pattern is the finished edge which you can see here, but only if you're on Ravelry.  Here's a peek:


This shawl is absolutely going into the dye pot!  The yarn is Misti Alpaca Lace in cream, but it looks old and tired and I think a dye job will make this shawl more attractive.  I'll let you know how that goes.

September 09, 2010

Mail Day

Every day is mail day, but usually it's bills and junk mail and occasionally mail for my neighbor.  I think the mailman has the same problem with numbers that I do.  In spite of that, today was mail bonus day.   All of the mail was good news and most of it was from Greenwood Fiberworks.

There was this 4 ounce braid of BFL in Rosewood:

And this 4 ounce braid of BFL in Persimmon:

And yet another 4 ounce braid of BFL in Huckleberry Truffle:

And Spin Dye Stitch came today too!

And if I thought newness only came in boxes and bags in the mail, I'd be mistaken because this lovely over spun beauty came off my own wheel:

I don't have any stats on it yet, but the color changes are wonderful.  It's merino/tussah from Cloverleaf Farm.  I'll work it all out on my next post where I hope to display some more of my own handspun.  I'm on a roll!

Now all I have to do is cast on shawl #10, the last one, which has to be done by December.  I've got plenty of time, but if I keep telling myself that I'll run out of time.  I wouldn't want that to happen this close to the end.

Gotta go - Miss Kitty is trying to make a meal out of my fiber!

September 08, 2010

Happy Dance!

I've got three reasons for doing the happy dance.

The mini spinning challenge wasn't a complete bust because I got this:

Two skeins of Louet's wool in Deep Jungle.  Both are 2 ply, 17 wpi, and the yardage on skein #1 is 193 yards and skein #2 yielded 196 yards.  Who knew it could be so good?  I see a "fake isle" hat and mittens in my future.  Woo hoo!

Then today's mail produced this:

My first flower from Spinning Awesome Good (thanks Shelby!).  It's 3.9 ounces of BFL/Tussah in Moonlight Shimmy.  OMG!  If only you could feel the softness!  I'm going to work on this carefully and with thought so I don't screw it up, but I can see clearly that it can't turn out bad because it looks and feels so good!

And my third reason for happy dancing is:  SCHOOL'S IN!  I'm a working mom and nothing says love like curfew, dinner and bedtime on time!! Yay!  My son is 17 years old and the last vestige of control I can exert over him is "You have school tomorrow" followed by some non-specific ridiculous set of instructions that HAS to follow.  Can you see my smile so wide it almost cuts my head in half?  I've been doing the happy dance since school shopping on Saturday.  I'd really bust a move, but I'm afraid I'll bust my hip if I do.

It's a little sad that's he grew up (without my permission, mind you), and when he graduates from high school what will be my new mommy job?  Clearly I have come up with other means of control.  Tell me how this sounds, "Don't think this dictatorship has suddenly become a democracy because you graduated.  This is still my house and as long as you live IN my  house  blah blah blah."  How's that?

For now, I'm still happy dancing.

September 06, 2010

Not Even Close

Well ... I tried.  I worked as hard as I could and even threw in a few excuses, but no cigar.  I didn't even knit all weekend because I was trying to spin 16 ounces of fiber.  I got maybe 12 ounces almost done.

This is what got done: Louet wool in Deep Jungle.

And that wasn't all of the yarn, I still have a small bit that needs to be plied.

This is what's halfway plied on the wheel: Marino/tussah from Cloverleaf Farms.


 And this is what I had to ply from the Tour de Fleece contest because I needed a spool: 100% bamboo from Xtreme Knitting, an Etsy store that has since closed up shop.

So there you have it.  I fell short of the mark, but I had a great time and I even freed up a spool or two.

Sojourn Knitter, thanks for the inspiration to spin.  I had a great time and I managed to make a small dent in my fiber cabinet.  We should try this again in about six months - after my shin splints and cramped hands have had a  chance to recover.

Oh No!

When I opened my big mouth and said I'd spin 16 ounces of fiber in a weekend, I never imagined that I wouldn't have time to do it.  Did I think the house would magically clean itself?  Or that I could do all of my back to school shopping in an hour?  Oy!  (I must confess that I break into a happy dance every time I think about my son going back to school, though.  I chuckle to myself so he doesn't see, but the happy dancing has cut into my spinning time in a serious way.)

I finished spinning up the Louet in Deep Jungle:

This yarn is obviously not going to be a 3-ply since my bobbins are so uneven, so I see three skeins of Navajo ply yarn.  How long does that take?

So, last night at 8p, I sat down to spin and I spun like the house was on fire.  With a little help from Miss Kitty:

I only got this far:

How much is that so far?

Break out the tissues because I'm not going to make it to 16 ounces.  I have laundry and a few other unpleasant chores to do before I can sit down to my wheel with any peace of mind.

Hope springs eternal, though, so I'm going to hop to doing what needs to be done and we'll see where I end up by 11p tonight.  Sixteen hours from fiber to yarn in 3 days is impossible!

I gotta go find a free bobbin.

September 04, 2010

Bad At Math?

If you've ever read my blog, then you know about my relationship with math.  I can sure enough count to 10 without a problem, but I can't count to 10 five times in a row without losing count.  My mouth says 28, 29, 30, and my brain says 52, 64, 29 ... it's most pathetic.

All of this is to say that I know I'm bad at math, make no mistake, so when I took up the challenge to spin 8 ounces of fiber, I knew I could easily fill two 4 ounce spools.  I had a bag of fiber that was labeled as 1/2 pound, which is 8 ounces.  Right?

I presume that my spools hold 4 ounces each and you can see that they're really packed, so reasonably two spools would have seen me to the bottom of this huge bag of fiber.  Well I filled up the two spools:

And to my surprise, there's this much fiber left over:

I believe that I am the only person on the planet whose fiber and yarn multiplies while I'm using it.  That's a whole 'nother spool!  Am I really that bad at math?  Three spools and then I'm done, right?  No, actually.  My larger than life mouth committed me to spinning 16 ounces of fiber.  Oy!

Well, I couldn't keep mindlessly spinning, so I took a break and finished shawl #9, Calais.  It's blocking right now.

Not too shabby for a day's work, eh?  I like the shawl, but I wasn't overly thrilled with the yarn I used, Jojoland 100% wool, which is stretchy and a little rough.  Not too rough to be against skin, but not nearly as soft as, say, cashmere.  One more shawl to go before I've completed my commitment for 10 shawls.  Yay!

Seems like the more yarn I use, the more I have left over.  I had two skeins of this yarn at 220 yards each (440 yards).  The pattern called for 382 yards and I still have half a skein of yarn left over.  Why doesn't my yarn ever get used up?

So, I guess I'll get back to my wheel and ply up some yarn so I can free up a spool so I can spin up some yarn so I can keep my ill chosen commitment to spin up 16 ounces.  What was I thinking?

September 03, 2010

Sojourn Knitter has gathered a bunch of lovely fiber and I applaud her choices, but while she was whiddling down her choices, I was on the fly:

Mind you, the only prize is free space in the fiber cabinet.  This fiber is Louet's wool top in Deep Jungle, 8 ounces of lovliness.  Four ounces down, four to go and lots of fiber drafting left to do.  Oh boy.

Me and my big mouth!

Not that I'm competitive ...

My friend Sojourn Knitter and thrown down the gauntlet and challenged us to a spinning duel and I, daringly, have taken her up on the challenge.  I am going to spin 16 ounces of fiber by Monday (yeah, right!).  So in between the laundry, floor mopping, dishes, cooking meals and sweating it out in this humidity, I'm going to spin yarn.

Presently, I have no free spools so I'm going to have to do some plying tonight to get one.  If anyone nearby sees smoke coming out of my windows, it's my wheel going at top speed, so please don't call the fire department!

Here's my entry:

I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but I don't care if I have to spin all night.  I'm going to get this fiber spun up so I have room for the new stach I'm going to score at Rhinebeck!

If anyone else out there has a wheel or spindle and some fiber they need to spin up to make room for new fiber, please join us so that the if (when) I don't make my challenge I won't have to blog with pictures of me crying!

August 28, 2010

Shawl #8

I never thought I'd make it to 10 shawls this year since, to be honest, I'm all 'shawled out'', and finding shawls to make has been something of a challenge.  I have all these rules about which shawls I could or would make and I had so much criteria that I almost ruled out ALL shawls.  Until this one, that is.

The Swallowtail Shawl was such a quick knit that I amazed my own self.  It's amazing how the smallerr shawls knit up so quickly compared with how the big shawls seemed to take forever. I used some yarn from a company no longer inn business called Mystical Creations Yarn and they described it only as hand dyed fingering/lace weight wool, a size US #5 needle, and this is how it started:

This yarn is older than Central Park dirt and the color was still pretty vibrant (loud and screamy, in fact), but after washing and blocking, it toned itself down by a lot:

In fact, most of the turquoise came out in the bath and the shawl is still a little colorful, but in a good way.   I was advised by the ladies in the knitting class not to dye it, so I won't.

I'd say I like this shawl enough to keep it, but I don't.  I like the pattern well enough, it was pretty easy to memorize, and it was certainly a worth it knit.  I'll make it again one day, but I'll probably use a solid color.  Now I'm going to have to spend some time looking for a home for it, which is no easy task.

Gotta say, though, I love blocking wires but I only used them across the top this time.  I used pins on the points which aren't perfect, but good enough.

And in case you're on Ravelry, the yarn I used is the same yarn I used for the Daybreak Golds shawl:

My yarn magically replaces itself while I'm knitting, I think.  How can I  make two shawls with one seemingly small ball of lace and still have enough to make another shawl.  It's a mystery.

On to the next shawl: Calais.  Wish me a speedy finish!