Saturday, July 31, 2010

Knit, knit, knit ... and knit some more

This week I have had way more knitting time than usual. First Monday and Tuesday elder cub was not 100%, nothing serious but a nasty cough .. so I stayed home with him, and I knit .. a lot, which was a nice way to pass the time waiting for him to get better (or worse). We had a prescription for antibiotics should his cough go to his chest, luckily it didn't. Then Thursday night Bear had an appointment with a Dental Surgeon, nothing too major but surgery all the same. With his heart history it was prudent to stay home and be there on the Friday with him 'just in case'. Again .. another day knitting was achieved. Every one is now fine - except I suspect that I have picked up the cubs bug .. things taste funny and my throat feels not quite right ... inevitable I suspect. Smallest cub was off school Thursday with the same thing - but that day Bear parented. Parented - it is a verb isn't it?

So knitting, when one knits 3 of five working days a week and knits evenings .. significant progress happens.
First both Squirrel Mitt outer were done ... thumbs and all. I've not blocked these yet, as I'm waiting to block the pair at once with the lining in them so right now they are a little 'bumpier' than I'd like .. but it should all sort and smooth in the blocking.

Once the mitts were done, and after i had admired them for a bit, I picked up for the lining stitches around the line where the cuff was knit up. This is such a neat technique .... and completely covers all the stranding inside the mitten, prevents snagging and of course makes the mittens thicker. I didn't have a small quantity of lace weight I wanted to sacrifice for these so headed out to my LYS to see what they had. Oddly - in New Zealand lace weight is often referred to as 2 or 3 ply, and is predominately sold and used for baby wear. You know the old fashioned white, lemon, pale blue, pale pink layette sets, booties, jacket, bonnet. Because of that the lace weight yarns on offer in yarn stores here are in those colour schemes, not quite what I wanted ..oh how I dream of LYS's that stock a full range of yarns, not just the baby colours and DK weights that seem so popular in New Zealand. Luckily the manager found a 50g ball of this silk merino unbranded lace weight left over from the last sale. This seemed a good match and is soft and silky - perfect for the mitten lining. She is holding the other one 'just in case I need it', even luckier she found the price was still the sale price of $NZD4 - score!

The lining is where I made my only change to the pattern. The increase rate for the lining gusset is the same as for the outer but was too fast, the lining row gauge must be shorter on the same sized needles. So I frogged the first attempt at the lining gusset and reworked it with an increase rate of every 3rd round (not every 2nd). That seemed about perfect. With no stranding and charting ... the lining knits up relatively fast compared to knitting the outer.

I realized that as the lining will be covered totally by the lining - I probably needed a progress shot of the stranding, so here it is. the instructions say if the mittens are to be lined there is no need to weave the longer floats .. but I did. I think that it can help the work stay flatter, the temptation to pull the stranding to tight is increased as the floats get longer.

Last night I finished the lining in the first mitten completely, and as it was only 9ish .. I picked up the stitches for lining the second mitten.

Which will probably not knit as fast as the first lining .... but there is some thing addictive about these. Right at the end of the pattern it says "Attaching acorns? Now’s the time". This made me wonder .... I couldn't find any reference to acorns in the pattern itself so I headed off to Ravelry to check out the versions others had knitted and sure enough some had attached acorns, little acorns dangling off the wrist .. and there are instructions Wee Twee Tiny Acorn Tutorial, by Pamela Wayne (sorry its a Ravelry link).

These mittens have me totally enthralled, its not even cold here, we have sun and the windows open and the kids are out biking. My plan when I bought this pattern was to knit these on the plane at the end of the month. So much for the plan, I loved knitting these, and now I have to rethink my traveling knitting. ...

Feel free to make travel knitting suggestions, I'm now thinking Bug Out socks and a Traveling Women Shawl, and/or a center out baby blanket?

na Stella

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

News, reviews and anwers

Today's post is full, first up I'm guest blogging over at GrannyG's place, a review of the Nightingale sock pattern, so for a full update on that knitting you will have to pop over and read it there. There is also news ... two finished objects, the Mobius and the Rouge Roses socks .. which means I've started new thing(s). Yes plural, as in I have 3 projects lined up ready to go and I want to knit them all, one of them is the newest kit in the Winter 2010 Vintage Purls Sock Club.

so projects, well ever since I saw a pair of these in person, I've coveted them. Nothing for it but to knit my own, can you guess which pattern they are?

Squirrel sampler mittens by Adrian Bizilia. I had a day at home with the eldest cub, he had a chesty cold and really wasn't ready to participate and infect a classroom of kids. Wow .. when one knits from noon until bed, with small breaks for after school pick-ups, and travelers vaccinations, and evening meals .. one gets a lot done. I'm hoping my squirrel will have a head and complete tail by end of today.

This all came about because I finished the Rouge roses socks, and they are thick and warm and cosy. I love the weight of the yarn, its a 'medium' sock yarn, and heavier than that I usually use. I'm not sure of the logistics of fitting thicker socks into my shoes .. and I'm a little wary of wearing them too much and putting holes in them. They are lovely but nylon-less .. and for some reason that worry's me. I want my hand knit socks to last .. but I am just supposing they will wear faster, they may not and in fact the high twist is supposed to prevent that, so I need to relax, trust, and wear them.

I also finished the Mobius, and while it is longer than I expected, I did cast on a lot of stitches, and looks more like crochet than knitting, I'm happy with it. Small bear has already claimed it - which is fine by me, I can see there will be another of these soon, wider and shorter and perhaps with a finer pattern.

the 2nd installment of the sock club arrived this week and I'm smitten. Look Bugs, and aptly named Bug out. I love it, we are a little spoiled in our neck of the woods as the designer delivers kits to us, this time at spin night. She also brings her sample along all knit up for us to fondle and admire ...

and there were gasps of surprise as we turned it over and found a knitted squashed bug under the foot - that just makes it even cooler. I have already queued this one, I've not cast on .. but it might just be the very next thing after squirrels are done.

Now recently I had a comment / question from Moemoe you do such great color work are there any site, books, patterns you can recommend for a beginner?.
Well, I can tell you how colourwork began for me. At first I worked a few items that had stripped cuffs, vertical striping, that let me play without fear and intimidation of taking on a large and complex project. To start with I also worked a few child's, (well toddlers) jerseys with small repeating colour work motifs. One that I can't find a photo of right now as a variation of Wendy Johnsons baby Norgi sweater that was a pattern and steeking tutorial on Knitty. I can't say what book would be best for you as I don't have many that show how to work colour work, but one of my fist purchases on knitting was Knitting in the old way, which has details for shaping sweaters and has quite a few charts one can use to decorate items with. I worked quite a few smaller simpler projects, the FakeIsle hat, a few pair of mittens, even a pair of colour work socks with very simple patterns. I designed and worked a larger cardigan for myself, Fannigan, and knit a Bohus from a kit. Each of these was a step more complicated in the colour work and gave me more practice and experience and confidence. Most of the early colour work was simple, working a 2 blue, one green stitches across a round. And all of it was in the round, that was essential for my sanity, not to have to work the design in reverse as I purled back the other way.
In my early projects I stressed a lot about 'how to best hold the yarn'. I found several video's on line that demonstrated ways to hold and work the yarns, the Fair Isle and Norwegien blog post has a lot of excellent detail of sources in print, dvd and free on line so I wont' repeat it all here. The Philosophers wool videos were a good source when I started, as I was knitting more with my yarn in the right hand. That technique is a good one and works well for many many expert knitters. Youtube is invaluable as well.

Eventually I started to carry my yarn more and more in the left hand, and I asked on the Knitters Review forums (pre-ravelry) about how to work colour work carrying both yarns in the left hand and had several very nice knitters post details of their techniques. Those I tried and adapted and found worked for me. I have a mental block with using both hands, I can never work out which hand is holding the colour I want to use .. even if I'm looking at my hands. When I carry both colours of yarn in my left hand I can just scoop the blue or the white .. whichever I need and I'm much less confused. I have now posted on Youtube and here in the side bar videos of how I knit colour work.

One of the best hints I ever read was by Wendy Johnson, its on this page under color knitting questions. Wendy suggested as one knits to stretch out the stitches on the right hand needle so the floats are as long as they need to be. Magic! that worked wonders for me and I do that all the time now. And don't panic or write it off until its blocked ... every. Blocking solves a multitude of tension problems in colour knitting.

I guess the main point is that one becomes better at anything in stages, start small and simple with a corrugated rib or simple geometric pattern on a hat. Work up confidence and ability in stages .. and use yarn you like, in colours you love.

please .. if there are other sources or information or advice that is important, do leave a comment
na Stella

Saturday, July 24, 2010

End of the tour

Yes today is officially the last day of the Tour de Fleece, the 25th of July 2010. How am I going? Well .. I'm not breaking any records ... but I've spun more than I have in any other three week space of time, 700g of Texel, nearly 80g of Perendale lace weight single (80g more to go), and 30g of silk merino blend, plus 100g of yellow Autumn Citrus merino ... I've done well 910g by my reckoning, which is a lot of fibre, an average of 40+ grams a day. I suspect spinning the bulkier Texel skewed my daily average upwards .. but I'm not bothered. I have managed to spin most days since the last post .. and knit. Yesterday was the KSG (Knitters Study Group) and we worked on Mobius. So now I have a new fun quick knit on the go ...

First up is my latest tour spinning, 30 grams of a wool and silk blend from Doe, no details on the kind of wool or the proportions of the blend, which is fine. Not everything needs to be documented and measured with precision. I spun this finely and then wound it into a centre pull ball .. and two plied it from the ball. I am loving this new spinning trick (Thanks Morag). I suspect this is under plied .. but I can fix that once its dry. This is still damp from blocking, and I've not yet hung it up to dry, so it may bulk and puff and not need more twist when it is dry. It is a lovely day here, warm still sunny .. not quite expected for winter but I'm not complaining. As you can see there was me with a camera on the front stairs .. so Yo-you came to check it out. I love the colour of this .. but it is a such a small amount .. perhaps wristers or another head band?

My other Tour spinning is no where near complete, more than half remains un-spun. I hope to finish the first half tonight .... but there will be no panic if I don't get there .. its only a hobby, and I had two loose goals for the tour, one was to spin the 700g of Texel which I have done, and the other was to spin every day if possible.

Rogue roses .. sock number two grows .. slowly, I'm well past the heel and working away the gusset. Last week I gave a talk at a local group, a repeat of my Stash conference paper, and I was asked by a member of the audience in a slightly awed voice if I could 'turn a heel'. I'm pleased to say I can, I most certainly can, but at the time I didn't have a complete heel on the needles as evidence. A friend in the audience offered to show the group the socks she was wearing, Salto, which I had knit for her. It was lovely, P sat there with a foot up on the desk allowing people to admire my sock knitting skills, I felt quite accomplished.

The KSG lesson this time was Mobius. Some time ago I swapped 2 skeins of VP Sock yarn for two of Cat Bordhi's mobius books. I posted in the In search of Books thread in Ravelry ... and found two knitters who were happy to swap. I have never knit a mobius before .. although I've had the books for ages and looked thru them often. The cast on she uses in the book is a lot like the tubular cast on I usually work .. so I went with that. This was sheer exploratory play .. I had a bit of an idea about the yarn (fingering alpaca merino) and a reversible stitch pattern (Birds eye lace from BW .. worked with the alternate rounds in purl) .. but no idea of how it would work or how many stitches. I've still not counted them. I wanted more than a plain chevron pattern, and more lacy than moss or rib.

It really is a kind of magical knitting, all round and round with no beginning and no end. I had not quite understood the mobius when knit works up a bit like spiral as much as a mobius. Yo-you was suitably impressed, and the eyelet lace seems very open but reversible. I do like the hexagonal shape these eyelets have become. I've gone with an i-cord edge as the cast off, and am working that now. Size was determined by one ball of yarn. I can see there will be at least one other of these .. although I'm keen to trial it in a more decorative lace .. or reversible stitch.

take care, I'm off to treadle (peddle away the rest of the tour), although as NZ is one of the first countries in the date:time line series .. technically I guess I could still be touring tomorrow when it is actually the end of the tour in France, and when we have spin-night. This time it is as my house.
na Stella

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thursday not wednesday

Today is Thursday, not Wednesday. In the past I've posted Sunday and Wednesday, twice a week. I'm going to have to change that, not Wednesday because right now that is my only full day of work, to Thursday when I will get to leave work most weeks at noon. So today is Thursday, I'm at home, I've had lunch (yum .. Toby-cub cooked last night with help and there were left overs), and there is light for photos and so I post. There are two finished objects today, one is a little quickie, a instant gratification knit-fix, and a little bit of spinning to report, because, you know the Tour de Fleece continues still. I have made progress on the Rouge Roses socks, I'm past the heel on the second one .. but no photos so I'll save that report for the weekend.

I've finished the baby vest, its pretty soft green and pink in an eyelet pattern. This is a classic Margaret Stove lacy baby vest, and I've knit it before, November of last year, in cobweb lace merino. This time I used 'mystery laceweight' yarn from the sale stock at the back of the Mill, no identification buyer beware. It is still laceweight yarn but thicker, and so the needles were larger and the finished vest larger. Technical specs:
Pattern: Margaret Stove Lacy Baby Vest
Needles: 3.25 for the body and 2.75 for the ribbing
Started: 3rd July 2010
Finished:20th July 2010
For: a baby at Bears work, not yet here, ETA 3 weeks
Modifications: none, but I did take more care in dividing the work to knit the front and back chest and shoulders flat. That way I was working lace on the right side of the work .. not on the reverse side as I ended up doing last time.

Look! Last time I knit it with lace cobweb weight and 2.75 mm needles. What a difference needle size and yarn weight makes .. I'd say a good 6 months growth in this case.

And the instant project? A moss stitch headband. Smallest cub wears her Quant ll the time, and I had 50 g of worsted weight handspun yarn that was BFL indigo dyed yarn from a Verb for Keeping warm. That is not a lot of yarn but half of it is enough for a headband. I mucked about for a bit, dithering over eyelets and lace and cables ... but really a simple moss stitch with a slip stitch edge was the best look with this yarn. I love the slight denim variation in the yarn - faded just like jeans and a perfect match for small-cubs blue eyes. I have enough to knit another .. which I just might do as a gift for one of her wee friends.

And spinning ...... yes I still am spinning with the tour. I have managed 30 minutes or more most days .. which surprises me. I'm still working away on the first half of the yellow perendale .. but Monday night I worked on this. A little 50g bag of wool/silk blend from Doe. One bobbin, fairly fine .. my plans are to wind it into a centre pull ball and two ply it - now I know that trick it seems a useful one to use.
My 'parenting' responsibility today, now I'm the 'after-school' parent is to transport cubs to swimming. Smallest one has a lesson, oldest one plays in the pool as he is a strong swimmer .. me I'm going to lane swim. That is something I used to do 4-5 times a week .. but with full time work it fell by the wayside. Tonight is knit night .. so there is that to look forward to, and this Saturday it is KSG (Knitters Study Group), the project is Mobius .. so I need to sort a project and yarn. Mobius knitting is something I'm keen to explore a little bit.

Take care
Na Stella

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Last day of

my two weeks leave. Today I have plans to spin, and spin and relax ... already there has been buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, and the evening meal has been sorted and preparation started, and it is still not even midday yet. All this busy-ness is in order to have a relaxed afternoon and evening .. for tomorrow I start back at work, and the cubs start back at school.
At work it is the start of the final semester, the one in which our final year students undertake their biggest and most complex project, they design a collection of between 5 and 8 outfits and present them ... for them its a roller coaster of emotion and work, there are highs and lows and tears .. just as I image like any final year of study for most students groups. I have negotiated to reduce my hours - a difficult decision for me given that project looms but I think a good one, Bear will go back to full time work in August and I will be the one who picks up the cubs after school. There is a complicated work related meeting Tuesday which worries me a little, and I know I will relax more after then. I have really enjoyed this last two weeks, I have planned the evening meals, I've followed the sun around the house and had the chance to open windows on sunny days, having fresh air and light in ones day makes such a difference I think. I've even been able to get washing air dried and folded and away during the week not in a rush in the weekend! Oh the luxury of staying at home.

... and of course I have been spinning and knitting. Spinning has continued on my next Tour de Fleece fibre, 160g of yellow perendale combed top. Some I dyed myself, and knitting has continued on the Rouge Roses, and now one is done and the other started, and the baby-gift vest grows - but something slows me down on that one (I'll explain).

Look - I'm wearing Nightingale ..there are more photos on my Ravelry Nightingale Project page (I've shared it so those who don't have a Ravelry account can view it). I love these, I still think I need a new dress or skirt to go-with, and some new blue shoes .. but for now this will have to do.

Spinning, I'm still spinning away on my big Grace wheel, being home for two weeks has given me time to play with that wheel more than I have in the past. It is a big wheel, a powerful wheel and I have decided that I need only run it on the lower ratios for now. My hands just don't draft fast enough to work the higher ratios. I am going to have to make time to spin more on that wheel, usually use the little Majacraft Gem as it is portable and I can easily take it out Monday nights to spinning .. but really I see I need two spinning projects on the go at any one time, one on an 'at-home-wheel', and one more portable. I suspect I've thickened up the single a little .. so will attempt to refine it back to a thinner one as I work. I've spun 18g so far of the 160g ... the price of fine singles is very slow going.

And my Rogue roses socks ... I've started on the second sock. Well actually I've started on it 3 or 4 times, and ripped each time, the cuff worked well but for some reason I seemed unable to work the reverse of the chart easily. I kept defaulting to the original chart .. a simple thing, I tell my self the YO goes before not after ..... but that was enough to trip me up. Now on the 4th or 5th attempt and with focus and concentration I seem to have it sorted. I do like this pattern, and the way she writes it, quite conversational with explanations and suggestions rather than instructions, she being the Yarn Harolot, who suggests that one can work both socks the same, but it will be better to work them as mirrored pairs, and in her opinion they will look nicer that way, but then finishes with the choice is up to the knitter. I wonder if she had the same issues with initially mucking up the reverse chart as I did?

Look one all done, and isn't it pretty? Sprial socks almost never sit flat off the foot - as you can see from the previous image. but look just fine when worn.

Lastly the baby vest, a gift is needed in the next few months, and this will be it. I am nearly up to the armhole at which point the front is worked flat, and then the back worked flat before being joined at the shoulders. No problem there but again just like the Rogue roses socks the lace chart stays the same and yet changes .. as it is worked flat there are rows that must be worked in pattern and purled ... which was enough to throw me when I worked the last one. I'm sort of dragging my needles a bit on this one knowing that the 'knit-flat' section is nearly upon me. Of course I think the row that one starts the knit-flat lace is all important, and when I knit the last one I may have made a fatal error on that point that had me p3tod and s1, p2 psso, and p, Y0, P, k2. Or to put it more simply working all the tricky bits on the wrong side of the work. Lets see if I can learn from my mistakes and get it right this time?

take care, keep knitting and spinning and smiling ... (or humming - see two weeks leave is enough to leave me humming)
na Stella

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

oooo - finished!

Nightingale is finished, yes really, all cast off, woven in and blocked. I finished the charted colour section and started the cuff earlier this week .. and yesterday started the day knowing I only had a few cm's to knit to be done. For me, some times knowing how close the end is .. is enough to spur a finish. That is what happened, I decided that I 'needed' to finish them and block them whilst the sun shone, yesterday was a sunny day here. So after I had a load of laundry out to dry, and tidied up and opened windows the kids rooms so they could air a little, all the things I discovered that working does not let me do during the week but which make the house neater and easier to live in, I sat and knitted.

Look, all done!
If I am to continue to knit knee-high socks I might just have to source some knee high blockers .. for now these ones work. The colour work was a little tight in places .. not puckered but perhaps not as smooth as it could have been .... after a 10 minute soak in warm water with a little home made wool wash .. and a spin in the washing machine .. the socks looked beautiful. I can't wait to wear them .. but alas I don't have the 'right' shoes yet. I can wear them with calf high black boots .. but then only a bird would show and I want all the birds to show. I love so much about these, the reversed chart so they are a true pair, the way the stripes work around the heel cup and flap ... the toe up construction meaning that they could be as long as I needed them to be.

Tech specs:
Started April 10th 2010
Finished July the 15th 2010
Pattern Nightingale by Vintage Purls
Yarns, Vintage Purls sock, the ground in Midnight Runaway and the colourwork in Birthday Bash colour way that was a special edition.
Yarn left over, 3g of Midnight Runaway, and 16g of the Birthday Bash.
Modifications .. few, I worked mine on 2.25mm needles, and changed the top to stripes with 3 rounds of 1x1 rib at the top.

I have of course been continuing to spin along with the Tour de Fleece .. . The other finishing I did yesterday was a third skein of the Texel, and I plied the skein of Merino Silk that was a gift in the New Zealand fibre swap 4.0. The Texel is more of the same, well as same as hand-spinning can be. I now have three skeins and only a wee bit more to spin(34g plus some on a bobbin). The three skeins I have look pretty much the same, but the first is 189g and 309m, the second is 181g and 287m, while the third is 187g and 390m. I am thinking as that one is so out of keeping I should really count the number of strands in the hank again - in case I made a mistake. Notice my wee furred companion in the shadows. That is Yo-yo, who has been tailing me around the house and spending way to much time lazing in the sun.

This is the merino silk yarn. I divided the dyed roving into two sections along its length, spun one as it, and divided the other into three finer sections again along the length .. this is a technique called fractal spinning. Fractal spinning is intended to result in a pleasing fairly regular play of colours in a yarn made from a randomly dyed roving. I've only played with this preparation once before .. and it does seem to make a less .. how can I explain ... contrasty yarn. This skein is 97g and 191m.

Earlier in July an Anon commenter left a lovely comment .. and asked about spinning.
"Lately I've been researching spinning, and wonder "What's it about?" On the financial side, is it cheaper than buying a skein? Is it as obsessive a craft as knitting? I am hoping to take a spinning class one day soon, but in the meantime can you give me a little feedback. In all honesty I don't think I can handle another craft right now, but can't help the curiousity."

Now I'm not an expert .. but I'll do my best.
On the financial side, is it cheaper than buying a skein?
Spinning can be cheaper than buying yarn .. but it can be dearer .. it all depends on what you spin and what you like to buy in the way of yarn. By and by it is probably about the same cost as yarn .....without factoring in any equipment costs like a spindle or a wheel, or other fibre prep tools. I can buy 100g of hand dyed combed top for $NZD9 .... which compares very well to any 100g skein of yarn that is hand dyed. I can source cheaper fibre in bulk .. and source unprepared fibre much cheaper again the other end of the scale I can also source much dearer fibre, cashmere, and other luxury fibres.

Is it as obsessive a craft as knitting?Oh yes, most definitely, for me and for others. But then for some, two I know of this is not 'their thing'. One lady was really keen to learn .. but excused herself after the first lesson saying it was the most boring thing she had ever experienced. Others just struggle with the hand feet coordination and find it no fun at all. Others struggle but enjoy the struggle and are really buzzed by the idea of making yarn and that carries them until they have mastered the art. I've read people spin to their heartbeat, and whilst that makes me wonder about the speed J spins at, it is a nice idea, a kind of whole body rhythm that is peaceful. I want to spin some times and knit others, the two activities are different and give me different senses of being, at times interchangeable but different. Then there is the obsessive side, for some trying different spindles or wheels, or collecting older wheels and working with them so they are in perfect running order, that is all fun for me, then there is finding the perfect fibre/ twist combination, that is fun as well or the tricky little special effects .. I've not gone there yet. Then there are those who 'just spin', and there is no deeper side than the pure enjoyment of making yarn. I have friends who spin because in a way it connects them to history, and to the traditions people had for centuries and as such they feel part of the continuum.
I don't know if it will be 'a thing you find enjoyable', or something you body learns to do with ease .. I learned to draft on a spindle before sitting at a wheel and believe that is an easier way to learn. But there are hundreds(thousands) who learn direct on a wheel - and spindling is not as much done as wheel spinning.
"What's it about?"
Ooo the hard question, for me, two things started me spinning, I saw all this lovely spinning on a lot of the knit-blogs I visited .. and I was intrigued, and I had difficulty finding the weights of yarns that I wanted to knit with here where I live. I built a spindle a few years ago, dowel and a door knob from the hard ware shop, and played. Then I upgraded to a wheel, a kitset that I had to build myself which taught me a lot about the mechanics and balance and adjustment of a wheel. ... and in time bought a few more old wheels on Trademe (New Zealands version of ebay). I sold the first wheel, and now have 3 older wheels that I love, and two newer ones. I bought those as I was afraid that when the older ones finally wore out (each is at least 30 years old) that I would not be able to find a well made craftsman wheel, and I wanted a portable wheel so I could easily go to retreats and classes.
There is a sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing anything, and with mastering anything .. and spinning is an area that I can score a little of that feeling. There is at some point a sense of control in knowing I can spin .. although to be honest what I knit is mostly bought yarns ... the spinning seems at times separate from the knitting. Perhaps because I can not yet spin reliably what I want to knit, but I am now gaining confidence to make plans to spin expressly for garments I want to knit.
Perhaps for me .. one of the most attractive aspects of spinning, other than playing with soft fibre and making things, two noble objectives on them selves, is the community that exists here and online around spinning. I have made friends thru spinning, and it connects us, it is a nice activity to work on in a group.
And I love trash-tv, sci fi and other stuff but have what I suspect is a kind of residual middle class English guilt about being inactive .. so knitting and spinning allows me to watch trash tv .. look I'm not lazy I'm spinning/knitting! I am one of those people who has to be making or doing something, some people have hobbies that are around gaming or socializing .. for me and my family it is around making things.

In all honesty I don't think I can handle another craft right now,That is how I feel about weaving! I am afraid to give in to it .. for then I would have no time for the things I enjoy now. Spinning has 'stolen' a little of my knitting time - but not in a way that worries me.
Please - any one else, do comment - about spinning and its connection to yarn and knitting. I don't want to be the only voice on this.

na Stella

Sunday, July 11, 2010

First skein of the tour!

Yes, my first skein of the tour is done, with I hope 3 or 4 more to go. I've been knitting and spinning, more spinning than knitting really but making progress on things blue ... and things new. First up spinning,

My first skein of the tour, 286m of sport-ish weight Texel, 184g. I have a little under 200g still to spin and 3 more bobbins to ply .. so there will be more like this soon.

I had 'one of those moments', where I lost a yarn band and ended up turning the house upside down to find it. I did eventually find the yarn band - and also in the process this. Appears that I did in fact buy 700g of Texel not 500g - which would explain how I already had 5 bobbins with around 100g fibre on each and still fibre to spin left over.

We spend the weekend at my dads, so the little Gem came with me and I continued to spin at his house. End result is that I have now spun half the merino silk blend onto this bobbin, and have the other half to spin next.

Before we went away, and once we were back I have been knitting away on my last Nightingale .. look! Nearly there, the last bird is half formed. This is so exciting .. now I just want to buy blue shoes to wear with them and sit and knit until they are done .. but I cannot. I am still on leave this week and the cubs are in holiday program being socialized, but I have chores. First up this morning I lined all the living room curtains .. which they sorely needed. That should keep the living area a little warmer and easier to heat.

Which leaves me introducing my new project, Pattern: Rogue Roses by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in a Socks that rock yarn designed for it. I needed a car-able knit for the long drive up to my dads and then again on the way home. Nightingale with its chart is not a great travel sock .. so I picked a new project from the sock drawer. I am loving this sock, the yarn is heavier than my usual sock yarn, but I'm still knitting it on 2.25mm needles. That is because I only took those ones with me .... I am loving the rosebuds, and the garter slip stitch heel all worked in purl stitches on every row! Very pretty inside and out. Bear pointed out it is a colour way much like my merino spinning - citrus.

So I'm off to find lunch, all on my own, no need to accommodate the tastes of any one else (oh how I do like being at home by myself sometimes), and do a little more tidying up around the house in preparation for starting a new project tomorrow. but I will keep spinning, the tour is still on. Tonight the local group has plans to actually spin while watching the tour - which should be great fun.

take care
na Stella

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Day four on the tour ...

I'm still here, still spinning and knitting .. still officially touring with the Tour de Fleece, although I suspect I've been riding along with the crowd neither shining as a leading light .. or dragging behind as a lost cause. I've spun two 100 g bobbins of Texel, one part bobbin of merino silk at spin night, and nearly a third bobbin of blue Texel. I thought I had 500g of the stuff .. but I've just weighed the remainder and there is 390 g left so I must have had a lot more than 500g before I started.

This is my place at the end of days one and two ... and wee bit of day three... Sunday, Monday Tuesday. 2 bobbins full. I have been spinning for a few hours each day .. and surprisingly have not had any aches and pains for it. I'm spinning on my big Grace wheel, with two treadles that work in sync ... which is supposed to mean the body balances as both legs work as one. So far so good ... although that hard Ashford spinning chair is a tad firm for hours of spinning.

This is my result for day four, mid-day on day four, I'm planning to finish this bobbin before the end of 'racing' today. I am so lucky to be on leave this week and the next and that means that I have time to spin during the day, sitting in the sun, the weak winter sun but the sun just the same. The cat, Yo-yo seems slightly perplexed(would that be purr-plexed?) that the whole family is home all day - every day right now, but seems to enjoy the variety of laps to settle into during the day - I had no idea she spent so much time sleeping in the sun.

Monday I spun a little silk merino .... I am finding it hard to have two things on two wheels that are being spun to different thickness singles. I find it easier to spin to the same consistency ... so this has ended up slightly thicker than I'd planned .. but that is how it goes with my spinning sometimes. I am loving the play with the pale orange, the yellow and the lime in this colourway ....refreshing and quite citrus.

And because there has to be knitting, there is progress on Nightingale, grand progress. Look! I'm past the heel, and working just above the ankle. I made a mistake and thought that there were 6 birds on each sock, when there are only four ... so I've now done nearly two of the four I need to work to complete this sock.

And here is the heel .... I did something odd as I worked it and had one stitch fewer on one side that I should .. but a little fudging and all seems well.

Ok .. I'm off to spin some more
na Stella

Saturday, July 03, 2010

On tour!

Today marks the start of my first ever Tour de Fleece, for those of you who are not spinners .. this involves spinning along with the riders on the Tour de France. I've watched the tours (bike and spinning wheel) from the sidelines for many years, and a few years ago my uncle, then aged in his 70's, tripped to France and followed the tour by bicycle ... serious amateurs can ride the events the day after the competitors do which is what he did. I'm on leave from work, for two fantastic weeks, and the tour lasts for 3 weeks... so I have made plans accordingly. I've signed up on Ravelry to Team Aoteroa, and warned the family there will be spinning every day. For the next 3 weeks there will be as much spinning as knitting, probably more spinning, but there will be both. Today I have the start of my tour, sock progress and a whole new project begins.
so ......3, 2, 1 Go!

This is my tour shelf, the fibre I've set aside to spin. The largest bump is 500g of Texel (I forget from who, but I bought it at the Milton open day last year). Next to that is some Targhee dyed with Indigo from A verb for keeping warm, and under that and 80/20 merino silk blend from Craftykiwi in the last New Zealand fibre swap .. then along the end and probably way to optimistic to get to in this tour is 4 more fibre wheels, some merino and some perendale that I dyed earlier this year. I imagine I won't get to all of this, but I will spin the Texel at home on the Grace wheel, and the other bumps are for spinning out and about on Monday nights with the local spinning group on my little Gem.

Look! I've made a start already on the Texel, spun for a few hours already today. I'm hoping this will yield a sport weight 3 ply, and enough yardage for a cardigan/jacket for smallest bear. The blue is the same colour as both cubs eyes .. and the larger cub already scored a hand knit this year.

Last night was the elder cubs 11th birthday party, 8 of his best buddies came over and drank ginger bear, ate hot dogs with mustard and onions, and various other party food and watched Star Wars The Empire Strikes Back. We fosicked around on the web prior to the party and found a few star wars themed quiz questions. The boys were divided into two teams, one team had to nominate some one to be the buzzer, they had to yell 'Buzz', the other 'Bing' if they knew the answer. I had forgotten how intensely 11 year old boys can be when following instructions, we had repeated choruses of Buzz-Buzz-Buzz and Bing-Bing-Bing as they competed for the judges attention ... great fun. I realized I needed a party style knit to get me thru the noise/night rather even attempt Nightingale .. so cast on for a baby singlet in lace-weight. This is the larger version of a Margaret Stove design I knit earlier this year. Yup - that is a ladder down the side, the Addi lace-weights I'm using have a stiff cable and the lace-weight yarn seems to pull open when worked on this circ ... but I love the points of these laceweights, my others in this size are all blunt Addi's. Perhaps Knitpics/Knitpro do have a more flexible cable, or perhaps lace-weight is unstable and just does that when knit on one long circ. I'm trusting the ladder shifts and closes up when I wet block it.

Lastly spurred on by finishing the first Nightingale and some positive feedback on it .. I've made a good start on the second sock. There was a little 6 round frogging incident early in the piece as I belatedly realized the pattern provided left and right charts so the socks would be mirrors of each other, Doh! Now I've got that sorted I'm well on my way, one bird down of 6, 5 to go .... and right now I'm ready to start the gussets.

Take care ... if you are touring .. happy safe spinning, or cycling
if not cheer a little for all the riders and spinners ...
na Stella