February 27, 2013

Like Magic

Cozy yarn, the right needles and the perfect pattern all comprise first half of knitting enjoyment.  Having time to knit, the ability to read a pattern and a little knowledge of math make up the second part of the equation.  When it all lines up, you have the perfect recipe for peaceful, wonderful knitting.

And then there are those days when all that lovely 'forward' knitting goes backwards:

My Marin scarf which was this far:

Was considerably reduced in size because of a math snafu, or was it a reading the pattern wrong snafu?

And don't get me started on what went wrong with everything else I tried to knit that magically turned into a pile of crap.  Craptastic is the word my friend Sojourn Knitter uses.  What a knitting craptastical weekend I had, yes I did.

So, since everything I've touched turned to dust I fell back on an old stand by: socks.  Lest you think I'm perfect, let me remind you how much I didn't like the Color Me Different skein I made when I participated in a spin-along:

So when my son's friend asked me to make him some plain vanilla socks, I pulled this skein out.  What better way to make it disappear?  And on Sunday I cast on:

Plain vanilla.  What could go wrong?  Shall I tell you or would you rather guess?  Let me enumerate for you:
A) the sock is knit on US #1 - my usual needle is US #2, so it took a lot more knitting than I had planned on.  B) the sock is ... um ... unattractive, but my son's friend won't care.  He might care that he'll have to fold his toes in half to make the sock fit his size 8 1/2 foot. C) If he can't wear them, then who gets them?  Me.

So that's the status of my knitting to date.  Lots on the needles and nothing got done.  Mountains of knitting with nothing to show for it except an ugly sock.  Sock two is on the needles, and considering the first sock took two days, the second sock will take the same and then, hopefully, the yarn will be gone and my son will steal the socks from me.

I know for sure he won't mind folding his toes in half to wear them.

February 10, 2013

Cleverly Disguised

I appreciate a well written pattern just like the next knitter.  It always amazes me how a designer puts a pattern together mixing their creativity and math - sheer genius - and I couldn't do it because the only creative bone in my body is the ability to follow the instructions.  Even there I've only got a 75/25 ratio of getting it right on the first try.

That said, I'm working on the Marin Scarf and I had to rip it out four times.  Why?  Well, there's a host of reasons, but the reason I'm writing this post is Ysolda's amazing ability to avoid using the words 'at the same time'.

But let me back up a little.  First, when it comes to pattern instructions, I've learned that I should read them from the first word of the sentence to the period that ends the sentence, and maybe read the next sentence.
That failure to pay attention led to rip out number one.

Then, with this pattern, if you don't stick a pin in the front of the work you will totally screw up the pattern. Rip out number two.

Lastly, the pattern says that you are to follow the chart instructions and 'at the same time' increase one stitch at the second marker on the right side rows.  Well, I'm no idiot (unless you consider the two rip out episodes above), but the chart leaves off half the stitches on even rows.  Well, if you don't do that, then you have a very skinny scarf.  Rip out number three.

The fourth time was the charm.  I remembered to do everything, including reading the instructions all the way through - like any good knitter who is pattern locked should do.

I don't know how well you can see the design element, but it is delightful.  I could knit this scarf forever, I love it that much.

My pattern is all marked up with notes and arrows and check marks.  Well worth it if it will keep me from making silly mistakes.

This scarf is a gift, but I really, really want one for myself.  All I have to do is hang on to my pattern with all the notes so I don't make the same mistakes twice, or in my case four times.

My advice is to read slowly, all the way through - and for heaven's sake, stick a pin in the front!

February 08, 2013

Before It Snows

It's just after noon around here, but it feels like midnight.  The sky is so dark and cloudy and I'm preparing for the 2-12 inches of snow the forecasters are predicting.  Right now, it's a rain/sleet mix and I know this because the rain hitting my windows is crackly.

That's outside.  Inside is a whole other story.

I finished my 'unknown' mix of fiber and it's not half as bad as I thought it would be, but only half as good as I'm going to give it credit for.

I thought if I took the picture from the right angle that I could get it's good side, but the loose ply is the reason there is no good side:

Yardage is pending, but I'm sure there's plenty of it.  What it will become is a mystery, so into the bin it goes.

I've been working on the Marin, as you already know, and I had to rip it back about three times because I fail to read instructions (particularly when I think they're predictable - and then find out I'm massively wrong).  So yesterday's start was for real.

I'm using The Plucky Knitters' 'one skein wonder' which has no colorway, no fiber content and no yardage.  When has that ever stopped me?  Never!  It looks like toast:

And it gives great stitch definition:

Hopefully by the time this scarf is done, there will be some sunshine to take pictures by.  My own photographic skill is poor at best and it probably wouldn't kill me to take a look at the manual.

I'm going to race through housework right now because I have to start dinner in two hours - we're having roast chicken.  And maybe, if I'm lucky, I can squeeze in some relaxation, a cup of hot chocolate and a nap.

Here's hoping, especially if you live in an area bound for massive snowfall, that you find the perfect yarn and pattern, and that your lights stay on.

February 07, 2013

Woo Hoo!

My unknown fiber has been plied and is now soaking peacefully in Euclan:

So far I am not impressed:

The ply is too loose and the red is very prominent.  I'm hoping after a soak something will make the two colors blend together a little better.  I'm hoping for fuzz, or felt or something that I can love.

What I do love about the yarn is that there is lots of yardage.  I don't have the number yet, but I was plying for-EVER.  There's got to be enough to make some socks or mittens or a cowl.  For the moment I'm going to hold judgement.

And the best part of my day today was getting mail.  Look what I got today:

Woo hoo!  It's my Tom Bihn bag!  Yay!  I was floating around on Ravelry one day and the ad for Tom Bihn bags popped up.  The ad had a video attached to it and I was too smitten to click  past it and the inevitable happened.  This bag is made of hemp and recycled rubber - you would never have guessed it.

Beautiful!  The bag is called 'Swift' and it's the smaller one since the big one is almost as big as a suitcase.  This one is purse sized and I can use it as a purse if I like.

I'm off to rescue my soaking yarn and then get back to work on the Marin scarf.

February 04, 2013

More Unknown

I knew this would happen.  When I joined the 2-ply spin along with two ounces of each fiber, I was careful to pull off 2 ounces of each.  I weighed them, weighed the leftover (in case there were more ounces than stated on the band, and then I spun them up.

Here's bobbin #2, Widdershin Woolworks Portuguese merino (no colorway):

Nice color and everything, reminds me of pictures I've seen of the forests in Ireland in summer.  All mossy and green with an occasional pop of color.  It's spun thin so right now it's not soft.

Anyway, when I was done, I put the two bobbins side by side and the bobbins are uneven.  Drats!

The forests of Ireland is fatter than the chocolate cherry.  I believe that if I try to even the bobbins out, I'll just go a whole lot in the other direction and they'll never be even.

I'm just going to step back, relax, mull it over and second guess myself at least a hundred times more.

In the meantime, I needed a break from spinning which, if you're a spinner you already know this, spinning takes a long time.  Hours, and for me sometimes days.

So I took a little break and knit a wee little thing with one of my yarn 'walnuts'.  It's called Bunny Cubes by Heather Sebastian (Ravelry):

Adorable, huh?  I took the picture in the dark because I didn't want you to see how poorly I sewed the eyes and nose.  LOL!  It's knit up, then stuffed and sewn closed.   So why in the name of shiny red pants would I sew the face on after it's closed up when I could have done a perfectly good job of it before it was stuffed?  Maybe it was spinner's brain.

I'm done for the evening.  I've got to go do some knitting before I lose my sanity.

February 03, 2013

The Unknown

I've was in the Knitabulls forum and Diane, the host, has a little contest for spinning.  The idea is to  spin 4 ounces of fiber from two braids of fiber that you would never think to ply together.

For the contest, I chose to spin two ounces of Frabjous Fiber in the chocolate cherry colorway, 100% merino:

And two ounces of Widdershin Woolworks which doesn't have a colorway name and is 100% Portuguese merino:

I believe nothing good can come of this (shaking my head), but I'm using fiber purchased at least three years ago, that's a plus.  I'm using my new e-spinner and busting a move on the learning curve, another plus.  And I can post my skein in a different forum as part of my 12 skeins in 12 months, yet another plus.

Ultimately, I don't know what the new skein of yarn will look like or if I'll like it when it's done.  I'm not even keen to win the prize Diane is generously offering.  What I am interested in doing is spinning my merino stash down.  I have way too much of it and I'm not overly in love with it.  It was great when I was learning to spin and I couldn't get enough of it, but I'm over it.

So far, I've spun 2 ounces of the Frabjous Fiber, and I don't know if it was the fiber or the e-spinner that made it the toughest spinning I've ever had to do.  I think I should have chosen something other than merino:

Finally, I can't say enough good things about the WooLee Winder on the e-spinner.  Look at how balanced that bobbin is!  You can't beat that with a stick for even distribution!  Smartest purchase I ever made.

February 02, 2013

Can You Tell?

The no-knitting 'advice' my doctor gave me is just not working.  I seem to find myself in a state I don't much enjoy, which is called 'cranky' by some, when I'm not holding needles for at least a short period of time.  However, to my credit, I have been taking more breaks between stitches and I must say, the slower pace is making the knitting a little more enjoyable.

So a hat that would have taken me two, maybe three days took six days.  No problem.  I just finished a hat called Contemporary.  I used The Plucky Knitters' silk merino in Lonesome Highway and US #2 and US #4 needles:

I'm going to wear my new hat tomorrow because my dear mother is holding my other hat hostage.  How can she do that, you ask?  Well, the last time I was at her house I left my hat behind, it must have been warm that day.

A few days later I met up with her to run some errands and asked her to remember to bring my hat.  She did, but it was in her car.  Then she announced right there in the bank in front of God and everybody else, that my hat was 'finished' and she was going to throw it away.  "I need my hat, Mom."  It was 15 yards away, locked in her car.

"No, you don't need one.  Just make one.  Anything looks better than that old hat."


"Nope.  No hat for you."

OY!!  She never did give me the hat, by the way.

Moving on.

I received my first club installment of BFL from Sunset Fibers.  It has no name, no colorway, but it came with a pattern for socks which I may make one day:

Squishy soft, smells good, love the greens and couldn't wait to spin it up!

So I spun it up on my Kromski Prelude:

And before you could say 'lickety split', the second club installment came!  More BFL, and another pattern and Skittles candy!  Yay and yum!

Now I can't wait to spin this up too!

Next on the needles is Marin by Ysolda Teague.  I'm using a one hit wonder from The Plucky Knitter in light brown.  So far, so good.

As I said, the no knitting thing just isn't working out.