Finally, Some Light

Despite all the snow on the ground, I can feel the winter starting to fade. Birds are singing in the morning, the temps are forecast to be above freezing this week, and the sun is a welcome friend returned. Not only for its warmth, but for its light… because I can finally take some decent FO pictures. (Priorities!)

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Deep Dark Stellaria, click for project page.

When I first finished knitting the Stellaria shawl, designed by Susanna IC, I was a little bit dismayed. I had modified the shawl to be deeper/taller (by leaving fewer stitches between short row wraps) but I had not fully appreciated how long this sucker was. It’s a really big shawl, and I was concerned about its wearability.

At first I thought the shawl would only look ‘appropriate’ worn with a fancy dress to a winter wedding or gothic gala of some sort. But after a few weeks of wearing it as depicted in the second photo above, I’ve decided it works. It’s a bit larger than other shawls I wear kerchief-style, but the layers of garter and lace wrapped the neck around make for a nice cascading effect (plus, they’re super warm). I won’t be wearing this shawl much into the spring, but for the winter, its coziness is much appreciated.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

After my quick blocking of this Tonic Water cowl, designed by Thea Coleman, I decided that it definitely needed another repeat. I was tempted to leave it be, but the extra repeat was totally necessary.

With 8 repeats, the cowl falls to a nice length worn open, and just barely fits comfortably doubled up since it’s such a wide piece of knitting. I love that contrasting stripe (and the way it coordinates with my Lucy hat!) more than I can say, but it gave me the devil of a time. When I first saw the design, I thought Thea had done something really clever with beginning and ending the cowl in the contrast color and invisibly joining in garter stitch somehow. Instead, the directions were much simpler, and just involved adding the contrast color at the end and seaming the edges together using the main color. Since I dislike seaming and was feeling lazy, I decided to finagle a different way to close the cowl. I spent an entire hour messing around with it, trying and abandoning ideas like knitting the edges together or doing a three needle bind-off. Eventually, I settled on doing a garter-based kitchener stitch using the contrast color. You can see the contrast color poking through a little on one side of the join, but trust me, it’s much better than it was. And truthfully, I’m so in love with this cowl that it doesn’t even matter.

Finally, Some Light | Woolen Diversions

The Verdant Gryphon Zaftig, colorway Winter Slant of Light

While I’m thrilled about spring, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this winter colorway from The Verdant Gryphon. Blues! Greens! Greys! All of my favorite things! And since I love my newly finished cowl in the same worsted weight MCN base so much, I think these skeins are destined to become a cowl, as well. Now to find the perfect pattern…

Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe on Etsy

New lip balm flavor: French Macaron!

Spring scents are popping up over at Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe, too! I’ve just added a brand new lip balm flavor, French Macaron. It’s delightfully sweet, sophisticated, and indulgent. I’ve also restocked a good number of my other lip balm flavors that had sold out (Toasted Coconut, Lavender, Lemon Lime, Winter Clementine, and Vanilla Mint) and added Spring Meadow and Sea Moss lotion bars back into the rotation.

What would you knit with just under 400 yards of dense and colorful worsted weight yarn? Is spring popping up in your part of the world?

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FOFri #37: All the Fluffy

The first project I spun on my Lendrum wheel was a full pound of undyed Falkland, spun up into a respectably squishy 3-ply with oodles of yardage. This second finished yarn? Totally different.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Thick-and-Thin Masham. Click for handspun page.

The fiber for this skein was the April 2014 shipment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl Club: 8 oz of Masham wool in the Indigo Dreams colorway. I first started spinning this on a spindle but wasn’t loving it, so I decided to give the bulky flyer of my wheel a try. I was spinning up thick singles for a while, but then I was inspired to give thick-and-thin art yarn spinning a shot.

I’m really glad I did, and I’m thrilled that I have a wheel that allows me to spin such vastly different yarns with ease. I spun until I got tired of the process and called it done. The skein is about 3.3 oz and 214 yards of bulky-to-sport weight yarn. I was pleasantly surprised by how evenly distributed the bulky bits seemed while I was winding this skein up. I finished it by plunging the singles into hot and cold water 3 times, and thwacking thoroughly. I was also pleasantly surprised by how well balanced the skein was after finishing. Singles yarns can easily contain too much twist without the plying stage to balance things out but this skein is just fine. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with it yet, but the finished yarn is much fluffier than I expected it to be, and I think a little loosely-knit cowl or kerchief will do quite nicely. And bonus, I still have lots of fiber and some bulky singles left to use in future art yarn explorations.

FOFri #37: All the Fluffy | Woolen Diversions

Garnet Tonic cowl. Click for project page.

I might just be done with my Garnet Tonic cowl, as well. The pattern said to knit to 48″ before adding the contrast color stripe and binding off/seaming. My cowl measured 44″ unblocked after I had just broken into the third skein and finished the 7th repeat. Since I have a tendency to overestimate cowl length, and since it is already feeling pretty heavy (2 skeins of dense yarn gobbled up), I decided to put my stitches on a lifeline and block it out now to see how big it really is before finishing. On the blocking boards it measures 14″ across and 48″ in length. Once dry I’ll try it on and see if I want to add an 8th repeat or not. Have you ever blocked a project before it’s finished to figure out proper size/length?

That’s More Like It

Happy Monday, all! I want to thank everyone who commented on my post last week. I really appreciate the words of comfort and advice offered, and just knowing that other people out there get it is a huge help. I made a concerted effort to remember the good things and enact positive changes, including taking a Kundalini yoga class, re-focusing my weight loss efforts, and just plain taking time for myself to… relax (how foreign). All told, it was a good weekend and all that relaxing meant I finished a couple of projects, too!

That's More Like It | Woolen Diversions

SG Zaftig, colorway Ghost Moth. Click for project page.

My good friends’ little girl turned 2 years old yesterday, so I thought she could use a pretty new hat. She is the only youngster that I regularly knit for since my nephews have proven to be less-than-in-love-with their woolens. The older one, Liam, refuses to wear a hat because it would ruin his gel spiked hairstyle, and he appears to have an irrational fear of vests. The younger one wore his vest when it was new, but has certainly grown out of it by now. Come to think of it, Logan might appreciate a hat… perhaps I’ll make him one. But in any case, Lyra is definitely appreciative of knitwear, as her mom is a knitter, too. I used the Troll hat pattern designed by Gabriela Widmer-Hanke and it is super adorable and straightforward. Lovely comfort knitting.

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SG Codex, colorway Devil’s Dictionary. Click for project page.

I also finally (finally, finally!) finished my Deep Dark Stellaria shawl, designed by Susanna IC. This sucker has been a WIP for about a year and a half (cast on August 2013). The shawl was pretty easy knitting for the most part, but I got delayed just 6 rows from the end due to a lace mishap that I didn’t have the mental energy to figure out, so it sat, and sat, and sat until this weekend when I just fudged a quick fix and moved on. I modified the shawl to be a deeper crescent shape by leaving fewer stitches between the wrap & turn instructions. This left me with 20 repeats of the edging at the end, and a butt-ton of stitches on the needle (read: 802).

Dun-dun-duuuuuuuuuhn!

So it was all the more frustrating when my KnitPicks Harmony interchangeable needle broke in the middle of the last row before bind-off. Luckily (or unluckily?) this had happened once before so I had a spare needle tip of the same size lying around that I was able to use to rescue the dropped stitches and soldier on. And then, during the bind off, I ran out of yarn. Luckily, I had some blackish-blueish scraps of the same yarn leftover, so I bound off the remaining stitches with no problem.

That's More Like It | Woolen Diversions

Not my best blocking ever, but I was out of pins.

The funny thing is, when I went to add the project to Ravelry I realized that I actually had four skeins of this yarn stashed and the shawl definitely didn’t use all four. (I need to weigh it to be sure.) Which essentially means that I have so much yarn that I stashed so long ago that I literally forgot what I had and my emergency yarn substitution was for naught. In truth, you really can’t tell the color difference in the bind-off, so that’s fine. And hey, now I have more of this yummy color to use.

So there you go, the Saga of the Stellaria shawl ends with a gorgeous piece of fabric and hopefully some proper FO photos coming soon. These projects represent the first two that I’m counting towards the Verdant Gryphon 12 in 2015 challenge on Ravelry. You can count up to 3 pre-2015 WIPs and choose to make either 12 projects or use 12 skeins. It’s a pretty laid-back KAL with no prizes or anything, just motivation to use up some of those stash skeins you forgot you even have.

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.

 

 

Fiber-Induced Joy

Somehow, I managed to miss every. single. fiber festival this year. When my best friend planned a spontaneous trip to visit me last weekend, I was determined to make both the visit AND the fiber festival I had planned to attend happen. I was up before 6 am (without an alarm! voluntarily! on a Saturday!), was out the door by 7, drove the 2 hours to the New England Fiber Festival, and somehow saw the whole thing in the 2 hours I had before I needed to leave to pick my friend up from the bus. It was a bit rushed but no less awesome!

newenglandffThere were awesome zipper-flowers, a cool tree display, and a new-to-me yarn dyer that I loved.

newenglandff3 There was yet another new-to-me-dyer I loved, someone who made awesome candlestick holders from old bobbins (sorry, didn’t catch who it was!), and a booth carrying spindles with interchangeable shafts.

newenglandff2And of course there were animals! Some Herdwick sheep (one of which was named Afleecia… no joke.), adorable alpaca, and a whole ton of fleeces for sale. I barely restrained myself from buying one. So cool to see so many types of wool in one room!

I was moderately restrained in my purchases (I was pressed for time, after all) and only took home a mere 11 oz. of fiber and one skein of yarn but man are they some really great fiber and yarn!

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Calypso approved.

On the left is 5 oz. of a lovely silver-grey llama fiber from West Mountain Farm in Vermont. It feels like a fluffier version of alpaca and I can’t wait to spin it up. Next to that is a precious 1 oz. of cashmere/silk blend from Boreas Farm Cashmere. I plan to spin this into a single and ply it with some quiviut I’m working on, which will basically make the softest, most heavenly little skein of yarn ever. Below that is 1 oz. of beautiful greyย  plucked angora from Dorchester Farms (no website found). I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with it but would like to try blending it with something else (suggestions welcome). The bright white fluff is 2 oz. silk top from I-forgot-which-booth, just to experiment with since I haven’t spun pure silk before. Below that is a lovely merino/silk DK weight yarn from Bittersweet, so I can knit the Adiri hat for the Indie Designer #Giftalong. Finally, in the box on the right is 2 oz. of Leicester Longwool roving that I didn’t actually want but bought because the owners were so nice and so loved their endangered sheep, I felt bad not buying something and wanted to support their cause. Plus, it’ll just add another breed to my Spinner’s Study!

All in all, it was a successful quickie-festival! And if that wasn’t enough fiber-y delight, when I returned home, the next shipment of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl Club was waiting for me. (Click away if you don’t want to be spoiled!)

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This shipment is a fabulous two-fer: one 5 oz. braid of mixed Bluefaced Leicester wool with one 3 oz. braid of 50/50 Merino/silk blend in the colorway Sleep Hollow. It’s a gorgeous mix of greys, blues, greens, and purples — essentially, my favorite colors. This is the shipment that would’ve made me weep with regret if I hadn’t signed up (only slightly exaggerating). I can’t wait to spin this!

I’ll leave you with this:

IMG_5396Oooooh yeah. ๐Ÿ™‚