Monday, December 15, 2008
We were very lucky. The power went out Friday morning around 7:30 AM and came back on Sunday morning about 4 AM. No trees hit the house; in fact, only a few big branches came down and I've already cleared them away. The pipes did not freeze, although the temperature in the house dropped to below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The sump pump seems to have died, but so far the groundwater hasn't risen above the floor of the basement. The big hibiscuses weren't happy, but they seem to have survived. I discovered that one of the pleasures of living in town is that one's water does not disappear when the power goes out, since water pressure is produced by gravity from those big tanks up on the hills. Who knew?! Since I've started owning houses, I've never lived in one on town water. Flushing is one of the great pleasures of civilized life.
The warmth of neighbors and companions extended far in our direction. Knitting and spinning continued on despite all challenges and a major birthday party of a friend happened Saturday night right on schedule a few streets over, by candlelight, wood heat, and a quickly bought generator. It's amazing how far friends will come through downed trees and wires, to celebrate with good cheer and good food.
Power has been generally restored to my workplace, but not to the trailer wherein I actually cubiculate. The lines between the main building and the trailer are down. I was advised to stay home, as power may well be cut to the main building when they restore power to the trailer, and who knows when that will happen anyway?
Resolved: I will knit myself fingerless mitts very soon. And get the chimney cleaned and a store of burnable wood laid by. LED flashlights seem to be a worthwhile innovation I hadn't noticed before, and the thought of a generator tempts me like never before. Wool sweaters, blankets, hats, and even socks are definitely not just a fad.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
This is the one NaKniSweMo sweater (Elsebeth Lavold's Pebbles, in my handspun) that has a prayer of being finished before midnight tonight, and it ain't gonna happen. You see that wonky-looking sleeve cap? Well, it is wonky in real life, too, and I don't think that setting in the collar will help one bit. (Interestingly, the ice cream helped my mood, though.)
That particular sleeve cap has been knit three times. Once, it was too long by three inches; I frogged and reknit with more frequent decreases. The second time, I lay sleeve #2 on top of sleeve #1, and found that when I reknit sleeve #1, I forgot the gently sloping decreases near the top, the ones that come after the now-more-frequently-knit decreases. The third time, well, you see the evidence. I am going to have to rip out these set-in sleeves (yes, I did both of them), rip back their caps and reknit a third time for sleeve #1 and a second time for sleeve #2.
I am having a hard time getting motivated to do that today. Frankly, I'm sick of knitting unsuccessful projects. Did I mention I'm running out of yarn for this sweater? My handspun, handdyed yarn? Sigh...I don't know why I should be running out of yarn to knit the collar, just because I neither measured nor weighed the yarn before I dyed it. [I believe it's called tempting fate. Apparently, I like to live dangerously. Also, I couldn't fit any more yarn in my dyepot.] Fortunately, the collar is double-sided; you knit a wide rectangle, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew the cast-on and bound-off edges to the sides of the square collar opening. I do have enough yarn for the front side of the collar and have, in fact, knit the front side. My friend Pat, with whom I was knitting most of Friday, gave me some Bartlett-type yarn to do the back of the collar if need be; I'm using it to seam with and waiting to see what happens with the sleeve caps. Oh Fashion Police, can we bring back dropped-sleeve sweaters?
In the meantime, whenever the frustration with sleeve caps got overwhelming, I've knit one and a half hats from my handspun for Jean's hat drive. The first one fits my head, luckily, or I'd be tempted to take very sharp scissors to the hat and a certain pair of sleeve caps in my vicinity.
ETA: I was knitting yesterday with That Sue and her brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Elaine. Chris snapped these photos of me and just sent them to me. You see what I mean about that sleeve cap, don't you?
And apparently I'm really cute when I'm grumpy about sleeve caps.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Of course, once I was well enough to deal with the sleeve cap, it took all of an hour to rip it back to the armhole bindoffs and reknit the cap, decreasing one stitch at each end of every third row, rather than every fourth row as the pattern specifies.
Of course, it took me 5 days or so to get to that point, not because of my cold, but because I got distracted. Fancy that.
Distraction #1: I finished spinning the Spinner's Hill batt (which was part of my NaKniSweNo goal, you will remember). Lovely, lovely, 3-ply yarn - about 500 yards of bulky weight. Less yardage than I had hoped for, but I hit the right gauge.
Distraction #2: I cast on for a hat (or two, I hope) for Jean's hats for the homeless drive, which I came to by way of Kathy's blog. These are my handspun; the purple is BFL, the greener ball is merino.
Distraction #3: I finished spinning half of this hand-dyed Border Leicester top from Barb Parry. I took three wonderful classes from Barb at WEBS this summer and one of these bundles was part of our materials for a class. I bought a second one from Barb, figuring I could get sufficient two-ply to make a lace scarf. So, really, what I'm doing is just tidying up bobbins. Completely justified, to my mind.
However, when I was spinning the Spinner's Hill fiber, I was doing something different with my hands. Not consciously, but I was definitely doing something different. The Spinner's Hill batt is actually a "cloud," I'm told - it was a thick (maybe 2 inches) mat about 30 inches wide. There were layers within and paralleling the surface of the batt/cloud, but even the fibers within each layer were not nearly as aligned in parallel as what comes off the usual hobbyist drumcarder. I spun this in worsted fashion, left hand forward, no twist between my hands, but I was constantly pulling forward with my left and pulling back with my right, while moving both hands together away from the orifice. Because the fibers in the cloud were more entangled, I had to do more work wihile spinning to draft them down to the size I wanted for the single. This yarn ended up looking much more like a woolen spun, even though I spun it in worsted fashion, because of the relatively random arrangement of the fibers in the cloud.
In short, I may be too lazy to try switching my hands and I'm trying to justify that.
Distraction #4: I knit another couple inches on the back of Twist & Shout - I'm up past the armhole bindoffs.
Distraction #5: There seems to be a big bag full of Lopi in the living room that wasn't in the house a week ago. It may be turning itself into a felted rug, although not like the Mason-Dixon rug and not like what it looks like now, so no pics yet.
Frankly, it's amazing I finish anything around here. Clearly, it could be easy to finish at least one sweater for NaKniSweNo, but I get ...waylaid. I am so, so, SO very easily distracted.
Friday, November 14, 2008
That tape measure reads 11 inches for the sleeve cap. Several other trusted patterns I've consulted give heights of around 7 inches for the cap of a set-in sleeve.
While the front and back of Pebbles line up perfectly (whew!), I think that sleeve is too long, even allowing for the easing-in needed to fit sleeve to body.
When I line up the Pebbles sleeve over the sleeve of a knit-long-ago set-in-sleeve sweater, the length from cuff to underarm matches perfectly, but the length of the Pebbles sleeve cap is sufficient unto a raglan sleeve, damn it, damn it damn it damn it.
And in case you're wondering, the pattern has no line-drawing schematic to check AND I am getting both stitch and row gauge. Not to mention being remarkably far along in this NaKniSweMo nonsense. Until now.
And the worst part is that I was beginning to run out of enthusiam for knitting this. Sleeves are boring. And long. Especially long when they are too damned long for any normal sweater known to knitter, as I believe I've mentioned. So my attentions were starting to wander. I am still sick enough not to have the energy to spin, especially at my usual fast pace, and the Twist & Shout ribbing is irritating to my befuddled brain. When I saw this yesterday on the Mason-Dixon blog, I started to lust anew. But no, I told myself, I am committed to finishing at least one sweater this month and getting pretty far along on two others. No distractions. No new projects. God knows, no new yarn.
And then came the sleeve cap stretching from here to Timbuktu.
Now, can you really blame me if I've been looking at Lamb's Pride Bulky on the WEBS site and debating what colors I might go get tomorrow, if I'm still in a virally demented snit over this blasted Pebbles pattern? I know you'd be doing exactly the same thing.
Oh, Exalted Sheep on Yonder High Hill, give me the strength to do what I ought, to fulfill my promises, to resist the seductions of NewProjectNewYarnPantPant, to frog and knit that sleeve into submission. And then knit the other sleeve correctly and to match.
I may not be that strong.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm definitely under the weather - I just had to correct at least ten typos in that last paragraph, many more than usual. No brain-finger coordination here worth mentioining.
Prior to this viral onslaught, however, I have been knitting. And knitting. And knitting. And I'm about ready to clean house instead, I'm so sick of knitting (which is yet another sign I'm not up to my usual healthy speed).
Behold the Pebbles:
The back is done. The front is done. I figure a sweater has four more-or-less equal parts: the back, the front, the sleeves, and the rest (sewing-up, collars, button bands, whatever). So, if one is trying to knit a sweater in a month, one ought to finish the back in a week (which I did) and the front in another week (which I did; 3 days, to be precise). I believe this gives me 4 days in which to loll around nurturing cold viruses.
I did cast on for a sleeve last night, and if my brain weren't slowed by viral ooze, I could figure out whether there's a problem with the tuck stitch directions for the sleeves or that I should be picking up those purl bumps on the wrong side, rather the right side, but the pattern doesn't specify and the photos aren't conclusive. If I can't find something definitive in my Barbara Walker stitch compendia, I'll just make an executive decision and that will be that. I don't think my brain can cope with this tonight, however.
Behold one strand of the sub for Lite Lopi in the Light Lopi Pullover:
Nice, eh? I love that color. I loooooove that COLOR!! The Spinner's Hill batt seems to be easiest to spin with my perfectionism held at bay, as I am quite happy with the thick and thin, slubby character of this single.
Character. That's a hard word to spell correctly when one's synapses are firing a trifle oddly. Charcter. Chartcer. Characer.
Enough. I better have something really mindless I can knit, somewhere in this woolful house.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
There's just one little problem. Notice anything wrong? Neither did I, till I wondered why the notes in the beginning of the pattern included instructions for something called a Back Cable Pattern. I assumed that meant some kind of fancy cable, like a Horseshoe Cable or a Gullwing Cable, to be used on the fronts of this sweater, where clearly the lovely photos of the pattern show cables. But no, "Back Cable" also refers to the cable pattern used on the back of the sweater - you know, the one signaled by the part of the pattern that reads, "...begin working Back Cable Pattern between markers." Or, if that didn't catch your attention, you might notice, a couple of lines down, the sentence that reads, "Work 36 sts in pattern (to 12 sts before beginning of cable panel), place marker, work 68 sts in pattern (to 12 sts past end of cable panel), place marker, work in pattern to end." Or you might notice the photo, the second photo of four provided, that highlights the cables on the back and sleeves. Or, like me, you might skip over all that folderol, pleased as punch with how quickly this sweater is shaping up - why, I'm already well into ball 2 of the yarn! - and simply keep on knitting and purling in the rib pattern till your boredom with knitting and purling leads you to read a bit more of the pattern, whereupon you discover some damned cable pattern that's supposed to go smack dab in the middle of the back.
I simply don't know why they couldn't have given me more warning of such an event. Harrumph and really now!
Since I'm such a seasoned knitter, however, I have recovered nicely, or at least recovered in some fashion. You remember all my dithering over needle size and gauge for this sweater? Well, before I cast on, I had looked at what it would take to adjust this somewhat-complicated pattern for the measly, itty bitty, really-hardly-there, quarter of a stitch per inch I was off by using size 7 needles, and decided screw it, I'm just going to knit size B with size 7 needles and trust the designer when she said, " Because of the pattern’s giving nature, instructions for only 4 sizes are given – trust me, this is plenty. If in doubt go small."
Well, I thought, I could always just lose 30 pounds this month whilst I'm knitting and spinning three sweaters - I mean, obviously I won't have time to eat anyhow (especially now that all the good Halloween candy is gone), so of course size B at 20 stitches to 4 inches instead of the specified 19 stitches to 4 inches will fit.
But just for back-up, just because I like to be prepared, I have decided that the missing Back Cables on the back of my Twist & Shout are a well-planned design feature. You know that cables draw in a knit fabric, making it narrower than a non-cabled fabric, right? Well, if I need just a smidgen more ease in my Twist & Shout, then it makes perfect sense - really, a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself - to leave off some of the cables. Where better to omit cables than on the back, yes? I may not have done this consciously, but clearly my fingers know better than my brain, and they just went ahead and left out cables that don't really need to be there. I hope.
Sweater #2 (an interpretation of Norah Gaughan's Lite Lopi Pullover, but in handspun, not Lite Lopi): Sample skein knitted up; gauge is 8.5 inches to 2 inches. The pattern calls for 8 stitches in 2 inches, but I'm not at all worried about adjusting this pattern for a different gauge. [Translation: Stay tuned for yet another Design Feature.]
Sweater #3 (Pebbles): Cast on and coming along nicely, aside from the slight impediment of a furry beast on my lap. Interestingly and disappointingly, this yarn seems less soft now that it's dyed. It's not harsh now; it's just not as squishily soft as it was.
In other news, it was a gorgeous late-fall day here and I did get outside in between the fiber frenzies. Despite the late date and the hard frosts we've had this week, I saw a meadowhawk dragonfly and a sulphur butterfly. Global warming really is changing phenologies around here!
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Sweater 2: A sample three-ply of the Spinner's Hill batt, for the Norah Gaughan pullover.
Sweater 3: Look at this color! This is the dyed handspun for Pebbles, and I think I like it. With any luck, it'll dry tonight and I can cast it on tomorrow.
In other news, I've dithered by myself over this for the past few days, without blogreader input, and I've come to the conclusion all by myself that 27 inches is too wide for a stole. I ought to frog this and cast on about 3/4 as many stitches, before I get much longer. Otherwise, I think I'm likely to run out of yarn. This is Jager Farm DK-weight Icelandic yarn, in the Water Lilies colorway, knit up with the Milanese Lace pattern from volume II of the Barbara Walker stitch pattern books. Gorgeous, gorgeous yarn.
So, yeah, I'm busy - you?
Friday, October 31, 2008
But last night, after I posted to you, I got out this batt, to see if I could use it for the Norah Gaughan pullover. It's beautiful fiber, isn't it? It might even work with that Spunky Eclectic I spun a while ago, although I'll have to wait till the Spinner's Hill batt is spun up before I can really judge.
I decided I would be smart (for once) and knit a swatch from that Corriedale cross fleece I just finished up, just to see what gauge it was so I could judge how to spin the Spinner's Hill batt. Here's the Corriedale yarn knit and washed.
I'm in love. True, to-the-core, with all my senses, love. I took it to work today and made my co-workers fondle it. Shall we look closer?
It's a perfect Aran-weight yarn - 18 stitches to 4 inches on a size 8 needle (see? I got that size 8 needle for a reason). The fabric is soft, yet substantial. It does not bias, it doesn't show the inherent variability in thickness, it is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful yarn! And I made it!
Lots of it! A whole fleece worth! (well, minus the half-pound or so of roving the damned cats felted one day - kneading, drooling, warm-bodied cats are very good felters, it turns out.)
So, I'm thinking of Option D - Pebbles, by Elsebeth Lavold. I think this sweater would look great on me. I think I could knit this in one month. I think what I really want to do, as long as this is my hobby, my passion, is cast on or start spinning for all three sweaters, starting tomorrow, November 1, because hey, who says I have to follow rules, anyhow.
Which means I need to do a little dyeing tonight. Keep your fingers crossed - I'm aiming to turn that light brown into something dark blue with a hint of purple, and I just don't know what will happen next.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Except...except...there's that question of sleazy fabric or no. Remember I told you that trying Stockbridge on size 9 needles yielded fabric so sleazy, so lacking in substance, that I frogged the swatch immediately. The size 7 swatch, on the other hand, is perfect fabric. I would love to knit and wear that fabric. It has a good hand; it drapes, yet has a mind of its own; it's good goods. Furthermore, I suspect that Twist & Shout, being essentially a jacket rather than a cardigan, may need fabric like that of the size 7 swatch - something that won't just droop into formlessness.
This is a photo, on a convenient lamp shade, of the size 8 swatch on the top and the size 7 swatch on the bottom. Note the greater light coming through the upper swatch. It's a little sleazy. A little formless. A little worrisome. So I am dithering. Should I do as Laurie suggested, and refigure the numbers for a size 7 needle? Maybe the alpaca/wool yarn called for the pattern is more substantial than the alpaca/wool Stockbridge? (Ravelry research is called for.) Or should I bail on this pairing of pattern and yarn altogether? Once this rootlet of doubt took hold in my mind, I began to remember Norah Gaughan's Lite Lopi Pullover. I could spin the yarn for the body of that sweater, maybe for the yoke colorwork as well - certainly, it would take longer than a month to spin and knit even a fairly simple sweater like this, but then I'd have a sweater that worked. And I'd have an excuse to spin a lot, maybe even starting tonight - making the yarn for a November sweater ahead of time isn't against the rules, is it?
What do you think, dear readers:
a) Twist & Shout, Stockbridge yarn, size 8 needles, ignoring the worrisome sleaze factor;
b) Twist & Shout, Stockbridge yarn, size 7 needles, with recomputed stitch counts - anybody seen my calculator and graph paper?; or
c) The Norah Gaughan pullover, from handspun; in which case get cracking.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Size 7, as the yarn's ballband suggests, swatched, washed and dried, yields 20 stitches in 4 inches:
Is that good enough? This is a very nice fabric, sturdy, but with enough drape. Dither, dither...
Size 9, as the pattern suggests (for a different yarn): Clearly too sleazy. I didn't even bother with a photo, just ripped it out.
Size 8: well, I didn't have a size 8 circular free, except for the 40-inch-long one with metal tips, which I hate, or dpns, which I didn't want to fiddle with at 10:30 last night. Thus, after a short trip to a LYS today:
Monday, October 27, 2008
So, now the choices for November are:
a) Finish up old WIPs (there's at least three sweaters-in-progress I can think of), but that's really cheating. One is supposed to start and finish a sweater in the 30 days of November, 2008, not the 30 days of November, 2006, and the 30 days of November, 2007, and the 30 days of November, 2008. It's just not cricket.
b) Dye the approximately 3.5 pounds of worsted-weight yarn from the Corriedale cross fleece I just finished spinning (did you hear that? I finished spinning an entire fleece, a 2007 Rhinebeck Correidale cross fleece. I deserve cake, thank you very much), and use that in a NaKniSweMo sweater. The natural color is a bit of a yellowish-medium brown, which doesn't look good on me; that's why I'd have to dye the yarn. I could dye it tonight or tomorrow night and the yarn would be ready by Nov. 1st, but...eh, this doesn't inspire me. I think I'm scared to dye a whole sweater's worth of yarn at once - I'm not sure I have a big enough pot. Anybody got a restaurant kitchen handy I could borrow?
c) Use commercial yarn in the stash to knit something new. Now this appeals to me for some reason (today it appeals, at least; tomorrow I'll want to spin all the time). There are a good eight or more sweaters in my Ravelry favorites that I bet I have suitable yarn for in my stash. A few I'm eliminating because their gauge is 22 or more stitches to 4 inches, meaning lots of knitting. Wisteria, you may remember, is knit from Aran-weight yarn; that's one reason it was so quick. The other reasons it's quick are that much of the sweater is plain stockinette and there's very little finishing. So, if I were smart, I'd knit something like Norah Gaughan's Lite Lopi Pullover - 16 stitches to 4 inches, plain stockinette from the bottom up to the colorful yoke (hey! I could even use my handspun for the yoke!). And if I wanted to challenge myself, but still aim for something doable, I might go for Robynn Weldon's Twist & Shout - 19 stitches to 4 inches, lots of seaming, lots of ribbing and cables, about 1650 yards in my size. A challenge, but a lovely one.
You do realize, of course, that I just wanted to justify casting on for Twist & Shout, right? Tonight, I'm going to swatch the gray Valley Yarns Stockbridge I bought for just this pattern and see what I think. If all goes well, you know what I'll be doing next Saturday morning (besides eating Halloween candy). If swatching doesn't work out, hmm...maybe I'll go for Norah's pullover - I'm sure that would be a piece of cake!
Sunday, October 26, 2008
When last we left our intrepid fiber fiend, I was home from SOAR. The next Friday, Sue and I zoomed off to Rhinebeck after work, bringing Sue's pets with her: meet Sparky and Shadow, hatchling Painted (the bigger one) and Musk (the tiny one) turtles that Sue is head-starting inside this winter.
They need their water changed every day and they need to be fed every day, so of course they had to come with us. Since we were staying in unheated (but quite nice) cabins at the Mills-Norrie State Park south of town, the turtles came with us to the fair (parking lot, no further) every day, too, and basked in the sun-warmed greenhouse of my car while we were shopping and eating and shopping.
My friends Pat and her two daughters Isabel and Olivia were at Rhinebeck, too, showing two of their Shetland ewe lambs and a Cheviot ram lamb in the sheep show. They tented on the fairgrounds Friday night, but since the fair officials werre concerned someone would run over their tent at night (apparently, all 'real' farmers have RVs), they came and stayed with us Saturday night. Here they are showing the Shetlands on Sunday.
We saw Deanna's prize-winning (second place) hand-washed (a Romney fleece), hand-dyed, hand-flick-carded, hand-spun, and hand-knit St. Brigid sweater - gorgeous! Really, really, really lovely!
I ran into lots of people I know, but not into lots of other people I know who were there. I suppose I will have to break down, join the modern world, and get a cell phone, if only to find my friends at fiber fairs.
Despite my best intentions, I bought fleeces. Um, three fleeces, to be exact. The blue-ribbon (colored fleece) fleece - a dark, dark brown Corriedale cross from Homestead Farm, in the upper left. A fawn-colored Corriedale cross, also from Homestead Farm. A dark brown 'Natural Color Long' (meaning a mutt, I think) from Marilamb Farm. Yes, I am nuts (but I just yesterday finished spinning up one of last year's Rhinebeck fleeces!).
Alvin Ramer combs in cherry. Wicked implements!
We had a ball. And then we came home. Going back to work the day after Rhinebeck is so hard!
Luckily, there was the Fiber Twist to look forward to. I helped set up and take down, so 'twas an all-day event for me, which also meant I took more photos that usual. There were great vendors, there were demonstrations, and the local rug-hooking chapter was there in force as well. Here, have a few photos...
The real highlight of the Fiber Twist for me (well, yes, I did buy a Leslie Wind shawl pin and some ruby red cormo/silk Foxfire Fiber sliver and 3 skeins of beautiful Jager Farm Icelandic yarn that I've already cast on, but nevermind...at least I resisted the fleeces) as Marcy Moffet's (aka Habetrot) talk and demonstration of some of her historic spindles, whorls, and distaves. Wow! I have no words; to have it made concrete for me just how much work went into clothing, bedding, sails, rugs, bags, curtains, everything before spinning wheels and commercial spinning jennys, really rather blew me away. That's not very articulate, but my head's still reeling. Take a gander...
If you ever get a chance to see Marcy show off and talk about her spindle collection, do it!
And with that, you'll have to excuse me - I have just a little spinning and knitting and even weaving to do!