WIPWed #71: Instant Gratification

As a knitter, you wouldn’t think that I’d have a deep love of instant gratification, since knitting is probably one of the slowest ways to create something. Yet, I do. I can only stay project-monogamous for so long before my fingers get itchy for something new and quick. Especially when lovelies like these arrive:

Woolen Diversions

The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Russian Sage and Kiss of Cabernet

As I mentioned on Saturday, The Verdant Gryphon brought back my beloved Zaftig yarn (worsted weight MCN blend) and I just could not resist. Skeins were acquired, and swatches were  nearly immediately made.

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Swatches!

The top swatch was made with size 7 needles because I could not find the size 6 needles the pattern called for and of course, my gauge was too large. I finally did find my size 6 needles and made a second (slightly less enthusiastic) swatch, which was close enough! (Pattern called for 5 sts/inch, I achieved 5.25 sts/inch.)

Woolen Diversions

The beginnings of a Lucy Hat. Click for project page.

Hats are my absolute favorite instant gratification project, and normally around this time of the year I’m knitting hats like crazy for gifts. However, this one’s for me, and it’s going to be awesome.

Woolen Diversions

SG Codex, colorway Lioness of Brittany. Click for project page.

The project I’ve been (mostly) monogamous with is my Sweet November shawl knit with luscious, silky Codex. I know I’m going to love this thing like crazy when I’m done, it’s just not particularly engaging to knit anymore since it’s quite simple and repetitive. But that ball is shrinking quickly, so an FO should be in my future soon enough!

Woolen Diversions

Inglenook Batts. Click for handspun project page.

I took a little spinning break after Spinzilla, but have since picked up my supported spindle project here and there. I’m still enjoying this spin. The singles are so colorful and such a crazy mix of fibers that I’m really looking forward to seeing what it will look like plied!

Woolen Diversions

Spindle storage.

Over in the Spindlemania group there has been some discussion about how people store their spindles. The above photo illustrates my little spindle corner in the living room. If you look closely, you’ll spot two Turkish spindles on top of the tallest bookcase (one of the few spots in the house that Darwin can’t terrorize). Hanging on the wall are two colorful bags that each contain a top whorl spindle (my Golding and my Kundert) with their fiber. The small hanging bag holds fiber for one of my support spindling projects. Below the bags are my two support spindles and one additional top whorl stuck in a vase with glass beads to hold them upright. For traveling, my Jenkins Aegean and my larger Capar Turkish spindles each fit well within my Dakine school supply case (with shafts removed and with plenty of fiber).

How do you store or travel with your spindles? What do you do when the urge for instant gratification strikes?

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WIPWed #66: Taking the Plunge

All that dyeing over the weekend paid off, because I swatched for my Cypress vest and I LOVE IT!

Overdyed Cypress:

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BMFA Twisted, colorway Aurora Borealis, overdyed by me.

It’s dark and moody, still colorful but more subdued, and from a distance it appears to be a neutral shade that I think will make a really nice garment. I’ve yet to become a sweater knitter, but I have no fewer than 3 different sweaters on my MUST KNIT NOW mental list, so we’ll see what this season brings! I think Cypress is a good one to begin with since the shaping is simple, the texture is fun to work, and the sleeves are short — which should all lead to relatively quick turnaround (fingers crossed).

Fiasco Deconstructed:

Woolen Diversions

BMFA Sock that Rock Lightwright, colorway Sigur Ros.

Some time spent in the DMV this week means that I am now on the toe of my Fiasco Deconstructed socks! My knitting on these socks has been rather leisurely, a little here, a little there, they’ll get done when they get done… but fall is here, and my toes are cold, so I’m going to need to step it up!

Honey Cowl:

Woolen Diversions

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN.

I’m still completely in love with the slipped stitch patterning on this cowl. So simple, yet so effective! I’ve somehow misplaced the other half of the yarn intended for this cowl, which I better find soon since I’m nearly done with the first half.

Earthy Bubble Crepe Handspun:

Woolen Diversions

Miss Babs Merino/Bamboo/Silk.

I didn’t have a whole ton of time to sit down and spin this week but I snagged a few moments to work on this handspun. (Also, can we just take a second to admire that photograph? Yay, new camera! *happy sigh*) I can’t believe it took me so long to attempt the little trick shown in the photo: if the take up of your wheel is too strong (which it almost always is on my Babe) you can thread your yarn across two hooks on opposite sides of the flyer to reduce the pull and allow you to draft more easily without fighting the wheel. This fiber is a little slippery and I am spinning fairly fine so it kept flying out of my hands, but with it threaded as shown, the take up is much less forceful, so that trick really works!

Super Duper Extra Mysterious and Subtle:

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IT’S A MYSTERY!!!

(I call that photo Fun With Filters, btw). The above project that was on and off my needles in a jiffy! I will reveal what it was on Friday, when I will also review the yarn and pattern I used and host a giveaway. Do come back in a couple of days, I promise you’ll be extra glad you did, especially if you love alpaca!

Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis!

WIPWed #63: Lessons Learned

I’ll start with the bad news… If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this disaster:

Sock knitter's nightmare.

Oh, woe is me. Click for project page.

Yup, that’s right folks: the special, gorgeous sock that I knit on before my wedding and during my honeymoon does not fit. It fit as a cuff, it fit as a partial leg, but with the longer-than-usual leg length, the less-elastic-than-usual fiber content (BFL instead of Merino), and the smaller-than-usual needle size (US 0 instead of US 1), it just does not have enough stretch to make it over my gigantic arches and heel.  The combination of tightly-knit stockinette and less elastic wool spelled disaster for this sock, even though I added more stitches (68 vs usual 60). I’m considering this a (hard) lesson in the difference in sock yarns. While I was (and still am) excited to try sock yarn made from a longwool breed (I’m hoping the socks will hold up better over time), I now know I need to take the elasticity of the stitch pattern into account. Here are three things I could have done (coulda, woulda, shoulda) to avoid this problem:

  1. Knit a swatch. I might have knit one, but it was probably tiny, and I really don’t remember if I did or not. So knit a big swatch, in the round, and get a good feel for the fabric and its stretchiness (in addition to figuring out how many stitches to cast on).
  2. Knit the cuff and leg on larger needles than the heel/foot/toe. In general, I want the foot/sole of the sock to be super snug but the cuff/leg could use some extra elasticity.
  3. Continue the cuff ribbing all the way down the leg. The difference in stretchiness between the ribbed cuff and the plain stockinette leg is pretty amazing. Basically, if I had knit the leg of this thing with almost any ribbed stitch pattern, I bet it would have fit.

So there you have it, folks. Learn from my mistakes, please! The sock is now in time out until I have the fortitude to face frogging it.

Fiasco De-constructed:

Fiasco - Deconstructed

BMFA STR LW, colorway Sigur Ros. Click for project page.

Since sock weather is swiftly approaching, I grabbed an already-in-progress sock to continue working on while I figure out what to do with the BFL pair. (Don’t worry, this one fits.)

Sweet Codex Shawl:

Sweet Codex Shawl

SG Codex, colorway The Lioness of Brittany. Click for project page.

Because I needed a win, and because I have a wedding to attend in October, I cast on a simple shawl in one of my favorite yarns, using a tried-and-true pattern. The yarn is the incomparable Codex (52% silk, 48% BFL) and the pattern is the Sweet November Knit Shawl designed by Caryl Pierre. It’s mindless and soothing and just the thing right now.

Sweet Companion:

Sweet Companion | Woolen Diversions

CY Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN. Click for project page.

I tried and did not like the hat pattern I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. So instead, I’m designing my own hat to accompany the Honey Cowl I plan to knit with the rest of this yarn. I think it’s going to make a pretty snazzy set, if I do say so myself.

Tarnished Yak:

Tarnished Yak | Woolen Diversions

BMFA Yak/Silk fiber on my Jenkins Aegean.

I’m making slow-but-steady progress on my Jenkins Fall SAL spin. My goal is to spin 2 oz by the end of September. I have quite a ways to go yet…

Seaglass:

Seaglass | Woolen Diversions

Miss Babs Merino/Silk in Seaglass on my Enid Ashcroft Mini.

I’ve decided that bringing an itty bitty Turkish spindle to work is totally acceptable behavior. It sits on my desk and I give it a flick every now and again while I’m waiting for something on the computer to load or while my office mate is chatting. Even if I don’t spin anything, seeing it there makes me happy. As you can see by all the yarn in the temporary cop (wrapped around the shaft), spinning during those little idle moments can add up!

Phew! That WIP roundup has been a long time coming. I hope you’ve been making progress on things, as well! Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #61: Time Warp

It turns out that when you spend your summer getting married and going on a honeymoon, your knitting progress seriously suffers. It appears that my active WIPs are exactly the same as they were in my last WIP Wednesday post a month ago!

(Not So) Secret Swatches:

This project is basically just a couple inches longer than it was in the last post, so nothing to see here.

Simply Royal:

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BMFA BFL Fingering Superwash, colorway Royal. Click for project page.

I began this sock just before my wedding, knit on it during our photo session, and took it with me to Costa Rica. This is a very special sock, indeed, although the knitting is very simple. I’m loving the way the colors are knitting up, the combination of striping and pooling is really interesting!

Tarnished Yak/Silk:

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BMFA Rockin’ Whorl Club Yak/Silk fiber, colorway Metalocalypse. Click for handspun project page.

My little Jenkins Aegean flew with me to Costa Rica, too, but only spent a little bit of time out and about. It was too humid to spin, really. The fine, soft fibers stuck to my fingers too much and it just wasn’t pleasant. But now I’m back, and ready to tackle this fiber as part of the Jenkins Ravelry group’s Fall Mini Spin-A-Long.

Speaking of spindles, a wonderful new addition joined my (quickly) growing collection:

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Enid Ashcroft Mini Turkish spindle.

It is every bit as gorgeous and teeny tiny as it seems! Its whorl diameter is only 3.25″ and it weighs 17 g, my smallest and lightest Turk yet. The arms are Tulipwood and the shaft is African Padauk. I don’t know if it’s the weight, the dimensions, the woods, or the maker (or some combination) but it’s also the most pleasant to use of my Turkish spindles. It has the longest and most stable spin of the three that I own and it feels the most comfortable to wind on. Basically, I adore it and I anticipate much happy spinning in our future.

And speaking of new acquisitions, this is what happens when there is a mystery grab bag mill end sale, a closing down of a favorite yarn company, and a discontinuing of a favorite yarn base all at the same time during a fairly stressful month:

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YARN-SPLOSION!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I swear, I’m usually much more restrained than this, but it was a trifecta of circumstance (plus so many sales!) and these acquisitions just could not be resisted. They should keep me going for quite a while, I’d say. Want more details?

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Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight

These were my Mystery Mill End grab bags from BMFA. I told them I liked blues and purples and they totally delivered! I’m not completely in love with the skein all the way to the left (royal blues mixed with oranges that got a little muddy) but STR is superwash and always good for baby knits or toys, and I see this skein as a great baby boy color (which is rare in my stash). The rest of the skeins, I love: a pale icy blue, a moody mix of purples, teals, and maroons, and finally a skein that looks a lot like Lavender Fields in the Mist, which I’ve admired for a while. Very happy with my mysteries!

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Final Cephalopod Yarns purchase.

These three skeins of CY Traveller were the only things I could snag off the website during the feeding-frenzy days of the final CY updates (2x Red Palace and Wolcott). I’m not usually drawn to reds, but I’m surprised by how much I like the Red Palace colorway and the Fiasco basically exclaimed “OMG THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL!!!” with completely non-ironic enthusiasm when he saw it, so it stays. I actually have 2 more skeins of Skinny Bugga headed my way that my dear friend Jeremie picked up from his local yarn store. Before this point I wasn’t really buying yarn very actively so I am grateful he was able to get me a couple of colorways I’ve loved for a long time but hadn’t yet stashed. Yay for yarn-conscious friends!

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CY Bugga in Flamboyant Cuttlefish

This skein also falls under the ‘loved for a long time but hadn’t yet stashed’ category. CY is pretty famous for its amazing rainbows and I just had to grab this from a destash while I still could.

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Verdant Gryphon Mondegreen in Paradise Valley, Black Hole Evaporation, and Athena

One of my other favorite yarnies, Verdant Gryphon, is discontinuing one of my favorite yarn bases, Mondegreen, and selling it for 40% off with the coupon code ‘mondegreen40’ at checkout (I believe the sale is still going). So (I ask you again), how could I resist? Although I haven’t stashed very much Mondegreen (see: not actively buying lots of yarn recently) I still really love it and am sad to see it go. The blend of BFL wool, silk, and camel down is unique and a delight to work with.

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VG Codex, colorway Carousel Horse

I believe at this stage of the game I reached a point of “what the hell, why not” and just grabbed this skein because it was pretty and different from anything else in my stash. Don’t judge me, ok? These things happen.

I hope that was enough yarn candy to perk up your Wednesdays! Check out more WIPs with Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #59: Wedding In Progress

The wedding itself is not in progress at this moment, but the preparation for it certainly is! The Fiasco and I have been busy busy bees lately. Thank goodness he’s a teacher and has free time to run errands all over town while I’ve been working. Our evenings, late nights, and weekends have been overflowing with tasks but many of them have been creative so it’s been a good time.

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ALL THE RIBBONS!

I essentially bought out the entire blue/green ribbon section of Michael’s to turn this mess:

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White duct tape around a hula hoop + ribbons =

Into this gorgeous thing:

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AWESOME!

The aptly-named “hula hoop ribbon thing” is going to serve as a backdrop during our ceremony and will reside behind the sweetheart table at the reception. It’s the one and only Pinterest-inspired wedding craft that I actually accomplished. That shawl I dreamt about? Never happened. I totally gave up on my Something Blue purse. But I was bound and determined to make this ribbon thing and I’m really glad I did!

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Also, jewelry?

I also decided, in a fit of randomness, that I’d really like to make my own wedding jewelry. (I think we made one too many trips to Michael’s and I became infected with some sort of craft all the things bug.) The bracelet was a breeze, I’m going to tackle the earrings and necklace tonight. We’ll see how it goes!

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Cotton tahkli from hipstrings. Click for Etsy shop.

As is my wont, stressful busy days with no time to knit or spin lead directly to some stash and tool enhancement. I am excited to try this little cotton tahkli from hipstrings. It’s made of acrylic and carbon fiber and is very lightweight and supposed to spin very quickly. Since I enjoy my Tibetan and Russian supported spindles so much, I figured it was time to branch out into cotton spinning and see how it goes. I’ll give this baby a whirl next week.

I hope you all are having wonderful weeks! Check out some actual knitting WIPs at Tamis Amis.

WIPWed #58: Lonely Blog Edition

Dear Blog,

I miss you, it’s been too long. I get a little twitchy when I don’t spend enough time with you, and I’ve really been feeling it lately. According to the archives, I typically blog 11 – 16 times a month… and here we are, approaching the last week of June, and I’ve only posted a measly 5 times!

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Rockin’ it at Relay for Life.

In my defense, dear blog, I have been a tad busy lately. Work has been crrrrrrrrrazy and the weekends have been even crazier. Last Friday night’s Relay for Life was a great event, I’m so thankful to everyone who donated to the cause. I ended up raising $390, which substantially added to my workplace’s team total of $1,570! While it was great, it was also wicked cold  and quite difficult to stay awake and walking throughout the night. But I did, and I’m happy to have contributed to a worthy fight. The Fiasco and I followed up the event by sleeping most of Saturday and then seeing The Fault In Our Stars. Cancer, cancer, everywhere. It was an emotionally exhausting but genuinely moving weekend, let me tell you.

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Movie-going fortification.

I used the movie as an excuse to begin a new pair of socks. I obviously needed something completely plain that I could knit in the dark! (Obviously.) I’ve yet to successfully finish a plain pair of socks. I’m going to try to let the yarn do the talking on this pair and just do a bit of ribbing at the cuff and stockinette the rest of the way through. I’m using a new-to-me base, Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Fingering Superwash in the Royal colorway. I love the weight and feel of this yarn. I’m excited to have some non-Merino socks and I’m hoping that the longer-stapled BFL will hold up better to wear.

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Secret knitting.

Primarily, though, I’ve been rather monogamously knitting on a secret project. I absolutely detest not being honest with you, dear blog, but I cannot disclose the details of this project for another couple of weeks. My apologies.

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Centerpieces in the making!

However, I can disclose some pretty little wedding details! Seeing as the Big Day (* eye roll *) is now just 11 days away, we’re in full-on Wedding Prep mode here at chez Woolen Diversions. The rest of the weekend consisted of shopping at Michael’s, JoAnn’s, and the Dollar Tree like it was our job. So many errands… so many ribbons! Imagine the above mason jars filled with flowers and surrounded by votive candles and you’ll have a sense of our centerpieces.

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Favors in the making!

And the Fiasco just spent the better part of the last hour or so stickering 140 favors. Poor guy. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of things we still need to get done. Little by little, though, we’re chipping away at the list.

So my dear blog, I hope I’ve made a solid case for why I’ve been neglecting you lately. Perhaps the coincidence of multiple deadlines with the wedding (WHY MUST EVERYTHING HAPPEN IN JULY?!?!) is not a good excuse, but is is certainly a logical explanation of my absence. Believe you me, I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can resume our typical relationship. And also maybe enjoy some of this summer that seems to be flying by so swiftly… Sigh.

Your ever-faithful servant,

Alicia

WIPWed #41: Skipping Along

This week of all-day-every-day work meetings is passing by in a blur but I am making quite a bit of knitting progress!

Brazen:

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VG Codex, click for project page

I’ve finished my mom’s kick-cancer’s-butt shawl. It’s much prettier than it appears in this photo, I’ll get better pictures later when it’s finished blocking. I take a very relaxed attitude to blocking, especially when the item consists of mostly stockinette or textured stitches (i.e., is not a big complex lace shawl). I soak it in tepid water for 20 minutes or so with some Soak wash, lay it out on a towel, roll the towel, and squeeze the water out. Then I lay it flat on the blocking boards. For shawls, I pin the center top and center point first. I don’t go crazy trying to keep the edges straight, if the fabric wants to curve I let it curve around because (and this is key) nobody will know the difference when you are wearing it. For this simple shawl, I pinned the bottom edges out every 5 or so yarnover holes to make little points. Let the fabric tell you what it wants to do on a simple knit like this and it’s easy peasy.

November Melody:

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VG Mithril, colorway November Moonlight, click for project page

This epically-boring-but-still-so-coveted little knit is an inch or so further along than shown here. It’s just laceweight yarn knit into a plain stockinette tube for a long, long time but I’m still enjoying it (despite the fact that the ball of yarn seems to be getting no smaller). I’m thinking I might incorporate beads into the fringe somehow to snazz it up a bit.

Purple Dissipative:

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Malabrigo Twist, colorways Zinc and Grape

At the beginning of the day, the Dissipative cowl that I’m knitting for the #Giftalong KAL looked as pictured above. Now it’s done (pics Friday, hopefully)! It’s a speedy little knit and with the stripes and the great texture knit with Twist I have to say it’s a little bit addicting. Plus, I really adore this color combo. The Zinc reads as a neutral gray but when you pair it with the purple yarn you can see that it’s really a very pale, subtle lavender. It’s lovely.

Finally, my prize yarn from Malabrigo October Stockpile arrived. While I will never, ever, ever say no to free yarn I have to say I was amused when I opened my package. The mods of the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry sent out a survey asking about favorite bases and colors and any colors you dislike, so they can pick out a suitable prize skein for you (though no guarantees). I remember writing something along the lines of “I do not like reds, oranges, or browns”.

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Malabrigo Chunky, colorway Noviembre (red, orange, brown, and green)

While the skein I received includes exactly those colors, I have to say they’re not too bad all together like that. Maybe I’ll find a use for it after all!

Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.