Sunday, November 26, 2006

Exhaustion at the Finish Line

I have no lists and charts and graphs of my fiber stash for you today. I admit it, I'm defeated.

I can tell you I have four fleeces, two white, two black.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I can tell you I have a total of 1,776 yards of handspun not yet knit up. I did manage to get that counted up.

And I can tell you I brought home 12.5 pounds of fiber from Rhinebeck this year. But as for the rest of the fiber, I confess: I gave up. I have no master list, no total tonnage for you. Instead, I visited with my friend Elizabeth, I did housework (a shocker!), I paid bills, I rounded up boxes in which to send out the yarn I'm giving away (I still need a couple more boxes, just to warn you), and I had pumpkin pie and an apple for dinner. I simply could not face any more turkey.

However (signal the trumpets), I am exceedingly thrilled by the fact that I have given away, especially with the valiant efforts of Sue and Elizabeth this weekend, a grand total of...

--- 14% ---

of that part of my stash whose yardage I can measure. Plus a sweater's worth of red mohair. I am right pleased with myself. Perhaps I should go look at some sale yarn somewhere tomorrow....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Feeling Pleased With Myself

Back on the 11th of November, when I totaled up all those WIPs hiding in the corners of this house, there were sixteen of the little darlings. As part of my overall stash reduction plan, I vowed to finish six of these by the end of 2007, about 1/5 of the total.

I am very pleased to tell you that in the past two weeks, I have achieved 50% of my goal. And a good thing, too, since those three items happen to be targeted as Christmas presents for this year, 2006.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So, without further ado, may I present Finished Objects #1 and #2: two handspun scarves, plus the dark handspun mistake rib scarf I had already finished for my brother's present. They're all blocking here and all lying nicely flat, too.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The red one is for my friend Pat, who had better not be reading this blog. This is my handspun, knitted up in the little lace pattern Jillian Moreno used for her handspun hat pattern, Madge.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The blue/green one is my handspun plied with Zephyr, in the classic feather and fan lace pattern, a present for my mom (who doesn't even know I have a blog, I think).

FO #3: Earle's hat, a present for Christmas, which I forgot to take a photo of and, since he's right here, I can't go take a pic now. A basic hat, of my handspun natural light gray wool pencil roving. If this doesn't keep him warm, he'd better move south.

And what of the other 13 WIPs? Well, next I have wisely decided to finish up those three projects which still interest me and which are fairly far along. I'll spare you the photos and detailed descriptions for now; this list is mostly for my own reminding.

WIP #4: A lacy, cabled scarf, about 1/3 done.
WIP #5: The diagonal-striped-block afghan/rug, about 1/3 complete. I was going to felt this into a rug, but I don't like how the illusion of over-and-under weaving is or, more precisely, is not showing up, so I think I'll finish this as an afghan and donate it to Afghans for Afghans.
WIP #6: Voodoo Wrist Warmers, about 1/2 done. One of these is completed, but if I remember correctly, I want to lengthen the cuff on these, so perhaps a certain amount of frogging is in order. Nonetheless, I need these - it's finally getting cold out!

And the rest? Well, here's a brief list, in no particular order:

WIP #7: A blue boucle dolman jacket, about 25% complete.
WIP #8: Lizard Ridge Afghan, 3 blocks done.
WIP #9: Liam's baby blanket, about 1/2 done. Liam is now 5, I think.
WIP #10: Noro cardigan. I made the wrong size, damn it. This needs frogging and redoing.
WIP #11: Ostrich Plume stole, about 10% complete.
WIP #12: A purple summer shell, with a little lace. Maybe 10% complete.
WIP #13: Pearl Buck Swing Jacket, about 10% complete. (I'm beginning to see a pattern here.)
WIP #14: A long-sleeved cotton sweater, about 1/3 done.
WIP #15: Basic socks, about 25% complete. Alas, these are a little big, so I need to frog and start again.
WIP #16: Clapotis, in bamboo, about 10% complete.

In other news, I went to visit my friend Sue in Northampton today. We decided to go for a walk in the beautiful sunshine and, oddly enough, we ended up at WEBS - fancy that! And I must confess that I, um, somehow, er, ended up with not only the new Victorian Lace Today book, but also with a little bit of roving. Ahem. Just 8 ounces, of the same wonderful Louet multi-colored wool top I blogged about a couple of posts ago, but this time in a scrumptious deep red and blue colorway. And I don't feel guilty at all about the book, I never said I was going to hold the line on acquiring any more books and patterns and such. Which may explain why I ended up buying two books at Emily's 30%-off-all-books sale yesterday - Knitting in the Old Way and The Opinionated Knitter: Elizabeth Zimmermann, Newsletters 1958-1968. Plus a Sirdar pamphlet of cabled fishermen sweaters; I have the urge to cable.

Sue also agreed to relieve me of a number of the yarns and books I'm giving away, but fear not - all of you who have written me with requests are getting exactly what you asked for; I just haven't gotten around to writing you back yet. I will, I will, I promise, soon!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Not Tonight, Dear

Yes, I know I vowed to blog every day of this four-day weekend, and tonight I was thinking about writing about the impressive pile of WIPs inhabiting corner B of my room and shelf 3 of the linen closet and maybe somewhere else in the house, too, but, alas, the camera battery died and I had a glass of wine with dinner, so I'm not thinking clearly anyhow, so not tonight, dearest darlings, you'll have to wait till the morrow to hear and see just how long I can resist the guilt-inducing siren call of projects past.

Trust me, you'll survive.

In other news: The rebalancing of the world's yarn mass is proceeding nicely [see yesterday's post], but there's still more yarn here than has been spoken for - tell your knitting buddies, mention my excessive gift-giving in your blog, help me get rid of this stuff, please! Otherwise, I might have to resort to stuffing empty crannies in your boxes with the Casablanca ribbon yarn or that cone of mystery yarn or, heaven forfend, the two-pound cone of ecru cotton.

Having lodged that thought in your brain, I'm going to go knit mindless basketweave for a scarf for my dad for Christmas. That's about all I can handle tonight. Toodles!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

We Gather Together

It's Thanksgiving morning, American Thanksgiving that is, and I'm up relatively early, not because I have to bake three pies or clean the entire house before the family comes over or finish knitting the tablecloth in time for turkey gravy and red wine to be spilled on it. Nope, I'm up early because I'm not sleeping well these days and I wanted a cup of tea to settle my tummy. I think the dust mites are gathering in unheard-of numbers in my bedroom, such that when I'm tired and go to bed, my body starts screaming, "Get out of here! You're allergic, remember?" So, I don't sleep well at all. Earle, bless him, cleaned the house yesterday while I was at work (well, maybe not the bedroom all that well), and no one's coming for dinner, I'm only baking one pie, and I'm not that crazy as to attempt a knitted tablecloth. Not this year, at any rate.

Where was I? Not getting enough sleep does that to me. Oh, yes - American Thanksgiving! Under the heading Things I am Thankful For comes the realization that getting as absorbed in knitting and spinning as I have in the past couple years has opened my narrowly focused eyes to the wide, wide world. The fact that Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on a different day than Americans do. I knew that before, but now it's part of my at-the-forefront thought. Likewise, I've learned enormous amounts about different breeds of sheep and what librarians really do and how people cope with tragedy in their lives and what different knitters consider a suitable stash and so on and so forth. If I were truly awake, I'd be more eloquent about all this, I hope.

So today I'm celebrating the joy and fun that knitters, of all stripes, have given me - I'm not talking about teaching me to spin or creating nifty patterns or steering me to good sales here, I'm talking about enjoying knitters as people. You are a wonderful bunch. Keep up the good work out there, around the globe.

In gratitude, I'm giving away to you, my loyal readers, such components of my stash as I can bear to part with. For you guys, I will sacrifice. Leave me a comment with what you want and your snail mail address (or email me your address at harperlynn At msn Dot com, if you're uncomfortable with posting your address, which is understandable) and I'll send the stuff to you as soon as I can get organized. First come, first served, except I'd like to spread this stuff around as far as possible, so probably just one type of yarn to a person. We'll see how it all works out.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Giving this away is no sacrifice, however. Here we have a cone of ecru 10/4 cotton, about two pounds, from WEBS, no doubt. It's about sport weight, 2800 yards per pound, so a total of around 5600 yards. I have no idea why I have this, and you can share in that thought if you only ask. Maybe you could knit your very own lacy tablecloth in time for next Thanksgiving. Maybe several tablecloths, in fact.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Then we have 10 balls of intensely blue mohair-y yarn, Plymouth's Orient Express. Twelve stitches to 4 inches, nylon/acrylic/mohair, a total of 530 yards. Any takers?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here are 4 balls of ribbon yarn, by the name of Casablanca. A total of 440 yards, at 22 stitches to 4 inches. Goes nicely with the Orient Express - anybody want a poncho for a nine-year-old girl?

We Interrupt This Program to Bring You the Following Important Message: Earle has awoken. In fact, he is singing, "Happy, happy turkey day, happy, happy turkey day, happy happy..." etc., etc., and is, in fact, beginning to sound remarkably like a turkey gobbling himself. This is my cue to go get dressed; we're going to the local coffee shop - The Daily Grind, really, that's its name - for breakfast. Your Regularly Scheduled Program will resume later today, in among pie-baking and spinach-washing and turkey-staffing activities. Stay tuned.


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

OK, we're back. Breakfast has been consumed, the turkey has been stuffed and is beginning to roast, and Athol High is up 24-13 over their arch-rivals, Mahar Regional, in the third quarter of the annual Thanksgiving High school football game next door. All is quiet, at least until I have to bake a pie and such. Therefore, onward with the yarn dispensation!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here is one of the mysteries of my stash: a one-pound-plus cone of pale blue-green yarn, something non-wool, a blend of maybe, I don't know, silk/linen/rayon, something like that. Maybe sport weight. One of you needs this desperately.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And here is a real prize - 11 balls of navy blue Gjestal Naturgarn No. 1, all wool, 13 stitches/4 inches, a total of 1331 yards. You could really make something from this - a heavy winter sweater for you, two or three kids' sweaters, maybe a throw?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anybody remember my Sunrise Circle Jacket? Here we have about 2.5 balls of leftover Katia Mexico, wool/acrylic, 17 stitches/4 inches, about 250 yards total, nice stuff . I wear the jacket quite a lot. You know, if I were organized, I would have made myself a matching hat out of this, but I didn't, so you can.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anybody like knitting with cotton? (Bitterknitter, are you out there somewhere?) I have no memory whatsoever of why I have two balls each of four colors of Saucy Sport, all cotton, 24 stitches/4 inches, 246 yards of each, a total of 984 yards.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Cotton socks anyone? Here we have three balls of Cascade Fixation, cotton/elastic, 25-29 stitches/4 inches, a total of 558 yards. Yellow/purple/green - wake up your sock drawer with these!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

More cotton: Filatura di Crosa Dolce Amore (I think it's Amore; every label has the price sticker over the name). Two colorways - six balls of multi-color pastels and five of white with pastel dots. These two colors go well together. Alas, this is not machine washable, or we'd have the makings of a great baby blanket here. 28 stitches to 4 inches, 198 yards per ball, or 1188 of the darker stuff and 990 of the lighter color.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Two-and-a-half balls or so of Berroco Europa. I knit myself a sweater from this, that I'm wearing it today. Wool/cotton, 20 stitches/4 inches, a total of about 338 yards.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Soft, soft, soft. Classic Elite Avalon, black, obviously. Angora/baby alpaca/lambswool, 20 stitches/4 inches, about 412 yards total. Winter scarf for your mom, maybe?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Red, red, red! Mohair - not a solid red, but with some stripes of red-purple, too. Lots of this, but I don't know how much - I'd guess enough for an adult woman's medium sweater, since that's what I started knitting from this. One ball is frogged and rewound, but I did not wash this to get rid of the kinks. (I kinda like the kinks, actually).

A grand total of 12,621 yards to give away, plus a couple pounds of red mohair and pale blue mystery yarn. This makes me feel good - that's more than 10% of the known yardage under this roof. Books! I have three books to give away, too.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Barbara Abbey's The Complete Book of Knitting. Somehow, I have two copies.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Lily Chin's Mosaic Magic: Afghans Made Easy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Nicky Epstein's Knitting for Your Home: Afghans, Pillows, and Accents.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Anybody for a little kit for making your own knitting needles? Dowels, sandpaper, polymer clay and instructions.

And patterns! If you want some subset of these - a certain gauge, say, or only the legwarmers - just ask, and it's yours.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Patterns for adult women.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Patterns for little kids.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Woman's Day 101 Needlecraft & Sweater Ideas, Winter, 1991. A number of nice patterns in this.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Finally, a treasure trove of patterns from the 1970s and 1980s - you need these! How can you pass this up? The 80s are in again! These were given to me by a non-knitting friend. His mother had died and left him, among other belongings, these patterns, so he gave them to me.

Well, look - it's time to go baste the turkey. Help me redistribute all this wealth, send me a note, and there'll be a present in the mail for you soon. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We Have a Plan

Ladies, gentlemen, knitters: With the assistance of my loyal readers, I have concocted a plan for meeting my goal of reducing my stash by 10% in 2007. And since I have a four-day weekend ahead of me, I intend to blog every day of this weekend about my plan and my progress thereunto.

Hey, come back here! I promise to show pretty pictures and not be too boring, OK?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

First: The fearless Stariel has bravely volunteered to assist, by relieving me of my entire collection of fun fur and even - gasp! - eyelash yarn, as seen above, for use in her on-going fun fur log cabin throw.

This gets rid of a grand total of 173 yards. I believe that is about 0.0016 percent of the known yardage in my stash. But, hey, it's a start! Plus, she quite admirably volunteered to take dk- to worsted-weight yarn for use in her charity knitting. So, she's going to get a selection of such yarns from my collection of random balls and leftovers. If I were Stariel, I'd expect a box, oh, about Monday. So: three huzzahs for the brightest star in the knitting firmament, Stariel!

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let us review the situation, shall we? First, we have my stash - yarn I have in quantities sufficient for a real project. Twelve skeins of this for a sweater, three of that for a scarf, a big ball for a shawl, that sort of thing. In my last post, I stated that I have over 109,000 yards of such stuff. In reality, I need to check into that number a little more closely and remove such ringers as the 3600 yards of carpet warp, which is really only for weaving, not knitting, so it isn't fair to count it. Whatever the true yardage turns out to be, here's my sub-goal for stash yarn:

Sub-Goal #1: By the end of 2007, reduce the yardage of my stash yarn by 10%, by knitting it up, giving it away, or otherwise disposing of it in a manner befitting its dignity. No hiding it in the compost pile, for example, even though I'm sure it would rot nicely, eventually.

OK, everybody clear on the concept? Let's move on to the next category: works in progress. By this I mean those projects which were cast on, but not yet finished, as of November 11, 2006, which is when I inventoried. As of that date, I had 16 works-in-progress. I'll go into these in greater detail later this weekend, but for now, let me just state my sub-goal for the WIPs:

Sub-Goal #2: By the end of 2007, complete six of the 16 WIPs present and accounted for on 11/11/06.

Why six? Because it's about one-third of the 16 WIPs, and I figure; a) I really ought to get some of these done, since they have been hanging around for up to five years; and b) there will be yarn left over from each of these projects, presumably, and that yarn needs to be dealt with, somehow. So, one-third of the WIPs it is. Wish me luck...

Next: the random yarn. These are the leftovers of projects past, plus the occasional ball or ninety that I bought back in my Kaffe Fassett days, plus the leftovers from other peoples' projects, plus stuff I have no idea why it's there. There are about 250 quarts of random commercial yarn, if I can trust the labels on the plastic storage containers. Thus...

Sub-Goal #3: By the end of 2007, reduce the quartage of my random yarn by 10%, in any suitable way. (No composting.)

Now, this task I have further broken down into small tasks that I can envision completing. My pile of random balls and leftovers can be broken down into several sections:

The Fun Fur/Eyelash Component: See Stariel, above.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Not-Wool. No, I'm not talking about acrylic, I'm talking about a half-ball of cotton and the little bit of mohair and the nylon ribbon yarn and the lovely silk/viscose blend - that sort of thing. I separated all of this away from the wool or mostly-wool, and I intend to knit myself (or possibly, some unsuspecting recipient circa Christmas, 2007) two feather-and-fan throws. A giant blue/green/purple one, for the bottom of my bed, and a mostly-red one, for the sofa. I am proud to report I have cast on for the blue throw and wisely decided it will have longish fringe, to boot, as that will use up even more yarn. The photos above show a small sample of yarn for each throw. With luck and perseverance, these two throws will use up quite a bit of yarn.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The Skinny: I have a good bit...hold on, I'll check the quantity... I have about 20 quarts of quite thin yarn, laceweight, fingering, that sort of weight. Since I've had such pleasant experiences plying my handspun singles with skinny commercial yarn, I'll keep these 20 quarts of skinny yarn aside, for plying. If I get desperate, I'll start plying them with each other and then using them up.

The Plain Wool: There are maybe 15 or 20 balls or part-balls of solid-colored wool or mostly-wool. These are going to Stariel (unless she objects) for her charity knitting or other amusement. She might get some yarn from the next group, also.

The Heathered or Multi-colored Wools: The majority of my random yarn is nice, basic, worsted-or-so-weight, heathery wool or wool blends. Think Bartlett or Lamb's Pride. For these, I'm resorting to not-knitting. Not crochet, either, but weaving. I'm thinking I will weave these yarns into a rug or two, coincidentally using up the 3600 yards of carpet warp I mentioned above. More details on this when I figure them out.

Enough on the random yarn. What's left? Well, there's my fiber stash. I know I brought back about 12.5 pounds of roving and such from Rhinebeck , but I'm not sure what else there is. I'll inventory the fiber this weekend and then:

Sub-Goal #4: By the end of 2007, spin 10% of the fiber stash into yarn.

I have no illusions that I'll get all the resulting yardage knit into something, but I'll try. That's the best I can do.I figure that if I spin it, at least it's still moving along the cycle of fleece to fiber to yarn to garment.

Speaking of fleeces, I have four. Thus:

Sub-Goal #5: By the end of 2007, get all four fleeces processed into fiber.

I figure that will reduce the weight of the fleeces by well more than 10%. You'll hear more about these fleeces this weekend, as I intend to package these up and send them out Monday.

My goal for the yarn I've already spun? Oh, come on, I don't have that much spun up already - I just started spinning in July!

Well, OK, there's a bag full. I promise to inventory the yardage and add it to the total of stash yarn. You happy now?

One last category - the unknown. There are a number of cones of yarn sitting around, the yardage of which I have not the foggiest. Therefore, I promise to weigh these and:

Sub-Goal #6: By the end of 2007, reduce the weight of coned yarn by 10%, through appropriate processes. (Back to the no-composting rule here.)

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted. I think I'll quit now and go knit something mindless.

That pile of needlepoint yarn? We're not going there, gang, just back off and go deal with your own stash. Glass houses and all that. Although, if you're going to throw bricks through my glass house, could you please make them bricks of silk fiber? Pretty please?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Being the Responsible Adult That I Am

Inspired by a question on the Knittyboard, I thought I'd consider my knitting goals for 2007. Here's what I posted there a day or so ago:

"I thought it might be a reasonable goal for 2007 to use up 10% of my stash.

Then I inventoried.

I have over 102,000 yards of yarn [actually, I was mistaken in my memory of the number; it's over 109,000 yards, but what's 4 or 5 sweaters' worth among friends?], plus the yarn for the 16 projects in progress, plus the yarn I’ve spun up this year (not much), plus about 250 quarts of random leftover yarn, plus the fiber I haven’t spun up yet, plus yarn on cones where I don’t know the yardage.


I may have a problem.

I think it may be realistic to aim for reducing the total yarn/fiber stash by 5% in 2007, not 10%. I think I'm getting close to SABLE."

So, experienced knitters, I need your advice. I'm quite serious about reducing the total size of my stash, because it makes me feel guilty, because it’s a waste of the world’s slim resources to have it sitting around doing nothing, and because I feel strongly about the distribution of wealth, but what's the best way to go about this?

Plan A: Give away as much as I can stand to. This will be easy to do for the few balls of fun fur I've accumulated (stariel, are you really knitting a fun fur log cabin afghan?), and I can steel myself to give away perhaps as much as 25% of the random balls of yarn I have (charity knitters, commence emailing, but I'll warn you I have no acrylic, mostly just good old non-super-wash wool). Maybe I could stand to give away some of the yarn where I have enough of one kind for a real project.

Plan B: Finish at least 1/3 of the projects in progress. This will be easy to do
for those projects that are slated to be Christmas presents this year, because I'm really pretty far along with those (which means, no doubt, that it's time for me to break a finger or two). Then I could order the remaining projects by the amount of yarn left to knit and start with the ones closest to completion. This assumes that I resist starting new projects. I suspect that will be hard to do, as the first, and I mean first, thing I did after completing the inventory of my yarn was start swatching for a new project. (In my defense, it was for the yarn that Sue gave me for my birthday, which was back in June. I mean, I'd look ungrateful if I didn't get around to using the yarn before my next birthday, right? Besides, I want to encourage her to keep up the good gift-giving.)

Plan C: OK, here's where I need advice - what kind of knitting uses up the most yardage for the effort expended? Lace, with all the yarnovers? I don't think cables are particularly efficient, although I know they use up a lot more yarn for the square footage produced than stockinette does.

Plan D: Resist acquiring new yarn. This will be hard. I live within an hour's drive of at least eight really good yarn shops, including WEBS. I went to Rhinebeck this year; I want to go back. Aha! Here's a thought: If I actually do reduce my stash by MORE than 10%, I could reward myself by splurging at Rhinebeck 2007.

Plan E: Get the county sheriff to assign me some inmates to help me knit.

Plan F: Learn to crochet. It's faster than knitting.

OK, I am going too far with that last suggestion, I admit. Yes, I may learn to crochet, but I think I'll still rather knit.

All suggestions welcomed. More on this later....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Slight Detour

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday night this week the spinning group met at WEBS. I had nothing on the wheel and nothing in particular lined up, having virtuously spun up all the yarn for my Christmas knitting, I'll have you know. So I grabbed this brilliant, vibrant roving, which I had bought at Rhinebeck from Susan's Fiber Shop. That's 8 ounces of 100% wool top, in the Northern Lights colorway, from Louet. If you want some, it's on sale now at Susan's (figures). This is quite a thin roving, now as thin as pencil roving, but not as thick as most roving I've seen. It was about 3/4 of an inch thick.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

As I spun up this vibrancy, it softened and calmed into something really lovely. I filled this bobbin today and, while I was tempted to ply it with something commercial with nylon in it, to make a sock yarn, I don't think I want to knit this into socks. In fact, hardly ever in my life do I want to knit socks. So, I'm thinking of spinning some deep teal Corriedale roving from Louet, which I believe I bought at the Wool Room in Antrim, New Hampshire, this summer, and seeing how well the multi-colored single above melds with a solid teal single. Stay tuned to see what really happens.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

In the all-important Christmas knitting news, I finished the merino/silk mistake rib scarf for my brother. I got to about 65 inches long, before blocking, and while I have more yarn, I don't have the motivation to go further. Instead, I cast on for the scarf above, destined to be a Christmas present for my friend Pat. Did I show you this yarn before? I don't remember. Anyhow, it's a Grafton Fibers batt plied with Corriedale from the Sheep Shed. The scarf pattern is the lace repeat from Jillian Moreno's Madge hat, in Knittyspin. I am so inspired by this scarf! I love the way the simple diagonal lace pattern interacts with the texture and colors of the yarn. I'm even thrilled by the way the lace contrasts with the garter-stitch edging. I'm thinking seriously that something like this would make a great jacket front. Maybe after Christmas....

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Finally, here's a local celebrity - see all those flashbulbs going off in the background? This is the first flower I've had on an orchid cactus, Epiphyllum angulare, that I bought about two years ago. It is - was - about five inches across, on an eight-inch-long bud stalk. Extraordinary! What a fragrance, too! Alas, the flowers only last two days and there aren't any more buds coming along. I bet it won't flower again till next fall. I suppose we knitters are good at dealing with delayed gratification, though, aren't we?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

A Swift Recovery

I love my local yarn shop - Emily's Needlework, in Athol, MA. Understanding immediately the plight of a knitter/spinner who is suddenly swift-less, she researched lovely wooden swifts ($100 to $130 - yikes!) and then, when I decided that was too much to pay, having just spent an inordinate amount of money on fiber at Rhinebeck and the Franklin County Fiber Twist, sold me her very own metal and plastic swift, just like mine that broke, for cheap. Don't worry, she still has a lovely big wooden swift of her own; I would not go so far as to pass on my swiftlessness to a fellow knitter. And she had on a long knitted skirt that she had just finished, in burgundies, with a ribbed yoke. I forgot to take a photo or even to ask what pattern, but I keep yearning to knit myself a skirt one of these days, so I may just have to go back and ask. It was lovely!

I blame my forgetfulness on the non-swift recovery I'm having from a cold. It's not a big deal - no earth-shaking sneezes or coughing - it's just deadening my brain and my energies, such that all I can really do is knit. Maybe spin. Definitely not clean the gutters nor put away the outside furniture for the winter, certainly no vacuuming. What a shame, eh? I did manage to wrestle my bedding into the washer. I think that coping with clean sheets and such today will be the extent of my useful work.

In my half-dead state, I'm finding great comfort in the very simple. Take this yarn, for example.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

That's a skein of about 400 yards of black alpaca and silk which I spun up from Ashland Bay fiber bought at WEBS. Altogether, a pound of this luscious stuff yielded 700 yards of two-ply dk- to worsted-weight yarn, about 12 wpi. I was fascinated, in my simple way, to see how thinly I could spin this, when my efforts at merino and other wools have been producing something much thicker, more like a heavy worsted to bulky yarn. I wasn't pre-drafting any differently; the fiber just wanted to be skinny yarn. Well, skinny by my standards, anyway. I'd like to be able to spin laceweight one of these days, but since knitting taking a lot longer than spinning, perhaps it's best I'm making heavier stuff right now anyway. This alpaca/silk is destined to be Christmas scarves, one for Sue [Sue, this is when you have to stop reading my blog, at least till January. Don't you have boxes to unpack? A quilt to finish? A certain lacy scarf to finish knitting for my Christmas present? Hmm, dear?], maybe something leafy and lacy, and one for my Dad, something suitably masculine, ribbings and cables, that sort of thing. I hope neither one of them are allergic to alpaca.

In other Christmas knitting news, I'm reaching the end of the mistake rib scarf for my brother David. You may remember that I spun this yarn from Ashland Bay merino/silk, bought at WEBS on the Knittyhead invasion a few weeks ago. Here's an example of the thicker yarn I've been making. I have to say that I'm really enjoying the texture of this yarn combined with the three-dimensional structure of mistake rib. If I were knitting a long mistake rib scarf out of nice smooth yarn, even a nice merino/silk, I think it would be boring. Perfectly suitable as a scarf and all that, but boring as hell to knit. With the, ahem, highly textured yarn I spun, though, mistake rib becomes fascinating to behold. At least to my cold-ridden brain.

Here's the scarf...

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And a closer-in close-up.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Nice. Even though it's a suitably boring guy color - sort of a dark gray/navy combo. I have about five feet of scarf knit and I'm aiming for around six feet, or whenever the yarn runs out. I know I spun about 260 yards of this, but alas, I did not make note of how much fiber I started with. Maybe 8 ounces? At any rate, I still have a good bit of yarn to go; I'm sure I can make it to six feet.

OK, gang, writing that took all my energy, I'm going to retire to the couch and knit. Well, maybe I'll put the sheets in the dryer first. And did I mention I treated myself to Tracey Ullman and Mel Clark's new knitting book? Maybe I'll read it first, just to get warmed up for knitting furiously, so to speak. Or perhaps I should cast on for another of those Christmas scarves...

And you wonder why this house is a mess.