Knitting the Light Fantastic

Knitting, spinning, dyeing and other crafty goodness

Archive for November, 2007

Experimental Crafting

Posted by notthatkat on November 16, 2007

It’s hard to believe a whole week’s gone by, and I haven’t posted since Monday. The older I get, the faster the time just seems to whip right by. I have been busy in the interim, both working and playing. I’ve made significant progress on a couple of my knitting projects:


I finished the body of my Thermal just this evening. It’s off to sleeve island for this project.

Pirate Hat

I also finished the main part of my pirate hat and have only a little bit of the lining left to go. I look for this one to be an FO before the weekend is done.

I’ve also been doing a bit of experimentation in a couple crafting arenas:

Fractal Handspun Project

I pre-drafted this roving and have begun spinning it. It was inspired by the article in the summer 2007 issue of Spin-Off on fractal stripe spinning. The article described splitting a single length of space dyed roving to create singles with color repeats of different lengths the were then plied together. The roving I wanted to use was skinny enough I didn’t think I could split it enough to get the effect described. Instead I divided the roving in equal halves. The ball at the top was dyed with long repeats, while the other half was dyed in much shorter lengths and split once.

Fractal Handspun Project

I have almost finished spinning the roving with the shorter repeats. I’m hoping once it is plied the very bright yellow will be toned down somewhat by the other colors. The colors are divided about evenly, but that one really dominates on the bobbin. This whole project is an out-on-a-limb experiment, and even if I wind up with clownish yarn, well, I figure it’ll look okay peeping out between blue jeans and tennies.

Soap Balls

Last night and again tonight, I made soap in Christmas scents (Christmas Pine last night, Hollyberry tonight) When I mentioned making soap for Christmas, a friend suggested I made soap balls. I’ve made soap balls before, but only when a batch of soap came out soft and refused to unmold easily into nice neat bars. I’ve never planned to make my soap into balls in advance.

So I thought, what do I need to do to make soap that can be turned into balls once the initial incubation is done? The soap needs to be soft enough that it can be shaped and manipulated without cracking or flaking, but solid enough to hold its shape when I’m done with it. The answer I came up with was to increase the water content. This worked like a charm. The soap was nice and pliable and bent to my wishes.

If you want to try this at home, I used my basic recipe (scroll down to the bottom), but increased the water to 16 oz. The next day, I cut the soap into bars and kneaded it and shaped it like play dough. Make sure you wear gloves for this, as the soap is still quite harsh at this stage. I don’t bother with gloves when I am just cutting bars, but this much contact with raw soap is rather bad for the skin. Then lay out the bars to cure as normal.

After just a few hours, they feel much drier and are firming up. They should be just about perfect in 3-4 weeks, just in time for gifts for co-workers and acquaintances. Tomorrow, the soap I made tonight will get the same treatment. And I might make another batch, not specifically holiday, but because the soaping bug seems to have bit hard lately.


Posted in Pirate Hat, soapmaking, spinning, Thermal | 1 Comment »

SAFF Inspired

Posted by notthatkat on November 12, 2007


I finished the back of my Thermal on Saturday and started on the right front piece.  I’m doing the armhole shaping now, and I think when that is done, it will be about the right point to start my (raised) neckline shaping.

The Bee has been a bit of 2 steps forward, 1 step back.  I found a mistake, tried to fix it without tinking, which was unsuccessful, then had to tink back about 2 rows to undo the original mistake and all I had messed up trying to fix it.  Any problems I’ve had executing this pattern are my fault and not the pattern’s.  It’s back on track again, but doesn’t look much different than the last time I posted photos, so I’m not posting a new one.  Really, I only managed to add a couple rows to it over the weekend.

Merino Lace Sock

On Friday night I cast on a pair of Merino Lace socks from Favorite Socks.  These were inspired by Mean Girl, who was working on a lovely orange one when I saw her at SAFF.  I had already decided I wanted to knit a pair of these, but seeing them up close and in person just pushed them higher on the list.  The pattern is lovely and easily memorized/learned, but there is a bit of errata in the foot chart.  It’s pretty obvious and I had already figured it out on my own, but check it out before you knit these.

Pirate Hat

Then yesterday morning I cast on for a Pirate Hat.  I started this hat earlier in the year, only to find that my gauge was so far off, no one over the age of 3 could comfortably wear it.  I frogged it, but the needles I needed to go up to were occupied at the time, and I never got around to starting it again.  Then the first time I saw Donna at SAFF, she was putting the finishing touches on one of these, and I thought, oh, yeah, I really should get started on that again.  And won’t it make a great Christmas present for my nephew?

Merino Silk Hand Spun

There was also some spinning and plying this weekend, as I finished the yarn I started spinning at SAFF.   It is so nummy, I can hardly stand it.  Everyone who saw it commented on the colors, and I completely agree.  The colors are rich and complex and subtle.

Merino Silk Hand Spun

I started with 4 oz of roving and I wound up with about 375 yards of fingering  to sport weight yarn (once it’s dry, I’ll check WPI in a few areas, for now, you get my best estimate.)  I do have one more yarn I want to spin before I go back to the endless lace weight.  It’s a dyeing experiment that I have high hopes for.  I think I’ll pre-draft some tonight.

Posted in Merino Lace Socks, Pirate Hat, spinning, Thermal | 1 Comment »

Princess and the Pea Syndrome

Posted by notthatkat on November 9, 2007

While I was away last week for continuing ed, diligently working away on my Thermal, I noticed that the nickel plating on my needles began to crack and peel.  These were on my 3.5mm (US4) Knit Picks Options tips.  This is the first big project I’ve used this size for, although I have used them for the small ends of a 2 circ project, IIRC.  And it happened on both tips in the set.  While I have not heard nearly as much about this issue as the one with the cords (which I’ve also encountered with my set) , I seem to recall hearing mention of others having the same problem from time to time (although a google search didn’t bring up any specific links).

I called Knit Picks on Saturday and was promised a replacement set of tips would be sent out and arrive in my hands within two weeks (gotta love that “no questions asked” replacement policy).  In the meantime, I continued knitting on my Thermal with the peeling tips.  For what it’s worth, the peeling seems to have slowed down if not stopped altogether.  I began to worry if I did not overreact to the problem.  The peeling is barely visible to me, because I know it’s there.   I’m not sure anyone else would spot it unless I pointed it out.  While I can feel the edges where the plating has peeled away, it is not snagging my yarn or causing me other major problems.  The little silvery flakes are easily enough brushed away.

But I could still feel the edges where the plating had flaked with every stitch, and it was getting in the way of my enjoyment of knitting this project.  Was I suffering from Princess and the Pea syndrome?  Was I perhaps making foothills out of molehills (I certainly wasn’t making mountains)  Should I have been able to ignore the slight irregularity on the surface of my needles?

My replacement tips arrived in the mail today.  And the flawed tips were immediately replace with the new ones.  Wow, what a difference!  Knitting aesthetics restored.   Maybe I am the proverbial Princess and these tips were my Pea, but I realized once I changed how much this was impacting my feeling about knitting this sweater.

I don’t spend a whole lot of time trying to establish where I come down on the Process/Product divide, but I’m enough of a Process Knitter that if I’m not enjoying knitting a project, I tend to simply stop working on it.  Progress on Thermal has slowed down, partially due to less time to devote to knitting, partially because the Bee has commanded more of my attention, but I think also because I wasn’t enjoying knitting with those flawed needle tips.

Now I’m gonna go knit a bit on my Thermal, and maybe on the Bee as well.

Posted in musings, Thermal | Leave a Comment »

Maine Morning Mitts

Posted by notthatkat on November 7, 2007

Maine Morning Mitts

I finished the Maine Morning Mitts this afternoon. These were a good quick knit, and the fact that it took me almost 3 weeks to finish them is a function of how sporadically I worked on them. They fit me well, so they should fit my niece, who is getting them for Christmas. They are knit in 2X1 ribbing, which is very forgiving of variation in gauge and make the mitts very form fitting over varying widths.

Maine Morning Mitts

The yarn is Sheep Shop Sheep 1, a medium weight wool single. This was my first time knitting with this yarn, and I bought a single ball to try it out. My only complaint about the yarn was there was a fair bit of straw and shavings and other vegetable matter that needed to be picked out as I knit. It wasn’t too bad for a single skein project, but I would think the annoyance factor of this would become too much on a larger project, for me at least.


I’ve made fairly good progress on my Thermal. I reached the armholes Monday night, and now I’m about half way done with the upper back. This project is starting to feel a bit home streatchy, and I have to keep reminding myself that I still have two whole sleeves to go once I get done with the body…

Thermal Front

…not to mention the rest of the front. But I’m pleased with the progress I’m making, especially considering the small gauge, and the fact that I’ve been a bit distracted, knitting wise:

Bee Fields

I sat down Monday night with my Bee Fields to figure out where I went wrong last week. It turns out that I had missed a yarn over in the transition zone on one long side. I’m not sure what I did on the other side, but it was completely my error while trying to establish the new pattern stitch. I picked up the missed yarn over, placed a stitch marker between every pattern repeat, and found it all worked out quite well, once I was out of a moving car and able to fully focus on the problem at hand.

Bee Fields

The joy of this project is back, and I find myself having trouble putting this down once I’ve started. I’m about half way through the bee swarm section. The rows are starting to get really long, so it takes me a while to get much length added. This pattern is worked from the center top out (much like Icarus and Swallowtail and several others) and I presume the provisional cast on will get grafted to itself at some point. I find it hard to read too far ahead for big complicated lace pattern, preferring to take it one step at a time.

I’m mulling my next small/mindless project. Might just cast on for some socks tonight or tomorrow (you knew I wouldn’t stay away for long, right?) but I’m not sure what yarn and pattern I want to do next. But I also have a hat I want to make for my nephew for Christmas, as well as some felted clogs. Decisions, decisions.

Posted in Bee Fields, Maine Morning Mitts, Thermal | 2 Comments »

Five and a half inches

Posted by notthatkat on November 4, 2007


That’s how much length I added to my Thermal over 20 hours of Continuing Education (in 2 ½ days). My brain is now officially full. In many ways, I find CE more tiring than working in the clinic. After so many hours in lecture, I’m exhausted. It will take me a while to process everything from this week, but the lectures I attended were very good. I did some urinary tract and upper respiratory topics, a couple hours on dentistry, and lots of wound care. Little of it was what I’d call revolutionary (although the information on lower urinary tract disease in cats was a fair shift in a direction the research has been headed for a while now) but much of it is very relevant to my practice. In years past, I’ve sometimes finished CE saying to myself, this is all very interesting, but not very applicable in a private practice situation.

Thermal Placket

I added a couple inches to Thermal on the ride home (once again, I didn’t have to drive, and made use of the rare occasion to knit on the road) and last night, I divided for the neck placket. I am raising the neck so I can wear mine without another shirt under it and not be “on display” I raised the start of the placket by about half an inch, but I am also lengthening the placket. I think I’ve got it all figured out, but we’ll see when I get there. I have about half an inch to go, then I divide for the armholes and work in sections, starting with the back. This is the first test of my “adapting for a very different row gauge.” Wish me luck.


I got home and found a package waiting for me from Anne. She told me she was going to send me something good for test knitting (which I didn’t expect). She does not disappoint. In the package was a lovely skein of Briar Rose Fibers Grace. This yarn is not on the website at present, but it is a superwash merino/bamboo/nylon blend The colors are fabulous and perfect for me, and it is soft and squishy, and I might just keep it around for a while just to pet it. Thank you Anne. (Gift yarn has no calories and doesn’t count as cheating on the yarn diet!)

I finished the first bobbin of the Merino/Silk singles I started spinning at SAFF, but the pictures I took came out horribly. I have two more ounces to spin, then I can ply. Then back to the lace weight. Probably.

Posted in spinning, test knitting, Thermal, work | 3 Comments »