Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beginning of Archtectural Rib Sweater

Beginning of Archtectural Rib Pullover I've made more progress since this photo was taken; about 26 rows until I work the cable row. It's kind of fun to watch the ribs merge and the hem take shape.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Riffing on patterns

Parallelograms scarf More Parallelograms detail This is my version of the Parallelograms scarf from Knitting New Scarves. It's for my daughter, the scarf queen. This was a fun, easy knit; perfect for BART knitting or while watching over the caramel pot (I made caramels on Saturday). I used two skeins of Noro Silk Garden on US 8s. It is about 4 inches wide and 6 feet long. Perfect for the child who believes that one must wrap your scarf about your neck multiple times.

I used the Tweed Beret pattern from IK Winter 2006 as the basis for this beret. I used an aran weight blue face leicester yarn I bought from Kristine earlier this month. This took one skein plus a little bit that was left over from knitting the Maine Morning Mitts. I started with a four stitch i-cord; increased to eight stitches and then increased 8 stitches every other round until it was the diameter I wanted. In the next round, I knit 2 together all around. I finished it off with 1x1 ribbing, knitting the last two rounds in the contrasting color.

Late last night I cast on for the Architectural Rib Pullover from The Natural Knitter. I'm using some Alice Starmore Dunedin I've had in my stash forever. I haven't gotten very far, so I haven't taken a progress photo yet. Besides it's black and I'm not sure a photo would show all that much detail.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A weekend for making stuff

Yarn from "A Verb For Keeping Warm" "I'm going home to make stuff" I said to Kristine of A Verb For Keeping Warm as I departed from Glimakra Weaving Studio yesterday, clutching the yarn I had just bought from her. Kristine, Brooke and Maia of Tactile Fiber Arts were participating in the Open Studio weekend at Maj-Britt Morbrand's studio. I bought 3 skeins of BFL from Kristine; two skeins of "The Best Blue" and one of "Northerner". Glimakra Weaving Studio isn't all that large and was stuffed to gills with wonderful fiber-y stuff. I wanted to stay and take it all in, but I had to go home and start making stuff.

Maine Morning Mitt As soon I got home, I wound one skein of "The Best Blue" into a ball and started to knit Clara Parks' Maine Morning Mitts. These are going to be a Christmas gift. This first one was knit while watching A Midsummer Night's Dream and part of Chocolat. Since I'm not knitting much in the way of Christmas gifts, the second one will be done in no time.

Poaching Pears While I was working on the mitt, I poached some pears. I got these from one of the attorneys I work with. They have a wonderful flavor on their own, but I like poached pears. These are dead simple to make and make your house smell wonderfully spicy. First, make a simple syrup of 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Throw in some cinnamon sticks, whole allspice and fresh ginger. Add the peeled and halved pears and cook over medium low heat until tender. Cool.

Twisted Rib sock I also started the second twisted rib sock. After knitting the Maine Morning Mitt on a US 7 going down to a US 1 felt a bit weird. I normally knit on small needles and was surprised that I couldn't get my coordination right. So, I didn't get as much done on the second sock as I'd thought I would. But that is okay because these are for me and I'm in no rush to finish them.

I set today aside for spinning. I started spinning this merino/tencel up at the last pot luck Sunday spinning day at Maia's. I finished spinning 2 oz. today and will start on the second 2 oz. later this week. This fiber was one of my solar dyeing experiments from this summer. I love that the colors are softer than they would have been had I steam set the dye. I also started spinning the Targhee I bought in September. It is turning out a lovely oatmeal color. I've spun up 1 oz. and have 5 oz. left. I'm thinking of making a 3-ply for a hat.

Singles spun from merino Handspun 3-ply merino Speaking of 3-ply, I made my first successful 3-ply late last week. I ended up with approximately 1.9 oz. and 190 yards. I dyed three separate pieces of merino top in three strengths of Jacquard Black using a low-water immersion technique. I'm going to use this to make another Purl Bee Beret.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pizza

Homemade pesto pizza Yum, sort of homemade pizza. This pizza came into being with a lot of help from Trader Joe's. I used their pizza crust--in this case, garlic and herbs--their pesto and fresh mozzarella. And surprisingly, it came out quite tasty. It also made up for not having a refrigerator for two days, which pretty much put things to a stop in the kitchen.

Twisted Rib sock Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I started this twisted rib sock using some Koigu from my stash. I really like this yarn, especially the color. Yet, I couldn't bring myself to knit with it because I'd used some of it to knit my former boyfriend a pair of socks. He wore them a few times and then they were lost to the infinite laundry pile he kept. I knit that man several pair of socks, which he said he really wanted, and which he proceeded to lose. So this yarn has some bittersweet memories associated with it. I don't even remember why I bought four skeins of this colorway.

The ribbing is from the pattern dictionary in the Vogue Knitting book. I was at my parents' when I started it and asked my mum for a stitch dictionary. And was told she doesn't have one. Mum has been knitting for over 50 years. How could it be possible that she doesn't have a stitch dictionary? Two days after I asked about this, she unearthed Mary Thomas's stitch dictionary. She had completely forgotten she had a copy. I don't understand how you can keep track of every issue of Vogue Knitting (going back to the sixties) and IK in your collection and not know that you own a stitch dictionary!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dying fridge

Last night I returned from the Thanksgiving weekend to find that my fridge started dying sometime during the past four days. The freezer wasn't freezing and the fridge wasn't chilling. And the motor kept coming on about every three minutes, whining for about a minute and then going silent. I checked the fusebox to made sure the fuse hadn't tripped; I fiddled with the temperature settings; I discovered melted juice bars from earlier this summer that had completely melted. I also discovered that I can't move my fridge by myself to check the plug. Before the night was through, I'd turned the freezer off, which in turn stopped the motor from whining every three minutes. This morning the stuff in the fridge wasn't even a little chilled. Now, I'm waiting for the repair man to show up to tell whether or not I need to replace the thing. I bought this fridge six years ago and will be very disappointed if it can't be repaired.

I did get some knitting done over the weekend, which I did not photograph. I made the Purl Beret out of some Claudia Hand Painted and donated it to Caps for Kids in my hometown. This was a fun, quick knit and I will most likely make it again.

Added later: The repair man made my day--I don't have to replace the fridge. It needs a new compressor and something else. The parts and the repair man will be here tomorrow. I'm so relieved!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not felting

For the last month or so, I feel as if I've done nothing other than make felt scarves. Which is not exactly true.

Thelonious sock in progress Thelonious socks I finished my Thelonious socks. I think I would have finished them faster if I hadn't screwed up my stitch count a few times--mostly from losing yarn overs and other equally mind distracting things.

Red Rover singles I finished spinning these singles from a Lorna's Laces roving I bought a few months ago. I also finished plying them but have yet to take a picture.

Spring handpainted roving And I started spinning this up.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Yet more felting

I've finished thirteen felted scarves. I think this a good number to have at my employer's holiday crafts fair. I've had fun making these, but I miss spinning and knitting.

2 numo felt scarves Both of these are numo felt.

2 felted merino scarves These are merino felt. The one on the left has merino indigo dyed by Maia. The one on the right is made with some merino/tencel I dyed earlier this year.

Reverse side of indigo numo felt scarf Indigo numo felted scarf Indigo numo felt scarf detail This is a numo felt scarf made with silk I low-water immersion dyed and some more of Maia's indigo dyed merino. I wanted to see how the silk would like if I didn't felt all the way to the edge.

3 felt scaves Felt scarf Numo scarf detail Felt scraf detail Left to right: merino from Ashland Bay Trading Co., numo felt, merino felt (it's black on the reverse side).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Just felting

I'm getting ready for a craft fair at work and have been consumed with making felt scarves. See...

Numo Felt

Numo Felt

Woven felt

Merino felt with silk yarn

Merino felt with silk yarn 2nd side

Yesterday I took a break from felting and went to spinning potluck. Which was a good thing to do.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More felting

About to become a felt scarf This became this.

Felted Scarf

Another view of a felted scarf Another view. This shot is closer to the true colors of the finished felt.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Felting Sunday

I've had this need to finish something other than socks this week. So I decided a little felting was in order. I had to set up a felting area where a bit of water spilled on the floor wouldn't matter. I have the perfect space in my dining area. I covered the floor, which is wood laminate, with a plastic drop cloth. An inexpensive solution that can just be rolled and thrown away when I am finished. I set up my handy dandy multi-purpose folding table. Cut a length of ridged shelf covering a bit longer than the table. Heated a stock pot of water. Found the bucket of homemade soap gel I use for felting; donned my denim apron and set to work.

Rovings used for felt scarf I started with this--about 4 oz. of roving. One hank was merino and the other was merino/tencel. The colorways were similar and had been stewing in my fiber stash for a long time. I know that both of these came from Deep Color and had been dyed by Jen.

First layer for felt scarf I proceeded to lay out lengths of roving shingle style for the first layer. This took all of about 15 minutes. Each bit of fiber is about a staple length. Next I laid out a second layer of shingles running cross-wise to the first layer. For the third layer, I laid out fiber more or less going in the same direction of the first layer. More or less, meaning I was much more random in placing the fiber so that there would be some "movement" in the finished felt.

Felt scarf in process The first stage of felting looks like this. I wetted the fiber sandwich I just created, lay a net bag over it, drizzled a bit of soap gel over it, and patted it. I kept on patting until I couldn't see any air pockets. I moved my net bag over to the next section and patted. Once I was sure that the fiber was wet all the way through, I started moving my hand in a circular motion to start the agitation process. I kept the net bag over the felt while doing this. I turned the piece over after I was pretty sure it was holding together. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the ridge marks from the plastic I used underneath. I continued rubbing the felt, making sure to work the edges so that they weren't all feathery. I kept doing this until I thought it looked done and could stand up to a bit of rough treatment like being rolled up and rolled around with pressure. I did this until the felt was "hard" enough. I rinsed it out under running hot water until all of the soap was out. Then give it the cold water shock treatment. I wrung it out, twisting hard.

Finished Felt scarf About an hour and a half later, I had this. I'll be able to wear it tomorrow if it is dry. I then cleared up my work table and started another scarf. The second scarf was made out of a merino/tencel roving hand painted by Jen at Deep Color--again, fiber from the stash. Pictures to come.

Flame Wave socks for Emily Since last week, I finished the Flame Wave Socks. These are for my daughter's friend Emily. I thought I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the toes so I used a multi-colored I bought especially for these.

Madder & alkanet handpainted sock yarn After seeing Kristine's Pomatomus socks, I dyed this Henry's Attic Kona superwash sock yarn with alkanet and madder. While waiting for this to dry, I started Cookie A's Thelonious socks using the Fleece Artist Basic Merino Sock I bought at Knitty City in New York.

Oh, oh I spun some the Lorna's Laces superwash roving in Red Rover. No wonder I feel I can't get anything finished. I don't have the attention span to focus on just one thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Overheard in Beverly Hills

Yesterday my daughter had a casting in Beverly Hills. While having lunch, I overheard a man tell his companion that they really ought to get a panini grill. When asked why, he responded that that way they could make ham sandwiches at home. For some reason, this struck me as really funny. I'm easily entertained.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tart

Finished Top Down Sweater The top down sweater is really, honestly finished. I've wet blocked it and it is drying as I write. Once I stopped over thinking the math to get the shape, it fairly flew along. I started this version Sept. 21 and finished knitting and blocking it October 14. And one of the best things is that the rainy season has arrived a month early. It is cooler, damp and sweater wearing weather.

Apple tart ready for the oven This is the Sunday Spinning potluck tart before baking.

Apple tart This is after baking and before being putting in a fancy-dancy banker's box lid for transport to Maia's on Sunday. Kristine was there with her beautiful hand dyed yarn. As was Linda and Kathleen. Maia's husband Roger was there for a short while entertaining us with a story about Independence, MO. Even though we were a small group, we had a grand time. I got to model Maia's shetland sock. It is the most amazing shetland I've ever felt--soft, squishy, yummy. I wanted to take this sock home with me. Alas, only one has been finished. I started spinning up some Chasing Rainbows merino tencel I bought from Carolina Homespun in Boonville last month. It is so lovely to be with a group of like-minded people and spin, eat and drink coffee. I can hardly wait for next month.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Close to finished

Top down sweater I'm almost finished with the top down sweater. I've got about 5 more rounds of stockinette before I start the bottom ribbing. I hope to finish it in the next few days.

Flame Wave cuff This is the progress on the Flame Wave sock so far. After one full repeat of the pattern, I decided to substitute a yarn over for the make one the pattern specifies. It makes the knitting go just a bit faster and I prefer the openness of the yarn over. I'll see how I feel about it when I've worked a bit more of the leg.

Off to make apple tart for tomorrow's spinning potluck and listen to Springsteen's new cd, which I'm liking a whole lot right now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

From that to this

13+ bobbins of wine colored merino top singles 2000 Yds of handspun merino From 13 plus bobbins of singles to approximately 2000 yards of 2-ply. I started spinning this on August 5 and finished plying at about 11:40 p.m. last night. Two months to spin and ply the two pounds of top I started with. Before wet finishing, it comes in at 12 wpi, putting it in DK weight range, which was what I was aiming for. I'm going to finish it using Judith MacKenzie McCuin's method for finishing woolen spun yarns. In fact, I just bought a cute mini sink plunger just for this job. Of course, my daughter thinks I'm nuts to believe that a plunger is going to help me in finishing the yarn.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

From this to this

Last of the wine colored merino top This started as 2 lbs. of merino top.

13+ bobbins of wine colored merino top singles It's now 13 plus a little more bobbins of singles.

Next step, plying.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thoughts on knitting books

The number of new knitting books released each season is a good indication of the popularity of knitting. A few years ago, I felt that I was missing out on something if I didn't own all the new books as they came out. While browsing at Borders on Friday, I realized that I no longer feel that way. I was browsing through The Best of Interweave Knits, tempted to buy a copy when "Why?" popped into my mind. After all, the likelihood that I would knit anything in the book was zip. Did I really need to add a book to my knitting book collection just for the sake of saying I own it? After all, who am I trying to impress? And, don't I complain enough about having to dust as it is? I will buy some knitting books if I especially like the styling or photography. I'll also buy a book that uses a clever technique that I want to understand better. The sad truth is that many of the knitting books just set in the bookcase often overlooked as I search for an old favorite.

Last year, I gave away a lot of stash yarn and knitting books because the shear amount of stuff I owned overwhelmed me. Rather than feel motivated by the quantity around me, I was depressed and at loose-ends. Nothing appealed to me. The books included the likes of Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, Sally Melville's Knit Book and Color Book plus odds and ends of knitting essay collections. I wasn't the least bit sad to see these books go. They were serving no real purpose while in my possession. Most of the folks who claimed the books were relatively new to knitting and glad to have some reference material. The stash yarn went to a stay at home mom with two young kids, a few new knitters, and to a senior center. It was liberating to let go of belongings that I had held onto far too long. There was nothing in the books that will go down in history as classics or comfort knits that are timeless. (Well, maybe Sally Melville's Einstein jacket will become a timeless classic.)

I need to bear these thoughts in mind when I look at Kaffe Fassett's Kaffe Knits Again. Now, don't get me wrong, I love his color work. However, I don't like to knit intarsia. And, I can borrow Glorious Color from my mum whenever I want if I need color inspiration. Plus, I have Deb Menz's ColorWorks. Just because a new book is the buzz of the blogosphere or podcasting world doesn't mean that I need to own it. Just like when an indie dyer or particular yarn is the favorite of the moment, I don't need to add any of it to my stash. I never want to feel overwhelmed by my knitting books again. Leaving The Best of Interweave Knits on the shelf was one of the best decisions I've made lately.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Purchases from TKGA

I went to the TKGA show in Oakland yesterday. My promise to myself was that I would not add to the fiber or yarn stash. I kind of kept this promise.

Schaefer Anne I couldn't resist this skein of Schaefer Anne. I'm thinking it will become a Chevron scarf.

Spindlewood Co. featherweight spindle SpindleWood Co. Maple burl whorl I also bought a new square mini featherweight SpindleWood Co. maple burl with Brazilian cherry shaft. It's so cute and that was a big factor in the decision to purchase it. I really enjoy spinning on my wheel more than on a spindle. But I don't have room to collect wheels; however, I do have room for a few more spindles.

Other purchases were 200 braids to twist, knot, loop, or weave, a copy of The Crystal Cove Pullover pattern from Just One More Row and a copy of Myrna pattern from White Lies Designs.

Bobbin 10 of wine merino On the spinning front, I finished bobbin number 10 of the wine-colored merino yesterday and started spinning up the last 8 oz. bump today.

I'm off to finish knitting the ribbing on the first sleeve of the top down sweater. I'm really liking it. Oh, and to check on the bread in the oven.