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!)

WIPWed #121: Slow and Steady

Thank you for all your kind words and encouragement regarding pregnancy on my last post. It’s so great to hear others’ thoughts and have some of my own experiences confirmed. While some days are really hard, the whole thing is still inspiring and fascinating. It’s definitely a mixed bag. Today I had an ultrasound so I got a peek at the little dude’s profile and perfectly-formed toes. He’s already in the head-down position so I’m hoping he stays that way for the next 8 weeks!

As for other works-in-progress, the main one I’m currently knitting is my Beholden shawl. I’m still in the plain stockinette phase, but it’s growing, and the yarn is so incredibly luxurious that I don’t mind all the repetitive knits and purls.

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Kettle Yarn Co. Westminster in Florence. Click for project page.

I finished my Rotted Days shawl last week but have yet to take official, modeled ‘FO’ photos. However, you can get a peek of it blocking on my Instagram feed as I’ve posted it for today’s #craftyblisschallenge prompt.

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Louet merino/silk fiber. Click for handspun page.

I had hoped to finish this spin (and another one!) by the end of April, but I am forced to admit that is not going to happen. Somehow, we’re only 3 days away from the end of the month already, and I’m out of town this weekend! I really don’t understand the flow of time anymore. I need to set myself some sort of sit-down-at-the-wheel schedule but I have just not figured out what works best for me. When do you find time to spin? Morning? Evening? All day long? Weekends only?

As for reading, I’m currently working through ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth‘ and it’s a refreshing change from all the doom and gloom and dire consequences in most baby books. Ina May is apparently the mother-of-all-midwives in the U.S. and the book is about her experiences birthing hundreds of babies naturally, without medical intervention, on what essentially sounds like a hippie commune in Tennessee. Because of the 70’s-ness of it all, I wasn’t sure I would get a lot out of the book, but the birth stories are really helpful to read and Ina May’s guidelines are actually backed by science and align well with what I was taught in my Bradley Method birth class. Worth a read, especially if you’re nearing labor and want to get ta sense of what it might be like without pain meds, Pitocin, or surgery.

Linking up with Yarnalong this week!

Getting Antsy

Spinning has been on my mind a lot lately, even if it hasn’t been actually in my hands. For one, I set a goal back in January that I wanted to finish all my in-progress spinning projects by June. (Cue maniacal laughter.) This goal has helped my pick up my spindles more often, but I haven’t finished a single skein yet. (Sigh.)

For another, the Completely Twisted and Arbitrary SAL group on Ravelry is having a “Crazy Yarn A-long” challenge and I’m itching to play. I started some art yarn ages ago that I’d like to finish. Since I’ve only spun one 4 oz single so far, the other 4+ oz single will count for this challenge. I’m planning a stacked yarn so all the craziness will happen during the plying stage, which seems like it’ll be fun.

Finally, I know I haven’t been spinning enough lately when I see some pretty fiber on Etsy and go MINE, MINE, MINE without a second thought.

That lovely piece of fluff is a ‘Yarnicorn’ batt from Classy Squid Fiber Co.  on Etsy. It’s a delightful mix of superfine Merino wool, Mulberry, Tussah, and Sari silks, mohair, firestar, nylon, silk noil, and angelina. Basically, a candy-colored kitchen sink of a batt that I cannot wait to spin. I’m metaphorically dangling it in front of my face so I hurry-up-and-finish the spin that’s been occupying my wheel since October.

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I Shall Spin Midnight, click for project page.

This spin is essentially the polar opposite of the new batt. It’s 8 oz of Merino/silk blend dyed a uniform black by Louet. I began it when my husband’s Nana passed away, as a way to think about her through craft. Then I got pregnant and we packed and moved and unpacked and it sat, and sat, and sat. It’s going to make a lovely, fingering-weight 2-ply yarn when it’s done but I’m just barely halfway through. I am making a bold April goal right now: I will finish this spin AND the new Yarnicorn batt by the end of the month. And then I’ll finish my art yarn by the end of the challenge (May 15). WATCH ME, WORLD.

In other news, I spent much of the weekend sorting through cloth diapers and baby clothes that friends and coworkers have generously given us. Tiny baby things are so tiny, and the cats were highly amused. Darwin loves laundry in general, but he seemed to especially love lounging on the wool diaper covers. Calypso looked just a tad bit concerned, like she can tell something is up but has no clue WTF it might be… June/July should be interesting for all of us!

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?

WIPWed #115: How Many Times

How many times must one knit a hit, before one gets to have a hat?

Skunk Reborn:

I re-knit the Fidra hat of last week into… another hat I don’t like. I attempted to get fancy with the decreases, picturing a turn-a-square garter stitch situation, but I just ended up with a very pointy, flat-topped hat. I need to start the garter detail earlier, decrease faster, decrease in more places, or try all three. Either way, this hat is getting at least partially frogged again.

Speckled Sockhead:

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BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in a OOAK colorway.

I remembered to bring my Sockhead hat home for photos this week! As you can see, progress has been made, but I think I still have a few more inches of stockinette to go before I can decrease. I really like how the colorway is knitting up.

Merino Mind Bullets:

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BeeMiceElf Merino fiber, colorway Mind Bullets

I’ve enlisted my new glasspin spindle to help my Turkish spindle along in my spinning project. I’m pleased to see that I’m achieving a similar thickness even though I’m using different tools, so I’m hopeful that the yarn will ply up fairly evenly.

As for reading, I’m still working through Michael Pollan’s Cooked. I may have spoken a little too soon last week when I said it was boring, it got much mroe interesting when he began talking about bread-making and fermenting. I think it’s because those chapters were more similar to the content of my favorite book of his, The Botany of Desire, where he details the way that a few different domesticated plants and humans essentially co-evolved. Here, he’s setting up the same kind of discussion with different forms of yeast, so the writing is more botanical/biological in nature and less philosophical. Anyway, I’m seeing it through.

And that’s about it from me this week! Not too much knitting happened since I’ve been enjoying my new spindle, but that will soon change as I have many knits I’m itching to get started on. Linking up with Yarnalong and Stitch Along Wednesday.

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.