August 2007

I have been very lax in updating my blog recently and I apologize.  I have been doing things, I just haven’t been taking pictures of them.  The batteries in the camera are dead.  So here is a breakdown of what I have been doing, you can use your imagination for now to imagine me doing all these things!

  • I untangled all the green laceweight that Teeny had around her hand.  It is now all nicely balled back up, but it has not been reunited with the other ball and the main project yet.
  • I finished this shawl FINALY!  I was so sick of working on this by the end that I have put aside knitting big things for a bit and I have been doing other things.  It still needs to be blocked.  I have to do that in the next couple days because it is destined to be a birthday present for my husband’s grandma and her party is this weekend.
  • My sister loved the sock weight from last week, so it is in the very beginning stages of becoming Sidewinder socks for her.  Turns out I do know somebody who likes socks after all.  “like” is an understatement!  Some women have a passion for shoes, or purses, or things like that.  She has a passion for socks!  Guess what she’s getting for her birthday, and Christmas, and any other gift giving holiday.  We went through all the sock patterns in Ravelry and she pointed out what she liked.
  • I had a bunch of worsted superwash that I had spun some time ago, just 100+ yards of each colorway.  I had been wanting to do some sort of project with all of them.  I lost quite a few afghans to carpet beetles recently and I need to get on the stick to make more!  I started by taking the colors and wrapping them into smaller random sized skeins with the intent of knitting random striped miter squares.  I got about 10 squares done and I was so sick of looking at it already that I had to scrap that idea.  I decided instead to crochet an afghan similar in design to a hexagon quilt.  It has a small hexagon of color for the center, with a border of some cream colored acrylic I was able to salvage from an afghan that wasn’t too damaged.  The effect is a field of flowers on a white afghan (or quilt if you are using fabric).

I will try to get some pictures up in the next day or so!  I have to go find some batteries.

A few months ago I ordered some fiber from the Spunky Eclectic Almost Solid Series.  I had 11 different colorways in Merino for a project, but I knew I would have more than enough for some extra projects.  As I was spinning I held back a half an ounce of each color to make a scrappy yarn.

I spun the two plies differently to maximize the color variations.  I split all the colors into 8 pieces and then drafted them.  I then took the fiber for the first ply and broke all but the first and last piece in half again.  I spun the first ply A-B-C-B-A and the second ply A-B-C-A-B-C.  When they were plied they turned into this great sock weight fiber.

I had intended to do two updates between last week and today, but I got a terrible cold that has had me in and out of bed for the past few days.  I am feeling much better now, so here are the updates!

I got an unexpected package in the mail last week and when I saw that it was from my Australian publisher I was jumping around the kitchen and yelling!  They had sent my copy of the book I had a pattern published in!

This book will be released in Australia this fall!  And if you get a copy of the book you will see that near the middle, among all the other super cute and fantastic patterns is mine!


I am beginning to think about submitting some other patterns to some publishers and putting a few more here on my site very soon.

Now, for the second part of the update.  I had a terrible case of start-itis last week and spent several days starting projects when I should have been finishing them.  I decided I needed a project specifically for working on upstairs, so I spent a couple days winding off small skeins of some yarns I had put aside for a scrap blanket.  I also started on the Bugs in Your Garden Shawl.  It has a Sun for the center

And some of the images so far are a Dragonfly

And a cloud of Midges

Now I had intended to begin working on the shawl again today, but while I was sick in bed my husband brought Teeny in to the room and told me they had been watching a movie when he realized she was being too quiet.  Never a good sign.  He looked around and saw that she was playing with my green yarn.  That is when he held up her hand to show me that she had about 100 yards of it wrapped around her wrist so tight that her hand wasn’t looking as pink as it should have been!  He said he tried to get her untangled, but he wanted to bring her to the tangle expert before he decided to get the scissors.  Luckily I was able to untangle her without drastic measures having to be taken.  I guess that will teach me to leave yarn around within reach after she has watched me re-skein yarn on my hand for a couple days.

So now that I am all done spinning all that green fiber, I sat down to finish some projects I had been half way through.  I had started Reid before the move.  It was a quick knit, but the lace pattern was very fiddly.

 I used this yarn.  It is Berry Pickin’ in Merino from Spunky Eclectic.  I spun up this single back in  March.  I used just a little over 4 oz to make the sweater.

 And this is how the sweater looked after it was all finished and blocked.

I am glad that I checked Ravelry before I started.  Just about every version of this sweater had notes added about the sizing being wrong.  And they were right!  I knit this in the 2T size, guage swatch and everything.  When I went to block it, there was no way it would block to the specs at the end of the pattern.  I ended up just blocking it to the size that made the lace look best, I think it was close to the 6T size, and it ended up being just about the right size.  The sleeves are just a little long, but they look fine when they are rolled up.  The important thing is that Teeny loves it!  When I put it on her I had to chase her around the house to get it back!

I also learned something very important and frustrating yesterday.  The green yarn is too thin!  It would be beautiful in a shawl with an all over pattern like Print of the Waves or some other traditional shawl, but not the pattern I wanted to use it with.  The pattern I am using has beautiful pictures of bugs and flowers.  Great garden scenes that need to have very solid areas to contrast the open areas. 

I tried using US 0 needles, the pattern was too small to see.  I tried US 3 and 4, the pattern dissapeared in all the loose stitches.  I was so frustrated!  I had been planning this shawl as my county fair entry for next year (ours is in April) and I was so disapointed that it wasn’t working!  Then, late last night it hit me.  Hold two strands together!  I thought for a second about spinning the two yarns together in a cable, but I didn’t know how that would change the texture of the yarn, and I was sick and tired of spinning this yarn.  I wanted to START!  I am just about to the 4th increase row and so far it is stunning with two strands.  I am a super happy camper!

fiber-136.jpgI I had hoped to have this post for you earlier in the week, but I under estimated how long it would take to finish this yarn.  This is the first time I have used this kind of fiber and it is also the thinnest yarn I have ever spun.  I loved spinning this and I am going to be using it for a Pi shawl called Bugs in Your Garden.  Here are the specs

It is 8 oz of 60/40 Merino-Bamboo blend from Spunky Eclectic in the Mermaid colorway
I am unsure of the yardage at this time, but I am hoping it will be near 1700 yards
Averaged 8 hours per oz to spin, 64 hours total over a 2 week period
2 days to ply
Spun at 13:1 ratio
A few extra callouses and some blisters

Here is a closeup of the fiber.  You can really see the luster!


And here you can see just how thin the yarn is


I chose this fiber as my challenge fiber for The Tour, and challenge is an understatement!  I learned so many things while I was spinning this.  First was, if you decide to spin laceweight, you should like the colorway you choose a whole lot because you will be looking at it for a LONG time!  I have been so used to being able to fly through a worsted or bulky yarn in a day or so.  I was completely unprepared for spending 2 weeks spinning the same fiber.  Every time I thought I was getting near the end, I would see more of it in the bag.  I think at one point it started breeding!

I had read many descriptions of spinning with Bamboo described as slippery.  This doesn’t even begin to describe this fiber.  It has the luster of silk, but the slickness of cotton.  If your wheel gives even the slightest jump, the fiber was gone!  And since 40% of it was missing the gripping qualities of wool, splicing it back together was very challenging.  I found that splicing back a broken single or adding on the next bit of fiber would require a lead about twice what I was used to using for wool.

I also came up with a new tool!  I love Andean Plying off the last few yards from a bobbin, but today I needed to be able to jump up to see what teeny was up to and to answer the door when the Sparklettes man came, so I didn’t want to be tied to the bobbin by that bracelet.  I wandered around the house for a few minutes trying to think of what I could use to make a plying paddle.  I decided to stick a bodkin into a plastic cup, and viola, an Andean Plying Cup!


It was big enough that I could either put the cup over the top of one of the bobbins on my Kate or slip the bracelet off and put it on my arm.  Either way, if I needed to get up in a hurry, I didn’t have to worry about messing up the singles.  Very handy!

My goal for the Tour was to spin lace-weight by the end.  I have succeeded and surpassed this goal and now I am 100% hooked on lace-weight!  I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before that if I lived in the desert, I should be trying to spin as light a yarn as possible.  It is sort of one of those face-palm moments. 

A few months ago, I watched Abby’s video tutorials on how to ply.  I knew how to ply, but She has been spinning for almost her whole life, so when she wants to take the time out to show us the technique she uses who am I to say “meh, I know how to do that.”  No Sir!  I eagerly waited for each installment and watched each video over and over.  I love learning new things and trying new techniques!

I gave it a try on some chunky yarn I was spinning for my sister.  It came out nice, but I preferred the look of my old way of plying better.  But I couldn’t get the idea of those lusciously thin yarns that Abby makes out of my mind.  They are beautiful!  Go look, right now.

I thought maybe her technique was better suited for the ultra fine yarns.  So once I had reached my goal of a whole bunch of insanely thin singles, I started using her technique to ply them.  It was like magic!!  The plies were firm and well twisted together.  Just to see the difference, I switched back to my old way of plying.  It was immediately apparent that with lace-weight, my old way of plying would leave the yarn under-plied.  I had figured out the secret to beautiful lace-weight yarn.  THANK YOU ABBY!!

Here is what I have done so far with my new found knowledge.  Working only for good, and not for evil, I plied this BFL from Spunky Eclectic in the Tulip colorway.  There are over 1300 yards of it all told

I finished this yarn on July 20th, so when I went to the Harry Potter party that night I knew what I would be doing for the 7 hours before the book came out.  I found myself a copy of Victorian Lace Today and A Gathering of Lace and parked myself at a table.  I have wanted these two books for ages, but I didn’t want to purchase it without getting a chance to paw through them.

I sat down at one of the tables and read through each book, page by page, cover to cover and decided that for right now Victorian Lace Today would fit better into the amounts of yarn that I am spinning.  And while most people were staying up all night to read about the trials and tribulations of Mr Potter (I admit, I cried at the end) I stayed up and started knitting.  Here is the very beginning of the Spiderweb Shawl.  I am making it with 4 sections

I have put this aside for right now so that I can focus on finishing this yarn.  It is wool/bamboo blend.  More on that next time

I spent a few days discovering first hand the damage that carpet beetles can cause to all sorts of fiber, not just wool.  Those little buggers destroyed a large portion of our warm winter afghan supply.  I washed everything I could get my hands on in super hot water to kill any hitchhikers that might have made the move with us.  My new washing machine is my favorite appliance.  It is a Whirlpool and it was purchased specificaly because it has a handwash cycle that has been tested on several different blends of wool with beautiful results each time!

One of the first things we needed in the new house was a dinning table and chairs, so we went out to the local second hand store to look for one.  I was entertaining the kids while my husband negotiated price when I saw this sitting on a dinning table across the room.

I could not believe my eyes!  Was that what I thought it was carved on the front of it?  Yep, it sure was!  A Spinning Wheel carved on to the front of a Lane cedar hope chest!

There was just no question about this comming home with us, especially after the devestation of the carpet beetles.  It was like it had been put in that store just for me!  It now houses my fiber stash.

Next time, what I have been doing with all that fiber!

So I finaly have my big computer back up and running!  I was on the lap top for a few days last week, but then the hard drive died before I could do any serious updating.  Besides, I like my big computer.  I told my husband that using the lap top was like wearing somebody elses underpants.  It does the job, but it doesn’t feel right.  All my files and programs are here.

 The past couple weeks have been crazy!  I haven’t been able to spin very much, but I am getting back into the swing of things.  A day or two after we moved in we had an out of town guest come and stay for a couple weeks.  We also had to finish cleaning out our old apartment.  It is amazing how many things you can collect when you stay in the same place for 8 years.    On Tuesday we went and turned in our keys so we are officialy all moved out, now we just have to work on the moving in part.  I have almost everything unpacked and I can actually get my car into one half of the garage!


Here is a photo of my new craft closet!  If you check on Flickr, you can see all the notes of what things are in there so far.  I still have a couple more boxes of things to unpack, but the big stuff is all there.

Well, I have so many things to tell you about!  I have a post-it here that I have been taking notes on while I was waiting for the computer to be set up again.  I will tell you more about what I have been up to, the spinning I have been doing, the projects I have been finishing and the cool thing I found at a second hand shop in the days to come!