Spin Guilt

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After several months of no spinning, I’m back with a vengeance. And before I’m allowed to spin any new singles, I’ve tasked myself with plying the singles I’ve already spun. I need to free up some bobbins. Perhaps not the most artistically inspiring mission statement. But sometimes pretty things spring from necessity.

First came this 2-ply blue merino. 886 yards. One strand of tonal blue. One strand of a more variegated fiber in ocean colors.

blue merino cropped

 

Next came this rainbow Corriedale from Gale’s Art. I spun these fine singles for a class last summer, then never used them. I split the roving into thin strips so I would have lots of short color repeats. I spun the singles chain-ply to retain the stripes. 606 yards.It looks vaguely Koigu-ish.

colored corriedale cropped

Last of all came this golden brown BFL/silk. The singles had been sitting on the bobbin for a long time waiting for inspiration to strike. But I’d never been able to find something else appropriate to ply with them. So I decided the best thing to do was to ply them with themselves (chain ply) and move on.

BFL silk cropped

The Stupid Button Band Betrayed Me

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It’s hard to conceal my ire. I was so proud of how this Reverb cardigan was turning out. The purple yarn was lovely. The pattern was easy to follow. I knew the cardigan would look super-hip on, and would go with most of my wardrobe. But the button band betrayed me.

I don’t have any experience with button bands. So far, I’ve managed to avoid knitting cardigans that require buttons. I pretended that I preferred the open look. But the truth is, I was afraid of the button band. And now I know I was right. Button bands are pure evil.

  • Button bands stretch unpredictably and throw off your measurements. 4 inches between button holes. Oops, looks like you have 5. 5 is ok right?
  • Button bands lull you into thinking five buttons will do…until you try on the cardigan and realize you really need seven.
  • Button bands keep you from appreciating your brand new very pretty cardigan because something is just slightly “off”.
  • Button bands are so hard to satisfy. Put the button too far to one side, and the whole thing stretches like a scallop. Which would be nice if that was something I wanted. An artistic statement, prehaps. But it’s NOT.
  • Button bands wait until you have the cardigan all blocked, with the ends woven in, to speak up and tell you something is wrong.
  • Button bands remind you that your stomach is not as flat and firm as your dress dummy’s stomach. They’re rude little buggers.

Stupid riggin’, friggin’ button band.

Here’s the cardigan. You can see the issues I’m talking about.

I guess it’s time to remove the button bands, reknit them, and do the finishing all over again.

But not now. Not today. Today I shake my fist at the universe.

Tomorrow I’ll take apart my cardigan.

A troubling hat trend

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I said I wouldn’t overdo it this Christmas. You know, with the whole knitting thing. Last Christmas I made myself a little crazy and I swore I wasn’t going to do that to myself this year.

But somehow I can’t seem to stop myself from knitting hats. They’re so cute. They’re so quick. They’re like little woolly potato chips.  (Okay, that sounds pretty gross. Did anyone else just image an old sticky potato chip found in your cardigan pocket?)

It all started with my husband’s Christmas hat. He gets a new one every year.

Made from handspun yarn.

Made from handspun yarn.

 

I’m hoping this is going to be our “thing.” When he’s 80 he’s going to have a mountain of hats. He has this habit of not losing things. At some point, that may become a problem. Maybe senility will kick in and help us out with the hat problem.

  • Anyway, it started out with my husband’s Christmas hat.
  • Then I knitted a couple more because I had some scrap yarn in my stash that was just right for hats.
  • Then I decided to knit a hat for my niece. I knitted that hat like I was a jazz musician. Total improv cables. It turned out great.
  • Then I realized my new little nephew needed a hat too, so I cast one on. He may need multiple hats. Babies lose hats all the time, right?

This is a troubling hat trend.

A Cozy New Sweater Just in Time for Autumn

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It’s going to be 80 in southern Minnesota today. The leaves are still firmly attached to the trees and stubbornly green. But in a few weeks all of that is going to change and I’m going to be ready.

Over Labor Day weekend, I finally finished weaving in the ends on my Plum Island Pullover.  It’s a simple, gansey style sweater, with a slouchy, comfortable shape. The pattern is by Alison Green.

The decided to knit this sweater during one of those rare moments of yarn-related serendipity. I had a pattern I wanted to knit and exactly the right yarn in my stash, the right yardage and everything.  How often does that happen?

I used Imperial Yarns Columbia in the Indigo Heather colorway.

 

 

I Love Blog Followers

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Dear blog followers,

I love having you around. You make me feel listened-to.  I hope you stick around and that I can continue to entertain you.  * Warning: I talk about knitting a lot. I hope that’s what you signed up for.*

I’d like to pay tribute to a random sampling of my most recent followers. Check out their blogs. You might find a new favorite.

Bridgewater Crafts: This designer recently released a very beginner-friendly dishcloth pattern. I haven’t looked at the pattern (it’s paid) but it’s nice to see a designer taking something as simple as a dishcloth seriously enough to have the pattern tech-edited.

A Nerdy Crocheter: If I knew how to crochet, I would totally make this Sunburst Baby Blanket.  She’s selling it on Etsy for $19.99, which seems like far too little money for something so pretty, in my opinion.

Missy’s Crafty Mess: It’s the end of August and, I don’t know about you, but I’m in firm denial that there is any such thing as winter. Psychologically, I can work around this denial by telling myself that the sweaters, shawls and mitts on my needles are meant for crisp autumn mornings or for camping in the mountains. Missy doesn’t seem to have this problem. In the middle of summer she’s posting pictures of balaclavas and referring to winter as an impending event. I don’t know if that’s practical or depressing. None the less, she seems to be a balaclava knitting machine.

Flip Coast Creations: This crafter finds excuses to craft things out of any material to-hand. On a recent glamping trip (glam camping),  they made their own wooden spatula and a truly cunning whittled Gandalf-stick. That’s talent!

Playing with Mom’s Drum Carder

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During a recent visit home, Mom and I took some time to play with her new Pat Green Duncan drum carder. For those fellow fiber geeks who want to know, Mom has the hand-cranked Blender/Carder 8 Inch Hand Crank model. I don’t have anything to compare it to as it’s the only carder I’ve ever used; however, I can report that it was easy for a beginner (me) to use. The only hard part was attaching the drive band.

I brought most of a scoured Jacob fleece with me to share with Mom. We spent a couple of happy evenings sorting through the fleece, picking out some to comb, some to tease and card, and some to flick and spin from the lock. We were a bit overly ambitious  and, in the end, spent most of our time on the fleece chosen for carding.

Teased locks loaded into the tray and ready to be carded.

Teased locks loaded into the tray and ready to be carded.

Separating the fiber from the carder.

Separating the fiber from the carder.

Rolling fiber off the carder using a handy-dandy paper towel tube.

Rolling fiber off the carder using a handy-dandy paper towel tube.

After the carder was loaded up and couldn’t take on any more fiber, we used a little metal tool to make a break in the tube of fiber. Then we rolled the fiber off the teeth carefully using a cardboard paper towel roll. After that, the batt of fiber was divided into two or three strips, and the carding process began again. Each batt made three passes through the drum carder before it was (finally) rolled off for the last time.

A small but growing mountain of batts.

A small but growing mountain of batts.

One thing I didn’t realize before diving into this process was how slow it would be. I’m used to using hand carders and I know how slow those are. I just assumed that carding on a drum carder would be faster. It probably is. But it sure doesn’t seem like it. You have to crank slowly and evenly so the fiber will take up properly, standing there all the while, shifting from foot to foot, trying not to daydream. It helps to have someone to talk to, or a podcast to listen to. I understand why people who sell fiber for a living spring for the motorized carders.

One thing I was very pleased with was the amount of junk the carder removed from the fleece. It was already exceptionally clean, but had a bit of  stubborn vegetable matter and dirt caught here and there. The carder took care of it.

A slowly growing pile of junk on the table underneath the drum carder.

A slowly growing pile of junk on the table underneath the drum carder.

 

 

 

 

Yarnover Recap in Photos

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Last weekend, Mom and I made the joyful trek up to Yarnover.

We shopped.

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

Adorable felted ride-em horsies

We took a Fearless Two Color Mittens Class from Mary Scott Huff. Mary started out the class with a simple exercise in stranded color work for those who needed a review  or for those (like me) who had never tried it at all. The “fearless” aspect of this class was definitely for me. I took this class so I could conquer my personal “Dr. Strangelove” in knitting (i.e., “How I learned to stop worrying love the [fill in knitting-related fear]”).

Mary's a live wire and very entertaining.

Mary’s a live wire and very entertaining.

Here's my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it's so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Here’s my first attempt at Norwegian stranded color work. A few rows later, I learned why it’s so important to keep your floats loose. This sucker was puckered.

Later on, Mary passed out her Nordica pattern for us to try. Here was my first try:

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl.  So I ripped back.

I made it about halfway through the mitten when I finally had to acknowledge that I was knitting WAY too loosely. In my effort to keep my floats loose I was knitting everything like rubber-girl. So I ripped back.

I tried again with firmer tension and smaller needles and got this:

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

Mitten #1, minus the thumb. It fits. Huzzah!

 

We took a break at lunch to wolf down some food and chat with friends from my local knitting group. Everyone talked about their morning classes and the classes they were planning to take in the afternoon. I found myself wishing I could undergo a few rounds of cellular mitosis right then and there so that I could take everyone else’s classes as well as my own.

In the afternoon, Mom and I also took a Spinning and Plying Cabled Yarns class with Francine Ruiter. My first-time results were semi-successful.

Francine getting things started. We're all itching to spin.

Francine getting things started. We’re all itching to spin.

YO7

My cabled yarn on the bobbin.

Mom working on her singles. She's shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

Mom working on her singles. She’s internet-shy, so you only get to see her cute smile.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

My cabled yarn finished. If you look closely, there are certain sections of it that seem to have the visual characteristics of a cabled yarn. But not all. Sigh. Must practice.

I left Yarnover feeling jazzed about the new techniques I’d learned, particularly the Norwegian stranded color work.

I think my Ravelry favorites are about to be flooded with color work projects.