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

img_20170131_123152.jpg

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

img_20170131_123252.jpg

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.

img_8147_medium

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

img_20170131_123206.jpg

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!

img_20170201_153459.jpg

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.

Advertisements

WIPWed #124: Actual Knitting Content

As I mentioned in my come-back post last week, I’ve finally managed to work on some knitting while juggling my 5-month-old. By the by, props to the people who teach themselves to knit while they’re pregnant or after the baby arrives, I don’t know where they get the energy for that. I’m a seasoned knitter and when I was pregnant, all I wanted to do was sleep. And now that the Hatchling is here… sleep is still a hot commodity. However, he’s starting to settle into a routine and I’ve finally weaned off pumping in the evenings which means I get occasional hands-free time to dally with yarn again. Yay!

Green Gathered

img_20161129_123452.jpg

Cephalopod Yarns Traveler, colorway Wolcott . Click for project page.

This photo is something of a lie as this hat is done and has been worn already, but I haven’t had a chance to take good finished photos yet so I’m still calling it a WIP. 🙂 The pattern is Gather by tincanknits and I loved it. The stitch pattern is easy-peasy but fun to work. I knit the toddler size for my kiddo because he has a big head and it fits perfectly with some stretch for future growth.

Wine Toast:

img_20161129_123412.jpg

Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Something-or-Other. Click for project page.

Speaking of easy-peasy, this project couldn’t be simpler. I’m knitting the Toast armwarmers by Leslie Friend, which are basically just plain stockinette tubes knit in the round. I often wear 3/4 length sleeve sweaters to work and my arms get cold, plus I’m always warmer with my wrists covered, so these will be a big luxurious (worsted weight Merino-cashmere-nylon yarn, yum!) treat for me. I’m making them a bit longer so they go all the way to my elbow, wider to accommodate my larger forearms, and adding a thumbhole (but no actual thumb) so they can also serve as fingerless mitts when needed.

Hatchling’s Sky Blanket:

img_20161129_123519.jpg

O-Wool O-Wash Fingering in various colors. Click for project page.

I’ve been making very slow progress on my Sky Blanket (<– scroll to the bottom of that post to read the history of this particular project). In summary, I’m knitting 360 square that represent the sky each day (minus 5)  in the first year of the Hatchling’s life. That strip represents the first couple of weeks in July. HAHAHAHA I’m soooooo behind. The worst part is, I stopped recording the weather during the first couple of weeks in November, at least before that point I’d had everything written down. So now I’m going to have to get creative with the almanac or something to figure out what to knit for the missing dates. I WILL COMPLETE THIS BLANKET.

Is there a particular project you’ve been dragging your feet about? Holiday knitting, perhaps? Speaking of, check out the Knitter’s Gift Guide on the KnittedBliss blog. It’s a great collection of gift ideas, including a little shout out to my Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe sheep-shaped soaps in the stocking stuffer section (sooooo many S’s in that sentence)!

 

WIPWed #79: Blocking and Plotting

For me, certain projects require a bit of a push. There’s almost always one all-out, late-night, knit-fest to get through some part of a project. Last night was the endurance portion of my Overdyed Cypress vest knitting, but it paid off.

WIPWed #79: Blocking and Plotting | Woolen Diversions

On the blocking boards! Click for project page.

The back and front of my vest are complete, similarly-shaped (the back is purposefully narrower than the front), and vaguely garment-like. Once they dry, I will seam them up and then it’ll be just a matter of adding armhole and neckline trim before Saturday. I’m a little worried that the pieces are too long (I didn’t make row gauge and tried to compensate for that) but we’ll just have to wait and see about the fit. Sometimes, staying up into the wee hours to power through shoulder shaping sections is totally worth it.

WIPWed #78: Blocking and Plotting

Garnet Tonic, click for project page.

Meanwhile, the cowl that I’m so in love with is progressing, slowly but surely. I’ve forgotten how much I like working a simple lace pattern back and forth on straight needles. No shaping to fret about, it doesn’t get longer any as you go, and there’s no annoying circular needle join to contend with. Pure pleasure.

WIPWed #78: Blocking and Plotting | Woolen Diversions

Lendrum Falkland wool, click for handspun page.

I’m still chugging away on the never-ending-pound of Falkland wool that I used for my ply experiment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a delightful fiber and a joy to spin, I’m just itching to make some big fluffy colorful singles yarns, and this flow of fine white fiber is not abating.

On an entirely different note, does anyone have any good teaching resources for brand new knitters? I’ve volunteered to teach a bunch of middle-to-high-school-aged girls how to knit this Friday, and I haven’t had a chance to do much searching for materials yet. We’re going to be making Harry Potter scarves, in either striped garter stitch or 1×1 rib (their choice) and I’ll have some samples to show, but it would be great to have some illustrations and written directions that they could take home with them on a handout. If anyone knows of some good resources, please let me know!

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace

Even though my entire weekend was filled to the brim with knitting-related events at Slater Mill’s Knitting Weekend, I feel like I’ve hardly accomplished any knitting this week! Here are the results of my weekend knitting:

Woolen Diversions

Swatches from classes. Ignore how unappealing and unblocked they are.

The top swatch is a mini version of a Shetland-style lace shawl that we worked on during Gudrun Johnston’s Shetland lace class. I have not finished knitting on the border because my needles fell out so I decided I’d gone far enough. Besides, I’ve already knit a couple of shawls that employ a Shetland-style construction: my Aestlight shawl (designed by Gudrun) and my Rock Island shawl (designed by Jared Flood). Both involve garter stitch bodies, lace borders, and edgings knit perpendicularly to the body. It’s a fun way to make a shawl, I recommend giving it a shot! Gudrun has a new Hap shawl class up on Craftsy, too, which I bet is great (check her blog for details).

The bottom swatches show a couple of the textured cables that we talked about in Thea Colman’s Playing with Cables class. This class was super interesting as it had a roundtable discussion / workshop feel to it. She essentially explained her creative process, demonstrated how to start coming up with designs featuring cables, and how to manipulate cables in subtle ways to make them do interesting things. It was really great to get to know Thea a little bit and hear about her process. Plus, now that I’ve seen so many of her designs in person, I’m itching to knit them all.

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace | Woolen Diversions

VG Zaftig, colorway Kiss of Cabernet. Click for project page.

So I started one. My original plan for this wine-red yarn was a Filemot shawl, but after I started it and messed up the stitch count in the first repeat a few times, the project quickly lost its charm. I also didn’t like the way the yarn felt in all of the twisted stitches. Instead, I cast on Thea’s Tonic Water cowl and am loving it. The lace is simple to work but complex enough to be interesting, and the yarn is creating a beautiful fabric. I’m excited to add the accent color, which will be the pale purple colorway used in my Lucy Hat. (Color coordination makes me stupidly happy, can you tell?) It’s kind of funny that the first Thea pattern I chose to knit involves no cabling at all. However, as the Fiasco noted, the lace in the pattern is essentially cable-shaped (twisting around itself), so there’s that. All in all, I’m psyched about this project. My quarterly goals are intended to fill gaps in wardrobe and/or to use up specific yarns, so swapping out a shawl for a cowl pattern is still playing by the rules in my book. (Also check out my new stitchmarker’s! They’re from Lisa’s new Etsy shop, The Knitting Artist.)

WIPWed #78: Cables and Lace | Woolen Diversions

Instagram bobbin shot.

As for spinning, I’ve been working my way through the final few ounces of the same Falkland wool that I used for my ply experiment. I had 17 oz to begin with, and have just about 5 oz left. All that white wool is starting to feel a little endless, and I’m itching to get some color on the bobbins, but I’m persevering!

I almost forgot to show you my Knitting Weekend loot! I received two skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (a Rhode Island company!) as a welcome gift, purchased some cute buttons and a hook gauge from a fellow Rhode Island spinner and knitter who runs the Katrinkles Etsy shop, some fun speckly yarn from Julie Asselin that I gave away in a gift swap to a very yarn-worthy friend, a lovely blue-green gradient from Play At Life Fiber Arts, and (last but not least) two gorgeous, undyed skeins of Cormo/Alpaca/Silk DK weight yarn from Foxfire Fiber & Designs. I’ve got ideas brewing for all of these new additions, but I’m really trying to stick to my goals… Sigh. Discipline is the worst!

What have you been working on this week?

WIPWed #77: Counting Down!

The holidays are creeping ever closer, aren’t they? Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate it, and there’s only just about a week left until Christmas! Even though I’m not knitting many presents this year, I was still up into the wee hours putting together gifts.

Woolen Diversions

Photo project!

With all the digital photography these days, I forget how much I like to play around with actual printed photos. Back in high school, I worked in a CVS photo lab and made piles and piles of carefully curated albums of my friends and family. While digital photos are fun in their own right, I don’t get the same pleasure from scrolling on a screen as I do from flipping through a book. (Although I have been known to spend an ungodly amount of hours putting together digital photo albums. Blurb is awesome for that, btw.) While making some wedding photo collages, I was reminded that I should print pictures more often… you know, when I have spare time (hah!). Onto the WIPs!

Overdyed Cypress:

Woolen Diversions

Motoring along on my vest. Click for project page.

I found some time to work on my Cypress vest again! I have revised my original goal (finishing by the end of November) to finishing by my birthday, near the end of January. I’m determined to wear a handknit garment when I turn 30. I think I can do it!

Big Purple Cowl:

Woolen Diversions

Malabrigo Mecha, colorway Whales Road. No project page as of yet.

After several days of waffling over a few bulky cowl patterns for my fashionable, pre-teen Christmas giftee, I started a completely different one than the others I had listed: Millwater. I really adore this pattern, and have knit it before, but I think it might be better suited to thinner yarns like the DK for which it was written. It’s simple enough that it should work in any yarn, but the scale of things gets thrown off with bigger yarn and needles. For instance, in the bit I started above, I modified the garter stitch counts and changed the cable from 24 stitches of *k2,p2* rib to 16 stitches of *k1,p1* rib to make it less gigantic. While that’s fine, I’m feeling like it’s missing a bit of oomph and the garter is a little denser and less smooth than I think this yarn wants to be. Back to the drawing board…

Petrol BFL:

Woolen Diversions

Countess Ablaze BFL/firestar/silk in Petrol.

I am this close to finishing the singles for this spin. I cannot wait for it to be over. While the Babe is a perfectly serviceable wheel, after spinning on my new Lendrum it just feels clunky and somewhat coarse, instead of smooth and relaxing. Nearly there, though, nearly there. That bit of fiber is all I have left, and the plying should go quickly enough.

Woolen Diversions

Review & Giveaway!

 

Finally, check out the Knitting Sarah blog for a wonderful review of my Sweet Sheep lotion bars. Sarah is hosting a giveaway you can enter through the comments (winner will be picked on Monday) and there’s a special coupon code for readers of her blog! Thanks for the lovely review, Sarah!

P.S. This is my 500th blog post! That sounds insane! Apparently, I’m quite verbose. Thanks for reading, friends!

WIPWed #76: Neutral

A terrible thing happens when your December is full of work/life deadlines: you kind of miss the whole thing. You get a little bit like “Huh? Christmas is coming? When is that happening again? Let me check my calender…” despite the many images of holiday cheer flooding all forms of media. You feel a bit like it’s not really happening. My favorite part of the holidays is the anticipation and the build-up beforehand, and because I basically plowed through November preparing for the GRE and am now barreling through December with grad school applications and work deadlines, I’m left blinking in confusion at how it could possibly be December 10th already.

Woolen Diversions

We did get the tree decorated, though, Limulus style.

I’ve been living so far in the future that I’m missing the present, and I’m trying to remedy that. I’m trying to remember that there’s always January for the resolutions and the plans and the goals, that December can be for going easy on things and taking care of deadlines one step at a time. I’m trying to remember that spending an evening shopping for gifts and baking treats is not a waste of time that I should be spending more productively. That relaxing, itself, can be a worthwhile use of time. (The Fiasco will likely laugh his ass off when he reads that line…)

Woolen Diversions

Falkland on my new Lendrum. Click for handspun page.

So I’ve been taking a few minutes a day to spin on my new wheel. Nothing ambitious, no grand plan, just working my way through the 17 oz of Falkland wool I got from Webs and loving the thin, even single I’m spinning with hardly any effort. That’s my second bobbin, I’ve spun up about 5 oz already. Sherrill from The 1764 Shepherdess (Baabonnybelle on Instagram) is proposing a #spin15in15 hashtag to spin for 15 minutes a day starting in January. I intend to use it.

Woolen Diversions

New design in the works. Click for project page.

Even my knitting has been uncharacteristically neutral. This cowl is a delightfully soothing knit in a squishy, fluffy farm yarn from Foxfire Fiber. It’s intended as a Christmas gift (I know, I couldn’t resist) and it’s also the first new design that I’ve worked on in a long time. It’s been nice to play with stitches again. (If you’re interested in testing this cowl, please email me at alicia at woolendiversions dot com. You’ll need less than 200 yards of a fluffy DK or worsted weight yarn. Something like Malabrigo worsted, Brooklyn Tweed Loft, or a woolen-spun handspun skein would work nicely.)

So here’s to slowing down, tackling the to-do list one thing at a time, and letting my dreams of exciting and colorful future projects and endeavors wait until January, because I’m determined to pay attention to December before it’s gone. What are you working on this week?

(P.S. There’s just one more day to vote for your favorite name for my new holiday lotion bar scent! Check it out here. It’s a close race between Home for the Holidays and Jingleberry!)

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:

Woolen Dirersions

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:

Woolen Diversions

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!