Thursday, August 30, 2007

Kid Sweater Trio

I've been working on these a loooong time. Or actually, I've been dragging my feet on these for a looong time.

My dear friend Margie, who shall remain blogless, (although she should blog, she makes the most beautiful cross-stich pieces) has three adorable grand children. They're going to look so cute in these!
Pattern: Sirdar 1538 Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly DK and Sirdar Snuggly Fair Isle DK, 100% Acrylic
I started the blue sweater in November, I think, and finished it in January. The cardigan I started at The Other Knitting Camp in Wisconsin on August 4 and finished August 17. The final sweater I started August 18 and finished August 27. A quick run through the delicate cycle in the washing machine, a partial dry on low in the dryer, and a bit of air-drying at the end makes for easy-care kids clothes. Can't wait to see them modeled on Josie, Tristan and Genna!

So now. I'm swatching for the Nantucket Jacket and the Knit Pick's Palette Sampler Fair Isle cardigan. Decisions, decisions!

I also signed up to participate in The Secret of the Stole, a "mystery" knitalong. I really want to do some proper lace and I thought the structure of a knitalong might help me stay focused on it. I'm going to look for laceweight at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival (next weekend! yay!), as I don't have enough laceweight of one color in the old stash right now. Plus, it's beaded! Now, I have a huge bead stash just sitting around not doing anything, but that doesn't mean I can't buy more!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Good Mail Week

I got a lot of great stuff in the mail this week. A lot.

First off, a wonderful package from the fabulous one-skein-wonder. Lovely pinky-peachy yarn she spun herself, laceweight merino beautifully dyed by herself, Blue-Faced Leicester dyed by Spunky Eclectic and two more braids of BFL dyed by OSW. Plus a long-coveted sheepy tape measure. Could I be any more spoiled? Thank you so much Lauren!

Next, I needed to make some room on my knitting bookshelf, so I offered up the really nice Cables Untangled by Melissa Leapman. It's a lovely book, just nothing in there I couldn't find elsewhere in my library. So Bad Amy thought she'd like a crack at it. Oh, just send me any fiber you care to part with, I replied breezily. Look what came in the mail today! Tons, just tons, of blended wools and a couple of silk cocoons. I'm gonna get around to those other cocoons you sent me Amy, really I am! I'm seriously considering stopping this trading business. I end up feeling so guilty every time. People are constantly sending me way more than I send them! Thanks, Amy!

Finally, this little bit of heaven. It's batts blended by the extremely knowlegeable and talented Abby. It's carded of fine wool (BFL and merino), tussah silk, and camel and yak down. Bet you wish you could get your hands on it, eh? Lay off, 'cause it's mine, all mine! Lord, help me to spin a decent lace weight!

Guess I'm gonna be a little busy spinning!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I might have spoken too soon...

So last post, I was saying I thought I might actually have the hang of the whole spinning thing.

These lovely batts smacked me right down. Beautiful suri alpaca, merino, silk and nylon. And they fought me every step of the way. Lumpity, slubbity, thickity and thinnity. I never got a grasp on a good drafting method and I fiddled constantly. I really despaired of the finished yarn, until I set the twist. A bit of a soak, and a good couple of thwacks against the tub, and it's actually something approaching yarn:

Suri Alpaca/Merino/Silk/Nylon blend, two ply
2.5 oz, 160 yards, 15 wpi
It really is lovely. Thanks, One-Skein-Wonder!
DIY Yarn Meter
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I made myself a new holder for my yarn meter. My old holder was a terribly jury-rigged affair not worthy of blogging, but the new one is working out well.
First, go to your local fishing supply retailer, and get a fishing line counter. I got mine at Cabela's for $12. Then go to your local craft supply and check out the unfinished wood stuff. Look for something like this:

A Whatnot Shelf. If you can't find one with a dowel, buy a dowel about the width of a fishing pole. But you do need the kind where the plane of the shelf is the absolute top and with supports on either side. This one, with handy dowel included, cost me $5.

Then, stablize the dowel by drilling some pilot holes through the supports and into the dowel on either end, then some small screws. If your cheapo shelf's dowel is firmly affixed and doesn't rotate, then you can skip this step.

Finally, drill holes just above the dowel on either side and sand or file the inside smooth. You don't want these holes to be too huge or too far up because you need for the yarn to go through the yarn meter at the same level as the track on the meter, or slightly below. Make sure you have it well sanded to prevent snagging your yarn. I use my orifice hook to thread the yarn through the holes, alternately, you could saw some slots for easier yarn threading.

Voila! Your very own $17 yarn meter! Last time I looked, yarn meters were $50 in the knitting catalogs, and it's the exact same fishing line counter! For extra stability, I like to clamp this on my counter with some cheapo C-clamps I got at the dollar store. Oh, and don't forget to divide by 3. It counts feet, not yards.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Yarn, lots of yarn

So on Saturday I went to Stitches with Kathrows. I had a hundred bucks in my wallet and I came away with this, with money left over:

That's 2200 yards of persimon wool, 1280 yards of pink cotton, 1000 yards of lace weight for dyeing, two balls of Jojoland superwash sock yarn and samples of Malabrigo laceweight and SWTC Yin Yang. I'm pretty happy with it all.

Besides shopping, I had fun meeting up with knittyheads Darx, Bigwildonion, Errs, Plumfan, and Celtic Coyote and her friend. And then Kathrows and I spotted a super-fast knitter knitting away in front of a display of Lily Chin yarns, stopped to chat a bit, only to discover it was Lily Chin! That was cool--she's really sweet and claims she's nowhere near the fastest knitter out there, but she sure could run circles around me. It was a real knitting community moment!

In other news, I'm finally starting to feel like an actual spinner:

1146 yards of triple-ply merino. I haven't measured the wpi, but it feels like sportweight. It's actually even and slub-free. I plan to dye it, maybe a green color of some sort.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Knitting Camp!

Imagine a camp where all you do is knit. And camp. And meet some other knitters. And make smores. And knit! Elizabeth organized us, and The Other Knitting Camp in Wisconsin took place August 3-5, 2007. We had tons of fun, swapping yarn and knitting and getting rained on and hiking what seemed like a half a mile to get to the bathroom. Elizabeth did way more than her share of the work, and some guilt still lingers over that. We all agreed that it must become an annual event. Celtic Coyote and Pumpkinseed

Criosa and Kathrows

I failed to get a shot of Elizabeth. It might be that she was constantly on the move, or it might be that when she sat down and pulled out the most beautiful Fair Isle sweater to work on that I was too stunned to get a shot of her. I truly had the most wonderful weekend, laughing and getting to know this great group of knitters. Make your plans for next year!