IS #79: Worsted Weight Wonders

It has been quite a while since my last Inspiration Saturday post, but it’s also been some time since I’ve had a chance to really sink my teeth into a pattern search. Many of these posts are born of a burning need to find just the right pattern for just the right yarn and lately I haven’t had any pattern-matching conundrums. However, I’ve just discovered that The Verdant Gryphon has brought back one of my favorite yarn bases (Zaftig Bugga, a worsted weight MCN blend) and well, I had to know how many skeins to buy for my next project, didn’t I? Let the luxurious, worsted-weight-accessory-pattern curating commence!

The Millwater cowl by Beth Kling is one I’ve had queued for Zaftig for quite some time.

Copyright Beth Kling. Click for pattern page.

I knit this pattern out of Malabrigo Twist a while back and really enjoyed it. The knitting is simple and soothing, just garter stitch with a ribbed cable that is knit flat and then seamed. I think the finished piece is striking and versatile and looks lovely in semi-solids and variegated yarns.

Another simple-but-striking cabled pattern is the Tidal Flats hat by Melissa Thomson.

Copyright Alexa Ludeman. Click for pattern page.

This hat is part of the Cascadia collection, which contains many lovely accessory and sweater patterns. This hat would work best in a semi-solid, so as not to obscure all that smooth reverse stockinette.

I’ve been enamored with this Bosc scarf by Robin Ulrich for ages:

Copyright Robin Ulrich. Click for pattern page.

It’s just so dang elegant, and knit in worsted weight it would be cozy, beautiful, and fairly quick to knit.

This Fission mitts by Annika Barranti would be quite cushy in Zaftig.

Copyright Vivian Aubrey. Click for pattern page.

I love the laced-up i-cord details, the cables, and the twisted stitches. You need a yarn with good stitch definition to really make these pop. The style is a little bit similar to my Berriboned Wrists pattern (lacing-wise, anyway):

Copyright Alicia Morandi. Click for pattern page.

The wristwarmers were initially designed with Zaftig, and are quite cozy as all get-out in the heavier weight yarn. (I’m wearing them as I type, in fact!)

To up the elegance ante, we have the Juneberry Shawl designed by Jared Flood.

Copyright Brooklyn Tweed. Click for pattern page.

I’ve adored this shawl for quite some time, but have been having internal debates over whether I want to knit it out of Zaftig or something a bit drapier with some silk content, like Codex or Mondegreen.

Lastly, and the pattern I will most likely knit first, is the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer.

Copyright Knitscene. Click for pattern page.

I think the plump, tightly-twisted texture of Zaftig will lend great stability to this striking, structured cloche. I love the stitch definition in the photo, the possibility of amazing color combination, and that jaunty flipped brim. This hat needs to be rocked so hard, and I plan to rock it well.

Have you been inspired by anything in particular lately? What’s your favorite use for worsted weight yarn? Let us know in the comments below!

IS

WIPWed #70: Schemes and Plans

I’m going to formally declare something that you may have already picked up on by my lack of speaking about it: I’m not knitting any Christmas gifts this year. *gasp!* *Shock and awe!* I know. I always knit gifts, many gifts, usually almost a dozen (or at least it feels like it) small knit gifts for everyone in my family. But I’ve decided to sit this year out because time has just gone too. dang. fast.

I finished last year’s final holiday gift in February. In March, I hurt my wrist and was unable to knit much until May. May – July, I was mostly consumed with wedding knitting and wedding-related tasks. I’ve only completed six non-wedding projects (SIX!) since finishing holiday knitting from last time… one cowl, one pair of socks, and four hats. Because of that dismal finishing rate, I just don’t have it in me to jump into a bunch more gift knitting right now. I’ve got about a zillion shawls and socks on the go that I’d like to actually wear sometime soon thankyouverymuch. And then there are the sweaters I’d like to knit myself, too. Thus, I’m declaring the holiday season of 2014 a bust, and making the knitting all about me me me.

I like a little structure to my knitting, though, so I’ll be coming up with a concrete plan of attack in the next few weeks. For now, I’m just grabbing the nearest UFO (unfinished object) and picking away at it until I can call it done. This week’s victim choice, was my Sweet Codex Shawl.

Woolen Diversions

SG Codex, colorway Lioness of Brittany

I’ve just finished the first skein and have moved on to the second, so I’m a bit more than halfway done with this shawl (which involves a significant fringe). While the yarn and pattern are lovely, it’s a little monotonous to work. This is definitely a ‘product knitting’ project for me, since I know I will wear the hell out of the finished piece but I am not particularly in love with the process right now.

It made good plane knitting, though, on my trip over the weekend. I flew out to California for a lovely wedding where I got to hang out with a bunch of my college friends in the woods for a few days. It was pretty great and I can officially say that I’ve seen and hugged a redwood. (Hover over the photos in the gallery below to see their caption and click to enbiggen.)

I hope you’ve had a lovely weekend/week as well! What have you decided to do about the holidays? Are you knitting lots of gifts, some gifts, or no gifts?

Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show

While I’m filled with an epic sadness that I will not be at Rhinebeck (my friends keep insisting on planning their weddings in October!) I’m super excited that a sample of my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe products will be there.

Woolen DiversionsIf you’re lucky enough to be going this year, check out the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show tonight from 5 pm – 7 pm at The Garden Plaza Hotel in Kingston, NY. A whole slew of awesome vendors will be there and I hear there will be giveaway prizes, as well. Get your Rhinebeck splurging started early with the likes of Canon Hand Dyes, June Pryce Fiber Arts, That Clever Clementine, Skeinny Dipping, and Knitspot’s Bare Naked Wools (to name just a few).

Woolen DiversionsI’ve sent up a selection of 10 different lotion bar fragrances (including autumn scents like Frosted Cranberry), 5 lip balm flavors, and 3 different gift sets (the All Natural set that Hunter reviewed, Fall Favorites, and Coffeehouse Specials). I hope some of you can stop by and sniff/sample in person!

And one last thing: I finally got around to setting up an e-newsletter for Sweet Sheep. If you sign up, you’ll receive a coupon code for my shop as a thank you (sometime next week)!

I’m bummed that I won’t be there to say hello and enjoy the festival, but I can’t be too sad that I’m heading off to California to celebrate the marriage of some dear friends! (Even though I can barely fit it in my carry-on, my new camera is packed and ready to take epic photographs of redwood trees, wooohooooo! I am ridiculously excited to see some big trees. BIG TREES!!!)

Have an excellent weekend, wherever you’re spending it. :)

WIPWed #69: Post-Spinzilla 2014

The weekend was a whirlwind of preparing lotions for the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show (this Friday! Go to it!) and sneaking in one final spin for #Spinzilla. My final yardage was (drumroll please….):

Woolen Diversions

Woohoo!

I did not quite meet my (random) goal of spinning twice the weight I spun last year (22 oz… I spun up about 17 oz) but I’m really excited that I spun up over a mile (1 mile = 1,760 yards) of yarn in one week!

Woolen Diversions

3-ply Louet Jacob

I spoke about the Perendale (2-ply, 176 yards, 528 towards Spinzilla) last week and the Inglenook batts on my spindle last Friday (11 g spun at 3000 yards per pound = 73 yards for Spinzilla). Above you see my finished 3-ply Louet Jacob skein that come sin at 8 oz and 120 yards (480 for Spinzilla). I’ll write more about this skein in a future post when I do a review of the fiber.

Woolen Diversions

Bee Mice Elf Green Gradient 2-ply

Of everything I spun last week, this gorgeous gradient skein is the most happy-making for me. If you spin and are unfamiliar with Bee Mice Elf, you should get to know her stuff quick, because you are missing out on some amazing colorways! (Laurs also writes great “Mixed Up Mondays” posts where she talks about dyeing particular colors, like Tiffany Blue.) Anyway, this braid had all my colors (lime green through baby blue to teal and forest green) and was on Wensleydale fiber, which I hadn’t spun in any great amount before, so I had to have it. Guys, I love Wensleydale.

Woolen Diversions

Photo from winddanceranch.com

And not just because the sheep look like adorable muppets! The fiber is an extremely silky and lustrous longwool that is very easy to spin. It drafts beautifully and creates a really drapey finished yarn. That skein (236 yards, 708 for Spinzilla) is going to become some sort of lacy scarf or cowl, I’m thinking. I split it in two and spun each half in order, which meant during plying I had to break out some sections from one single or the other that did not match up correctly, so I had some leftover bits (10 g at 2600 yards per pound = 57 yards), but overall I’m super happy with this yarn.

Woolen Diversions

Silky Pond Clapotis, click for project page.

After all that spinning, I was inspired to start a project with a skein of handspun I’ve been itching to knit for some time now. I swatched for a drop stitch scarf but hated it and realized the yarn would shine better in a smooth stockinette fabric. I might be the last knitter on earth to start a Clapotis, but here it is!
What have you all been up to this week? Do you have a favorite pattern for handspun?

FOFri #33: Need An Extra Foot?

Somehow, even though I knit and blocked and measured a gauge swatch, and calculated an approximate length I wanted my cowl to be and cast on the appropriate number of stitches, I ended up with a cowl nearly a foot longer than I had intended.

Pre-work, dusty mirror selfie is all you get.

It’s a wee bit large: 63″ circumference, 8″ tall. I don’t hate it, though I’ll never wear it long like that. I’m currently wearing it doubled up around my neck and it has a comfortably loose drape. I can also wear it tripled for increased warmth.

My ‘almost being choked by knitwear’ face.

My blocked swatch had a gauge of 5.5 sts/inch, so I cast on 285 sts to arrive at hopeful finished length of 52″. My swatch was small, which might have had something to do with it, and while I did knit it in the round, I did so on bamboo DPNs, rather than on the KnitPicks harmony wood circulars I ended up using for the cowl. I suppose those changes could have resulted in a project gauge of 4.5 sts/inch (285 sts / 63 inches). Let this be a lesson in the dramatic difference one stitch per inch can make!

Inglenook Fibers batt spinning.

I am still spinning for #Spinzilla, but sadly had no time at the wheel last night. I’ve been piling up the singles on my Russian spindle, though! All of that is the result of just one of the eight little batt poofs (batt balls? batt sections? batt muffins?) from Inglenook. I’ve yet to spin a large project on my supported spindles, so far I’ve only just sampled and then andean plied the yarn off the spindle into a 2-ply. Does anyone have tips for singles management when you only have one supported spindle? How to you spin and organize your singles for plying for an entire project?  I need to figure something out, since promptly after shooting that photo, Darwin ran off with my spindle and tragically separated the cop from its rightful place on the shaft (bad kitty!). The single appears to have maintained its shape so I’m hoping it won’t be a total mess to wind up later.

What was your worst ever gauge miscalculation fail?

WIPWed #68: Mid-Spinzilla

Since we’re in the middle of #Spinzilla, this post is chock full of spinning! I shocked myself by working my way through a full 4 oz of the Louet Perendale fiber in one evening (thanks is due to several episodes of Game of Thrones, Season 1).

Woolen Diversions

Spinzilla day 1

When I was too tired to sit up straight in my spinning chair, I curled up on the couch with a pretty little Inglenook Fibers batt and my TexasJeans Russian supported spindle. I really like spinning supported, it’s completely different than wheel or drop spindle spinning, I find it even more relaxing.

Woolen Diversions

Perendale 2-ply

Then last night I plied up my Perendale into a light, fluffy woolen 2-ply. I ended up with 176 yards of worsted-ish weight (just eyeballin’ the weight) which count as 528 yards for Spinzilla [plied yardage + (plied yardage x number of plies)]. That’s nearly half of the total yardage I spun last year already! Seriously, woolen spinning (carded prep and long draw) is wicked fast and makes a delightfully fluffy yarn.

Woolen Diversions

2 oz of Louet Jacob wool

I then knocked out 2 oz worth of Louet Jacob singles, as well. I have a date with the remaining 6 oz as soon as I publish this post.

Woolen Diversions

Honey Cowl, more on this soon.

And then I finished my cowl! (Hopefully some modeled pics on Friday).

I think it’s safe to say that I’m on a roll this Spinzilla and I’m really looking forward to adding everything up by the end of the week! If you spin, are you trying any new techniques this week? If you don’t spin, how are you not tempted?!?! ;)

Spinzilla Year 2!

Spinzilla has been on my mental to-do list for months, but even though I knew it was coming, I am feeling woefully underprepared. I didn’t finish clearing my bobbins, my spindles are all busy, and  I didn’t begin thinking about what I wanted to spin until… last night. A late night plying session helped the situation out some, but my bobbins are still far more occupied than I would’ve liked at this point. The two on the right will likely stay that way (I want to preserve the color progression I’m spinning), but the two in the middle I can clear with my Bobbins Up storage bobbins.

Woolen Diversions

Unfortunately occupied bobbins.

Last year, I spun 11 oz of fiber into 1,270 yards of singles. I’m sure 11 oz seems like nothing to the people who spin up pounds and pounds on a regular basis, but that was the most I’d ever spun in one week and I’m looking forward to attempting to surpass that amount. Hopefully I won’t hold back #TeamLouet too badly, the team did extremely well last year with more than one member spinning over 11,000 yards of yarn! (Yeah, 10 x what I did. Yikes!) But this is neither the time nor the place to feel intimidated. IT’S SPINZILLA TIME! So here’s my (rather hasty) plan of attack.

Since I’m spinning for #TeamLouet, I figured this would be a great time to work through some of the awesome Canterbury Prize Wools fiber that Louet sent me a while ago.

Woolen Diversions

Lovely longwools from Louet.

If you remember back in April, I reviewed their Perendale fiber. It was an airy, carded longwool that spun up easily. Thankfully, I have 4 oz left, plus 16 oz of Shetland sliver and 16 oz of Jacob sliver to work through! Carded preparations and longwool fibers are great choices for speedy spinning, so I’m hopeful that spinning these fibers will help my yardage out.

And just in case 36 oz of wool isn’t enough (ha!) I have some additional options stashed that I think will be nice and speedy (and a good bit more colorful):

Woolen Diversions

BFL, Wensleydale, llama, and batts!

Pictured above are 21 additional oz of fiber (clockwise from back left): llama down (5 oz), BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club BFL (5 oz), Bee Mice Elf Wensleydale (4 oz), Countess Ablaze BFL (3.5 oz), and Inglenook Fibers batts (3.5 oz). With the exception of the llama and the batts, all are longwools and are likely to draft easily and quickly. I’m thinking of using the batts on one of my supported spindles so that I can keep spinning on nights when I want to curl up on the couch instead of sit at the wheel, or if I need to try to spin in the car. And the llama I threw in there because alpaca usually goes quickly for me, and they should be similar enough (plus it’s one of my long-ignored Spin The Bin goals).

Are you participating in #Spinzilla? Do you tend to set yourself lofty goals that you have no hope of achieving? How do you motivate yourself for challenges? If you haven’t already read the Spinzilla blog tour, check it out, there are some great tips in those posts!