Knitting the Light Fantastic

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and other crafty goodness

Archive for October, 2007

On The Road Again

Posted by notthatkat on October 31, 2007

… Like a band of Gypsies we go down the highway.

Linda, my office manager, and I drove up to Raleigh today for half a week of continuing education.  We left town about 1 in the afternoon and arrived at the hotel  about 4:30.  We settled in and hung out until we were able to pick up our registration packets at 6.  After a not very good dinner, which I complained about and got half off, we went in search for a Walmart or similar type store, because Linda left her phone charger behind last weekend and needs to get a replacement.  We were unsuccessful in locating a suitable source, and returned to the hotel.  We were almost there when I realized that we should have looked it up before we left.  A store has been located and directions have been printed, so we might make another attempt tomorrow.  Or she might just leave the phone on her car charger for a while.

While I mostly spun at SAFF, some knitting progress has been made.

Maine Morning Mitt 2

I finished the first Maine Morning Mitt except for the thumb, and decided to knit the the main part of the second one before adding thumbs to both.  The yarn has a bit more random VM than  I would like, but the colors are fabulous and they are looking great.

Bee Fields

The Bee Fields (which needs a better backdrop to show up the pattern) is enjoying a short time out as of this afternoon.  I got through the hive section and everything looked good.  I tried twice to work the first row of the swarm section and suddenly things have gotten wonky.  Either I inadvertently messed up the end of the hive section or I’m not doing the first row of the next section right.  In either case, I wasn’t accomplishing anything but raising my own frustration level.  I tinked back (again) to the start of the first row, and will try to figure out where I went wrong when I’m in a better mindset.  And preferably not in a moving car.

Thermal

For the rest of the ride (I had the rare, for me, occasion of being a passenger and therefore able to knit on the road) I worked on my Thermal.  I’ve got about 7 inches of the body, and come to the conclusion that my row gauge is even more off than I had thought.  Since I’m working even at the moment, all I have to do is work to length, but I will have to modify my shaping pretty significantly.  I’ve still got another 6 inches of working even, and I’m crunching the numbers a little at a time.

Now it’s off to bed so I’m fresh to sit through lectures and talks all day tomorrow.  Thermal will be my mindless knitting project to work on if I don’t have to take notes (most of the speakers provide very complete lecture notes).

Posted in Bee Fields, Maine Morning Mitts, Thermal, work | 3 Comments »

SAFF 2007 – The Haul

Posted by notthatkat on October 30, 2007

As I said yesterday, I was very restrained in my fiber acquisitions this year. This is in part because I have a whole lot of fiber still unspun from last year, as well as a few skeins of yarn.

I set out for SAFF with a strict budget and a few simple rules:

1. I would not buy yarn locally available or readily available online/mass produced (unless it was a roaring bargain and I had a plan for it). I would say the same for fiber, but there really isn’t any available locally. Let’s just say I live in a spinning deficient area.

2. While I was allowed to take a break from my self-imposed yarn/fiber fast, I would not go nuts and exceed my modest pre-set limit. Nor would I resort to putting purchases on the plastic and worry about the bill later. There is still lots of yarn and fiber in my stash that I love and that is just waiting its turn.

3. If I still have fiber/yarn from a particular vendor unworked from last year, I probably don’t need more from the same vendor this year. Unless it is vastly different and/or so special it shouldn’t be passed up (see below)

4. No fleeces or large equipment purchases.

Addendum: I went through my stash to select fiber to bring with me to spin. I have finished the first bobbin of the merino/tencel lace weight, and wanted to take a break before starting the second one. Thus, I needed something different to spin at SAFF. By selecting from my stash, I avoided the temptation to buy fiber just to have something to spin when I got there. Furthermore, I reminded myself what I had already in the fiber stash and where it came from. I found this refresher very helpful. YMMV.

So what did I come away with?

Brooks Farm  Yarn Acero

Besides the yarn from my workshop, I came home with a single skein of yarn. But what yarn. This is Brooks Farm Yarn Acero. It is a fingering weight superwash/silk/viscose blend. I got a copy of the one skein scarf that was in the booth in this yarn, but it would also make fantastic socks.

Fiber Haul

This represents most of my other purchases at SAFF. The ball of roving on the front right is from Steam Valley Fiber Farm. It is a blend of yearling mohair and Border Leicester and is called Sonoma Blue. The colors are complex and interesting and it is soft and very pettable. The two bags of fiber came from Little Barn. The pink roving is a wool/bamboo blend. I haven’t spun bamboo before, and wanted to try a blend before jumping into the straight stuff. I also got two new dye colors – violet and brown – from Earth Guild. I’ve been wanting to expand my dye palette, and I’ve really been feeling the need for a good brown. I’ve blended to get purples, but want to try this one as well. They’re a half ounce each, and if I like them, I’ll get more.

Dry Creek Naturals Batt

This was my big indulgence for the weekend. Not in terms of price, which was reasonable, but because it broke rule #3. It is 4 oz of BFL/Cotswold/Kid Mohair from Dry Creek Naturals. The thing you must understand about Tina’s fiber is that it is an acquisition of opportunity. She does such wonderful blends and I’ve never been disappointed with any fiber that I’ve gotten from her. She has no website; I’ve only seen her blends at fairs and festivals. And she never has quite the same thing twice. So you need to get as much as you need when you can, because you probably won’t be able to get it again. Even though I have roving from last year’s SAFF still unspun in my stash, I don’t regret this purchase one bit.

So that’s it – my entire haul from SAFF 2007. I am pleased with what I got, which is all the more special for my restraint. We’ll see what the state of the fiber stash is next year before making any decisions regarding allowable fiber purchases.

But I have to say that for me, at least, the best part about SAFF is being able to spend time with friends old and new, many of whom I rarely see throughout the rest of the year except though blogs, email, and other online contact. The chance to visit and talk, teach and learn, and just sit together and spin or knit. This is what keeps me coming back.

Next year, I’m hoping I can mange to come for at least the full weekend, possibly Friday as well. Most of the workshops that interested me the most were offered before I arrived, and I think spending more time would keep me from feeling quite so caught in a whirlwind.

Plus, my Mom, who had a conflict and couldn’t attend this year, has promised to set aside that weekend next year and join us in Asheville. While she’s not nearly as deeply involved in the fibery pursuits as I, she has re-discovered knitting in the last couple years and I think she will enjoy much of what SAFF has to offer.

Posted in SAFF | 1 Comment »

SAFF 2007 Round Up

Posted by notthatkat on October 29, 2007

While so many of my online knitting friends and bloggers I follow were off to MS&W and Rhinebeck and other fiber festivals large and small scattered all over the country, I waited patiently. (Not that I wouldn’t like to go to some of those other more distant festivals sometime and meet the fiber people I only know from email and blogs.) But I waited patiently because my turn was coming. SAFF is not a big fiber festival, as such things go. There was no BMFA booth, no mad rushes on a particular yarn or fiber, at least that I witnessed. No author’s section (although Lynne Vogel did sign her new book on Friday, when I wasn’t there). Instead, it is a small-ish festival with a very local/regional flavor, great workshops, and a chance to sit and spin or knit with friends old and new. And we like it like that!

This was my second year at SAFF and I had a blast yet again. I was a bad blogger, and did not get lots of cute animal pictures from the barns. This is largely due to battery issues on Saturday, when I couldn’t find my spares and the fact that I didn’t make it back out to the barn areas on Sunday.

I drove up to Ashville on Saturday after the office closed. I arrived a bit after 2, just in time for the Ravelry/Blogger meet-up of the day. This was held in a small barn called the Blue Barn (betcha’ can’t guess why), which was packed to the gunnels when I arrived. We were advised to bring chairs, as they might be limited, but finding a place to set up my chair and my wheel was a bit of a challenge at first.

I hung out there for most of the afternoon, although I did do a turn thourgh the barns and a couple times though the main arena area. I also managed to get a couple pictures before my batteries totally died:

Ravelry/Blogger Meetup

In the center, working on the orange sock (who was much less blurry in real live) is Jen AKA Mean Girl, who was one of my test knitters for my sock pattern.

Ravelry/Blogger Meetup

Don’t let the empty chair fool you – she had just stepped away for a moment.

I met so many people who I had only know online through Ravelry and/or the blogosphere, and it was great to put names with faces.

On Sunday morning I took a dyeing workshop with Nancy Shroyer. The subject was how to hand paint a variegated yarn that doesn’t stripe, pool, or stack. While much of the information was stuff I already knew, the class was fun and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. After a brief introduction and instruction session, we broke up into small groups of 3-4 and started putting dye to yarn:

Dyeing Workshop

Dyeing Workshop

Dyeing Workshop

Dyeing Workshop

When we were done, there was lots of pretty yarn:

Dyeing Workshop

Dyeing Workshop

After a brief break, we got back together and showed off our yarns, including what our original intention was, how it came out, and what we learned.

Hand Dyed Yarn

This is the skein my team made for me (we took turns taking the lead so everyone got a skein in the end) The colors are very me, and I love it.

After the workshop, I sat and spun with friends in the Spin-In area of the main arena. And there may have been a bit of shopping, but I’m leaving that for tomorrow.

When I got home, there was very squee worthy news waiting for me. When I checked my blog stats, I noticed a marked increase in traffic to my site. Much more than I would expect from giving out my address at SAFF. I followed the most obvious source and found that Dee at Posh Yarn has recommend my sock pattern for one of their yarns! So welcome, to anyone who has found me through that link. If you’re just here for the pattern, the link is in the sidebar. If you’d like to stay a while, please feel free to pull up a chair.

Tomorrow – my very restrained fiber haul… no seriously, I was very good.

Posted in SAFF | 2 Comments »

Nothing to Knit

Posted by notthatkat on October 23, 2007

I finished my Clapotis on Friday as expected and blocked it on Saturday I haven’t managed to get a good modeled picture, so this one will just have to do for now:

Clapotis

I only added a couple repeats to the straight section, and the finished wrap came out toabout 70 inches post blocking. I didn’t pin it out or stretch it too extremely during blocking; just generally pulled the edges even and flattened out any excessive curling and I think it looks great!

The yarn was a bit splitty, and there were some ugly joins I had to mess with, but overall I liked it, and would use it again if the right project presents itself.

So I found myself this weekend with almost nothing on the needles. The full accounting was the following:

1. My MS3, which is enjoying a time out while I work through my mixed feelings about the wing v/s symmetrical. I had about decided to go symmetrical, then I wavered. I will probably be the last knitter who started with the rest of the pack to finish, but I will get it done. I just need to decide how I want to do it.

2.

Bamboo Top

This mess, which was on its way to becoming a Lots of Choices Top from The Knitting Experience: Book 1. I started this last year about this time. Then I put it aside to work on Christmas gifts. I worked on it a bit more in January, but it’s a summer top, and the weather was cold-ish and my motivation was low. Since about the end of January, I haven’t worked a stitch on it. For a while it rode in the bottom of my knitting bag, from which it radiated guilt every time I got down to that level. A couple months ago, I took it out to make room for other projects. I think it comes down to – I just don’t like the pattern. It’s knitting up nice enough, but there’s not enough going on to stimulate my interest. Garter stitch, with the slipped stitches taking place on the back, where you can’t really see them that well. I think this one is destined to the frog pond, which is a shame, but I love this yarn (Plymouth Royal Bamboo) too much to let it languish too much longer. I just need to find the right pattern to show it off to it’s best advantage. Any suggestions? (the yarn is silky and shiny, but has no sproing factor)

3. There is no 3

Thus, I needed to start not one, but a few new projects, so I would have knitting available for every knitting occasion.

I made a couple more swatches last week:

Thermal Swatch

Everyone who sees this swatch comments on it. It is for Thermal, which I planned to make, oh, about a nanosecond after I first saw the pattern. I love it, but I am thinking about raising the neckline a bit, so that I can wear it by itself or layered depending on the weather. It’s so light, I think it could be a three season top so long as the neckline allows for a bit of modesty without needing a tee shirt or camisole underneath. I got stitch gauge using a 3.5 mm (US4) needle, but my row gauge is a bit off. Since the body of the sweater is knit straight, I’m planning to recheck my gauge once I get a bit of length on it, the sit down and figure out if I need to recalculate for sleeve shaping.

Thermal

I cast on Saturday night, and have gotten this far. I’ve barely started the patterning, but so far I’m loving the yarn and the fabric I’m getting.

Cloud 9

I also made this swatch for an Elizabeth Bennet Cardigan out of Fitted Knits. This was one of those rare occasions where I actually got gauge with the recommened needles and yarn. I got this yarn from Webs on closeout of discontinued colors (they still have a few colors left, btw). This will probably be my next sweater project.

Bee Fields

Next up, I (finally) cast on Bee Fields. If you’ve been here a while, you may recall that I bought this yarn (Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace in Honey) without a specific project in mind. I saw it and had to have a skein. I wanted one of the more subtly variegated colorways, since I think subtle is best for lace if one uses variegated at all. The two colorways they had that fit what I wanted was this one and one in blues. I was feeling in a bit of a color rut, so I went against the obvious (for me) choice and this one came home with me. When Anne started working on a bee themed shawl pattern, I immediately thought of this yarn, and have just been waiting until my decks were clear enough to cast it on.

Maine Morning Mitts

Finally, I started a pair of Maine Morning Mitts(pdf link) from The Knitter’s Book of Yarn. I had a single skein of Sheep Shop Sheep 1 marinating in my stash, that I bought just to try it out, but hadn’t found a pattern, and didn’t want to just make a swatch. When Clara released this pattern on Knitter’s Review a couple weeks ago, I knew I had found my pattern. I had a chance to look through the book this weekend, and wholeheartedly agree with all the positive reveiws I’ve read for it. The book as comprehensive a reference as I’ve ever seen on different types of fibers and how yarn is constructed and everything else you ever wanted to know about yarn but didn’t know who to ask. Oh, and there’s also some patterns (40). And the only reason it didn’t come home with me was that it’s going on my Christmas Wish List. If no one gifts me with it, I’ll get it for myself after the holidays.

Posted in Bee Fields, Clapotis, FO, lace, Maine Morning Mitts, Thermal | Leave a Comment »

Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Posted by notthatkat on October 18, 2007

WordPress ate my first draft of this, just as I was ready to publish. I hate when that happens!

Snow on Cedars Mitts

I finished my Snow on Cedars Mitts last night. I love them so much. I have to say, these were a bit of a challange. Not hard, per se, but there’s a lot going on, and you really have to pay attention to what you’re doing. I hope this doesn’t scare anyone off, because they really are fabulous, and Anne has done her usual outstanding job with the pattern. Everything you need is in there and if you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have too many problems. Just don’t plan on these for social knitting group or mindless TV/multitask knitting.

I sent my latest (and probably last) set of revisions to Anne this afternoon, but since she left for Rhinebeck this morning, I don’t expect to hear much from her until next week. And speaking of fiber festivals, mine is coming up next weekend and I’m getting really excited! I’m looking forward to meeting up with so many friends both old and new, and my class, and just the unique atmosphere of a good fiber festival.

Snow on Cedars Mitts

The Specs:

Pattern: Snow on Cedars Mitts by Anne Hanson, soon to be released in pattern and kit form (and since I’ve already been asked, I don’t know exactly when Anne is planning to publish this)

Yarn: Hand dyed Merino/Nylon fingering – they used a bit over a third of a 100 g skein. I was afraid the variegation in the yarn would fight with the pattern – I even had a Plan B solid yarn picked out, but I don’t think it would have looked so good.

Needles: 2.75 mm (US2) 5″ Brittany Birch DPN’s – this pattern could not easily have been worked on 2 circs. Maybe Magic Loop-ing, but definitely only one at a time.

Started: October 14, 2007

Finished: October 17, 2007

Modifications: None

My Clapotis is back to center stage, and should be finished by tomorrow night, with blocking taking place over the weekend.

My October Booty Club shipment arrived today, (don’t follow the link if you don’t want to be spoiled) and while I doubt I would have picked out these colors for myself, I love them so much. Since no new yarn has entered my home in just over a month, I’m trying to decide if that is upping the yarn love factor, but overall, I just think Georgia rocks!

ETA: WordPress bug seems to be fixed.  If the edits take here, I’m deleting the link post. 

Posted in FO, Snow on Cedar, test knitting | 3 Comments »