Flax and a Finish

I’m happy to report that I’ve held true to my word to put down the phone and pick up the knitting more often, and lo and behold, we have progress!

First, I finished Pussyhat #3 that I’ve had basically done for quite a long time. It was languishing because winter was over, but I recently participated in a swap on Ravelry and I realized my swap receiver would be the perfect recipient so I stuck a Nasty Woman button on there (from Katrinkles), took a quick pic in bad lighting, and off it went to my swap receiver.

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It is the 8th month of the year, and that is my 5th finished object of 2017, and the 3rd Pussyhat. That should tell you something about the rate of knitting around here!

From my swap giver, I received many amazing project bags and gifts that are right up my marine-bio-loving alley, along with some lovely maroon-ish BFL fiber to spin. It was Hatchling-approved.

And finally, I have actually been knitting (even swatching)! This is my Summer Flax sweater for my little guy in a new-to-me colorway of Malabrigo Rios: Hojas. It’s such a great green! I was indecisive about the size, he wears 24 month clothes right now at 14 months old, and the pattern had either 1-2 years or 2-4 years for size choices. When I swatched, I liked the fabric I got with one needle size down and slightly tighter gauge, so I decided to go with the larger size, hoping that my firmer gauge will help snug it up a bit, and if it doesn’t, he’ll grow into it eventually. Length probably matters more than width at this point, so I’ll have to do some trying on when the time comes to make decisions.

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WIPWed #120: Ode to My Mitts

After six full years of wear, my favorite fingerless mitts are just starting to give up the ghost. These are a modified version of the Mitt Envy pattern (designed by weezalana) knit with Malabrigo Sock yarn (fingering weight, 100% superwash Merino wool).

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Sad, frayed edge.

I noticed the other day that the bind off edge has frayed and released a few loose stitches on both mitts. I’m not quite sure how to fix it, but they don’t really seem to be unraveling too badly at the moment. Since my knitting this week looks exactly the same as last week, I figured I’d gush about how impressed I am by these mitts, instead.

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Freshly made, back in 2010.

These mitts pre-date my blog, I finished them in March 2010. They were the only mitts I owned until I made a different pair a year and a half later, and even after I made the other pair I wore these primarily for ‘rough and tumble’ work–I did not baby these mitts. They were worn pretty much all fall/winter/spring, came horseshoe crab counting with me during grad school, handled tree branches and fish alike during hiking and fieldwork, and even served as full-on handkerchiefs a time or two.

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Besides the edge, they look good as new.

All that is to highlight that I am seriously impressed with how these mitts have held up over the years. Besides the frayed edge, which probably would have held up better if I’d known about stretchy bind-offs at the time that I made them, they look basically as good as new. The fabric has loosened up some over the years, but the stitches are still sharp and the cabling is crisp, with hardly any pilling at all. I’ll be honest, I did not expect the Malabrigo Sock yarn to hold up so well. It’s such a soft, thin yarn, but it is apparently also strong and hard-wearing. I think it would still be a little too thin for my taste in thick socks, but I’d happily use it for anything and everything else.

Has a favorite piece of knitwear every worn out? What did you do about it?

As for books, this week I’m reading Pink Brain, Blue Brain by  Lise Eliot and I’m loving it. It’s written by a neuroscientist who basically dissects all the research related to sex differences in the brain and development of children from the prenatal period onwards, and how relatively small differences grow into the larger perceived gender gaps in adulthood through societal influences. She debunks a lot of the pseudoscience floating around out there and details which differences are established (i.e., real and biologically influenced) and which are due to cultural bias. It’s fascinating stuff, and potentially useful. For instance, boys on average are fussier and harder to soothe as infants than girls, because their neurological systems lag a few weeks behind due to suppression of development in the womb by prenatal testosterone. WHO KNEW?! I didn’t, but I’m glad I do now.

Despite the lack of new knitting this week, I’m linking up with Yarnalong.

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?

WIPWed #85: Days Go By

I’m having one of those weeks that is just racing right by me. Perhaps it’s because the Fiasco and I have been devouring Game of Thrones on DVD (being a season behind is always so painful) and I’ve simultaneously been devouring Outlander books at an alarming rate any free second I get. (What the heck am I going to do when those are over?! * cue panic *) Throughout all this voracious fiction consumption, I’ve been knitting a bit and spinning a bit, too.

MalMarch Sundry:

WIPWed #85: Days Go By | Woolen Diversions

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

I’ve been uncharacteristically monogamous with my one-and-only Malabrigo March knitting project, and if we’re being totally honest, it’s starting to get to me. The yarn is an unquestionable delight and the slipped garter stitch pattern is fun… but it’s still just garter stitch, and alternating colors every couple of rows is always a pain in the ass for me. Plus, those rows are getting long, and the length of time to the end of the month is growing short. I have little confidence that I will finish by the 31st, I’m probably about 50% right now.

MalMarch Nube Cable:

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Malabrigo Nube (Merino wool), colorway Persia. Click for handspun page.

If I do say so myself, the single that I’m spinning longdraw from my hand-carded rolags is looking fine, isn’t it? It’s so fluffy! That’s just 1 oz of fiber but it nearly fills the bobbin. I’ve carded up the next ounce and think the spinning will go relatively quickly once I just sit down with it. I’m planning to ply this as a cabled yarn, where you make 2 sets of 2-ply yarns with extra twist, and then ply them together in the opposite direction. It should be fun. And I’m planning a ‘how to card wool’ photo tutorial, once I get the photos properly organized.

Spindle Experiment:

I needed a bit of a break from all that blue so I revisited the spindle experiment I’ve been casually working on with some merino/silk fiber from Louet North America. I’m having lots of fun seeing the different characteristics of the ‘default’ 2-ply yarns I produce on each tool. More details when I finish, I still have a few I want to do.

That about sums up all my making this week. In other news, I’ve had over 80 people respond to my Sweet Sheep Product Survey and am getting some great ideas and inspiration for future products! Here’s a plot of scent preferences from the data as it stood a few days ago:

Data!

I’m fascinated about people’s scent preferences. I really had no idea that ‘fresh’ scents were so popular, and I’ve frankly been a little surprised at how well things like Spearmint and Green Tea sell because I prefer sweet and spicy scents, myself. I’m also a little surprised that woodsy scents are showing up as least preferred, as Sandalwood Vanilla has been one of my most consistent sellers. In truth, though, I doubt there’s a statistical difference between most of the categories, but I haven’t done an analysis. What do you prefer?

Linking up for Yarnalong.

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