FOFri #40: Malabrigo Nube Chain-Py Yarn

We’re going to go ahead and forget the fact that I was aiming to finish this skein for Malabrigo March because it’s finally done now (yay!) and it’s lovely (double yay!).

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MalMarch Nube, click for handspun page.

This skein began life as 100% Merino top from Malabrigo, colorway Persia. The fiber is gorgeously soft but often a wee bit compacted, so I chose to card my fiber into rolags and spin them with a long-draw draft for a nice fluffy single (S twist). I then filled two bobbins with 2-ply yarn (Z-twist) and ran the them through my wheel again in the same direction to add some extra twist before the last step. Finally, I plied the two 2-ply yarns together to create a 4-ply cabled yarn (S twist, click the photos below to enlarge).

Cabled yarns do interesting things with variegated colorways, and if plied tightly have lots of spring. My skein is a bit loosely plied so it’s fairly relaxed, but it’s pretty nonetheless. I ended up with 236 yards of approx. DK weight yarn (923 ypp, 12-14 wpi). It should be the perfect amount to make a nice pair of mitts for the Fiasco next fall.

Final cabled yarn

Final cabled yarn

Have you ever tried a cabled yarn? What other fancy plying techniques have you experimented with?

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Nothing to See Here

Thanks for all your well-wishes regarding my back pain! I have to say, I’m highly amused that so many of you thought I was referring to my knitting when I said I ‘popped a rib’. I’m less amused that after working several inches of tubular bind off on the neckline of my Cypress vest, I realized I did, indeed, mess it up: I dropped a stitch. It’s one stitch, and it will be on the back side of the neckline fabric, but it will be right in front of the sweater, so I’m currently debating the horrendous idea of untinking several inches of tubular bind off (which involves undoing kitchener stitch and catching slipped stitches in the right order) with the merits of just leaving it be and sewing it down later.

Then, when I went to work on my MalMarch Sundry shawl, I realized that I had made a mistake in the slipped garter stitch several rows back, so tinking or laddering down will need to happen there, as well.

Finally, I have not yet tried to spin my MalMarch Nube project as the long draw motions would likely irritate my back. I saw an osteopath yesteday, and while he didn’t want to listen to me about the previous treatment I’d received for the problem and he did an awful lot of mansplaining, whatever trigger point therapy and back-cracking he did must have helped because the pain is about 80% better. (Yay!) Instead, I am now entertaining a wicked sore throat that makes me sound like an elderly, life-long smoker. It’s herbal tea and honey and gargling with salt water all day for me.

So there went the last few days of March and with them went any chance of finishing up either of my Malabrigo March goals or one more First Quarter project. I just can’t win this week. I’ll leave you with this photo of Calypso, which purrrfectly captures how I feel.

A strange mix of stoic and defeated.

April happens to be my least favorite month (I’m always so stressed in April, I have no idea why) but I’m determined to remain hopeful that things will look up soon!

It Was Him All Along

You know how frustrating it is when you just can’t find something? You know you had it, but you can’t remember the last time you’ve seen it, and you desperately want it back, but you have no clue where it could possibly be? I admittedly get that feeling a lot, usually for something small that I’ve put in a very obvious place, and the Fiasco prides himself on always being able to find what I’ve lost in about 2 seconds flat. In fact, he put finding-my-lost-things in his wedding vows, that’s how often this situation occurs. But this time, this time… I had lost my brand new favorite project bag, along with a nearly finished knitting project, for EIGHT ENTIRE MONTHS.

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It is found, huzzah!

The last time I saw that thing was just after my wedding in July. I had knit up a bunch of lovely jewelry frames as gifts for my even lovelier bridesmaids, and I wanted to make one for myself with the leftover yarn. I searched high and low, on and off, for the last several months to no avail. I even put out a plea on Facebook to see if I perhaps left it in a relative’s car or something… nada. This weekend, the Fiasco decided to do a bunch of laundry and rearrange his closet and this morning, I found a trash bag he had placed near the bed filled with a few things including a purse and the missing project bag! How the heck this project ended up in a trash bag in the depths of his closet for 8 months, I’ll never know, BUT OH BOY, RICHARD, YOU’RE LUCKY YOU’RE CUTE.

It Was Him All Along | Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Nube, colorway Persia.

In other news, I attended the monthly meeting of the Rhode Island Spinner’s Guild yesterday and learned how to make proper rolags with hand cards. I’d been fumbling along with a half-assed technique I had cobbled together from articles and videos, but it was something else altogether to have some watch me card and correct my form. Which is great, because carding has always been hell on my wrists and I’d suspected I’d been doing it wrong. Part of the problem is likely my super heavy, flat-backed hand cards that I’ve hated since day one. So I caved and ordered a new set of Strauch curved wool cards from The Woolery and am anxiously waiting for them to arrive so I can continue my Malabrigo March spinning project. I’m clearly insane, as I’ve decided to both card rolags and make a 4-ply yarn using longdraw drafting for this project, which has a deadline of the end of the month. But see how thinly the Nube is spinning up? That’s the thinnest I’ve ever spun on a wheel, and the combination of fluffy rolags and rhthymic longdraw is making me happy, so I’m going for it anyway.

So tell me, where is the strangest place you’ve found a previously lost item, and how long did it take you to find it?

(P.S. Please check out the bottom of Friday’s post for details about a Sweet Sheep product survey and giveaway I’m currently running, and thanks to all who have responded so far, you should have received your coupon codes via e-mail over the weekend!)

(P.P.S. This post contains affiliate links to The Woolery, an excellent spinning shop that I am happy to support. If you make a purchase through these links, I will receive a small percentage that goes towards the running of this blog, but all opinions are honest and my own. That said, check out this crazy sale on BFL fiber they’re having… $11 for 8 oz, must resist!)

WIPWed #84: Pretty Things

I really have no words to adequately describe how much I’ve been loving my knits lately, so I’ll just show them to you.

Yaksi Cancan:

WIPWed #84: Pretty Things

BMFA Yaksi DK, colorway Shoqua. Click for project page.

That right there is just about the prettiest cable I’ve ever knit. It’s a simple French braid-style, 9 stitch cable but damn is it pretty. Combined with the lacy bits and the sort-of-picot sideways edging, I’m basically in love and am feeling the urge to cable all the things.

MalMarch Sundry:

WIPWed #84: Pretty Things

Malabrigo Yarns Dos, colorways Turquesa and Indigo. Click for project page.

My main Malabrgo March project is moving along rather nicely, only 10 days in I’m about a third of the way done, so I expect that finishing it this month will be no problem (way to jinx myself). But honestly? I can’t stop knitting it. The combo of easy garter stitch, fun slipped stitches, and incredibly omg soft fabric is addicting. Even the Fiasco, who has actually uttered the words “I’ve always thought Merino was a little scratchy” and for whom nothing but baby alpaca is ever soft enough, thinks this stuff is the bomb. Oh, Malabrigo, why did you discontinue Dos?!?!

Alchemy:

WIPWed #84: Pretty Things | Woolen Diversions

BMFA STR HW, colorway Tea & Alchemy. Click for project page.

My favorite thing about this project is that it’s almost done. And if it lets me win the game of yarn chicken within which we’re currently embroiled, I’ll love it forever.

Earth & Sky Stacks:

WIPWed #84: Pretty Things

TwoSistersStringworks Gotland, colorway Rhime. Click for handspun page.

After my previous art yarn exploration, I wanted to try another style. I have two braids of this Gotland fiber from when I first began spinning back in 2012, one blue and one green. I’m spinning each as its own single, and the green single is going to be interspersed with bits of white or grey. Then I’m going to ply them together and turn the grey/white bits into stacks, which are kind of like a lazy person’s beehive. Tough to explain but hopefully not tough to do.

And as far as reading goes, I’ve pickde up the Outlander series again, I’m on “The Fiery Cross”. Since I watched the first half of the TV series on DVD in about 3 days flat, I couldn’t help myself. That’s all I’ve got going on, what have you been up to this week? Linking up with Small Things and Gracey’s Goodies.

Checking In

Happy Monday, folks! I hope your weeks are off to a good start. In a surprise twist (that should surprise exactly no one), not only did I fail to resist the call of the Malabrigo March KALs, but I ended up choosing a completely different pattern than the ones I discussed in my last Inspiration Saturday post.

Beginnings of a Sundry shawl. Click for project page.

This is the beginning of a Sundry shawl, designed by Jennifer Dassau. I’ve admired the simple shawl/scarf hybrid for some time, and I think the two-color houndstooth section will be smashing in the Turquesa and Indigo colorways. I decided against the 3 Color Cashmere Cowl because I do believe I would like to knit that out of a lightweight cashmere yarn someday (vs. my sport weight Merino) and I wanted something a little more mindless than the Katana shawl (which some knitters said was difficult to track). Plus, the designer of the Sundry shawl is a Malabrigo Junkie herself, so it felt extra appropriate.

I think 2-year-olds are always blurry, am I right?

I visited my little niece-by-association over the weekend and attempted to snap a picture of her wearing the Troll hat that I made. This was the best I could do. I made the toddler size, but am thinking I should have made the child size as this one just fits (I knit at the pattern gauge and the unstretched circumference was around 16″). Since the hat was super quick and adorable, I have no doubt another will hit my needles eventually.

I was a busy bee this weekend re-stocking sold out items for Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe. Sandalwood Vanilla, Green Tea, Winter Gardenia, and Fresh Snow (hands-down my most relevant scent right now, am I right? #nomoresnow) lotion bars have been re-stocked, as well as my popular Winter Clementine lip balms. I’ve got a new lip balm flavor coming as soon as I can take some decent product photos (French Macaron, swoon!) and hope to spend much of March developing whole new lines of products, so keep an eye out for those, as well!

Are you participating in Malabrigo March this year, or any other fun KALs at the moment?

IS #87: Malabrigo Temptation

It’s that time of the year again, when the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry hosts an epic, multi-pattern KAL complete with creative contests and generous prizes. You don’t need to knit one of the ‘official’ chosen patterns to take part in the KAL, there are threads for general KALs where the only requirements are that the project uses Malabrigo Yarns and is not cast on before March 1. All KAL projects must be complete by March 31st to be eligible for prizes.

Malabrigo Temptation | Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Yarns Dos, colorways Turquesa, Indigo, and Lettuce.

Mal March snuck up on me this year, but I recently purchased some hard-to-get Dos through a destash, and I must admit I’m itching to use it. I knit a pair of cuffs out of it back in 2013 and it’s the most buttery-soft sportweight Merino wool 2-ply yarn I’ve ever had the pleasure to fondle. (My pattern notes say “THIS YARN IS AMAZING, I WANT TO MARRY IT.”) When someone was destashing for half price, I picked up 2 skeins each in Turquesa and Indigo. I had a skein of Lettuce that I had been using to test out a design idea (since there wasn’t enough yardage to do much else) but now that I have more yarn, I’m thinking of combining them in a project (and I’ve totally lost the design notes by¬† now anyway). I took a poke around the discussion board and am finding a few of the patterns chosen for the official KALs to be quite irresistible. 3 Color Cashmere Cowl:

Photo copyright Joji Locatelli. Click for pattern page.

This simple, sweet cowl designed by Joju Locatelli has been quite the talk of Ravelry lately (660 projects cast on already, when it was just published last month!) and I think the softness of Dos rivals that of cashmere (truly). I’d have to go up a needle size, and it wouldn’t be quite as drapey, but I think the colors I have would work well here. However, it would leave me with a couple of skeins leftover (and the goal is always to use them up). Red Katana:

Photo copyright Bellylaugher. Click for project page.

This shawl is a fun play on chevrons of different sizes and would look absolutely smashing in the colorways I have. I love the version pictured above, knit by Bellylaugher on Ravelry. She modified the original pattern (by Svetlana Volkova) to add a third color stripe and it really elevates the design. Clincher:

Photo copyright ashkearns. Click for pattern page.

I think this little shawlette/kerchief design by Ash Kearns is just the cleverest. Seriously. It’s so simple but brilliant. The main body is knit as a long side-to-side triangle, from the bitty end to the big one, and then a contrasting color is used to knit loops through which the tail of the shawl can be pulled to keep it in place while wearing kerchief-style. I probably won’t make this for Mal March as it doesn’t use up enough yardage, but it is super cute and has been duly queued. Dotted Rays:

Photo copyright westknits. Click for pattern page.

This shawl pattern by Stephen West is not part of the official Mal March KALs, however, I could knit it under the General Accessory category. I’m not sure how well the yardage would work out, but I’ve been really tempted by some of Stephen’s designs lately and have been admiring April’s handspun version on Instagram. Molly Hat:

Photo copyright Erin Ruth. Click for pattern page.

For those of you still in the clutches of this winter’s knit all the bulky things mode, this hat designed by Erin Ruth would be great in Malabrigo Worsted or Twist or possibly even Chunky or Mecha, with a little finagling of cast on numbers. I’ve admired it for some time, but don’t have any appropriate yarn in stash. However…

Malabrigo Nube, colorway Persia.

Perhaps I should spin some! They do have a general spin-along going for Mal March, as well. I spun some up for the October Stockpile event in 2013, and turned it into one of my strangest, squishiest hats, so I’m really liking this idea. As you can see, I’m full to the brim with last-minute ideas for Mal March, which are likely to totally derail my First Quarter Plans… the question now is, do I care, or should I Mal March to my heart’s content? What would you do? Share this week’s inspiration with us in the comments below! IS

WIPWed #82: Loving this Lace

After the weekend’s finished projects, I’ve been feeling quite monogamous towards my four active WIPs. However, I fear that I will soon be tempted to stray… you’ll see why.

Garnet Tonic:

WIPWed 82: Loving this Lace | Woolen Diversions

VG Zaftig in Kiss of Cabernet, click for project page.

I’m still madly in love with my Tonic Water cowl. It’s what I reach for whenever I’m in concentrated knitting mode. I’m a little bit addicted to the deep wine color and weightiness of the yarn. I can’t wait to wear this thing. I’ve done 5 repeats so far, and estimate that puts me around 60% done. I’m going to finish this second ball of yarn and then assess whether I need to break into the third.

Tropical Traveler:

WIPWed #82: Love This Lace | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Socks That Rock, colorway Feelin’ Groovy. Click for project page.

My January Rockin’ Sock Club socks are coming along nicely. The Intrepid Traveler pattern is quite fun, it’s a short and easy stitch repeat that looks great with variegated yarns. They’ve been good company while I ride the exercise bike at home: lightweight and easy to work while my legs pedal on below. Note that I wouldn’t recommend knitting while biking during a spin class or anything extremely vigorous, but it works well for me on a less strenuous “just getting the minutes in” cardio day. The socks now need heels, though, which means I need solid time to focus on them. Same with the Alchemy socks I’m still knitting for my Fiasco. I’ve finished the heel flap on the second sock, but have lost my notes as to what I did for the first heel turn. Commence fudging, I guess.

Yaksi Cancan:

WIPWed #82: Loving This Lace | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Yaksi (DK) in Shoqua, click for project page.

My French Cancan shawl is nearly to the point where the lace begins. What you see is the little bit of yarn left from my first skein. The designer suggests knitting the body until you have used up 50-60% of your yarn. I’m a little worried about pushing it too far, as this yarn is no longer carried and I’ll be a bit screwed if I run out. However, I know others have been just fine leaving 40% of their yarn for the edging. Basically, it’s decision time on this little lovely, and then it will be relegated to concentrated knitting time only due to the fancy schmancy border.

So if you’ve been following along at home, you’ll notice that I currently have no active WIPs that are in an ‘easy knitting’ phase. They all require concentration, attention to lace, or decisions. This, at the risk of being dramatic, is disastrous for the state of my WIPs. This is when startitis strikes. This is how I have 20 pairs of socks “in progress”. This is the problem, folks.

And you know what makes it worse? What’s going to make it harder to just buckle down and turn those heels so I have easy sock knitting again? Malabrigo March is right around the corner. The Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry is nearly single-handledly responsible for getting me to love Rav so much, for making my queue grow by leaps and bounds, and for encouraging me to begin designing. It holds INTENSE AND AWESOME knit-alongs every March and October and there are so many I’d like to participate in, even though I did not account for Mal March at all in my First Quarter Plans. Check out the discussion board, though, so many KALs! So much awesome! Siiiiiigh. How do you resist the call of KALs?

Woolen Diversions

Books!

My reading of late has been varied and copious. I have never before read graphic novels, nor can I stomach watching the TV show (too nerve-wracking!), but my friends got me hooked on reading The Walking Dead. I’ve never been a ‘zombie person’ but I was intrigued by what I heard from the Fiasco about the storyline and was interested enough to read it. It’s pretty good, basically a gory soap-opera, but I’m invested now and I can let my eyes skim over the really gross bits if necessary.

And then since doing our taxes, I’ve been focused on setting up a solid bookkeeping system and good business practices for Sweet Sheep. I heartily recommend the Etsy-preneurship book. It was helpful enough that the accountant we went to was actually impressed that I knew my shit. Since I’ve never taken a business class, it was really great to have someone (in book form) be essentially like “here’s a good way to do this” and to have confirmation that what I was doing was right. I am less enthralled with the Grow Your Handmade Business book. It’s not terrible, and I’m only halfway through, but the first half was basically all about your feelings as an entrepreneur and how awesome it is to be living your dream job. The starry-eyed hopeful bit doesn’t really speak to me, and quitting my day job is not currently my goal, but the book is now getting into more details about writing a business plan and whatnot, so I’m hoping it’ll have some useful tips later on.

Linking up with Small Things this week.