Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

WIPWed #55: Experimental Swatches

My main knitting work-in-progress goal this week was swatching up four little skeins of experimental handspun. (Don’t forget to enter by Thursday night to win 8 oz of Louet Perendale fiber of your very own! Check this blog post for details.)

Twist Experiment Swatches:

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knitting + science = awesome

They haven’t yet been blocked, but they will be A.S.A.P. so I can report back on my results by Friday. Each swatch was knit on the same size needles with the same patterns (7 ridges garter stitch, 10 rows stockinette, and a little lace-y rib pattern). I immediately noticed that the two opposing ply yarns (bottom row) were much plumper and knit up into larger swatches than the normal 2-ply yarns (top row). I’ll discuss more about why I think this is after I see how they block out.

Scummy Cedar Grove:

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts De-Vine, colorway Pond Scum. Click for project page.

I picked up this shawl again this morning and literally just knit half a row so I could call it a WIP in good conscious and share it here. Perhaps that’s cheating, but I felt like so little knitting has been happening lately. Possibly because I almost forgot…

Boxed Wind:

hat

Sanguine Gryphon Zaftig Bugga, colorway Box Jellyfish. Click for project page.

I knit a super quick Windschief hat for a good friend’s birthday last weekend. So quick, it didn’t even see the blog until it was gifted and gone. It lasted just long enough to make me super sad that the Zaftig yarn is discontinued, though. It’s scrumptious.

Speaking of good friends, that same friend went to Iceland with his knitterly husband recently. I pleaded that they bring me back some handknit mittens and boy, did they deliver:

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Pretty, pretty mittens.

Could I knit myself lovely, fingering-weight, colorwork snowflake mittens? Sure, probably. Am I likely to do so anytime soon? NOPE. I have a terrible track record with finishing mittens and have no pressing desire to knit that much colorworkso I’m super happy to have this pair. They feel great and will be just the thing when it gets cold around here again. Plus, they came from Iceland, so they are extra awesome.

In a final bit of news, I added a new lotion bar fragrance to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe:

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Are you drooling yet?

Lemon Cake! It smells exactly as you’d think it would: citrus-y, sweet, butter-y, cake-y, yummy. I also re-stocked a couple scents I had sold out of: Crisp Pear and Sandalwood Vanilla. I’m so happy that my bars have been receiving great feedback! A couple of  customers have been kind enough to write wonderful, 5-star reviews and a few others have sent me direct messages telling me how happy they are with their purchases. It’s thrilling! I’ve also created a Facebook page for the shop if you’d like to ‘like’ it and stay up-to-date with news and sales there.

Phew! Turns out I had more to chat about than I thought… Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis and enjoy your Wednesday! (And don’t forget the Louet giveaway!)

IS #42: Handspun Inspiration

I’m running a bit late with this Inspiration Saturday post due to feeling a little under the weather. Which is a shame, because my spinner’s guild is having a dye workshop today that I am missing. But sometimes you get to go out and play with wool in the October sunshine and sometimes you have to stay home with the sniffles and work on a paper you’re trying to publish. Sigh.

Anyhow, in honor of #Spinzilla, I’ve gathered together some gorgeous projects from Ravelry that used handspun yarn. All photos belong to the stated Ravelry user, and you can click the photos to visit the project pages.

Photo copyright SmokingHotNeedles

The first projet is a great example of what you can do with just a small amount of handspun. This Raveler took 2 oz of fiber, spun it into a lovely self-striping laceweight, and knit a great dropped stitch scarf with it. I’ve had this pattern in my mental to-knit list for a while, it’s so fun with multicolored yarns.

Photo copyright Fleegle

This is another example of beautiful laceweight handspun. This spinner got about 600 yards (!) of yarn out of only 2.5 ounces and knit this fabulous gradient shawl with it. I LOVE GRADIENTS SO MUCH, GUYS. I already have some non-handspun gradient yarn that I’m planning to turn into a shawl like this… someday.

Photo copyright digitalnabi

Speaking of gradients, this Citron shawl is another beautiful example of gradient spinning, this time from 4 oz of fiber spun into a laceweight single. This project led me to a fantastic teqchnique tutorial on carding to create gradient handspun from hand-dyed top on the digitalnabi blog. Check it out, I will definitely be attempting that technique in the future!

Photo copyright klippity

To switch things up a bit from gradient yarns, we have these fabulous mitered mittens. These were created from about 150 yards of a wonderfully colorful handspun 2-ply, proof that you can make something lovely with small amounts of yardage!

Photo copyright CatReading

Last but not least, we have this simplified version of the Norie hat knit with about 175 yards of sport/dk 2-ply handspun. I love how this hat is working with the nature of handspun: keeping it simple stockinette and texture to show off color transitions and embracing the heathered look of portions of the yarn where the color changes in the 2 plies differed (barberpoled). This Ravelry user has a whole slew of gorgeous handspun projects on her page, I had a hard time choosing just one.

I hope that’s provided some ideas for what to do with your handspun yarns! What’s your favorite pattern or project for handspun?

FO Friday #10: Hootenany

I present to you the adorably woolly face of evil.

Hoot?

These little owl faces represent five hours of work… for just the eyeballs and the beaks! Each mitten had about 20 or so ends to weave in, too. However, they did come out darn cute and they are pretty much exactly what my coworker commissioned for her little daughter so hopefully the little owl-obsessed girl loves them!

The one on the right looks extra surprised.

I used Cascade 220 superwash in an appropriately owl-y color for the body of the mitts held double. I knit most of one mitten before deciding I needed to cast on a few more stitches because although 2-year-old hands are tiny, they do grow and the fabric was extra thick so I wanted to give a little more room in there. But the rest of the mitten knitting went fairly smoothly and I followed this blog’s tips for making the white ‘brow’ part at the top. I felt like a mitten-knitting-genious… until I hit the eyeballs.

Attempt #1: single crochet circle. Attempt #2: knit in the round with lots of increases.

 

I even have crochet the old college try for this project (a.k.a. an hour of internet searching when I should’ve been doing other things). This only confirmed for me that I still hate crochet. It feels entirely unnatural to me. Even the basic chain stitch comes out all wonky and as I’m using my fingers to pull the loops over the hook, I can’t help wishing for an implement to help in the process… like another needle. Knitter to the core, I suppose. So then I tried knitting a tiny circle in the round with lots of increases but that was too ruffly. Finally, I cast on 4 sts to a DPN and did short rows within those 4 sts until I had a curved strip of knitting long enough to kitchener the two ends together into an approximate circle. Phew! I don’t keep a lot of superwash yarn lying around but I had some Bugga mini-skeins that I used for the brow and the irises, Cascade 220 sw for the pupils, and Socks that Rock Heavyweight scraps for the beaks. In sum, these mittens are quite cute and came out just as I’d hoped but I will likely never make them again… the finishing was far too fiddly.
Click below to see more FO’s!

A Mitten Story

This particular FO is a first for me, so I am very excited about it. I’ve been living with a heavy burden of shame: I have been knitting for six years and have never ever finished a pair of mittens… until now. Before I show you these miraculous mittens, though, let’s have a little backstory!

Attempt #1:

Malabrigo Worsted, colorway Natural

This magnificent thrummed mitten was my first attempt at keeping my fingers warm during winter. I began this pair three years ago in October 2009. I  modified a cable mitten pattern to include thrums, which are basically just bits of fiber that you stick in your knitting so that the inside is puffy and warm and amazing. Since I knew nothing about fiber at the time, I bought the first pretty fiber I found at a farmer’s market, which turned out to be Pygora goat fiber–incredibly luxurious stuff. When I told the woman at the stall that I wanted it for mitten lining she sounded surprised and was like “That would make really nice mittens.” Anyway, this pair is one mitten complete and I’m pretty sure I’ve misplace my notes, though I do hope to figure out how to knit its mate at some point.

Attempt #2:

Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, colorway Mariposa

This mitten was an early attempt at designing my own pattern. I began this one in November 2010. I still really like the pattern but couldn’t quite get the numbers and fit right, seeing as I had not completed any bulky weight mittens at the time. This looks ok but it was way too snug. I still hope to come back to this pattern now that I have a better idea of mitten size/fit.

Attempt #3:

BMFA Silk Mawatas, colorway Aurora Borealis

This project was my first attempt at knitting with silk hankies/mawatas. I began these in January 2012. If you click on the ‘mawata’ tag to the left of this post on the blog you will see all the posts I’ve made regarding these mittens. I still really want to finish these, too, but they are kind of annoying to knit. You have to pause every couple of rows to prepare the next silk hankie for knitting and it gets a bit messy and rough on the hands. Someday!

Attempt #4:

The Sanguine Gryphon QED, colorways Radius and iSkein

I am still entirely in love with the pattern for this project, but it is another one that is just somewhat unpleasant to knit. It involves thick yarn on small needles and pages and pages of cable charts. The knitting hurts my hands a bit and the charts make this a terrible “pick-up-and-go” project, which are the kinds of projects that tend to be doomed to the UFO pile in my knitterly life. Since I do love the pattern so much I have not yet given up, but starting two pairs of fiddly mittens in January 2012 was obviously much too ambitious.

The Finished Pair:
But finally, three years after my first attempt at mittens, I bring you these:

Malabrigo Yarn Chunky, colorway Lettuce

These are the Zephyr Fingerless Mitts pattern (with mitten option) by Tracey/a.k.a. Riverpoet. I modified them quite a bit for fit and personal preference, but it’s a free pattern with a fun stitch that creates a great woven effect that works well with solid yarns and even better with variegated colorways.

I like my mitten cuffs snug but the hand part roomy so I mashed together the S/M and M/L sizes. I moved the thumb one stitch palmward to mimic more closely how the thumb is actually positioned on the hand. Finally, I extended the stitch pattern to the top of the mitten and changed the decreases so that they worked like a sock toe. In short, these mittens were a great learning experience in teaching me how I like my mittens. And the best part? I knit them in five days. FIVE DAYS.

Why yes, I do look pleased with myself.

All that waiting, all those chilly-fingered-mornings shoveling snow and scraping ice… and I finished this pair of mittens in five days. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?

Some Progress

Even though I’ve been working 14-hour days trying and failing to get my thesis data to model correctly, I have been making some progress on my four ‘active’ works-in-progress lately. Time for update pics!

Sock 1 of my South Fork Socks is complete, with the second one begun. This pattern is really enjoyable, I highly recommend it.

STR Mediumweight, colorway Puck’s Mischief

This is sock 2 of my made-up-as-I-go ribby holiday socks.

STR Lightweight, colorway X-Mas Rock

 The first is done and since this one is so close,  I think I will bring it with me to my Fiasco’s family’s house today while we visit. That will give me a couple of hours of driving time to knit on them and since they are so simple, I might even be able to finish them today!

Here is the progress on my super-fussy-yet-wonderful Flint mittens:

The Sanguine Gryphon QED, colorways Radius and iSkein (blue)

The yarn is quite thick and the needles quite small, so the cabling gets tough to do at times, but I think they are going to be fantastic when they are finished… and practically bulletproof.

Finally, the metal needles I was waiting for came in and the mawata/silk hankie mittens were so much easier to work than when I was using bamboo.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Mawata, colorway Aurora Borealis

It’s not the neatest knitting I’ve ever done, the thickness of the silk fluff varied considerable in the first few layers that I prepared for knitting, but now I know what thickness I like so when I separate more layers I will know better how much to stretch them out before knitting with them. I love the way these feel, they are amazingly soft. I am using Kollage Square DPNs in size 5. Square DPNs are supposed to be easier on your hands and for some people they tighten up their gauge while they knit as well. I’ve noticed that mine tightens up a bit, which is good for things like socks on thin yarn where I would need to use needles smaller than 2.25mm to get a tight enough gauge, which I don’t like doing. My only issue with the Kollage needles is that they are very blunt, so it is difficult for me to manipulate stitches like K2tog or SSK or cables. So I reserve my square DPNs for plain knitting, but I do like using them.

That’s what I’ve got going on. What’s your favorite WIP at the moment?

Silk Is Fluffy

Unspun silk is super fluffy! I was surprised. The other night I took my mawata / silk hankies and started playing around.

BMFA Mawata, colorway Aurora Borealis

I peeled off a layer, stretched it out until the center became so thin it turned into a big ring of fiber, then broke the ring and yanked on it until it evened out thickness-wise.

Ball-o’-fluff!

I then took my newly-formed cotton candy fluff and cast on for some mittens.

Needle-o’-fluff!

You can see that I haven’t quite got the even thickness thing down yet. The stitches to the left are kind of sport-weight sized and the stitches in the middle are worsted/aran weight sized. No matter since I’m frogging this anyway. I suffered through several rows before I realized that the reason every stitch was being a pain in the butt to knit was probably because I was using bamboo needles to which the unspun silk clung too tightly. I’m waiting on some new metal needles to arrive before I continue with my fluffy mitten adventures. I’m excited, how about you?