New Toys!

So last week, I Instagram-ed this photograph of a delivery from Linda at Baynoddy:

Feb03SurpriseTwo different people guessed what was in one of the two boxes.  My mother in law had a bit of an advantage as she knew I was saving up money to buy something special.  It’s something I had wanted for several months, ever since Shireen had started me dyeing my own fibres.

I had been wanting to lay hands on a blending board ever since I realized that a drum carder was 1) expensive and 2) overkill for what I was trying to accomplish…unless First Light Handcrafts goes into the batt-making business. But I digress.

Feb03BoardI ordered it at the beginning of January and waited patiently (mostly) for it to arrive.  While I was waiting I did a few things including dye some fibre and make plans for some less than ideal fibre I had laying about.  For example, a few years ago I purchased some BFL in a destash and it was a nightmare to spin.  Night.  Mare.  It was clumpy, and would not draft.  To this day I am not sure if it was bad dyeing or bad storage so I won’t comment on the dyer.  I nearly tossed it out the window.  Then Mother Macrina over at Inglenook mentioned to me that that was how she got started….other Mothers in the convent brought her fibre that was mostly unusable and she put it through her drum carder.  So I held onto this gorgeous ultraviolet but unspinnable fibre and boy, am I glad I did!  (It’s the one on the right and looks far more blue here than violet, which is part of the reason I purchased it!)

Feb03fibreOn Sunday, I set up the board and located some fibre that I had dyed while I was still living in Toronto….some unidentified Minnesota wool and some undyed Tussah silk, both dyed using turquoise dye.  I also found some undyed bamboo.  Using the purple BFL as a base, I started…a layer of it, one of the bamboo, one of the water-y blue and one of the blue silk.  I then set to making my rolags.

My first pass looked perfect…until I realized that I was never going to get the rolag off the dowels in one piece.  The part of the instruction video that failed to stick in my head?  The part where she made three or four rolags from one board full of fibre…not just one.  Oops.  The fibre was so tight I was totally unable to even budge the rolag.  I had to tear it up to get it off.  Back to the drawing board.

Feb03RuinedTry number two went, I am happy to report, much better.

Feb03ProgressI deliberately made 4 per board and got 8 rolags done before I decided I had some other fibre-y tasks to get to.

Feb03All8I will be making a good many more of this colour set…I imagine until I run out of one of the components to make them.  I almost want to free up a bobbin and start spinning…I am so excited to see how they spin up!

ISO: Knitting Mojo

So it’s that time of the year again…this is pretty much a semi-annual event.  My knitting mojo has gone missing and while I am still doing some knitting, I am not taking a lot of joy in it at the moment.

So on the weekend, I broke out the Crock-Pot and the dyes, and I dyed up some Superwash Wook roving and some Tussah silk in purples and blues.

fibre, fiber, dyeing, acid dyes, silk, spinningI think I know just what I am going to do with them but a bit more on that later.

And last night, my Lendrum finally made a re-appearance in my life.  Since it had been three months, it took a little bit of finagling (amazing the little detail you forget when it’s been that long) but by the time the evening was done I had very little of the batt I was playing with left.

battI had started this batt as an attempt at “long-draw drafting for woolen spun” yarn, but it really did not work out.  My spinning-teacher-turned-friend, Leslie, surmised that it was the fibre prep, and that I should try that technique with another batt somewhere down the road.  I purchased Jacey Bogg’s Craftsy class on drafting, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that I will be trying it again.  I have several beautiful Inglenook Fibers batts…the handiwork of the ultra-talented Mother Macrina, but they are all so stunning, I can’t bear the thoughts of “ruining” them with bad drafting.

In addition to all of this, I have other fibre treats on order and I am hoping to have them by the weekend.  So, I may not be knitting, but I am not letting that keep my fibre-y creativity down.

That being said…if you find my knitting mojo, please do send it home.  I miss it.

Burn The Candles

If you have been reading for a while, you know that I never link to random blog posts, unless they have something to do with me personally.  I much prefer to write my own stuff, and talk about things personal to me…my life, knitting, spinning, cooking, and so on.

Today, I make an exception, because this post was personal to me.  We are all guilty of this to some extent, I am sure.  I have been known to keep the good wine, the good yarn, the good fibre for “special” times/occasions/patterns/projects, like somehow I don’t yet deserve them.  But this author makes such a great argument!

Enjoy!

Burn The Candles

FO: Striped Socks

My first FO of 2015 is early…mostly because they are plain stockinette socks in self striping yarn.  I always find self striping yarn seems to knit itself; I guess that’s because it’s easy to talk yourself into “just one more stripe” and it never gets boring.

I cast these on the week before Christmas because I was feeling blue and not at all in the holiday spirit, and I wanted something cheerful.  This yarn is definitely that.  Extremely bright and colourful, it was just the cure for what ailed me.  As an aside, this is my first Turtlepurl yarn and I quite liked the base…not at all splitty, easy to work with and produced very nice socks.

My friend Christina had just completed a pair of striped socks using a pattern with an afterthought heel, and I was convinced to try it myself when my quasi-OCD self fell in love with the unbroken stripe pattern.  I have to admit now, though, that I remain unconvinced.

StripedSocks1I followed a tutorial that Christina recommended and I even did a search and found another that advertized heels with no holes.  Yet, where I picked up the stitches to fill in the gap, I got fairly substantial holes.  I had tonnes of yarn so I “sewed up” the open spaces, but still.  Either I made a mistake (which I am absolutely willing to admit that I might have!) or the tutorial was off.

StripedSocks2I will give it another try before tossing out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.  but if I encounter the same difficulty on a second pair, I will likely go back to my standard sock pattern and not worry about the stripe pattern being just a touch off.

StripedSocks3

Socks (with gratuitious Kayleigh Dog in the background!)

Pattern: There really wasn’t one…cast on 56 stitches and knit three stripes worth of stripes.  Then stockinette until heel placement per tutorial.   Knit to toe…do toe to 14 stitches on each needle (my first three toes are all the same length so pointy toes don’t work for me at all) and Kitchener.  Go back and pick up stitches for heel.  Knit one full stripe, then decrease like a toe until 8 stitches on each needle and Kitchener.

Yarn: Turtlepurl Striped Turtle Toes in “Polly Wanna Cracker?”

Who Was It Made For?  Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  No pattern used

Did I Learn Anything New?  Yep!  Afterthought heel.

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  I will try this method one more time.

New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I made one resolution… To quit making New Year’s resolutions!

Every year I make these resolutions, I very rarely actually keep them, and then am riddled with guilt because I have not kept them. I have learned over time that life gets in the way sometimes, and that making resolutions because you think you should have them is not the same as making them because there are things you really want or even need to accomplish.

For the past two years, for example, I have resolved to knit only from stash for a while. You can guess how well that has gone!

Would I like to knit from stash more? Absolutely! I have a massive collection of stunning yarns, and it’s sad to see them languishing.

Would I like to read more? Definitely! Again I have a collection of great books that I have not read, but guilting myself into reading them is going to take the joy out of it for me.

Setting numbers of skeins and quantities of pages isn’t going to make my life any better. In 2015, I will try to be more creative, and live my life in a way that makes me happy, doing things that bring me joy. Full stop.

Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? Why or why not?

WIP Mania

So, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, inspired by Shireen over at The Blue Brick, I decided to inventory my current WIPs.  It’s not pretty, let me tell you.

Currently on the needles I have:

Socks – 5 (including a secret project and a new design).  In all fairness, two of the remaining three have been cast on in the past two weeks and are mindless knitting.  The third is Margaritaville…one of the many items I want want to own, but apparently don’t necessarily want to actually knit.  I even purchased special Key Lime yarn for this project.  But it’s on sharp US0/2mm needles and it just does not call to me.

Margaritaville Socks in Blueberry Pie Mostly Solid Sock Yarn

Margaritaville Socks in Blueberry Pie Mostly Solid Sock Yarn

Scarves – 3. There are two for me, and one for my Mom, all in fingering weight yarn, strangely enough.  They are all lovely patterns that had been in my queue for ages in gorgeous yarns; one project, my Aria Delicato, has actually been OTN for nearly two years and may be my oldest WIP.

Aria Delicata in indigodragonfly Merino Sock

Shawlette – 1.  A shawlette pattern I adore (Canyonlands by Very Busy Monkey) in a stunning OOAK colourway from Tanis Fiber Arts.   What is my problem?

Boot toppers – 1.  A pair of Jax, modified to be knit in the round and worn with my jeggings.

Jax in Socks That Rock Mediumweight

Cowls – 3.  These include one crazy cabled one from Lucy Hague that I dearly love but is quite time consuming, one that started as a test knit just before I moved but didn’t get too far, and one in a chunky yarn that I think I may frog as I was using it to practice continental knitting after I took a class and then completely fell off! (Sorry, Kate!)

Fingerless mitts – 1.  I cast these on for Chase.  At least with these, I can tell you exactly why they are not done.  I am unhappy with how the first mitt turned out and realized I have to rip it back to the wrist to add thumb gussets.  The original pattern did not have them, and as a result, they are terribly ill-fitting (note to self: don’t ever knit mitts or gloves without thumb gussets ever again!).  So the project sits and languishes.  There’s that problem with frogging I mentioned.

For those of you counting, that 14 WIPs, only one of which I have an immediate plan to frog.  I am wondering if I broke it into manageable chunks, say, by vowing to knit a repeat a day (or 10 rows or some arbitrary number) would I make it through some of these.

For those of you who actually let your WIP basket get out of control, how do you get it back under control again?