Knitting the Light Fantastic

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Archive for the ‘spinning’ Category

Full Confession

Posted by notthatkat on January 5, 2008

Remember how I said the other day that I want to continue to knit mostly from my stash? Well, I went to my (favorite) LYS today with a friend as she is having her twice annual store wide sale right now. I did buy some yarn, but I was fairly restrained and almost all of the yarn that came home with me already has designated projects. I know I’m rationalizing a bit, but I also have spent so little on yarn in recent months, I felt a little splurge wasn’t unreasonable. No sweater quantities of yarn followed me home, and I spent a fraction of what I did in July.

Clog Yarn

At Christmas, my nephew Patrick asked me if I would make him slippers, and I of course agreed. We discussed color choices, and his only request was for green. Not green and a neutral shade, but all green. I went stash diving, but was unable to come up with 2 different feltable yarns in coordinating shades of green that would work. This is the combo I came up with today.

Pirate Hat Yarn

I want to do another Pirate Hat, this time for me, and this yarn worked so well the last time, I went back for more. It is the right weight, fairly inexpensive, and works up well, It is a bit scratchy to work with, but softens up nicely in the wash.

Regia Silk 6 ply

I loved working with the self striping Regia Silk, and the socks I’ve made with this yarn is really holding up well. I’ve been wanting to try the solid color version ever since. I don’t have a specific sock pattern in mind for this one, but I’m thinking something lacy that will really pop in this yarn.

Green Sock Yarn

This yarn just begs to be knit up into Thelonious, to me.   This might be the next socks to jump on the needles, when the current ones are done.

Mountain Colors 4/8's

This yarn kept calling to me, and as hard as I tried to resist, putting it back on the shelf three separate times, it wanted to come home with me.   I’ve been looking through the stash for yarn for a Koolhaas hat, but nothing seems quite right.  Either it’s too variegated, or it’s a solid that I can’t wear near my face, or I have too little, or it’s the wrong gauge, or another project it’s earmarked for… you get the idea.  This yarn will make a very nice Koolhaas, I think.  The tonal variegation is enough to add interest, but not so much as to fight the stitch pattern.

So that was it.  I spent a bit over half of the maximum I had allowed for myself, and I think I done good.  Now I’m not buying yarn again in the near future.  How long?  Dunno.  I haven’t made a firm commitment not to buy yarn for X period of time.  I just want to only buy yarn if there is nothing appropriate in the stash, and making knitting with stashed yarns a priority.

Colortweed Socks

The Colortweed socks and Thermal are neck and neck at the moment to see who will be the first FO for 2008.  Colortweed seems to be eeking ahead.  (I didn’t take another picture of the Thermal sleeves – they don’t look that different)  I have more actual knitting left to do on Thermal, but I’m focusing on that project more also, so it’s anyone’s guess.  I’m about half way through the sleeve caps, but I still have the neckline and placket to do as well.  I’m hoping to have the sleeves off the needles tonight.

Bee Fields continues to languish in the bottom of the knitting bag, but I promise to concentrate on this once Thermal is done.

Merino Tencel Single

I’ve managed to spin for 4 out of the last 5 days, for at least 30 minutes a day, and have made progress on my lace weight yarn.  I still have a ways to go before I’m ready to ply, but I’m making noticeable progress and if I continue at this rate, I’ll have no problem finishing this yarn by the end of the month.  Since pictures of slightly fuller bobbins don’t make for exciting blogging, don’t be surprised if you don’t see much more of this until I’m ready to ply.

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Posted in socks, spinning, Spun Stitches, stash enhancement | 2 Comments »

Looking Ahead

Posted by notthatkat on January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope you all had a good and safe New Year. Mine was quiet, and I was asleep before the ball dropped last night. Yes, I know I’m lame.

I never really make any big resolutions at New Year’s, but try to implement ideas and changes as they come upon me. So my plans for the start 2008 is to continue on with things I’ve been doing for a while now. I’ve lost about 20 pounds over the last few months, simply by cutting back on what I eat. I’d like to continue this trend.

On the fiber front, I am adopting much the same attitude. Knitting from my stash will continue for the foreseeable future. I don’t follow strict rules, and if I find myself needing yarn for a project that nothing in my stash is quite right for, I’ll go buy it. (My nephew has asked for felted slippers, and while I have one of the colors we discussed in my stash, I will probably have to shop outside my stash to coordinate a second color.) However as I decided this fall, my stash is (still) far too large, and full of very good yarns just waiting their turn. Buying more right now is unnecessary.

Socks will certainly continue in the rotation. I opted not to join Rockin’ Sock Club for 2008, in part because I still have 4 of my 2007 kits untouched. One of these might be next after the current sock. Likewise, I dropped out of Yarn Pirate’s Booty Club after the December shipment. The yarns are beautiful, but I have not managed to knit with a single one yet. Fear not for my sock knitting, however, as I believe I have more than enough sock yarn to see me through the year even if I don’t buy a single skein, which is doubtful. I have a Kitri sock kit waiting in the wings. I was hoping to do another pair of Math Whiz socks, this time for me, as well as knitting another pair of Rococo to replace the pair that felted, and a couple other of Anne’s sock patterns I haven’t worked with yet. There are other patterns and ideas kicking around in there, including a few design ideas.

Lace will certainly be featured in 2008 as well. I have some handspun yarn just waiting to be turned into a Swallowtail Shawl. I have a deep love for Juno Regina and Icarus, neither of which I’ve knitted yet. And from Anne, I have Twinings and Irtfa’a and Cluaranach, and I could go on and I know she will have released 2-3 new patterns I love by the time I’ve managed to get one of these done.

On the sweater front, I do have a couple patterns picked out to follow my Thermal. Next up will probably be the Elizabeth Bennet Cardigan from Fitted Knits. This sweater called to me the first time I saw it, and I’ve already swatched it up. Also ready to go is a T-twist Tee as well as a tank top from Knitting Nature, but these will probably wait for warmer weather to get started. I also want to do a Rogue, and I think I have yarn in my stash that will work for it. I like Sesame, but the yarn I want to use is thicker than what’s called for. I might try to re-work the pattern for the yarn I have. I have several stashed yarns in shell to sweater quantities that I just need to find or create patterns for.

I’m sure there will be small projects and other ideas along the way as well. I’m not sure how many of these projects I’ll actually get around to, but these are the ones that I’m tossing around in the back of my mind at the moment.

On the spinning front, I joined NaSpiMoMo (National Spin More Month) which kicked off today. My goals are to spin every day, even if only for a little bit some days, and finish my lace weight yarn for Spun Stitches. Anything I get done beyond that in January is a bonus. Beyond that, I don’t have specific plans, as I tend to just pick out something from the stash that appeal to me at the time and work on that. Overall, I would like to spin more often, and learn some new techniques (long draw especially). And I’d like to do more spinning with intention – ie. with a clearer idea of what qualities I want in a yarn rather that seeing what I get and deciding what to do with it based on that. And on that note, I’m off to spin for tonight.

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2007 in Review

Posted by notthatkat on December 31, 2007

(For details on all my FO’s for 2007, check out the FO 2007 page. Links from this post lead to pictures for the most part)

So as the door closes on 2007, I wanted to take a moment and review what I’ve accomplished, fiber arts wise, over the year. Since I only started blogging in late April, I’m afraid that’s as far back as my record goes. I know I knit prior to that, but frankly, I’m having trouble remembering the specifics. I know there were some socks and other small items, but for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you without checking out the sock drawer if my life depended on it. So…

Since April I have completed 32 knit items, not counting a couple dishcloths that didn’t quite make it onto the blog. Eleven of these came in the form of socks, including my first hand spun socks, 2 (of 6) of the Rockin’ Sock Club kits for 2007, Math Whiz socks for my Sockapalooza Pal (I also got a great pair of socks from my upstream Pal) and assorted other socks as a yarn or pattern struck a chord with me. I also designed and published my first sock pattern (hopefully not my last), and so far the reception has been very favorable.

I also knit four pair of fingerless mitts and a pair of fingerless gloves. All of them were different, and I loved making each of them. All but one pair now belong with various loved ones, and I hope they help keep them warm through the winter months.

Several long smoldering UFO’s got finished over the year. Some were part of the crazy 5-day-in-a-row FO marathon in June (what was I thinking?), but the one I’m proudest of is the christening blanket. Not for nothing did my friend Christine rename it “monster lace.”

I made two shells and a winter sweater over the course of the year (I know I didn’t manage a sweater before April). There was a flurry of Christmas knitting. I chose to stick with accessories and other little knits for Christmas presents, and everyone loved what I made them.

All in all it was a good year for knitting for me. The spinning… I am not, and doubt I will ever be, a production spinner. My output in finished yarn is sporadic at best. That being said, I do think my spinning has improved dramatically over the last year, and I have taken on some challanges and big projects on the spinning front. I am pleased with my progress as a spinner.

Coming up tomorrow, my fiber plans for the New Year.

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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:

Thermal

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

Thermal

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 »