WIPWed #125: Back to Socks

I’m starting to feel more like my old crafty self again: I have an active pair of socks on the needles!

Waiting for Hatchling

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering, colorway Royals. Click for project page.

I have been trying to turn the above yarn into socks since before my wedding and honeymoon in 2014. (Yikes!) I knit an entire plain stockinette sock that I then had to frog because it was too small. I did not account for the fact that BFL has less stretch than Merino wool and I should’ve increased my cast on more. This time, I’m using a pattern with texture and ribbing (Aramis by Caoua Coffee) and cast on more stitches which should loosen things up. I started these while I was pregnant but my hands and joints were always tired and sore then and I hated fiddling with the small needles. Things feel back to normal now, though, so here’s hoping I get to actually wear these socks someday soon!

Wine Toasts

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The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage. Click for project page.

These are super simple armwarmers that I’m making extra big and toasty to wear with  3/4 length sleeve sweaters in my chilly office. I am currently in a game of yarn chicken with the deep wine colorway. A friend of mine has a backup skein if this one is not enough, which is a good thing because it appears that The Verdant Gryphon is no more. Gryphon herself is now living and working on a commune with her daughter, and the people she left the business to were not able to keep it going. I feel like a chapter of my knitterly life is ending! I’ve been deeply in love with VG yarns since I discovered them in 2010, when they were still teamed up with Cephalopod Yarns as The Sanguine Gryphon. My first skein was Bugga in the Cowkiller colorway that I knit up into one of my favorite shawls.

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This was 5 apartments ago… ha!

Looks like I’ve always had a thing for Gryphon’s reds. Sigh. As with CY, VG yarns will be missed, but man am I glad I have a nice stash to sustain me for a while. #justified

Tropical Merino

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Wooldancer 19.5 Micron Merino. Click for handspun project page.

I started spinning this fiber way back in 2014 as well (wow, have I completed anything in the last 3 years!?) on a tiny Turkish spindle. Even though the Women’s March on Washington is over, I’d still like a Pussyhat of my own (I donated the others) and since I am out of pink yarn, I figured I’d make some. To speed up the process, I’ve also started spinning this fiber on my wheel and on my new Bosworth Mini spindle. The singles are very thin so I’m thinking I’ll 2-ply and then chain ply that 2-ply yarn to get a bulkier 6-ply. We’ll see how that works out!

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Current reading.

I haven’t tracked my reading in a while but since I’m finally starting to read things OTHER than parenting-related, get-my-kid-to-sleep, what-should-his-poop-look-like type books, I figured I’d share. And since the March for Science has got me all fired up, I’m doing some science-y reading for fun. (Because #scienceisreal! It’s not made up! Experts know what they’re talking about! The world around us can be understood!) This book is all about the different forms that sexual reproduction takes within the animal kingdom, so that should be fascinating. It’s refreshing to read a work written just because the author was curious about something, so they went and researched and figured it out.

What have you been reading these days? Linking up for the first time in a LONG time with Yarnalong.

Spindle Happy

Goodness knows I have an abundance of spindles. (Remember that time I thought I’d clear all my spindle spinning projects off in the few months I had before the baby was born? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, I’m so funny.) But when I learned that Journey Wheel (a.k.a. the makers of Bosworth spindles) were going to be at the Knitting Weekend market, I knew without a doubt that I’d be adding to my collection.

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My new friends.

Bosworth drop spindles are among the best of the best. They’re prized by some of the most prominent spindle spinners in the business, and for good reason. They’re beautiful, perfectly balanced, and have a long, smooth spin. I’ve been wanting one for a long time but have been reluctant to order online because I didn’t know how to tell which one I wanted based just on a description of the size and type of wood. I really needed to see them in person and actually try a few out. Some I liked the look of didn’t spin as nicely as I wanted. One of my spinner friends was right when she said you have to find one that clicks for you.

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Blurry pic of the Midi spindle and Rag Hill Fiber batt.

I first clicked with a Midi size spindle made from Monkeywood. (I admit, I half picked it on name alone.) I purchased a batt from Rag Hill Farm(we’ve vended with them a few times, they’re lovely people!) and started spinning then and there. I’ve been using this batt to practice plying on the fly, and it’s been a lot of fun turn fiber into 3-ply yarn at once, instead of spinning it all into singles, winding it all off, then plying it in a separate step. (Google it, there are lots of videos out there.) Then I came home with a second spindle the next day (a Mini in Heart Pine reclaimed from the roof of an 18th century cabin) because how am I expected to hang around the pretty spindles and chat with the friendly and kind Bosworth couple without buying another?

All in all, it was an excellent show, preceded by a flurry of activity to prepare for it (and to meet some work deadlines) so I’m looking forward to spending my birthday (today!) going out to dinner and relaxing with my Fiasco. My parents are visiting this coming weekend, which should be fun, and I’m planning to spin with my new pretties every second that my hands are baby-free thanks to grandparent occupation.

(Have no fear, all the leftover product from the show will be updated to the shop over the next few days. Just not tonight!)

WIPs, SIPs, Books, & Destash

The Free Time Gods have been smiling upon me, as I’ve been able to squeeze in a little more time for crafting here and there, lately. Thank goodness, as things were getting dire. My main WIP at the moment is the Newborn Vertebrae cardi I’m making for the Hatchling:

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Black Trillium Fibres gradient set in Pease, click for project page.

For my third attempt at picking up edge stitches, I moved one stitch in from the slipped stitch edging and made sure to twist my stitches. I still had a few funky gaps but ended up just picking an extra stitch up and knitting it together with the one on my needle and that closed the holes well enough. I’m nearly done with the edging and then just have to decide what I want to do for sleeves. Full length? Half length? How should the gradient go?

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Praise the Free Time Gods, she’s actually spun something. Click for handspun page.

I made it to a spinner’s guild meeting over the weekend and since I’m way too pregnant to lug around my wheel, this SIP was revived. I started it during Tour de Fleece LAST JULY so I’d like to finish it up here soon. At this point, I think I’d be happy to finish just ONE SKEIN OF HANDSPUN before the baby comes. I had only been using my small green Turk but released that I could get a lot more done if I spread out to other tools. Turkish spindles are great for spinning on the go but I prefer supported spindles for spinning relaxed on the couch. I’m making decent progress and think I have less than half the braid of merino left now.

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Current reading.

We’re getting down to the wire here (< 6 weeks to go!) so I’m doing my homework and continuing to mentally prepare myself for The Upcoming Ordeal. This book is really great for that, it even illustrates different comfort positions and has a handy table of all the stages of labor, what I might be experiencing, and how the birth partner can best help during each stage. It’s laid out really nicely. I’d also recommend reading Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and taking a Bradley Method course. Husband-Coached Childbirth is an ok book, but it was first written in the 50’s by Bradley and… you can tell. It’s a little like sitting down with your grandpa listening to him explain to you how to give birth. I think his methods are solid and he did revolutionary things for the attitudes of doctors towards laboring women, and the book is interesting from a sociological perspective, but I think the one pictured above will be more directly useful for me. Ina May’s book is great for taking some of the fear out of the whole process, it’s full of inspiring natural birth stories that do a good job of illustrating how different labor can be from woman to woman.

In accepting that I will have even less time for crafting in the near future, I’m destashing some of my unused equipment. (Hover over images for name and click picture to zoom.) All prices include US shipping, I’m happy to ship internationally at cost. Either get in touch with me on Ravelry, leave a comment here, or send an email to alicia at woolendiversions dot com if you’re interested. I also still have plenty of yarn up for destash, as well.

  1. TexasJeans polka dot drop spindle – $50 – birdseye maple, purpleheart, redheart, osage orange, and dymondwood. Whorl diameter 2 9/16”, length 10 3/4”, weight 1 1/4 oz / 37 g.
  2. Spanish Peacock support spindle bowl – $40 – Cocobolo bowl with dimple for spindle tip, 6″ maple base.
  3. Fringe Association Fashionary Sketchbook – $20 – Completely unopened and unused, total impulse buy!
  4. Schacht Zoom Loom – $35 – Used only once or twice, all pieces included, slight tear in lid of box.

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If you’re local (RI, MA, CT, NH), you should totally come check out the RI Fiber Festival and Craft Fair this Saturday! Sweet Sheep will be vending there and it’s a great expose to get outside and explore the beautiful grounds of the historic working farm.

Spindle Bowl Saga

I am having a bit of a Goldilocks issue regarding my supported spinning bowls. I can’t seem to find one that’s quite right for my needs and it’s getting pretty frustrating. Here’s my current collection:

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Supported spinning bowls.

  1. Spanish Peacock stalked bowl with maple shaft and cocobolo bowl.
  2. hipstrings glass bowl for spinning with a cotton tahkli.
  3. Mingo & Asho bowl in a few different woods, including purpleheart.
  4. Asymmetrical pottery bowl I picked up at a random boutique somewhere.

The first bowl I owned was the asymmetrical pottery dish that I just happened to have around and decided to use for spinning. The asymmetrical shape actually works pretty well for the way that I spin (the edges don’t get in the way of the spindle) and it fits pretty well in my lap, whether I sit cross-legged or with my legs straight out in front of me. But it’s not great if I’m sitting in an upright chair, because then the bowl feels like it will slide off my lap.

My main concern, though, is that on some of my lighter wood spindles I think I see some dark marks on the tip, and I wonder if the pitted surface of the bowl interferes with the spin or if it could maybe even damage the spindle tips over time.

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Pitted surface.

The second bowl I acquired was the glass bowl from hipstrings, but I don’t like using it with any spindle except the cotton tahkli. The sides are too high and vertical (they interfere with  wider spindles) and I don’t like the noise my wooden and glass-tipped spindles make against the glass bowl. While much smaller than the pottery bowl, it does still fit in my lap fairly well.

After I got my new glasspin spindle for my birthday, I decided to try a Mingo & Asho spindle bowl, as well, and thought that a wooden bowl would be better for the pretty glass tip. While the bowl is beautiful and my spindles spin well on it, it is MUCH smaller than I anticipated and the shape is just not ideal for lap spinning. It would be great on a tabletop or if I were sitting on a hard chair and could place it on a flat surface between my legs, but spinning on the couch with it really doesn’t work. I can sort of grip the wide base between my thighs if my legs are straight out in front of me, but it’s quite unstable and uncomfortable.

So then I waited and waited and waited, and eventually the Spanish Peacock updated their shop with the stalked bowls I’d had my eye on. I was excited because I thought I had finally found my perfect bowl. The wood was lovely, the size of the bowl was smaller than the pottery but larger than the Mingo & Asho, and the stalk was the perfect high to fit in my lap with my legs straight out in front of me. It obviously doesn’t work if I’m seated cross-legged, but with the pregnancy-induced blood clot in my leg I should not sit that way anyway. So I think the stalked shape would be ideal for both couch-spinning and upright chair-spinning.

There is, however, one fatal flaw: there is a dimple in the middle of the bowl that is extremely small. In fact, it is too small for my glasspin spindle tip to fit in it properly, which makes it spin like molasses. I’m talking the spindle makes 3 rotations and then slows to a sad-trombone-stop. Womp, womp, womp.

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Too-small dimple of doom.

Why oh why oh why did there have to be a dimple there?!?! It effectively diminishes the size of the bowl to that tiny area. My other spindles spin ok in it because they have sharper tips, but I still don’t love the dimple because I have a lot of spindle wobble when I draft, so the dimple interferes with the side-to-side movement and slows down my spin. I haven’t yet looked into the shop’s return policies or made a decision about what to do here, but I am pretty frustrated. Enough to try something like this:

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That hybrid setup was surprisingly stable to spin on, but unfortunately it’s just a couple inches too high to be comfortable for my arm position.

So there you have it, my whole spindle bowl saga. Do you have a favorite support spindle bowl? What are the qualities you look for in one?

More Pretty Things

The stash-enhancement around these parts continues due to holiday/birthday funds, so I figured I’d share the goodies!

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More lovelies from Blue Moon Fiber Arts.

I couldn’t resist adding another skein of BMFA Tigger Targhee to my stash, so I grabbed one in the most icy blue ever (Let It Go… Let It Go). I also acquired another skein of Yaksi (a heavenly DK weight blend of 60% wool/ 20% yak/ 20% silk) in Shoqua (in case I run out of yarn on my Yaksi Cancan shawl) and one skein in Tanzanite (because it’s pretty and I want a purple hat).

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My happy mailbox visitor.

My mailbox made me smile for other reasons last week, too. I received a funny card and lovely little holiday sloth from Audry to cheer me up after the rough few weeks I’d been having. The kindness and generosity of knitters and internet friends never cease to amaze me. It makes me simultaneously happy that I get to know so many wonderful people virtually, and sad that we can’t easily hang out in ‘real life’. Perhaps someday. The wee sloth now keeps me company in my office. 🙂

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New birthday spindle!

Finally, the Fiasco humored me with a new spindle for my birthday present. I’ve been eyeing up Meilindis’ beautiful spinning and admiring the lovely Mingo and Asho glasspin support spindle she’s been featuring in her blog posts. Glass-tipped spindles (or glindles) have been notoriously popular and hard to get a hold of from Bristlecone (whom I think were the original makers) so I was very happy to see other artists begin making their own versions.

I especially love the pyrography featured on the spindles. The trees, birds, and sunrise cattail landscape are so delicate and detailed, it’s truly beautiful. This spindle is 11 inches long and weighs 1.75 ounces, and the shaft is birdseye maple with bubinga and mahogany accents.

I’m super duper in love with it. I’ve also come to the amusing conclusion that I think part of the reason I love support spindles so much is that they feel an awful lot like owning a collection of magic wands. I AM A WIZARD.

Ok, we’re done here.

WIPWed #114: Win Some, Lose Some

I feel freeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Freeeeeeeeeeeeee! My huge work deadline is over, and while there’s another one next week, for the moment, I’m freeeeeeeeeeeee! Just in time, too, as this weekend is my [final childless] birthday, and I could really use a break.  My parents were supposed to visit but it looks like that plan may fall through due to impending snowstorm making travel less-than-safe. If they don’t visit, I’m going to try to:

  • Go for a walk outside, despite the cold, because I miss nature;
  • Go shopping for some things I’ve been meaning to get (boots, Lush products);
  • Cook a delicious meal with the Fiasco, perhaps with some pots de creme;
  • Watch some movies / play some games;
  • Join the new gym I’ve been eyeing up since we moved and go for a swim (due to the blood clot, doc has advised against most exercise but swimming should be ok and quite frankly, I need to do something or I’ll go insane);
  • Knit, knit, knit, knit, knit all the thingz; and
  • Spin all the thingz.

My plans are not particularly fancy and they involve mostly alone or one-on-one time but honestly, I’ve been so busy since Thanksgiving (basically) that I’m looking forward to some quiet time doing simple things that make me happy. What would you do with a suddenly free (and snowy) birthday weekend?

Now for WIPs and books…

Christmas Katniss Socks:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

Same ol’ socks as last time, just a few repeats further along. Lack of knitting time has somewhat impeded progress…

Skunky Fidra:

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The Verdent Gryphon Odyseey in Atomic Skunk, click for project page.

I really wanted to love this hat, but unfortunately, I think I hate it. The pattern was fun, and the yarn is delicious, but together they look pretty awful. Part of me is holding out that blocking would help but really, I don’t think so, I think this sucker is getting frogged. In fact, I already ordered different yarn to knit this hat with instead… what would you do?

Merino Mind Bullets:

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Spinning progress! Click for handspun page.

I’m holding true to my goal for 2016 and spinning more than I had been. In fact, I’ve been reaching for this wee spindle more often than my knitting, and I have a fat little turtle of yarn to show for it. I still feel like I’m not even making a dent in the fiber, but at least I’m working on it.

Reading:

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Books, books, books.

I know it’s only January, but “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler is the best book I’ve read all year. I absolutely loved it. She’s funny and charming, as expected from seeing her comedy, but she’s also really smart and emotionally deep and poetic in her essays. She wrote a lot about pregnancy and motherhood which resonated with me right now, and it was all-around fabulous. I think I read it in 3 days, I couldn’t put it down. “Cooked” by Michael Pollan is less wonderful, but still interesting. He’s exploring 4 different modes of cooking (fire = grilling, water = stews, air = bread baking, earth = fermenting) and he’s getting quite loquacious over the symbolism of these kinds of cooking, their roles in human development and society, and their impact on gender roles in the kitchen. It’s a little… pretentious? Honestly, it’s boring at times and his metaphors and social philosophizing area a bit of a stretch. His other books were much better, but I still like to read about his cooking experiments and there are some interesting bits in there.

That’s it from me this week! Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

This Year’s Crazy Idea

While preparing for a spinner’s guild meeting over the weekend (that I never even made it to because life has been far too busy lately) I had a flash of brilliance/madness/ambition. I decided that this year, my big goal will be to finish all of the spinning projects that I have in progress — preferably before the Hatchling makes its appearance in June.

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Yes, this is utter madness.

Now, I’m clearly not going to kill myself trying to make this goal, but I think that focusing on spinning over the next few months will be a really good way for me to:

  1. take my mind off of how much I hate pregnancy,
  2. do a little something that makes me happy every day,
  3. get my zen relaxation on, and
  4. work in some gentle movement (treadling, standing while spindling) that could help my DVT-caused leg pain while I’m on a bit of an exercise hiatus.

Plus, I went on a spindle-buying-bender a couple of years ago, and every time I got a new spindle I started a new project, so things have gotten out of hand. I’d really like to turn more of my spinning visions into reality before I have a squalling newborn occupying all of my free time, and I think this will be a nice way to turn spinning into a daily habit. So without further ado, here are all of the projects I have in progress. (All links go to my Ravelry handspun project pages.)

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Turkish Spindles

1 – Jenkins Aegean, 4 oz. Nunoco Batts, Summer Love — Batty Challenge, begun April 2014.

2 – Jenkins Aegean, 6 oz. BMFA Yak/Silk, RWC Tarnished Yak/Silk, begun July 2014.

3 – Subterranean Woodworks Medium, 4 oz. Nest Merino, Magrat MegaSAL,  begun April 2015.

4 – Subterranean Woodworks Small, 4 oz. BeeMiceElf Merino, Merino Mind Bullets, begun July 2015.

5 – Jenkins Finch, 4 oz. Wooldancer Merino, Tropical Merino, begun November 2014.

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Supported Spindles

6 – Woodland Woodworking Bead, 4 oz. June Pryce Fiber Arts Merino, WW Merino begun December 2014.

7 – TexasJeans Russian, 4 oz. Inglenook Batts, begun October 2014.

8 – TexasJeans Tibetan,  2 oz. Angora + 4 oz. Shetland, Bunny Fur, begun April 2014.

9 – hipstrings acrylic tahkli, 4 oz. cotton, begun sampling only, no project page yet.

(The two newer spindles that I haven’t even had time to try yet will play supporting roles.)

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Drop Spindles

10 – Kundert drop spindle, 16 oz. Woolgathering’s Spinner’s Study of different breeds, begun May 2012.

11 – Golding Cherry, 6 oz. BMFA camel/merino/silk, begun January 2014.

12 – TexasJeans polka dot drop spindle, 4 oz. BMFA Masham, Indigo Masham, begun June 2014. (This project may have been abandoned…)

13 – Golding Tsunami, 2 oz. quiviut/alpaca + 2 oz. silk, Quiviut/Alpaca, begun October 2013.

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Wheel Projects

14 – Earth & Sky Stacks, 8 oz. Gotland, begun March 2015.

15 – I Shall Spin Midnight, 8 oz. Louet merino/silk, begun October 2015.

16 – 10 oz. Loop! Batts, begun November 2013.

17 – Earthy Bubble Crepe, art yarn using a few different braids, begun June 2013.

18 – Shadyside Fiber merino/silk, begun October 2012. Honestly, I think I gave away the rest of this fiber. Will just ply up what I have here and call it a day.

What do you think, folks, can it be done? Finishing all 18 would mean I’d have to finish 3 projects a month to be done by the end of June… Yikes. How far do you think I’ll get?