Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shawls...I love shawls...

I added another shawl to my collection recently...

 This is Stephen West's Daybreak pattern....

I was inspired to make it after perusing my stash one day and coming upon the yarn leftover from the scarf I made for my mother-in-law last year, which you can see here. It's Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino, club colorways Lagoon and Arboretum.

I knew when I started that I wouldn't have enough of Color B to do the border section as written in the pattern, and I was right. I only got about 2/5 of the way through it before I was almost out. So I did a couple rows of garter stitch instead and then bound off. Or tried to. I'd overestimated how much I had left for binding off and had to tink back a good 300 stitches. Started the bind off again. STILL not enough! Ahhh! I set about cannibalizing all of the tails I could find, including those buried in my yarn scraps bag from the scarf last year...and I knew it just wasn't going to happen. Tink, tink, tink, another 300+ stitch row. Sigh.

Oddly, after blocking, the shawl was shaped like a half circle instead of the crescent shape it should have been. I imagine that has to do with row gauge differences between sport (which I used) and fingering (which the pattern called for. Not that it matters. I'm very happy with it, and it used stash yarn, so, win!

Another recently finished project was this Lowell Cowl, from a recent Classic Elite e-newsletter...

It is a very pretty, very versatile cowl (check out the other pics on my Rav project page to see other ways to wear it). However, the pattern called for knitting it from two strands of laceweight held together. I opted instead to use Sublime Angora Merino and Kid Mohair Blend yarns instead, held single, and not overlapped in the second section. Dude...soft? Yes. Sheddy? OHMYGOSHYES! I cannot wear this thing without getting bunny in my mouth or eyes, up my nose, sticking to everything...argh. After doing a bit of reading, I've come to the conclusion that the angora used in this yarn was probably clipped, not plucked, which affects the staple length of the fiber and makes it more prone to shedding. Not much you can do about it. I have no idea what I'll do with it. But it's pretty. And, yeay! More stash gone!

In other news, I tried my hand at dyeing up some self-striping sock yarn...

This was the first time I'd dyed yarn at all, and I have to say it is a little more fun than dyeing roving. Don't get me wrong...I love dyeing roving. But's different. It's got a different character. I'm looking forward to doing more of it, roving too. It's all part of my master plan...ahem...yes, I have a master plan. I'll let you in on it as things unfold... ;)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

90% Knitting - Episode 5

Show Notes:

  • Lowell Cowl, pattern by Antonia Shankland; Sublime Angora Merino & Sublime Kid Mohair Blend
  • Daybreak Shawl, pattern by Stephen West; Three Irish Girls Kells Sport Merino, Lagoon & Arboretum
  • Finished the Rambouillet-Soy Silk, 124 yards 2-ply worsted/heavy worsted
  • Dyed some (hopefully) four-stripe self-striping sock yarn and some Targhee-Mohair fiber
  • Overestimating the yardage I had to work with for the Daybreak shawl, necessitating much tinking in order to bind off!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pattern: Twisted & Twining

My Twisted & Twining Cowl pattern is now available for purchase!

Twisted & Twining is made from 130 yards of sportweight yarn (sadly, an often overlooked weight of yarn). This sample was made from one skein of Frog Tree Alpaca Sportweight.

The cowl is quite versatile, with wearing options to keep neck, face and ears warm. The cables and twisted stitch motifs provide a close but comfortable, stretchy fit. The pattern is sized for 13", 14 1/2" and 16" necks, and it includes instructions for traditional cabling technique as well as the steps for doing the cables without a cable needle.

It's only February, and despite what the groundhog said, the 7" of snow that appeared in my  yard overnight tells me that winter isn't quite finished. That means there is plenty of time to get some use from a cowl! Why not spruce up your winter wardrobe with this quick knit?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

90% Knitting - Episode 4

This week the 90% Knitting Ravelry group topped 100 members! Thanks! Please feel free to start your own threads on the don't have to wait for me!

The videocast also appeared on the "New and Noteworthy" page on iTunes in the Hobbies category for podcasts! Check it out! :) Thanks to those who are leaving star ratings and reviews!

  • Plain Vanilla Sock for Feb. YOSS; first sock finished, second one started. Fleece Artist Somoko yarn, Sun colorway.
  • Calvados - still there, no progress.
  • Lowell Cowl - pattern by Antonia Shankland; Sublime Angora Merino & Sublime Kid Mohair Blend
  • Still slogging through the neppy Rambouillet-Soy Silk
  • No oopsies this week other than the angora yarn of death, which really isn't my fault!
  • Piddleloop Bags are complete awesomesauce! Check out Jennifer's Etsy site!
  • Lots and lots of new knitting videocasts out there, and I'm enjoying them. I think I talked a little about all of the ones I've gotten to watch so far, and I'm keeping a running list of the ones I've been watching over there ------>  in the sidebar. Check 'em out!
  • Son's dance picture and Daughter's Lolita dress pictures are in this post.
  • Enjoyed Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival despite walking around in the fog of a killer headache. :P (And when I rolled my eyes as I mentioned Bloomin' Yarns, it was not at all a reflection on them! It was just an ill-timed eye roll based on the fact that I was thinking about how crappy I felt at PK&C at that point due to my headache! The Bloomin' Yarns people were extremely lovely!!)
  • Big, big thank you to my Shawl Swap partner, Lisa33, for the beautiful Seaside Shawlette and other goodies!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I love when the pretty things are for ME! :)

Can ya believe it? Someone knit this lovely shawl just for me! That someone -- also named Lisa -- was a wonderful partner to have in the Shawl Swap on The Knit Girllls Rav group, and knit up this Seaside Shawlette (pattern by Wendy Johnson) out of DIC Knitosophy yarn, Strength colorway. It is beautiful. I've been wrapping it around myself ever since it arrived yesterday.

And last week, this all came in the mail...just for me!

This was my swap package from Meesh from The Loopy Ewe Swap #7 on Rav. Among all these goodies were those beautiful socks you see there. Someone knit socks! For me! (Inferno pattern, DIC Smooshy in Lipstick Lava.)

These are the first swaps I have ever been in that knitting for the other person was a requirement. While I obsessed and agonized over what to knit for both of my partners in these swaps, I realized when I got my packages that I cannot imagine being disappointed with anything I might receive because really? Only a knitter knows what it means to knit for someone else, and as such, only another knitter can truly appreciate being knit for. And I am deeply appreciating these beautiful objects that were made especially for me. These ladies rock!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dress and dressed up...

So, I finally finished the Lolita dress (well, jumper) that I was making for my daughter. She wore it to her meet-up last Saturday, and I have to say, she looked so freakin' cute! Front view...

Back view...

And check out her cute shoes, too! Kitties! And you can see the kitty tails on the backs of the shoes. Love them!

Same day as the Lolita meet up was a semi-formal dance my son was invited to...the boy cleans up well, doesn't he? LOL

And his girl friend (I have such a hard time saying wittle boy had a girl friend?? LOL Yeah, ok, he's 16 and not so little, but still! :}) looked lovely too! grow up so fast!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

90% Knitting - Episode 3

Welcome to Episode 3!

90% Knitting is now available through iTunes. Hopefully, I've solved the iPod/iTouch issue with this week's episode, but if someone could let me know for sure, I'd appreciate it! Also, there is a 90% Knitting group on Ravelry now. C'mon over!

And again I failed to mention the knitted object I was wearing. It was my A Little Jazz scarf that was made from the pattern (by Samantha Roshak) and yarn (Fiesta Baby Boom) from the March 2010 Loopy Sock Club shipment.

I think I rolled my eyes less in this videocast, but they're still looking shifty. What's up with that??

  • Calvados, Thea Colman, Cascade 220.
  • February YOSS sock, plain vanilla sock, Fleece Artist Somoko yarn, "Sun" colorway.
  • Swap shawl revealed, even though it is still secret. Check it out on the videocast if you want to know more about it. ;)
  • Finished spinning and plyed the Targhee wool & mohair fiber from last week. Got 285 yards of a worsted weight.
  • Handpainted some Rambouillet-Soy Silk fiber. Check out this blog post for more info on this project.
  • Working on finalizing Twisting & Twining.
  • Calvados Oops Redux...don't just re-read your pattern if you've taken a long break in the middle of a pattern. Go back to your Ravelry project page and see if you've left yourself any helpful notes! Duh.
  • No books this week, but Yarndex is a very helpful resource if you're looking for info on most commercial yarns.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great North American Afghan

Wow...I don't really do afghan projects very often, but I just saw the pictures for the new Cascade Great North American Afghan, the pattern book for which is apparently being introduced at Stitches West next week. Wow! There are some really cool squares in this one! And it is done in primarily red, pink, gray and black, which makes me swoon! I know I'll probably never knit it, but you can bet I'll be buying the pattern book as soon as I can, just to ogle the beauty.

There's also a Great American Kids Afghan pattern book coming out. Very cute...yet it's another thing I'll never knit and unlike the grown-up version, I'm not sure I feel the need to own that one.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

So, I had a day to myself...

...and while I could have used it to do a major cleaning job in the house (because, woooboy, it could use it!), or I could have just sat and knit and watched Bones episodes on Netflix all day, instead, I chose to do this...

Deep Space Drama

and this...

Love, Lola

and this...
When Buttercups Play Dress-Up
Yes, I pretended I knew how to dye again! You may recall my first foray into dyeing last September, which went OK, aside from the fact that I wasn't crazy about the fiber I'd used and I'd used way, way, way too much dye in the process. That time I'd kettle dyed. What I really wanted to try was handpainting, and that's what I did today on a bagful of a Rambouillet-Soy Silk blend that I picked up at the Waynesburg Sheep & Fiber Festival last May.

Honestly, I have no idea if I did it "right." I read up on it, and while the general process is the same, just about every place I read had some sort of conflicting information about the various steps in the process. Gah! See, it's that kind of thing that can leave me paralyzed and make me want to do nothing. But today I decided the heck with it, I'm going to just give it a try. What was the worst that could happen? I could ruin a bag of wool that has been stashed for months inside a suitcase in my basement? Yeah, that would have been a bummer, but not a huge loss, compared to the alternative of just leaving it in it's dark little home for eternity.

I will say it took me most of the day to do these three batches of fiber, just under a pound, all told. Clearly, there's a learning curve which takes time to master, and there's the set up of mixing the dyes into a concentrated form to dilute as I go (and each pack of dye makes enough concentrated solution to be used for many more dyeing sessions to come), and then there's the issue of figuring out my own process, which will hopefully become a little more streamlined as time goes on.

Handpainting itself is definitely a way slower process than kettle dyeing since you are putting the dye in specific places on the fiber, one color at a time, instead of just pouring it into a kettle with the fiber. My process was made even slower because I was only able to steam one batch of fiber at a time due to a lack of multiple steaming baskets (and the one I had was the result of MacGyvering my old metal colander with some floral wire).

Over all, though, I am really pleased with how this went and with the outcome of the fiber. The colors are fantastic, and when it came time to rinse the fiber, I was pleased to see that the rinse water had very little dye left in it, a far better outcome than when I kettle dyed. And I really enjoyed the process of the handpainting, having more control over where the dye goes. It felt more creative to me.

I have to admit, probably the most fun thing about this project today was naming the resultant colorways! I know, it's silly, because I'm not selling them or anything (at least not yet...hopefully some time this year, though!), but with each batch, as I was unrolling it from it's damp, plastic wrap encasement after it had cooled, and the newly dyed fiber was plain to see, a name popped into my head for each one of them. It was really pretty cool! It felt...biblical!

Adam: You will be called...goat. You will be called...penguin. You will be called...velociraptor--hey, ouch!

Me: You are -- Deep Space Drama! You are -- Love, Lola! You are -- what buttercups would look like if they played dress up, so I shall call you When Buttercups Play Dress-Up!

Yeah, that last one sort of explains why the fiber companies of the world aren't banging on my door asking me to name their colorways. (Haha...reminds me of when I worked at the LYS. A customer came in one day looking for yarn in a specific shade of red. After much discussion, I said, "So, you want sort of a spawning salmon red?" We at the shop came to the same conclusion that Debbie Bliss probably wasn't going to be phoning me up asking for yarn color suggestions anytime soon. ;))

At any rate, it is going to take forEVer for this stuff to dry, as I have nowhere to hang it, and laying flat doesn't seem like the best way to dry it. Though, this roving is pretty fine -- almost pencil roving in some spots -- and I'm not sure hanging it would have been great either, at least not when it was really wet. I've been mentally engineering a rack of sorts that would be good for drying roving. I may need to enlist Kevin's help to make that a reality!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Oh yeah...the shawl...

I forgot to mention what shawl I was wearing in yesterday's videocast! It's the Shetland Triangle, pattern by Evelyn Clark, knitting in Wollmeise 100%, the special "Femme Fatale" colorway that we got in our goodie bags last year at Spring Fling. (I knit it up last May, so this picture will seem familiar to some of you.)

And by the way, if anyone is downloading the videocast on iTunes and then trying to watch it on a portable device, can you please let me know if you run into any problems or errors? I'm trying to stay on top of all this technamological stuff. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

90% Knitting: Episode 2

The aspect ratio on this video is really wonky, and I can't find a way to fix it. I'll work on it for next week's videocast. Until then, please know that my head really is not that squished. ;)

Thank you to everyone who watched the first episode last week & left such encouraging feedback for me!

Also, thank you SO MUCH Leslie (udontcallmeles) from The Knit Girllls for helping me figure out post-production.

There is a new Ravelry group for the podcast. Come join us!

(Also, I found out right after I finished recording - natch - the podcast is now available on iTunes!)

ON THE NEEDLES: (Links go to my Rav project pages)
  • CalVADos Cardigan (as opposed to CalDAVos, as I have been calling it since I started knitting it last year...duh) - Thea Coleman pattern, Cascade 220 Heathers yarn.
  • Haruni - Still there, no progress.
  • Crescent Shawl - Scholler & Stahl Limbo from deep in my stash; just winging the pattern as I go.
  • Shawl Swap Shawl that I can't show you because the swap is still at its secret stage. I can tell you I'm knitting it from the BamHuey fiber I spun and showed you last week, and it's being knit into an Anne Hanson shawl so it will count for the Spring Fling February KAL.
  • YOSS February Plain Vanilla Sock - Fleece Artist Somoko yarn, Sun colorway.
  • The project bag is a GoKnit pouch, the small one, made by KnowKnits and sold at The Loopy Ewe.
  • A Targhee wool and mohair blend from Cosymakes' Farm Wool Fiber Club, the November 2010 colorway called Fire Gang. Cosy's blog. Cosy's Etsy shop.
  • Twisting & Twining is out to the test knitters!
  • Austerman Step...6 knots and reversed color sequence halfway through the ball? So! Not! Acceptable!
  • Not re-reading instructions for projects you've set down for a prolonged period leads to errors, such as forgetting to change needle sizes after the ribbing on the back of your Calvados Cardigan.