WIPWed #87: I MADE A THING!

Guys, I’m super excited right now, because I’m writing this while wearing my first ever (completed) handknit sweater!

Even though it spanned almost 6 months, my Overdyed Cypress vest was a pretty simple knit. It’s composed of only two pieces (front and back), with no waist shaping and itty bitty sleeves made by some increases. I was in between sizes so I made a smaller size for the back and a larger size for front, with no trouble joining them together. I was really worried about fit, especially in January when I had finished all but the armhole and neckline edgings and I tried it on and it looked terrible– but it turns out, actually finishing a thing really improves its fit! Now we just need to work on better sweater modelling and photography, those photos make it look a little misshapen and baggy, but I swear it looks nicer in person.

While it wasn’t difficult knitting, the pattern was a little bit fiddly. Jared Flood calls for no fewer than three needle sizes for the edging ribbing (yeah, right) and the tubular bind-off was a bitch. But the pattern was clearly written and is gorgeous and stylish, like most Brooklyn Tweed designs, so I definitely recommend it. There were a few things I’d do differently if I were to knit it again, namely I’d use 6’s and 5’s for the ribbing sections (instead of 6’s and 4’s) as the edges are all just a tad tighter than I’d like. I’d practice seaming on some swatches (my first side seam was so messy!) and I’d be sure to keep the slipped stitch rows of the tubular bind off and cast on extra loose, because my edges are hard and stiff instead of nice and stretchy. All in all, I’m just so happy I made something that’s actually wearable, and from yarn that I overdyed, to boot! That is one satisfying finish.

Somewhat less satisfying was finishing the knitted jewelry holder I’ve had on the needles since last July. After the project bag went missing for nearly 8 months, I was excited to finish the knitting, block it, and get the darn thing assembled this morning… but I couldn’t find the buttons anywhere. WHERE ARE THE BUTTONS?!?!?! So it sits forlorn on its blocking board until I can locate the little buggers.

At least my Tropical Traveler socks are going well. I’m really loving this simultaneous-but-not-two-at-a-time method I’m trying out here. Instead of getting hung up on a part that requires thought (heel or toe) and letting the whole pair languish for weeks until I have time to think about it, I can just switch to the second sock and speed through the easy parts and have twice the amount of sock done before the languishing happens. Then I get the tricky bits done one both socks in the same knitting session and everything just feels more efficient. Plus, there’s less chance of forgetting what I did or losing notes between socks. All in all, I think it’s a win.

My Discworld-themed #MegaSAL spinning is progressing at a slow-but-steady pace, and I was able to find a few minutes to spin up some of my fluffy MalMarch Nube rolags, too. This is the third bobbin, so I’m halfway through the singles.

As for this week’s reading, I’m still working my way through the #KonMarie’s Ode to Tidying and have now progressed to the 7th Outlander book, An Echo in the Bone. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a mildly abusive relationship with these Outlander books. They keep me up at night, they suck up all my time, and they take me on an emotional roller coaster, yet I’m dreading the day when our time together will end. What will I do?!

Perhaps even more importantly, though, what sweater should I knit next?! Ambitions, I have them.

Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

WIPWed #75: New Wheel In The House

After a mildly soul-crushing shipping mishap last Wednesday which resulted in a delivery of whatever this thing is, instead of my wheel:

Nobody wants you, squirrel cage swift thing!

I finally received my brand new Lendrum DT! (Previous posts in my search for a new wheel are here and here.) As evidenced in the photos below, I didn’t even remove my knitwear after walking in the door before sitting down to spin on it. Guys, it’s so lovely to work with.

The treadles are extremely comfortable, it was simple to put together and seems easy to maintain (I’ve only oiled the flyer shaft, everything else is contained), the wood is gorgeous in person and it is spinning up my free pound of Falkland wool nice and smoothly. I’m unreasonably excited to try out all the different drive ratios the complete package came with (the regular flyer, fast flyer, and jumbo flyer each have 3) and I’m kind of enthralled with the little sliding hook mechanism (rather than individual hooks on the flyer). The Majacraft Pioneer I tried had a slidey bit and was lovely to treadle as well, but I couldn’t get over the delta orifice on that wheel, and much prefer the wood used in the Lendrum anyway.

After a weekend that involved an obnoxious amount of verbal and quantitative reasoning questions (yay GREs!), staying-up-until-3am-statement-of-purpose-essay-writing, copious grad school application activities, and general brain fatigue, I’m really looking forward to spending some free time chillaxin’ with my new spinning buddy. (I’m barely resisting giving a name to this new spinning buddy. I’ve always thought that naming wheels and spindles was sort of odd, but for some reason I’m feeling the urge. Please stop me.) Due to all of the craziness around here lately and a yoga-induced strained back muscle (really!), I haven’t been doing much knitting, but I’ll document the little WIP progress I did manage to make this week anyway.

Overdyed Cypress:

Woolen Diversions

Blurry pic, sorry! Click for project page.

Just a couple more rows added to my (former) #NaKniSweMo sweater. I’ll get there, eventually! Slow and steady with this one.

Chai Tea Latte:

Woolen Diversions

Foxfire Fibre Upland Wool & Alpaca. Click for project page.

The texture of this cowl reminds me of a nice, frothy chai tea latte drink. I started this on Thanksgiving so I’d have something smaller than a sweater to carry with me on our holiday travels. The yarn is a natural tan wool, spun woolen for optimal loft and fuzziness. It reminds me of an even airier Malabrigo worsted, it is a thick yet lightweight singles yarn. My skein is untagged, but I purchased it at my knitting guild when Barbara from Foxfire Fiber & Designs (who wrote an excellent book, Adventures in Yarn Farming) came to give a talk. I believe this yarn is her Upland Wool & Alpaca blend, technically a DK weight but I’m knitting it on size 9’s for a loftier fabric. I’m designing as I go, using a variation of the stitch I explored in the baby hat I finished last week. We’ll see how it turns out!

Petrol BFL:

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Countess Ablaze Pertrol BFL. Click for handspun page.

Just because I have a new wheel, doesn’t mean I’m going to completely ignore my old one! The Babe is still great for spinning longwools, plying, and any art yarns that require strong pull or special techniques. Besides, I intend to use a bunch of random skeins of BFL handspun in one project, so I should probably continue to use the same tool when spinning them up.

Tropical Merino:

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun page.

I finished the little sample skein I was spinning on my Jenkins Finch (pics later, I forgot!) and started this shockingly pink braid of ultra fine Merino wool. I’m surprised by how much I love this wee spindle and this unabashedly pink fiber. It’s so far outside my normal color palette, but it’s really gorgeous in person. Since the singles are very thin, I split the braid into four equal bits and am planning to spin a 4-ply. Since the colors are not distinct and will undoubtedly jumble up with plying, I’m picturing the finished yarn to have a nicely heathered effect.

What have you been working on lately? Am I the only one in the middle of crazy deadlines? I’m hoping they let up soon so I can actually relax a little and get in the holiday spirit before Christmas comes!

WIPWed #74: Feeling Thankful

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, and despite all the busy and the crazy and the deadlines swirling around my life right now, I’m feeling really thankful for everything this year has brought. At this time last year, we had just learned about my mom’s cancer diagnosis, and several surgeries and treatments later, she’s doing quite well and we are optimistic about her recovery. This time last year, I was still a fiancée, and now I have a husband who always knows the perfect thing to say to make me feel better when things get rough (such as, “C’mon, Alicia, what would Katniss do?”). This time last year, I weighed about 60 pounds more than I do now, and I’m hopeful that I will continue to make progress along this (stupidaly hard) path to better health. This time last year, I had never traveled outside the country, and I now have wonderful memories of sloths and howler monkeys and palm trees and Costa Rican rain drumming on tin roofs to soothe me when I need it (note to self: finish those recap blog posts!). And finally, this time last year my Sweet Sheep lotion bars were a mere twinkle in my mind’s eye, and now I’ve filled over 125 Etsy sales, received over 70 5-star reviews, and have over 390 ‘likes’ on Facebook. It’s been a rollercoaster of a productive and somewhat frenzied year, and when I feel ‘stuck’ or like I’m not making any progress, it’s incredibly beneficial and kind of amazing to pause and look back on it all with a sense of gratitude and appreciation.

Woolen Diversions

Free shipping for the holiday weekend!

To celebrate the holiday weekend (Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday — oh my!) in one small way, I’m offering free shipping on all orders from today through December 1st. Use the coupon code “THANKS2014′ at checkout to receive free shipping on all domestic and international orders! Thanks for all your support, and consider shopping indie this holiday season. 🙂

And I cannot forget all my knitting and spinning in the list of things-for-which-I’m-grateful!

Baby Kalamazoo:

Woolen Diversions

CY Traveller, colorway Kalamazoo. Click for project page.

I knit this project in about 2 seconds flat (ok, 2 days) for a coworker who is having a little girl and going out on maternity leave today. I’m really happy with how the hat turned out. There are very subtle 2-stitch faux cables throughout the body which make for interesting texture without being overtly cabled. I’m thinking of incorporating this fabric into a larger design. And I just love the little i-cord loop at the top of the hat!

Overdyed Cypress:

Woolen Diversions

BMFA Twisted, overdyed by me. Click for project page.

My #NaKniSweMo sweater is nowhere near done, and definitely won’t be finished by the 30th, but I’m super proud of the fact that the back is finished and I’ve made good headway on the front. This is one garment that I’m actually going to complete, and that is exciting in and of itself.

Petrol BFL:

Woolen Diversions

Countess Ablaze BFL/silk/firestar. Click for handspun page.

To occupy myself while I wait for my new wheel to arrive, I started a braid of Countess Ablaze BFL/firestar/silk on my Babe. I intend to spin this as my ‘default’ yarn: a thin single that I then n-ply into a DK-worsted-weight yarn. I have two such handspun skeins in stash already, and have vague notions of spinning a bunch of color-coordinated BFL in this way and using them together in a larger project. I’m using this spin to take part in the Indie Untangled Knit/Spin/Crochet/Weave-along, come join us, there are prizes!

Finch Test:

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Abstract Fibers sample. Click for handspun page.

Finally, I’ve been spinning a bit on my new Jenkins Finch spindle. That photo shows all of the little sample it came with spun up, and later on I will ply a wee skein!

I hope you’re prepping for a wonderful holiday and enjoying all your WIPs this week! Check out other WIPs at Stitch Along Wednesday with Gracey.

WIPWed #73: Preoccupied

My crafty thoughts this week have been all caught up with spinning. Between internal wheel debates, a new spindle in the mail, and some brilliantly tropical fiber, my poor #NaKniSweMo sweater has been a little bit neglected, but I’m still knocking out at least a few rows a day and am nearing the end of the back piece. Just a couple of inches of shoulder shaping left to do before I bind off!

Overdyed Cypress. Click for project page.

I’m not super hopeful that I’ll finish before the end of the month, but to tell you the truth, I’m just happy I’ve gotten this far and that it’s all going well!

Wooldancer 19.5 micron Merino

That’s the lovely tropical-looking Merino fiber I picked up from Madison Wool when I went to try out wheels. Isn’t it gorgeous? I’m not usually a pink person but this is just so vibrant and gorgeous that I couldn’t resist. I guess my eyes were craving color after a string of grey days, and I wanted something new to spin on this little guy after I finish the sample it came with:

I was super duper excited when the Jenkins ran their most recent Finch spindle lottery and allowed the runner ups to purchase a spindle, because I was a runner up! I believe with their new website that the lotteries might be a thing of the past, so I feel especially lucky to have gotten this little guy. It’s itty bitty, weighs only 12 g, and is made of a gorgeous two-toned granadillo wood. I’m officially a tiny spindle convert. It spins effortlessly, I can use it easily in the car or curled up on the couch, and when you remove the shaft it fits within a sunglass case for storage!

That’s all I’ve got going this week. How about you? (And does anyone know what’s happened to Tami? She hasn’t posted in quite a while!)

WIPWed #72: Steady On

Magical things are happening around here: after just 5 days of dedicated knitting, I have about 20% of my #NaKniSweMo sweater finished already!

Woolen Diversions

BMFA Twisted, overdyed. Click for project page.

Guys, if I’d known that sweater knitting could feel so effortless, I would’ve jumped in ages ago! I had always viewed sweaters as these huge, complex undertakings that would seem like never-ending endeavors. And perhaps some sweaters do feel that way, but not this one, and I think these are some reasons why:

  • It’s knit in pieces, just a back and a front, so rows are relatively short.
  • There’s no waist shaping, so once you get going you can power through without worry until the armholes.
  • There is minimal armhole shaping: some increasing, some more knitting, and then some binding off (I think, haven’t gotten that far yet).
  • The stitch pattern is supremely simple, but still interesting, switching between stockinette and 1×1 rib every couple of rows.

In short, this little vest-y pullover is ticking all my buttons right now, and I’m loving it.

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VG Zaftig, colorways Russian Sage and Kiss of Cabernet. Click for project page.

My Lucy Hat is off the needles and in the process of blocking, and I already adore it. Ends need to be woven in and the brim needs to be turned up, but those will just take a few moments once dry. Hopefully I can get some modeled shots for Friday, the hat is super cute on.

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Inglenook Batts. Click for handspun project page.

The only thing I’ve done besides the sweater (and sneaking in the finish of the Lucy Hat) is spin a bit on my Russian spindle. I’m still loving the way these batts are working up. I hope you like looking at that photo above because this project is going to look very similar for quite some time (support spindling makes for very fine singles = very long spinning projects).

What have you been up to this week? Do you find that sweater or accessory patterns with certain characteristics work better for you than others?

Progress All Around

After what has been a frustrating few weeks, I felt like I made some real progress on things this weekend in both life and knitting. I hunkered down and took care of business on Saturday, before drawing the line and allowing myself to have some fun and visit with some friends in Boston. Lots of passenger-seat-driving means lots of knitting time occurred, and I made good headway on my NaKniSweMo project:

Overdyed Cypress. Click for project page.

After all my bragging about how surprisingly well the tubular cast on went even while less-than-sober, I realized at the transition from ribbing to pattern stitch that I had used the wrong size needle for the ribbing section! I was supposed to begin the cast on with US 4 needles and then transition to US 5 for the bulk of the ribbing before switching to US 8 for the main pattern. In stead, I used US 4 all the way through the ribbing. I think I’ll do a little swatch with 5’s later to see how much a difference this will make for my gauge, but unless it’s a drastic difference, I’m not ripping back. If anything, I could just knit the ribbing of the front piece on larger needles to compensate for lack of stretch in the back… right?

Haphazard, caveat-ed progress it might be, but progress nonetheless!

IS #80: NaKniSweMo, For Real!

If you’ve heard of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), you might have heard of NaKniSweMo which is the knitterly equivalent. The goal is to knit an entire sweater, start to finish, during the month of November. According to this ancient post on the KnitGrrl blog, it needs to be a sweater of 50,000 stitches (like the novel length requirement). You can check out the Ravelry group here. And this year, for the first time ever, I’m joining in!

Copyright Brooklyn Tweed / Jared Flood. Click for pattern page.

I’ve finally begun the Cypress vest I swatched for a few weeks ago with my overdyed yarn. I’m actually rather surprised at how well the cast on went. After working ridiculously late last night and coming home to ALL THE HALLOWEEN CANDY BEING GONE ALREADY (the horror!) and too late to see a single tiny person dressed up like something fierce, I consoled myself with a couple of seasonal bourbon drinks that I had found on the internet. Turns out that hot buttered bourbon is rather horrifying, no matter how lovely the bloggers make it sound. So the Fiasco made me some sort of pumpkin spice liquor drink instead while we played a board game into the wee hours. He conked out and I decided that a post-midnight sweater cast on with a belly full of bourbon and pepita brittle would be an EXCELLENT IDEA.

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Overdyed Crypress. Click for project page.

I guess the sugar high and alcohol buzz canceled each other out, because the tubular cast on (which I’d never done before and still don’t really understand, it was like magic) went swimmingly and I’m already a couple of inches into the ribbing! I’m actually not sure if this sweater will fulfill the 50,000 stitch requirement, I’m still too fuzzy-headed to do the math, but considering it will be my first completed sweater ever, I think just finishing it during the month of November will be achievement enough for me.

Are you planning to join in with #NaKniSweMo this month? Is there another KAL happening that’s been inspiring you, lately? Share with us!

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