Spinning Day Lilies

Sundays are for spinning. It is a most relaxing way to spend my Sabbath – especially when I am navajo plying.

I started spinning this gorgeous South African Fine Merino from the Spunky Eclectic Club a couple of weeks ago:

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February 2013 Club Day Lily

Because I was spinning it super thin, and because I also spent a lot of time knitting and mothering, it took me a long while to get this four ounces to look like this:

IMGP8915This is probably the thinnest that I have spun yet.

Navajo plying has got to be the most relaxing activity there is. I just love it. I love the yarn that it produces, too.

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I got about 415 yards of fingering weight yarn out of the one braid. Then I sold my other two to a fellow Raveller because, while I love this yarn, I have no idea what I would make with 12 ounces of it.

IMGP8918As it is, I have no idea what I am going to do with 4 ounces! It is very pretty and I am happy to let it ruminate in the stash for awhile. Maybe socks? Maybe a baby thing? We shall see.

As for me, I have moved on and already have a bobbin full of this months’ Spunky Fiber, a gorgeous BFL that has me completely over the moon (and not just because it is purple)!

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Dale & Dolly – A Wheel for Spinning Part 1

Tuesday Funnies!

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Spinning Rainbows

Draped over my shoulders right now is the most awesome thing that I have made yet. It is a rainbow of lace, spun, designed, and knit by me. I am so excited about this shawl!

It started out like this –

This is Renee’s 12 Color Rainbow on Mystic MCN Roving from Family Pendragon. Beautiful, yes? Yes.

And a very pleasurable spin it was! I separated out the colors and spun all of one color before moving to the next, being careful to blend the transitions evenly, for a gradient rainbow. The yarn is exquisite light fingering singles in a gorgeous riot of color. (Ravelry page here with notes on the spinning)

I agonized over what to knit with it. I really wanted a half-circle shawl that would accentuate the rainbow, but I couldn’t find just the right one. Then I remembered my handy Elizabeth Zimmerman book collection and inspiration just started coming in waves! I looked up the formula for her Pi Shawl and adjusted it to make a half-circle. It was laughably simple once I got going (seriously – so very simple!).

Once I got the shaping figured out, it was just a matter of choosing lace patterns to knit in the arches between the increase rows. Out came all of my lace stitch dictionaries (and quite a bit of Amazon dreaming, I admit! Oh, what I wouldn’t give for some Barbara Walker treasuries!) and I started knitting. The end result? Fabulous! (if I do say so myself) (Ravelry Project Page here)

I didn’t plan too much at once, just letting myself create over the course of the project. Each time I came to an increase row, I sought out the next lace insert, poring over my lace volumes anew.

The only thing that I really knew was that I wanted scalloped edges, so “Feather and Fan” was the obvious choice for the border.

The other goal was to knit a different stitch for each color. This worked out until the rows exceeded 300 stitches and the color repeats shortened to one inch, but by that time I was ready to start the scalloped edge anyway, so it worked out.

Among the many pleasing bits in this project is the lovely fact that the colors cooperated so well, leaving the dark purple for the bind off. I love the dark edge. Perfect.

Another thing that I love is the way that the various lace patterns work together in a pleasing way, even though I didn’t plan them. I was a little concerned that my haphazard method was going to produce something that looked, well, haphazard. On the contrary, I think it looks pretty good, and there are very few things that I would change (one of them being that I wish the orange section was less geometrical and looked more like leaves, as I imagined that it would). The yellow section is inspired by the Kai Mei socks, altered to make an all-over pattern, and the orange section I totally made up myself. For the other patterns I used Vogue Knitting Stitchionary vol 5 for guidance, but tweaking it to my liking along the way.

It is quite a thrill to start with a wad of wool and turn it into something so lovely, and even more thrilling to start with a plan and actually accomplish the goal almost perfectly.

And, though all the girls are vying for ownership, I think this one is for me.

Dale & Dolly – Spinning Pt. 3

Tuesday Funnies!

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Dale & Dolly – Spinning Pt. 2

Tuesday Funnies!
“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Dale & Dolly – Spinning Pt.1

Tuesday Funnies!

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Spinning With Baby V

I haven’t been spinning much since all that yarn came in a few weeks ago, but fiber has been coming in, too. Like this gorgeous braid from the Cosymakes Falkland Fiber Club. She calls it “Fantastic Mr. Fox”.

Plus, that gorgeous spindle from Wildcard Fiber Arts came in as well and I have been trying it out on the mystery fiber that was included in the box (I need to find out what this is because it is absolutely heavenly). This spindle is really tiny, but it spins beautifully and looks gorgeous in my yarn cabinet.

So, I decided that I need to finish plying what’s on my spindle. This is what my morning looked like:

I’ve got 4oz spun and plied now hanging to dry. I will tell you all about it tomorrow, complete with pictures.

Ply From a Swift? Yes We Can!

I enjoy letting a fiber tell me what it wants to be. Often I have an idea of what I hope for or a project in mind, but I really hate fighting with a fiber that wants to be something totally different. So I was very excited when I set out to spin this fiber for a friend on Raverly, who, when asked how she wanted it replied “however”.

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Mosaic Moon “Way of the Lost Souls” on polwarth

She did mention the hope of knitting a hat with it, so I sort of aimed for a self striping DK to worsted weight. I started by spinning a thin single without splitting the braid at all, with the intention of n-plying it. But then I realized that this fiber did not want to be thin.

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Well, not thin enough to be a three ply DK anyway. It was looking kind of fingering and I knew that just wouldn’t do.

Naturally, I switched to plan B and finished up the braid with the thought that a nice, slightly fulled single would be really nice, too.

It was nice. Super nice.

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But then I got to thinking about knitting a hat with it and decided it was more like a shawlette kind of yarn, which was not really the plan. Maybe it was time for Plan C?

So, I contacted my friend with her options. Did she want these 460 yards of fingering with loooong color repeats? Or would she prefer a bulky n-ply? Plan C it is!

I was actually a little relieved that she picked n-ply. But then I was stumped for a second. I have always plied off of bobbins and there I was with a skien in my hand. What to do? Can you ply from a swift?

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Yes. You can. It might be hard to see from this action picture, but that is my yarn on the swift being plied onto the wheel on the right (plus a lot of evidence of my seven children in the background).

Ah. That is much better. Much more hat-like.

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I sent it off in the hopes that I will get to see what it becomes.

This fiber definitely had a preference. I wonder if it will be happy as a hat?

Mistakes Upon Errors Wrapped in Failure, Yet Still a Nice Pair of Socks!

If there is a master list somewhere of mistakes one could make when knitting colorwork socks, I am sure I could check off every item with just this one pair of socks!

Well, actually, with the second sock in this pair, because the first one is perfect! Gorgeous! Amazing! But I made the mistake of knitting the first and then taking a long break from them until I forgot how to knit it, and then tried to make the second just like the first. Which I guess isn’t really a problem if a knitter follows her pattern. But I don’t. Which still wouldn’t be a problem if said knitter took good notes on the changes she made to the first sock so that she could make the same changes on the second. Which I didn’t. In fact, on my Ravelry page for these socks I wrote of the first sock (and I quote)

“I really hate when patterns dictate how many needles you must use by giving instructions per needle instead of per row. Grrrrrr. So I don’t know if I did the gusset as written or not. I worked it logically like any other sock. It looks right. Whatever.”

As if that was going to help me with the second sock at all. I might have been okay if I had gotten right on that second sock and knit it while the first was still fresh in my mind. But I didn’t. Christmas knitting, and contest knitting, and spinning, spinning, spinning, and before I knew it, the sock had sunk to the bottom of the project bag and started gathering dust. Poor sock.

When I did finally dig out this much deserving project, I approached it with all the excitement one usually approaches a second sock. Which is to say none at all. And then I proceeded to make every mistake I could possibly make.

No, that’s not quite right. The leg went fine, as did the heel flap. And then it began. That gusset may look fabulous, but it is an evil I shall not embrace again. I’m sure it is fine if you follow the pattern, mind you. But you remember that I didn’t follow the pattern. don’t tell me which needle to use for which stitches. Give me the whole row and I will figure out how I want to arrange my needles, thank you very much.

So I knit the gusset. Oh, and I should mention that this first attempt was made in the home of a dear friend over coffee and good conversation. This means that I was not fully paying attention to the gusset. I had already done one, right? How hard could it be?

That gusset was awful. I ripped it and started again. But this time I was watching Sherlock (the episode where he dies and I cried because Martin Freeman is such a good actor that even though I know there is another season and Sherlock can’t possibly really be dead, I cried right along with poor John Watson). This means that I wasn’t paying attention. Again. I’m a slow learner.

But at this point I didn’t care. I just fudged some decreases and made it happen. I was done with this sock long before the knitting was finished.

I proceeded to knit… From the wrong chart, continuously mixing up my dominate yarn (it changes across the row – sometimes the CC is dominate, sometimes the MC), missing various color changes and not going back to fix them, and generally just trying to get it over with until I came to the toe. And then I knit the toe.

It really is a shame that I messed up the second sock so epically. This yarn is really nice. I mean, it’s really nice. It’s roll in a pile naked nice, sleep with it under your pillow nice. It’s the kind of yarn one hoards and can never find the perfect pattern for. Both colors are Dream in Color Smooshy, but the contrasting color is Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and boy! does that cashmere make a huge difference. Delicious.

There is a bright side to this tragic tale. And actually, the bright side is enough to blind me to the pathetic knitting catastrophe that these socks became.

Firstly, look at them.

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I can see the errors, but only if I look. Otherwise they are just lovely.

Plus, they are a wonderful kind of squishy coziness that makes my feet very, very happy.

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And, there is so much yarn leftover, that I can make another pair (using a different pattern, of course). I could probably even make a pair out of just the Cashmere.

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So, mistakes upon errors wrapped in failure, yet still a nice pair of socks. I can live with that. So can my happy toesies!