Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photographic challenges...

Two things it is nigh impossible to take a picture of...


...yourself spinning, because really? Drafting is a two-handed affair...and...

soctoberfest sock1

...yourself wearing a sock. (Ignore the horrible late-night lighting and the huge mess on the table! Thanks!)

After the rough start to my day, I did manage to get rid of my family settle down and find my happy place, which today happened to be in the living room with my spinning wheel. Right in front of the living room window really is the perfect spot to spin during the first half of the day. The sunlight (when there IS sunlight, and at this time of year that isn't a given, but today there WAS sunlight, so, bonus!) streams right in the window and makes me happy and peaceful.


I feel like a cat, you know? Cats love to curl up in a spot of sun. That's one of my favorite things about cats. They'll seek those spots out. Anyway. I love to just sit in the sunlight and spin, watching the flyer go around and practically sparkle as it does...sparkle like a sugar-coated vampire (if you've seen the Twilight movie, you'll understand the reference). 


(Yes, I realize I've just posted three pictures that are not all that dissimilar. My day might have improved, but I'm still sleep-deprived. And is just past midnight and I'm still awake. That should seem wrong to me, but it doesn't.)

As for the sock...I finished it tonight, right around 11:30. So, while I was still overly optimistic in hoping to finish the complete pair of Socktoberfest Socks by the end of January, I at least finished the first one. I'm pretty happy with it, even though I have one error in the cable, which no one will be able to see when it is under a pant leg, but I know it is there. (There is one in the other sock, too...I'm nothing if not consistent.) 

socktoberfest socks1-2

I'm not sure I'll get the second one done tomorrow, which was my plan when it was clear I wouldn't be getting it done today. Cable charts and the Super Bowl really will not go together well, especially since my STEELERS will be playing! Woohoo! Might need to find something mindless to work on during the game. Perhaps that two-row scarf? Hm.

And just an aside...despite my sleep-deprivation and subsequent crabbiness, I did get my butt out the door and went to the gym this afternoon. Have I mentioned lately how much I love my gym? I always feel so good when I come home! I needed that today. And while my weight loss came to a crashing halt for the better part of the week (and even had the nerve to back up and add a few pounds back on...grrrrr...), I remain optimistic and motivated. So, yeay! :)

Saturday, people! It's Saturday!

It is Saturday.

I couldn't sleep.

Our mattress totally sucks. 

The husband was on my side of the bed.

In an act of self-preservation, I got out of bed before 7 a.m.

(Did I mention it is Saturday?)

Then my family got up.

My family is noisy in the morning.

( And want the TV on. Gah!)

I hate noise in the morning.

In an act of self defense, I made homemade pancakes for breakfast.

(The sooner they eat, the sooner they might leave and I can go back to bed.)

Everyone is now gone.

I am now fully awake.

(Crabby, but fully awake.)

It is not yet 9 a.m.

This so does not bode well for the rest of the day.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's another language...

...those crochet terms. Ach! Every time I encounter them, I am flummoxed. If a knit pattern calls for some element of crochet beyond the basic chain stitch, I either try to fake it or simply find a way to ignore it. Neither is a good option, because really? A bit of crochet in the finishing of a garment can really make all the difference!

Thus it was with my Scarf on a Whim. The official pattern name is Ribbed Scarf with a Crochet Edging. So, yeah, you'd think I'd have been prepared for the crochet part, right? Uh huh. I finished knitting the scarf last night and attempted the crochet edge. It was so wrong. I was using the wrong size hook for one thing, and I was too tired to go downstairs and dig around for the correct one. So I ripped out the errant edging and called it a night. My final thought was, "Maybe it really doesn't need the crocheted edge! It looks nice with just the eyelets!"

This morning dawned with a hint of sun in the sky and I looked at the scarf again. Yes, it looked ok without the edging, but I was sure it would look much better with it. So I dug around for the right hook, sat down and tried again. This time, however, I was baffled by the terms...double crochet, triple Seriously? My crochet is limited to chain stitches and granny squares, the latter I can do only because I have the process memorized but have no idea what the stitches are called.

Finally, after buggering this edging up a couple times, I did what I should have done from the get-go and dug out my crochet stitch dictionary. Aha! Pictures and explanation! What a novel idea! In no time, I had that edging done, and darned if it didn't finish the scarf off beautifully. LOL

It's a little on the short side, as I like my scarf lengths to be, but it is pretty...elegant, even. And I just love the Rowan Felted Tweed! I've wanted to make something from it for so long (in fact, I have a couple sweater lots of it stashed away). It really is a fabulous yarn.

So, another FO! That brings the WIP count down to EIGHT! And there are still a little more than two days left in January! You know what that means, right? It means I have time to try and finish one more project. I'm leaning towards the Socktoberfest socks...I think they'll go quickest, even though they are a cable pattern. The February Lady Sweater is my other possibility, but I've got so much bad karma knit into those freakin' sleeves already that I just don't want to tempt the knittig fates into messing up my finishing run here in the last leg. So...socks. I think that will be my final finishing goal this month. Then it will be February and I can cast on something new! LOL (I'm so sick, I know...but I make no apologies.)

Honestly, in order for me to ever get any good pictures of me modeling my own knitwear, I have GOT to get someone in this family to learn how to use my digital SLR! I tried to give the girlie a crash course today, and this exasperated expression on my face is the result of how that went. :::sigh::: Who knew it was so much to ask to have the entire knitted garment in the picture, as well as my whole head, and to have it in focus? Gah.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And sometimes you just have to persevere...

After my ruthless frogging post yesterday, I was playfully accused of using whatever means necessary to get that WIP count down. LOL Yeah, well...that's not entirely untrue, I guess. It would have worked better had more of those rip-victims actually been on my active WIP list. But hey! Eliminating projects that have no future and hold no joy is just not a bad thing in my mind. In fact, it is an act of mercy to spare the yarn your ill-willed feelings while knitting it into something you don't really like anymore. No fiber deserves that! (Well, maybe some really crappy acrylics do, but...ahem...)

Anyway, today I opted for the opposite of ruthlessness and decided to persevere instead by finally finishing that damn green purse. Honestly, I don't love it. I mean, it's a cute pattern, but I'm not wild about how it turned out. (For the sake of full disclosure, I substituted yarns and I know it would have worked much better in the original yarn that was called for, Berroco Suede.) I could easily have decided to just chuck it into the Goodwill bag as it was and been done with it. But I figured, hey, I have the fabric for the lining, and I could easily sew in a snap as a closure rather than fidget with a zipper. So that's what I did. I added the tassle and called it done.

green purse done

I still don't love it, and I'll never use it, but I have a 12-year-old girl here who was most happy to accept a new purse out of the blue today, so it's all good. LOL

green purse inside

So, between the frogged No-So-Basic-Black yesterday and the finished purse today, my WIP count is down to :::drum roll, please!::: NINE!!!!! I made it to the single digits, and I've still got three days to go! 

Granted, I think I was being a tad overly optimistic the other day when I indirectly posited that I could complete the purse AND a scarf AND a pair of socks by the end of Saturday. I can tell you now, that just ain't happenin'. No way. Now how. But if I can at least finish EITHER the scarf OR the pair of socks, then I'd be very, very happy with my January Finishing Extravaganza. (As it is now, I am just one "very" happy about it...but then I'm known to be an overachiever.) 

The silly thing is that I know my single-digit status is going to be short-lived. I just know it. I mean, there's that silk/mohair tube scarf waiting in the wings to be added back to the active list. And there is the two-row scarf I started last week and then immediately slapped myself on the hand and didn't even add it to the WIP list (nor have I touched it is in time out for my own sake LOL). And then there is this...


It's Anne Hanson's Rivolo pattern, for which I happen to have the perfect (I think) yarn -- my recently handspun Briar Rose BFL. The Loopy Ewe Spring Fling group (Ravelry) is having a KAL in February, and the theme is Knitspot patterns. I have two of Anne's patterns that I've wanted to try, so this will be perfect! 

The only thing I'm noticing is that of the three hanks of yarn I ended up with, none of them are similarly colored. LOL This has nothing to do with Chris's dyeing and everything to do with my ignorance about how to divide roving for spinning. Instead of dividing it lengthwise (as I now know is what you're supposed to do), I kept whopping off chunks of length, then dividing those lengthwise (follow?), so I have one hank that is very brown, because that part of the roving was largely brown, then another than is brown and green, and the last is mostly green. My solution to this is that rather than trying to alternate skeins every couple rows as is recommended when working with hand-dyed yarn, I think I'm going to knit using the yarn in that order...the brown hank, then the brown/green, then the green...and call it a design feature of the scarf. LOL 

What can I say? Rationalizations R Us! ;)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sometimes you just have to be ruthless...

Ok, so, after taking inventory yesterday of my remaining 11 WIPs, I posited that I might just frog the Not-So-Basic-Black Cardi. I looked at it today to make sure there wasn't some little redeeming something about it that might stay that fate. 


Nope. I'm just not feeling the love. The Hacho yarn itself has a lovely feel, but this particular colorway? Ech. And then I looked at the front, which I'd re-engineered (who, me? redesign something midstream? heh...) wasn't quite what I'd been going for. Thus, I'm sorry, Not-So-Basic-Black Cardi who was about 40% complete...consider yourself frogged. Riiiiiiiip.

There is something empowering about deciding to rip out a knit that isn't working, you know? It's not all bad to admit that the hours we put into something don't make it right...and that maybe those hours were needed for us to learn something apart from what the finished object itself could have shown us.

With this in mind, I braved the deep, dusty recesses of my bedroom -- basically known as that mysterious space under the bed -- and pulled out my box of hibernating UFOs. These are the projects that I either got bored with or just didn't want to feel the guilt they induced as they looked at me from their place in the knitting basket, so I banished them. Only I called them "hibernating" because "hibernating" is a much kinder word than "banished." (Plus "hibernating" is an option on the Ravelry project page, whereas "banished" is not.) 

The thing is, much like the cream-colored lace blouse that seemed just perfect when you bought but ended up being itchy and uncomfortable, or the pair of 5" lime green heels that seemed like they'd be a fun addition to your footwear only you can't really walk in those things that languish in corners of closets, threatening to remind you of your ill-fated impulses, these hibernating UFOs can start to haunt you. You know they're still there, but you don't really love them anymore, and you know you should do something about them, can be hard to make that final decision, you know?

Until you do it once. One little taste of ruthlessness can be all that is needed to set you free. MWAHAHAhahahahaha....!

And so we say goodbye to the crazy tank top that I decided to design, after spending an untold fortune on the yarn because I bought it on sale, returned it and then bought it again after the freaking sale...

 twister-3 were a nice idea, but you just aren't working out and at this point, I don't even remember what I was doing with you. So...riiiiiiiip!

And we also bid a half-hearted farewell to you, rough organic cotton ponchette...


You were the first "big" project I ever started to knit...and it have errors, my friend, many horribly wrought stitches. Even at 65% done, I'm afraid there is no redemption for you in this life. Thus...riiiiiiiip!

And you, lacy shawl that I started at my MIL's request, for a Christmas gift that never was to be because I just don't knit lace that fast, and frankly, the acrylic yarn she requested? Gah...! :P


You're a pretty pattern, and perhaps some day I'll revisit you, but in a more deserving yarn and at a time when I have the ability to really focus on you. For now...riiiiiiiip!

Oh, and then there is you, Noro sock...I so, so wanted to love you! I really did! I waited in great anticipation for your yarn to come to the shop! But when you arrived and I cast on, I was so disappointed...

noro sock-3 wasn't your colors that let me down, for Noro colorways can never disappoint. No, it was the feel of were not pleasant. And you were loose and horrible in stockinette, so I cast on again, and even again, I believe, finally landing on a 2x2 rib, but even at that, you brought me no joy. It was a case of too-high expectations that brought our relationship crashing down. I'm sorry. I feel I'm at least partially to blame for this. But nevertheless...riiiiiiiip!

There is some light in this ripping darkness, though! One lone project, a silk/mohair tube scarf, escaped unfrogged. Nevermind that mohair is a total bitch to rip out, but I really like that project still. The yarn and its colors still make me feel warm and happy and fuzzy (how not to feel fuzzy with mohair?). It's banishment came about simply because I was distracted by newer, more exciting projects, but I will not frog it. No. I will finish it because I know I will love it when it is done. But I will leave it in official hibernation for right now because, dude, I'm not adding another active WIP to the list before the end of January! LOL

Monday, January 26, 2009

Is it February yet?

'Cause I am SO getting the itch to cast on something new! Enough of this finishing, already! So many pretty patterns! So much yummy yarn in the stash! Ahhhhh!!!


I am, however, determined to get my WIP list into the single digits between now and 11:59 p.m. Saturday. I can do this!

I added about 8" to my Scarf on a Whim last night while watching the movie Expelled. (Interesting movie, if a bit disturbing. I'd recommend it, though, if you're interested in the intelligent design vs. evolution topic.) This is an easy scarf to knit when your brain power is focusing on something else. (Oh! Did I mention that I finally FOUND the other ball of yarn for this scarf? Yeah! It's been missing since November, and suddenly...poof! It shows up downstairs in my office! I was so happy! The prodigal yarn returneth, and there was much rejoicing...) This one should be an easy one to finish. 

(Sorry...I'm too lazy to link to these projects, but you can click on their names in the progress bar over to the right and that'll take you to their projects pages at Ravelry if you want to see pictures...I've probably posted the pictures here before at some point anyway.)

If I pulled out my sewing machine, I could finish up the Green Purse, because all it really needs is a lining and zipper, and that shouldn't take more than an hour...just gotta do it.

I'd really like to finish my Socktoberfest socks, and they shouldn't take too long if I'd just work on them. 

Lastly, I'm seriously considering frogging my Not-So-Basic-Black Cardi. As much as I really want an nice, all-purpose cardi to wear, and I have most of the back and one front done on it, I'm just not loving how this one is working out. The colors are reminding me way too much of the crazy-colored prints that were so popular back in the late 80's/early 90's. I kept thinking, "Maybe once it is all done, it will miraculously NOT remind me of that," but we all know that knits rarely heal themselves in that way. If I'm not liking it now, chances are that won't change, and I could be using that time to knit something else that I like better. So.

So, that would take four more WIPs off the list, leaving me with seven! The two swap afghans are going to be in progress for a few more months yet because of the swap. My Swiftly Turning Afghan, as much as I love it, I just haven't felt compelled to work on lately. The Blackberry Jam sock (still on sock #1 of the pair) has been one of my take-along projects so it is being worked on in fits and starts, though I am at least past the heel now. The February Lady Sweater...sigh...perhaps I'll make it a goal to finish the damn thing in February? The Liberating My Lace scarf (which is really the Ribbon Lace pattern from Knitty) is wonderful and fun to knit and I love the yarn...I just can't knit lace if I'm distracted, so my time with it is limited because it doesn't work well for TV or waiting room knitting. But it will get done eventually. 

And the Malabrigo Ribbed Pullover? Well, the back is just about complete, and I'd like to think I'll finish it to wear this winter, but honestly, it gets a little boring...not as boring as knitting an all stockinette sweater, but close. Also, I'm not nearly as excited about it as I was when I cast it on over a year ago. I chose the pattern because it was easy, and I was still pretty new to sweater knitting. I prefer things with a little more shape to them now, though this will be a nice warm, comfy sweater if I ever get it done. The color variegations of the Purple Passion yarn do rock, though. That's pretty much the only thing that keeps me from poking my eyeballs out with my needles out of sheer boredom.

(Ok...confession time...I actually DID cast on a new project the other night. It was another two-row scarf. But as I got into it, I realized it was turning out way too dark and drab for the person I was thinking of giving it to, so I ripped it all the way out down to the first two rows, because I may still use that skein. But I haven't added this project to my WIPs yet, and I am not touching it again until AFTER January! I'm trying to be good...really...)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Shout out... my first-born, who made his appearance in this world at 12:57 a.m. exactly twenty-three years ago. (I swear he'd still be in there if he hadn't been evicted, first by induction, then 17 1/2 hours later by c-section!) My baby is now an adult. He's a husband and a dad. And he's a Marine, who is slated to deploy to Afghanistan within the next month or two. I can't wait to see him next month when he has leave before he goes. It's been a crazy, adventurous life with that boy in a lot of ways, but I love him beyond words. And while I know it's unlikely he'll be reading this, I just have to put this out there.

Happy birthday, my dear son! You bring my heart joy. I love you so. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

And in fiber news...

Lest you think my gym obsession has unseated all things fibery in my life, think again! We're still in the wool here and going strong!

My latest FO (bringing the WIP count down to 11!) -- the charity hat I started back in November:

nov hat

I used up a lot of yarn leftovers on this one, and the color work design was completely done on the fly, so I'll never be able to replicate it. LOL 

I love doing left and right leaning decreases on hat crowns because you can get this cool star shape on top (I wonder if there is an actual name for this technique?):

nov hat 2

And there's some spinning going on, though not that much. I started working with the Bunny Patch merino/angora last weekend:

bunnypatch spun

Oh my goodness! It is soooo incredibly soft! It feels lovely! However, it is much different to spin with than anything else I've done so far, so it is taking some getting used to. Hopefully I'll have some time to play more with it this weekend.

And can I just say that buying roving is an addiction in itself? Holy cow! The Lime & Violet's  Daily Chum blog has become a major enabler for me, too, because they feature so many great fiber vendors on there. I know I should just avoid looking...but I can't. :::sigh:::

So, new rovings that have come to live with me this week (I mentioned some of these before but now I have pictures!)...from CJ Kopec Creations:


A totally delicious wool/bamboo blend, colorway Secrets...honestly, it may be softer than the merino/angora! I can't wait to play with it just to stare at the color as it goes by! Also:

A masham roving, colorway Candy Corn. Fun! :)


From SlowCOLOR, I got this awesome, color-tastic sampler box of plant-dyed wool and wool/mohair blends:


It reminds me of sushi! Roving sushi! It's so pretty, I hate to think of disturbing it by taking it apart and spinning any of it. But I will. Eventually. LOL

Lastly, this BFL prettiness, from Briar Rose Fibers:

briar rose teal

I guess I'm not completely over my teal obsession. I kept going to the BRF site and looking at these two, and then I'd say to myself, "No. You don't need more!" But then I finished spinning that other BFL from them and it was so nice, so I'd go and look at it again, and tell myself, "Wait a few days...if it's still there when you come back, then you can buy it." I did that to myself a couple of times. And, well, you see what happened. I'm glad I did it, though. It's beautiful, and Chris is just a the loveliest person to do business with. I highly recommend her business to you! (She sells lots of beautiful yarns as well as the roving, and she's got a wonderful collection of handmade buttons, too.)

Now here's my big dilemma...what do you do when you've got all these pretty fibers staring at you, wanting your attention? See, with yarn, when you get something new and pretty, you can just sit down, knit up a swatch of it just to play with it and see what it will look problem. With roving, though, it seems a bit more of an endeavor to just spin a sample of a new fiber, just to satisfy the whim, you know? Do you other spinners do this? Or do you just behave yourselves and wait until you're ready to spin up the whole batch?

Anyway, it's the weekend...unfortunately, its going to be a busy one, I think. Not sure how much knitting/spinning time I'll be able to get in. I also have a non-fibery assignment I need to finish up by Sunday, so that will be taking some of my time. Honestly...I wish I could learn to function without sleep. It would solve so many problems. LOL 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Healthy obsession...

If you know me well, you know that what I'm about to say is one of the least likely things you'd ever hear come out of my mouth (or off my fingers): 

My life has been overtaken by my obsession with going to the gym.

Yes. Really. I go four or five days out of the week for at least an hour. Thursday and Sunday are the only days I definitely don't go, but when I'm not there, I'm thinking about being there. I want to be there. I love it there. I love the hour-long kickboxing and martial arts classes wherein I push my body to the point of exhaustion and leave feeling so incredibly good. And on the drive home, I'm already looking forward to the next time I'll go back. I love breathing hard and feeling my heart pump and the sweat running off me (and in general, I really hate the feeling of sweating). I love learning the new things I'm learning there, and I love finding that I can do things that I didn't think I could possibly ever do. I love the environment, the people, everything about it. I love what is happening to my body as a result of this experience. In two short months, I've come to feel better in my body and about my body than I have at any other time in my entire life. 

Obsess much? Yeah. :}

See now, the downside to this obsession is the risk of completely burning myself out. This I know from past experience with other things. But somehow, this all feels different. I mean, I've struggled with my weight and with living a healthy lifestyle my whole adult life. I've tried so many things, but nothing stuck. Nothing clicked. Nothing interested me long enough to really made a lasting difference. Not so this time. Rather than my interest starting to wane after a couple months, I feel it continuing to build. I'm holding my breath and almost afraid to say it, but it seems that maybe I've finally found the right thing for me, in the right place, at the right time.

So here I am, after eight weeks of this crazy adventure, 19 pounds lighter, feeling insanely good about myself, and praying that it never ends. 

ETA: I feel compelled to clarify: when I started doing this, it was largely because I wanted to get off my arse and do something active. And this is active! However, at this point, my enthusiasm for it is as much (if not more) for the learning as it is for the fitness benefits. And I'm pretty sure it is going to be my passion for learning that motivates me to continue with it all in the long term.

Monday, January 19, 2009

What is a knitter to do?

Imagine this if you will: a certain knitter is getting ready to go on a wintry, outdoor adventure for the afternoon. She's gathering the clothes that will keep her warm and dry. Wool socks? Check. Long underwear? Check. Hat? Hat?? No check!

After digging a little more into the recesses of her drawers, she unearths a creamy, cabled hat. Old, store-bought, acrylic and snagged. Yikes. She recalls wearing that in, what? Junior high? (The fact that it is still in her possession is rather shocking, frankly. She doesn't put it back in the drawer but instead adds it to the Goodwill pile in the corner.) That will not do. She digs more, but to no avail, which brings us to this important question: How is it that someone who has knit umpteen hats does not actually have a hat of her own to wear when she needs one? That is a rather ironic conundrum, don't you think? The knitter's version of the shoemaker's children going barefoot, or whatever that saying is.

This was my story yesterday, as I prepared to head out for an afternoon of snowshoeing with my friend Myrna. So, what is a knitter to do in this circumstance?

The knitter asks her friend if she minds driving, hits the stash and finds what she needs to knit a hat in the car on the hour-long drive to their snowshoeing destination, of course! LOL

As it turned out, even choosing the bulkiest wool I could had on hand for a hat (Ellyn Cooper Woolly Bear -- which, by the way? Never, EVER have I had a hank of Ellyn Cooper yarn that did not tangle profusely when trying to wind it into a ball. Never. No matter what care I take with it, it tangles. And the fact that I was in a hurry yesterday only assured that there would be sufficient tangles to add frustration to the task.), using US 10.5 needles, I only managed to get the hat about 2/3 knit on the way there. Oh well. I tried!

The thing is...I really hate wearing hats anyway, which explains why I don't have any hats of my own. I knit them for others. But me? No thanks. The tight fit of the standard winter cap on my head is So. Not. Attractive. I keep meaning to knit myself a slouchy hat or beret, because I think I could like one of those, but I have yet to do so.

As it turned out, it wasn't a particularly cold day yesterday. Snowy, yes...

but I had a long scarf that I wrapped around my head and neck, and a hood on my jacket, and that served to keep me quite warm and dry.

Me and Myrna, waiting to get started!

It was such a beautiful day in the Laurel Mountains. We'd gotten a good five inches of snow overnight at our house, but there was at least a fresh foot of powdery goodness on the ground at Koozer State Park where we were. Absolutely stunning.

I'd never snowshoed before, but it turns out it was a lot of fun! And I much prefer it to skiing at this point in life. This was a short trip just for beginners, so we didn't go far, but it was good to get the feel of it. It really is little more than walking, just easier in the deep snow with the snowshoes on. And about those shoes...who knew that snowshoes no longer resemble over sized tennis rackets? Srsly!
Anyway, I did end up finishing the hat in short order on the drive home, and while it is pretty (totally love the colors), I know I'll never wear it, so it becomes my January charity hat.

(I have enough yarn left over to probably make myself a pair of mitts from it, so I'll still get to enjoy this colorway again!)

And while I know that knitting this hat technically violates January-is-for-finishing mandate, since I cast on and finished it in the same day, it had no long-lasting effect on the WIP number, so it's all good. Right? LOL

PS - Lest I be remiss, let me just add: YES!!! The Steelers are going to the Super Bowl! That was one freakin' excellent game last night, except for that horrible McGahee-Clark head-to-head clash near the end. That hurt just hearing it. But Polamalu? How fabulous is he? OMG! That interception and ensuing touchdown? Even my husband yelled on that one, and he's usually the quiet one when we watch games. So...yeah! :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

More yarn, another FO...

I'm just moving right along! I finished off another WIP last narrower version of the Noro Two-Row scarf...

narrow noro 2 row

The scarf and I were having a disagreement this morning on how it should be photographed. You'd be surprised how persnickety something with such pretty colors in it can be. Inside wasn't going so well, so I tried...

narrow noro 2 row - 2

...outside. It really didn't like that. It wanted to come back inside and have it's Saturday morning coffee. So, that's what it did. Er, ok...that's what I did. The scarf was happy, and so was I.

(See what happens when I don't get enough a) sleep or b) coffee on a Saturday morning? I start personifying my knit goods.)

(And about the sleep? Yeah. I was up -- wide awake -- before 8 a.m. today. I'm never awake that early without an alarm. Ever. WTF?)

I moved on to the rest of the Briar Rose BFL that I'd finished plying yesterday. It was so much more cooperative about the pictures than the scarf...

briar rose bfl end just perched prettily on the piano and smiled...

briar rose bfl end -2

...and so I did not make it go out into the 1 degree F. air and sit in the snow. 

The scarf is pissed. I may have to keep the two separated.


As I mentioned the other day, I'm really pleased with how the rest of this BFL spun up. Using my handy-dandy new little WPI tool, I've determined that this hank (about 160ish yards) is a fairly consistent DK/light worsted weight, which is exactly what I was going for, so, yeay me!

I got some delicious fiber in the mail yesterday from CJ Kopec Creations. I didn't take pictures yet, but the one is a Masham roving in a colorway called Candy Corn, and the other is Merino/bamboo/Colonial blend in a vibrant red colorway called Secrets. And oh my goodness...that latter roving? It is so soft and so beautiful that I just want to hold it and pet it and do unspeakable things to it, it is that lovely. I can't wait to spin it. But I'm going to just let it sit where I can ogle it for a while. Mmm.

I think my next spinning project is going to be the Bunny Patch merino/angora Storm Clouds roving I recently got from NewHueHandspuns. I keep telling my kids I'm going to "spin the bunny," LOL and my daughter keeps imagining naked bunnies hopping around after they've been shorn. Hence, I had to explain to her that angora is harvested by plucking it from the bunnies, not shaving it off them like a sheep. I think she was relieved. (Ok, that is my understanding of how you get fiber from bunnies, but my knowledge of this is limited to what I read in Barbara Delinsky's novel, The Summer I Dared. So I could be wrong.)  

BTW, my WIP count got down to 11 after finishing the Noro scarf, but then I remembered that I needed to reactivate my afghan square project, which I'd previously marked off as finished but is really not because I agreed to join in with a group of girls who want to make eight more squares to swap to end up with a bigger afghan. So. I'm still at 12. Will this WIP number ever get to the single digits?? The weather seems to have no problem with that. My knitting, however, isn't getting it. But there is still the second half of January left to try and make a dent. :::sigh:::

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Heart Throb...

Here are some pictures of the finished Heart Throb socks, as modeled on my daughter's lovely feet (so much easier to take feet pictures when they are someone else's feet!)


Heart Throb is actually the name of the yarn colorway, not the pattern. I used the Hearts 'n Hugs Lace Sock (Rav link) pattern by E. J. Slayton, and modified it to use it for this DK weight yarn. (The yarn is a Merino superwash dyed by Knitted to a T.)

Perfect Valentine's Day socks, right?

Moving on in my quest for finishing this month, I'm working on finishing up the narrow Noro two-row scarf. Shouldn't take much longer.

I also got back to my spinning wheel today. After messing with that futzy (albeit pretty) Corriedale last week, I took some time away from spinning. It seemed best, as frustrated as I was. I decided to spin up the rest of the Briar Rose BFL today, though, and I don't know what's up, but it seems the fight with the Corriedale did something to even out my tension. I managed to spin up the last few ounces of the BFL with hardly any overspun spots, and my plying seems to be going along equally as well. Go figure! Of course, that means this batch won't match the first batch I spun. Oh well. :}

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Yes! I'm finishing things! First, I finished my MIL's birthday sweater, finally! Here it is, modeled by my daughter, who is taller but otherwise smaller than my MIL...will hopefully get a picture of it on its intended wearer soon...


And, since I stated my goal of trying to finish up some of my other lingering UFOs this month, I jumped on the finished sweater momentum and finished up the second half of my second Heart Throb sock...this was the first one...


The girlie put in a bid to have these socks as I was making them, so I'll get a picture of them on her feet tomorrow, when there's good light (and when she's awake, LOL).

(And this officially brings my WIP count down to twelve! But who's counting? Oh

I'm also starting things, though in this case, it has nothing to do with fiber or knitting. Tonight was my first night of American Freestyle Martial Arts lessons. I already mentioned that I started taking kickboxing classes back at the end of November, and I love them. The gym I'm going to also offers boxing classes and the American Freestyle classes. So! I'm going to take both. Seriously...I love this gym. I could live there. It makes me very happy to go there. (You have no idea how freaky it is for me to say this about an athletic-oriented activity...this is definitely a first.) And I love taking these lessons there. So. New experiences! Gotta love 'em! :)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Five Things...

You know I'm a sucker for a good meme, especially one that requires me to make lists. Found this one at WendyKnits. Feel free to play along on your own blog! :)

5 Things in my bag:

1. Cell phone
2. iPod
3. Lipstick
4. Purse-sized Bible
5. Notebook

5 Things in my room:

1. Handmade rocking horse
2. Lots of knitting WIPs
3. Spinning wheel
4. Husband (oops! he just got up and left! does he still count?)
5. Half cup of cold coffee

5 Things I have always wanted to do:

1. Skydive
2. Be really physically fit
3. Live for a few months in Ireland
4. Live in a house on the beach
5. Travel as much as I want

5 Things I am currently into:

1. Knitting
2. Spinning (yarn, not bikes, just to clarify!)
3. Kickboxing
4. Facebook
5. Healthy cooking and eating

Oh, and by the way! It is Delurking Day! I know I'm getting this in just under the wire, but please feel free to delurk and post a comment, even if official DD has passed. ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday random...

...I finally de-tree'd the living room and the rest of the house has been de-Christmased as well. I think. There is bound to be something somewhere that I forgot.

...Etsy has become a whole new kind of dangerous to me in the nine days since getting my spinning wheel. I've placed three -- yes, three -- separate orders for fiber from various Etsy sellers. (More on those as they arrive and I begin to play with them.) 

...And then there was the fiber order I placed at TLE. Srsly. Folks, this is a sickness. But zee fiberzzz...zey are zoooo preeeeettttyyyy....

...As the shipments of fiber come in, I just keep telling my husband that buying fiber is way, way cheaper than buying yarn. Poor guy.

...We still have no appreciable snow. We were supposed to get INCHES this weekend. Bah! Ice. We got ice. And some flakes. I am so done with these meteorologists and their high-falutin' radars and whatnot that always seem to be wrong. Again I say, BAH!

...I got on the scale yesterday morning to see a new number that I haven't seen in years! The thrill of each lost pound at this point continues to excite me beyond measure. Total poundage lost since the end of November: 14. And my jeans -- they are loose on me! Whee! :)

...Going to spend the rest of my Sunday afternoon working on (and perhaps finishing?? one can only hope!) my MIL's (late) birthday sweater while watching the Steelers (hopefully) defeat San Diego. 

...Hope you're having a happy Sunday! 

ETA: Woohoo! The Steelers won! Bring on the Ravens!

Also: Woohoo! The MIL's birthday sweater -- she is finished! Photos forthcoming! :)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

That was painful...

Twist much? Argh.

I finished off the rest of the Bermuda's Triangle Corriedale today. In doing so, I learned something important: when you get to the point where you are yelling at the fiber, when you are hurling profanities at it, it is time to step away because really? It's probably not the fiber's fault. Well, not completely, anyway.

This was not fun yarn to spin. I know I'm new at this, and I fully accept that there was probably some user error going on in the process (ahem), but wow...this fiber fought me the whole way. I don't know enough about spinning and fiber yet to know if Corriedale is always this persnickety, or if it was just this particular roving, how it was prepared...? 

As if spinning it wasn't hard enough, plying it didn't prove to be much easier. I had one full bobbin and one only about 1/2 full (enter user error when it didn't occur to me that I didn't have enough to fill two full bobbins). So I plied until I ran out of the partial bobbin. That's the hank hanging on the right side in the picture above. 

What to do with the remaining singles? I guess I could have left it as is and used it as a singles, though I've already started using it in a garter stitch afghan as a two-ply, so for consistency sake, it would work better that way. So, I opted to wind it into a center pull ball and attempted to ply it that way, pulling from the center and the outside -- this has always been my plying method when using my spindle. I learned another lesson here -- this works far better when your singles isn't so over-spun that its jumping around like an over-caffienated bunny rabbit. I had more tangles than you could imagine (the profanities increased exponentially at this point), and I just started hacking tangled knots of fiber off the plying bobbin willy-nilly. (What I did get to ply is the tiny little bitty hank in the center.)

Finally, with nothing else to lose, I decided to try Navajo plying it. I was still working from the ball (not having the wherewithall at that point to put it back on the bobbin), but only using the center strand, so it worked much better. I've never Navajo plied before, but I watched a little how-to video on it the other day. It's fun! The yarn, again, being so overspun, made the whole thing difficult, and because I was treadling faster than I was manipulating the yarn for the plying, it is now not only over spun but also over-plied, but it is plied, and it is, as far as I can reason, usable. So there. I'm done with it. It is hanging and drying and I hope to never mess with something that contrary again. (Ha!) 

The Navajo-plied hank is on the left in the picture. What I really liked about this one is how this technique allowed the yarn to ply with itself so that like colors stayed together. You can kind of see it in the picture. Instead of blue being plied with green and purple with blue, etc., the blue section plied with itself and then moved on to the green section, and then to the purple, etc. Very cool. I will definitely have to try it again sometime when I'm working with singles that were spun better to begin with.

I still have the rest of the Briar Rose to finish up, but first I really need to finish knitting my MIL's sweater. Really. 

Friday, January 9, 2009

The world spins madly on...*

...and so do I. This is what the first batch of my Briar Rose BFL looks like plied...

briar rose bfl

...and while I still have the other half of that fiber to spin, I couldn't resist playing with this...

bermudas triangle

...this is some Corriedale roving I've had in my stash for a while. I bought it in Florida and its from a local (FL) indie dyer, the name of which escapes me at the moment. If I remember right, though, the dyer also owns the sheep the wool came from, which I always think is pretty cool. 

Anyway, I can't say I'm too thrilled with this fiber itself. I have not had good experience spinning Corriedale, ever. I find it difficult to work with. It's working out better on the wheel than it did with my spindle, but it is still not great. But the colors...! It's called Bermuda's Triangle, and it is a beautiful colorway. Especially bright and cheery on a gray winter day. Very tropical, and that's enough to keep me muddling through the fussy fiber (and the gray winter, though we are actually promised an appreciable amount of snow by the end of tomorrow...I'll believe it when I see it, but still, hope remains). 

I am still knitting, too. I've got my MIL's sweater back up to the point of starting the raglan decreases again, which I will do the correct way this time. Duh. I can't wait to get done with this sweater because I'm dying to move on to other knitting projects. While I really want to start something new, I have promised myself that I will first finish some things. I'd like to say I am going to dedicate the rest of January to finishing as many of my UFOs as I can before I start anything new, but I know better than to promise that. But I am going to try.

One thing I really want to do involves this...
sg thoreau

It is some Sanguine Gryphon sock yarn, colorway Thoreau. Something I want to do more of this year is design. I have a sock pattern I designed a while back, but I didn't get it written up, so I thought I'd do it again so I could write up the details as I went. However, the more I look at this yarn, it has given me a completely different idea of what it would like to be. So, we'll have to see how that works out. More on that to come!

*World Spins Madly On is actually a very cool song by The Weepies (though it has nothing to do with spinning yarn, LOL). Check it out here, at their MySpace page.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ultimate Showdown...

Apparently I'm a 12-year-old boy or something, because I find this video incredibly amusing...

Quickie...healthy stuff...

Just wanted to share this: for dinner tonight (well, Tuesday's past midnight), I made salmon (broiled with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and dill) and a big panful of roasted veggies like Crazy Aunt Purl posted about a while back. Oh. My. Goodness. The veggies were wonderful! You can probably do it with any combination of hearty veggies -- I used two sweet potatoes, two red potatoes, one butternut squash, two big carrots, half a sweet onion and two cloves of garlic, tossed with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. It was just SO GOOD, and with the salmon, it fit right in to one of my intentions for this year (see, I told you they'd crop up), which is to continue creating and eating healthy meals. It was also a very color coordinated meal...lots of yellows and oranges and that salmon-y pink color. Not a green thing in sight. LOL (Well, the dill....)

ETA: Now it's going on midnight again, and I can say this was one really healthy eating day! For breakfast I made myself some quinoa porridge, which I love but often forego in favor of something faster, like instant grits or a whole wheat bagel. The only thing I don't love about the porridge is that every damn time I make it, it boils over and makes a mess. It doesn't matter how closely I watch it, it does it. :::sigh::: Then I made another spinach-ricotta pie for my late lunch/early dinner today. Mmm. This stuff is awesome, and I've got leftovers for lunch for the next few days, too. 

It occurs to me now that I ate no meat today. I'm not a non-meat eater on a regular basis because, admittedly, I do love me some carnivorous fare, but I fully enjoy good-tasting meatless meals too. 

On top of this, I'm trying, once again, to add more fruits to my life. I am not good at eating fruit and I have no idea why. I love still-green bananas, and I love dried prunes (yes, I do!) and raisins (which I put in my grits, and that probably will make any number of southerners want to pass out), and in the summer I adore blueberries and good strawberries when I can find them. But the fruits available in the winter just don't really float my boat. (I know, you can still get strawberries and blueberries in the dead of winter in this day and age, but when possible, I try to avoid buying produce that had to be trucked thousands of miles to get to the store.) But I bought a crate of clementines the other day (yeah, I know, there goes my local produce thing, since they are a product of...some other country, I think?)...those I do enjoy. And I bought prunes. Might as well stick with what you know you like, right? 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What can I say?

No pictures today. Instead, I've spent all day, off and on, trying to compose a post about my intentions for this new year. What I ended up with was long and rambly and probably would only have been meaningful to me. Thus, I'm not posting it. I'm sure some of it will surface in subsequent posts over the course of the year, and probably within a more interesting context than me waxing at length in my obsessive, over-analytical, navel-gazing way.

That said, there was some spinning accomplished today. I've got one full bobbin of the Briar Rose BFL and nearly a second. I cannot wait to start plying this yarn! And plying will have to happen before I can spin anymore because I only have four bobbins. I've also realized that I need to attend to the maintenance of my little Traveller (a.k.a. Minnie) before much longer because all my spinning is making her shake and shimmy and things are definitely loose that should not be loose. Not good.

And there was some knitting today as well! Knitting has been scarce here since Minnie arrived. Need to find some balance on that front (but the spinning is so much fun!). I grabbed my Blackberry Jam sock to take with me today for some waiting-in-the-car knitting, and I think I got a whopping one round added to it. Tonight, however, I bit the bullet and ripped my mother-in-law's Sweetness sweater alllllll the way back to the ribbing and started reknitting it. :::sigh::: That is the more urgent project anyway, as we'll probably be celebrating her birthday this weekend and it would be good to have her gift done, you know?

And someone please tell me how tomorrow is Wednesday already???

Monday, January 5, 2009

And again...

Undulate is getting more attention! It was featured yesterday at One Pretty Thing. If you haven't visited the site before, please do! It's an incredibly fun site full of creative ideas (not just knitting) from all over cyberspace. Check it out!

And so a new year begins...

It's the first Monday of the new year, and that means Kevin went back to work and we went back to our school routine. In other words, things are (loosely) back to a post-holiday normal. Right? In theory, anyway.

My living room currently looks like this...

books mags

A stack of knitting books and magazines on the floor, after a friend came over on Saturday and I was helping her look for a pattern. Since they were out, I thought, "Wouldn't this be a good time to go through them and try and catalog patterns I'd like to make?" Right. So there they sit, because that is a larger job than it would seem, and this is only a small portion of my knitting library. It's overwhelming, but it bugs me that I have hundreds of patterns hidden in those pages and unless I go through them all, I forget they're there. 

And do you see the reflection in the TV? Yes, the tree. The tree is still up. I'm usually chomping at the bit to take it down, and that usually happens on New Year's Day. But this year, it didn't even phase me to leave it up. I'm kind of enjoying it still. (Getting the "slim" tree this year was definitely a very good choice! Had this been our old monster-sized tree, that baby would have been down days ago.) However, I'm realizing with the tree right in front of our living room window, it is monopolizing my biggest source for natural light at this point in the year, and it also occurred to me that the tree spot would be the perfect spot to sit with my spinning wheel in the mornings/early afternoons, especially on sunny days like today. So. The tree? She will be coming down soon. Possibly even today.

In the mean time, we've got handspun yarn to see...


This is my first attempt wheel-spun yarn from the Sanguine Gryphon batt. Here's another picture of it when it was hanging to dry...


(The colors are really a little more vivid, but I'm having editing issues. Sorry.) As you can see, it's a bit wonky...not at all consistent, but it was my first go, and I'm rather pleased with it. 

The Briar Rose BFL I'm spinning now appears to be turning out much more consistently...


I find the colors utterly fascinating. I mean, they were beautiful to begin with...


But then you spin them and they are beautiful in an appreciably different way. And then you ply, and they transform again! Seriously, folks...this is just like magic to me! LOL

Turning from spinning to knitting for a moment, I contemplate my mother-in-law's birthday sweater that I have screwed up in more ways than one. First, I am apparently an idiot because in doing the raglan decreases, I only did them on the sleeves, not the body, thus providing a neckline big enough for a two-headed person to fit through. (At last sight, my m-i-l only had one head, and I doubt she's grown another.)

judy's sweater decreases

Second, neckline aside, the sweater is too damn small. I was afraid it would be too boxy for her the way the pattern was written, so I did some waist shaping to bring it in a little, but now it fits my friend Peggy who is definitely smaller than my m-i-l.

judy's sweater
ETA: Sweater pattern is Sweetness, by Theresa Vinson Stenersen, Knitty, Spring 2003

So, drat. Not only do I have to rip back my botched raglan section, I have to rip the whole freakin' sweater back down to the ribbing. Thankfully, this sweater knits up quickly in this Azteca yarn, so the reknit shouldn't be too painful.

(I'm blithely ignoring the little inkling I have that is saying that the sleeves may also be a touch too tight. I'm sure they'll be fine once they're seamed up. Really.)

Sunday, January 4, 2009


So, for the past six weeks, I've been kickboxing. At least three times a week, and hour each day. Sweating my 42-year-old, out-of-shape arse off and working muscles that have flagrantly been sitting around eating metaphorical bonbons and watching soaps. And in six weeks? Nary an injury. Sore muscles, sure, and one strange foot pain that comes and goes, but other than that, I've gotten through unscathed.

Contrast: I've owned a spinning wheel since Friday morning. My lower back is tight. My middle back has a huge knot in it. My neck has a kink. My shoulders are aching. I have a headache. WTF?? C'mon! Seriously?? Punching and kicking I can handle, but treadling a wheel and drafting wool does me in? This hardly seems right. 

I'm loving the wheel, though, aches and pains notwithstanding. I gave up on what I will now officially term as "crap roving" that I bought when I first started with a drop spindle. Couldn't spin it on the spindle, couldn't spin it on the wheel, so the heck with it. It was cheap, and therein, I believe, lies the problem. I moved on to the remainder of the batt of Sanguine Gryphon merino/silk I started spindling a while back. (It's up in my blog banner, too.) Oh. My. God. It spun like a dream! The fiber is awesome. The spinner? Not so awesome. I'm still learning, to be sure. Plenty of inconsistencies in it...too thin parts and too thick parts and parts that are odd and blumpy (which I think should be a technical spinning term). But I did far better than I thought I'd be able to do, and I managed to ply about 107 yards of yarn today. (Pictures coming soon!)

Tonight I moved on to some roving I bought from Briar Rose Fibers not long ago. It is bluefaced leicester, and I'm starting to catch on to this whole "different fibers spin differently" thing. It took a little while to get into a comfortable groove with it because it definitely handles differently than the merino/silk blend, but once I got going, it went really well. I've got a LOT of this fiber, so it will take me a while (I think) to get through it all, but the colors are beautiful -- browns, greens, burgundies -- and I love to watch them as they spin together, and they'll be a whole other brand of happy once I get to plying them. 

Another thing I'm tickled about is that I'm spinning this fiber far finer than I ever, ever thought I'd be able to! My ultimate desire is to spin finer weight yarns...fingering and DK, maybe some worsted weight. I enjoy playing with chunky and thick & thin handspuns I buy occasionally (like the ones Cosy spins, which are always so pretty!), but that's not what I really want to spin. I know it's going to take a while to get consistent in my spinning, but I think I'm doing pretty well. 

Now if I can just avoid turning into a pretzel, I can continue to enjoy it all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A new addition... my fiber Minnie...

ashford traveller

...which rhymes with "spinny," of course. :)

I've had it in my mind to buy a spinning wheel for a while, but I couldn't justify the expense. Occasionally, I'd check craigslist, but there were rarely any wheels listed in my area, and when they were, the ads were usually old enough that I'd missed the deal. Until now! I found this little Ashford Traveller listed there along with a whole host of weaving equipment (the listing was titled something about weaving and didn't mention the wheel, which is why I'm guessing I lucked out). It was still available when I inquired and for a price I couldn't pass up. I drove an hour yesterday to pick her up, and while she is definitely in need of a good cleaning and some TLC, she seems to work just fine, as far as I can tell. 

I've really never spun on a wheel before, so I'm just winging it, figuring it out by intuition as much as anything, but after having her home for an hour or so yesterday, I did manage this...

first spinning

It's yarn! It sure isn't pretty yarn, but it has twist (way too much twist, frankly) and so I'm confident I've at least got the basic concept down. Refining will be a long work in progress, methinks. :} (Just for the record, things quickly deteriorated shortly after I took this picture, as I started getting large knots of overspun wool that would make any sheep cry in terror. Will try again today and hope for better results.)

Learning to spin more proficiently was one of my goals from last year, but I was only working with a drop spindle at that point. And while I did get better at it (which, srsly? There was no where to go but up for me with that skill! LOL), my ultimate goal was to get a wheel. And now I have one, so learning to spin with my wheel can now be a 2009 goal! 

I do wonder how much wool I'll have to sacrifice to the knot gods before I finally get the hang of this, though. Yikes. :}