September 29, 2013

Another Skein Down

I finished the Honey Badger socks in record time:

I say 'record' time because while I was making them, I also made a Willow Cowl and finished the French Cancan shawl.

These are nice socks, made with Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in the oceanic mix colorway and US #2 needles.  If I made them again it would be in a variegated yarn or at least a lighter color so that the design element would show up better.   Still, they're good enough for me.

The yarn wasn't that soft in a ball, but as socks they got softer, and they're 'hairy' which is what I expect from alpaca.

Mind you, in order to get a picture of the socks outside, I had to feed the 5 mangy cats so they would leave the front of my house.   I can't get away from them!

This is the only time they're peaceful:

I'm going to have to have to call someone to come get them because they're not going to last through the winter with no food.  And the food they don't eat (as in the steak someone put out for them.  If I get a steak it won't be for the cats, that's for sure!) attracts raccoons.  I feel a little bad about that, but no one has tried to make friends with them or take them home and I already have a cat.

So now I'm off to my wheel for some spinning.  SpinZilla is coming up real soon and I don't want to be the team member that produces the least amount of yardage.  I'd like to be somewhere in the middle, even if it's near the bottom.

September 27, 2013

Finally Done!

If you read my last post, then you know what happened to me while making the French Cancan shawl.  I ran out of yarn with two rows to go.  Knowing that there were potentially 8 or 9 skeins somewhere in this house, I went on a hunt and found them.  Yay!

I soaked, towel dried and pinned the shawl to the mats.  Did I mention that I really don't like blocking things?  I don't like being on the floor pinning and repinning until it looks like I think it should:

But the blocked and finished product is always a joy to behold:

My flowers (called chicks and hens) are dying out, and today's lack of sunshine didn't take away from the beauty that is this shawl.

Then I went back to my socks - since the month is practically over and I'm behind making 26 pairs of socks, at the rate I'm going I'll be lucky to get 12 pairs.  These are the Honey Badger socks.  I'll be finished with them in the next day or two.

Lastly, I did finish spinning my Loop Bullseye Bump.  It's hanging in the bathroom because the squirrels around here are packing up for winter and wool (of any sort) gets bagged up, if they get their claws on it.  I'm not going to give them a chance to pack this lovely yarn:

It's been spun, Navajo plied, washed, whacked, thwacked and now it's waiting to become something sparkly.  I'm amazed how long it took to ply as I tried to keep the colors together.  It seems to have worked out pretty well.  Yardage is pending.

Now, I may have mentioned that I've taken up the task of feeding my neighbor's 5 mangy cats.  He was in hospital, and was gone for nearly a month.  Turns out, dude moved to Florida!  What?!  You mean he's not coming back?  I was 'helping out' and now those 5 mangy cats are at my door every time it opens!  No!!

There's Mangy Cat #1, I call him Turner, who sleeps on my top step waiting for a chance to get his flea ridden body in my front door.  Whenever the other cats come near the steps, she/he fights them off.  I say, don't fight them off - you go away with them!  I already have a healthy cat!

Mangy Cat #2 tried to jump in the front seat of my car when I opened the door!  No!  Fleas, ear mites, smelly, dirty and homeless.  What is more pitiful?

Animal Control wants me to bring them in, but they're feral and don't want to be touched.  Do I seem like the type of person that wants to get scratched by any of these cats?  No way!  Get me a hazmat suit and I might try, otherwise not on your life!  But I don't have the heart to let them starve, so there's a stalemate going on here.  What do I do?

September 26, 2013

For Better

I was happily knitting along on my Elderflower Wine socks until I got to the heel.  There were several issues that could have been overcome if I had the required number of brain cells willing to devote, and/or if I had a burning desire.

I had neither, so here's what happened to the sock:

I can't say it wasn't an enjoyable knit because it was, but the color was wrong, the yarn was wrong and my desire for a challenge ended when I got to the heel flap and the chart symbols looked like hieroglyphics to me.  I'm not the most clever knitter in the world, and I'll admit that I can only count up to 59 before I get confused (What age will I become after I turn 59? Can I go backwards like I do with knitting where 59 becomes 48?).

So adios Elderflower Wine.  I'll meet up with you another day with another yarn and more will power.

After the sock came undone, I was frustrated.  I needed to use up this yarn because putting it back into stash was not an option.  It was Saturday, I was lounging around after knitting class as if the house would clean itself, and I came up with the Honey Badger Sock.  I cast on and by Tuesday I got this far:

It practically flew off the needles.  Talk about Socks 101!  Easy 14 row repeat and patterning on only two of those rows.  It is well suited for the yarn since no pattern seems to show up with this yarn.  I cast on 66 stitches with my Hiya Hiya US #2 needles and the sock is loose, but it's fine for me.  If I had used a smaller needle I risk doing all that knitting on a sock that wouldn't fit.

After one sock, I needed a break from the yarn, so ...

Way back in April 2013, I started working on the French Cancan with Tracey.  She had a deadline, I did not.  Hers was long made by the time I decided which yarn I wanted to use.  When I finally decided on the Elsebeth Lavold silky wool, I got to work on the shawl.  Then, for whatever reason, I put the shawl down.  Maybe it was too much garter stitch, maybe something else caught my eye.

Whatever the reason, this week I decided I needed the needles and went from this:

To this:

And then the unthinkable happened with only two rows to go:

I ran out of yarn!  Now don't get me wrong, because you might remember that in January at Vogue Knitting Live I bought this much silky wool:

So, where is it?  I put it 'up' so I don't know where it is.  Maybe it's in a bin somewhere.  Maybe I made something else and the yarn is gone.  Maybe it's at your house.  Maybe I'll find it, maybe I won't.  Two. rows.  Really, I hate myself for not remembering.

Now I have to go digging, so if you hear someone howling at the moon tonight, that will be me.

September 20, 2013

I'm blogging to keep from doing other things, like taking the clothes out of the dryer.  Or putting the clothes I folded where they belong.  I'm exercising my right to not do housework this evening.

This evening I fed the 5 mangy cats and high tailed it out of there before the raccoons showed up.  My son works until 11p and he said there were a bunch of them hanging out in front of my neighbor's house.  Honestly, I live in metropolitan New York, should there even be raccoons here?
I saw one opossum, a bunch of rabbits, raccoons and skunks.  One of the ladies in the knitting group said a fox was spotted in the park behind her building.  What the heck?!  I thought the only 'wildlife' in the Bronx were the squirrels and pigeons!  Honestly, one report about a sighting of Big Foot and I'm outta here!

Anyway, that's not what this post is about.  It's about what I haven't seen -  until today.  On Monday, I stalked the Must Stash Shop because she had a skein of yarn called Candy Crush.  I'm addicted to the game, I had to have that skein of yarn.


Staci included (along with the thank you note), a couple of 'tasters': a small packet of Soak and some stitch markers.  Lovely and cute!  The yarn is soft and squishy and I'm dying to see how the socks come out.  I don't want to make plain vanilla socks, so the hunt is on.

I finished spinning up the Loop bullseye bump:

All the colors are in there, and I've decided that after it's had an overnight rest, that I'll ply it up on my Ashford espinner because that bobbin looks like it could hold pounds of fiber.  Navajo ply it will be.

Lastly, I'm still working on the Elderflower Wine socks, but there's no way to get a good picture of this sock which appears to be jumbo sized, but after a quick try on, I realize that I must have jumbo legs because it fits.  Here's a picture of it from Ravelry:

It's a nice sock, but I'm not in love with it.  Unfortunately, I can't put it down because I can't have this yarn balled up forever, now can I?  Besides, I joined a forum on Ravelry called the 26 pair plunge where I'm supposed to make 26 pairs of socks in a year and this one counts - whether I love it or not.

That's it for now.

Knitter's Block

My deal is that I don't wind yarn into balls until I'm ready to use it, but lately I've been wanting to knit everything and I've balled up 5 skeins of yarn.  For what?  My best intentions are getting me nowhere.

I finally decided to pull out the Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine (433yds/400m) in colorway #1285 generously donated to me by Sojourn Knitter:

My intention was to use it to make Jared Flood's Knoll Mittens, a pattern gifted to me by the same friend.  It calls for fingering weight yarn held double, but if I double this yarn I won't have enough yarn.  Back to the pattern board.

Whenever I get to this place (startitis), socks are my fallback project.   Elderflower Wine socks seemed interesting to me, so I decided to go with it.  The yarn seems thin, but alpaca is warm so it should keep my feet warm, right?

My uncle asked me to make him a pair of knee socks that he can wear while riding his motorcycle.  He said his pant leg rises up over his boot and those 2 inches of exposed leg get cold.  He wears a size 12 shoe so I need a lot of yardage.  In my stash I found this yarn:

Pagewood Farms Denali in lavender fields, 450 yards, purchased at Simply Socks (which is a great place to buy sock yarn at reasonable prices).  The yarn is mostly green with light green and gold, and the yarn is not self striping, but I suspect it's going to pool.   Is it too 'girly' for a guy?  Or should I ball up some worsted weight yarn?

I offered to make him boot toppers, but he said he wanted a whole sock.  That's like a million yards of something for his 'flappers'!  And my aunt wants a matching pair.  Yikes!  I am happy that she only needs a size 8 sock.

I'm pretty sure that what I'm suffering is startitis.  The weather is changing and I want to knit! Finally my mojo is in full swing and I need to strike while the iron is hot!  All I have to do is pick something and knit it.  How hard can that be?

I have a Loop bullseye bump on the wheel:

I'm almost finished spinning it up.  The batt practically filled up the bobbin and I don't have a bobbin big enough to ply it onto. Oy!  I thought about leaving it as a single ply, felting it (dunking it in really hot water, then dunking it in really cold water, repeat until you're satisfied), but I'm afraid I won't be able to hide the unevenness of the spinning.

So, while I'm complaining about having too much yarn (I should be ashamed of myself for complaining!) and not being able to make a settle on a single project, I'm just going to knit on these socks until the right spirit moves me.

September 17, 2013

One More Thing

Sometimes when I am in the middle of a project, I get bored with it and I look for something to knit that is pretty and mindless - sort of a palate cleanser.  The criteria for this sidetrack pattern is that it has to be something where the pattern is easy to remember and has no charts.

In the middle of knitting the My Cup of Tea socks, I got bored.  I wanted something easy and quick.  I had just watched Leslie of The Knit Girllls podcast pull out her mostly finished Willow Cowl and she said she made it in a couple of days.  Well heck, I can do it in a couple of days too, to get my mind off the socks.

I had already ordered some glitz sock yarn from Gynx Yarn in the Dusk colorway.  What made me order glitz yarn, I do not know.  I had never done, maybe that was the reason, but mostly it was because I loved the color:

I had already done one Willow cowl with DK weight yarn which was big, bulky and not my colors, and when it was done, I promptly found it a new home:

Because of the heft of that yarn (Confetti Yarns Temptation, unnamed colorway), I could only make four rings, and I ran out of yarn before I could make the picot bind off.

The upshot of making the first Willow is that it was so easy and fast to knit, that the ladies in the knitting group agreed that we would all make one to wear to Rhinebeck.  One skein of sock yarn, one US #5 needle and you're good to go.  Last year we made orange hats, and it was hot as heck at the festival - too hot for a hat.

The cowl looks weird while you're making it, kind of like a child's skirt.  With this yarn, which is soft, squishy and lovely to work with, there's just the right amount of glitz which I think you can see if you embiggen the picture:

And at the end of the third day, I bound off and this one has the picot edge which you have to sew down:

This one is looser at the neck, prettier and has six 'rings'.  Because it's made with sock yarn, it's lighter in weight and looks better laying flat.  If it hadn't been raining all day here, I would have some decent pictures so you could see the true colors of this cowl.

I know I'm on a cowl kick lately, because I also finished the Eleanor Cowl which I like, but don't love.  This cowl I love.

Now, I have to get back into spinning because I committed to spinning a new-to-me fiber by the end of the month so the next post I write will be about that.  I just hope it will be an enjoyable spin because I have 8 ounces of it!

Back to the grindstone.

Oh!  And before I go, I mentioned that Stitches East (in Hartford, CT) was the week before the NY Sheep & Wool Festival when actually it's in November - and thank goodness!  I have a lot of supplies I have to gather for my rigid heddle class and I just hope it's all stuff I have in stash.

September 12, 2013

Handspun Happiness

One project at a time is my motto today.  Mainly because I only have one set of 16" US #4 needles and I'm trying to power through this project before I get sidetracked.

I spun a braid of yarn and wound the yarn into a ball (Pumpkin Mama Vines, Shetland)

And now I'm making the Eleanor Cowl, I hope I use it all! (237 yards of squishy goodness).  The instructions for this cowl are crystal clear - right after you get past row one.  If I understood the directions it would have saved me some frustration, so if you're going to make this cowl yourself, start with a purl cast on and then follow the rest of the directions.

My camera picks up all of the colors in this cowl, but when you see it in person, the colors are much more subtle.  It also appears to be striping in some weird kind of way, but it's all good.  I'll find something to wear it with, whether it matches or not.

The very clever Mel from the Single Handed Knits Ravelry group has set up a thread where you pick a buddy to knit with.  You and your buddy can work on a project that is either the same yarn, the same color or the same project - or all three.

My buddy Jellybean picked me!  She lives all the way down in Australia and she is amazing!  She's funny, kind, so helpful, and I'm enjoying our project time together.  She and I have already made a pair of socks together, and now we're working on the cowl.  If I ever get to Australia, I'm going to buy her dinner.

This project is going pretty quick and I'm hoping to get it done by next week sometime so I can get to the Willow Cowl for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival on October 19th.  Do you want to be my knitting buddy?  The pattern is free, all you need is one skein of sock yarn that you think is too pretty to go inside a shoe.

I signed up for a rigid heddle weaving class at Stitches East in Hartford, Connecticut the week before the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  I'm hoping to make use of my rigid heddle loom since it's sitting in the spare room collecting dust.  Warping is the enemy that I need to defeat, and I'm hoping this class will help me slay that dragon.

September 11, 2013

In It To Spin It and Knit It

I'm not generally a impulsive when it comes to knitting.  I have a routine, a ritual so to speak when it comes to knitting.
  1. I see something in my stash, scour Ravelry and the internet looking for a project to make with it
  2. I find something I want to make, but not with the yarn I'm holding in my hands, a different yarn
  3. I find the yarn I want now in my stash, but it's not enough to make the pattern I found
  4. With the new yarn in my hand, I scour the internet looking for a different pattern
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 over and over ad nauseum
Not this time, though.  I joined a knit along with the Must Stash Podcast ladies (Steph and Staci), and I have to use  handspun, in this case Masham that I spun up during the Tour de Fleece.  I got an unknown amount of yardage and started to make the Eleanor Cowl (Ravelry).

It was going along wonderfully until I got to the really lacy part when the hairiness of the yarn was killing the lace.  My second problem was that the yarn would be touching my face and it's just not so 'next to the skin soft'.  So I ripped it out.

As the requirement for the knit along is that I use my handspun, I had to find something to go with this yarn!  Dang!  I really want the Eleanor Cowl, but it won't work with this yarn and I can't pick another yarn because I already committed with this one.  Oy! So ...

I needed something that would require an unspecified amount of yarn (knit until you run out of yarn), and something that I don't have to wear against my face, and I only have until the end of the month to get 'er done.  So I settled for the Lava Flow Cowl.

You knit it flat, then twist it once and graft the ends together - I think.  I'm not even halfway, but it's a quick knit and I should be able to finish it by the end of the month.

My other commitment for this month is a Halloween knit along with The Knit Girllls podcast.  If I can find a reason why this yarn reminds me of Halloween (or Fall), I can enter it into the contest.  Does this yarn look like Halloween?  This same project will be entered into the Must Stash Podcast contest for their 'Rhinebeck or Bust' contest.  It will become the Willow Cowl.  It'll be all the rage with the knitting ladies, I hope.  Vesper superwash sock yarn in the Twitterpated colorway:

Since the Eleanor Cowl was a bust with the Masham, I decided to try another yarn.  This is some Rambouillet from Widdershin Woolworks:

And I got 334 yards of mostly fingering weight yarn which is close to the skin soft:

I'll give it a go and get back to you on the verdict.  It would help if you would say a little prayer for me!  My only fear is that this handspun will swallow the lace too.  We'll see.

Lastly, I stalked Lollipop Yarn for months and never scored a skein.  Until now:

I love their packaging, and inside the bag is Life is Beautiful sock yarn, 75%/25% superwash merino/nylon.  Isn't it lovely?  There are 8 stripes each of colors called Health, Happiness, Prosperity, Love, Friendship, Blessings, Laughter and Vitality.  How inspiring is that?!

Lastly, I joined two spin alongs.  One of them is with the Yarn Raising Podcast.  This spin along requires I spin a yarn that is new-to-me, and I just so happen to have a lot of new to  me fibers in the cabinet.  I settled for the 8 ounces of Cheviot that I purchased from The Woolery back in May:

It's not that appealing to me visually, and it certainly isn't soft and I'm doing the fiber and myself a favor by getting it out of the fiber cabinet.  After it's spun up, I'll probably find my dyes and dye it.

So that's it.  I'm a very busy knitting (and spinning) lady!

September 07, 2013

I Know ... Right?

I don't get to spend as much time on Ravelry as I would like, but whenever I get the chance I go on to see what my favorite podcasters are talking about and what projects they're working on.  Sometimes I'm interested, sometimes not.  And then I make my way to their forums and I'm sucked in.

Having a KAL (knit along)?  I'm in!  Having a SAL (spin along)?  I'm in!  Everybody's making what?!  I'm in!  

Next thing I know, I'm committed and while I'm not going to fully commit to being competitive, but once in it's very hard for me not to follow through.

Case in point:  Single Handed Knits (Mel) is hosting a buddy-knit.  Pick a buddy and you both knit either the same thing, or use the same yarn, or the same color.  I committed to making the My Cup of Tea socks with my buddy, Jellybean who lives all the way in Australia.  The first sock went fine and we were in sync.  The second sock I slogged through for a week.  I got it done though:

These socks were made with Crystal Palace Yarns Panda Wool, US #2 needle and they took forever to make.  The pattern is so easy and the socks are so cute, it's hard to believe that there was a lag of about four days of no knitting at all on the second sock.

During those four days, I was looking for yarn to make something (I don't remember what), and I came across some old, raggedy yarn that was gifted to me: Confetti Yarns Temptation in a who knows what colorway.  It's cotton wrapped in rayon.  I'd just watched The Knit Girllls podcast and Leslie made the Willow Cowl and a light bulb went off.

So, in between sock #1 and sock #2, I made the Willow Cowl:

This cowl took about 2 days to make, and the only modifications I made were made because I ran out of yarn!  What?!  Yes.  The pattern calls for sock weight, but this yarn is DK weight and I miscalculated my yardage, but didn't care because I wanted to use up this yarn.  I bound off and started looking for another pattern to make.  Then I felt guilty about letting my buddy down, so instead I finished sock #2.

Then the nice ladies at Must Stash Podcast (Steph and Staci) were having a handspun KAL and I couldn't resist.  After all, I have some handspun yarn and I never look for projects to make with handspun.  Here was a perfect opportunity.

I pulled out the Masham I spun up during the tour and found the Eleanor Cowl to be small and cute.  I'm sure I have more than enough yarn to make the cowl.  Here's how far I got:

The pattern offers the option to knit flat or in the round.  I'm a pretty good knitter and when I read instructions, if I don't completely understand, I usually get the concept.  I tried four times to knit this cowl in the round and failed miserably because the chart is written to knit the cowl flat.  My brain, which barely grasps even simple math, couldn't translate the flat chart with the round cowl.

Knitting this back and forth, it's the easiest pattern ever!  Of course, there is a little 'issue' with the ssk and k2tog instructions, I may have gotten them backwards, but then again, maybe not.  For the first five rows of the pattern this cowl looked a hot mess, but I kept going.  The yarn is softer in the skein than it is in the cowl, but it'll be over clothes and under a coat so it (hopefully) won't matter.

Now, if all of that isn't scary enough, I signed up for a Halloween themed KAL and I'm making another Willow Cowl to wear to the NY Sheep and Wool Festival.  It's so that the whole knitting group is wearing one and I don't care for the one I have.  It's going somewhere.

As if all of that isn't enough to keep me busy, I have a new sweater on the needles which I'm not ready to show yet, there's still a Loop batt on the wheel to be spun up and I signed up to participate in a 'new to me' fiber to spin with Yarnraising Podcast.  That fiber will be the either the Teeswater or the Cormo I didn't get to during the Tour de Fleece.

Lastly, Spinzilla is a one week event in October where the team leaders (in this case, The Knit Girllls) enlist 25 spinners to spin the as much as they can in one week and the team leaders with the highest yardage get a prize.  The individual spinners don't get prizes, but it's another opportunity to spin and I couldn't pass that up.

Tired of me yet? Tired for me?  I've got to fill up my days with more than laundry, dishes and the occasional grocery shopping and this is it.  Crazy, right?  I know!