First Day of Autumn

I love autumn.  It is hands down my very favourite time of the year.  The cool breezes, the breaking out of blazers and cute boots, the reds and golds of the trees and, of course, the re-integration of my knitwear (mostly socks) into circulation in my wardrobe.

I also find I get severe start-itis in autumn.  I start thinking of all the lovely knitted items I’d like to have as the days get cooler, mostly dressy scarves and shawlettes and nice cushy socks and I start planning.  I also look to Christmas knitting and end up casting on far more than I really should.

In addition to all of this, Carla over at Georgian Bay Fibre Company is hosting an autumn KAL.  When I saw her last week at the Knitter’s Fair in Kitchener-Waterloo, I picked up a single skein of her Pengallie Fingering – 80% BFL/20% silk – in a lovely colourway called “Beausoleil Shoal” and figured I’d use it for the KAL, but wasn’t entirely sure what I’d make with it.

PengallieAlong comes Carolyn Macpherson and her Shifting Leaves Scarf pattern (there’s a cowl too!)…and while it’s intended to be a warm winter-y scarf, I thought that it would make a lovely “dressy” scarf in a fingering weight yarn.

So I wound the yarn this morning, and this evening, I shall succumb to my start-itis, and cast it on.  After all, how many WIPs is really too many?

Uhm, never mind.  Don’t answer that.

Is it just me….?

Or does summer crafting just seem to go a lot more slowly?

Admittedly, this summer in Toronto is uncharacteristically cool…but I still can’t seem to find the energy to do much in the way of, well, anything, to be perfectly honest.

I have been doing bits and pieces of a scarf for my mom, and last week I cast on a hat in MadTosh Vintage for a colleague at work.  He has proven himself knit-worthy by wearing (and gushing repeatedly over) a cowl I made him last year.

Watch Cap in Madeline Tosh Vintage in Baltic

Watch Cap in Madeline Tosh Vintage in “Baltic”

I did put a new braid of fibre on my wheel – a braid of SweetGeorgia BFL in my favourite of her colourways, “Stormchaser”.  (I also have this colourway on Tough Love Sock which I will eventually get to.)  I am alternating this with a bobbin of the Humpspun that I started during Tour de Fleece, and my spinning progress seems to be much slower.  That is to say, it seems to take a LOT longer to get through a braid.  This might be a symptom of finer spinning.

Stormchaser BFL

“Stormchaser” BFL

In any case, I am not even through the “fractal” half of the braid yet.  But I love the colour so much that I don’t care how long it takes.  I want this on every base!

So even though this looks like I am doing a lot, I am really not.  My heart’s not really in it and when I am too warm, my energy is just tapped out.

Maybe this boredom is what’s feeding my start-itis that I am fighting, quite valiantly, I might add.   Something to consider.  What do you do when summer is here or your mojo is just plain out of whack?

Canada Day Weekend FO: Spinning Edition

Some evenings, spinning is a lovely, relaxing way to wind down after a long day. Since I picked it up again in May, I have been finding knitting time dwindling and spinning time increasing…which is a bit of a problem since really, I am just creating more yarn. But I digress.

Since May, I have spun up three separate braids, and this one is the first that I would consider luxury, ie that is something other than straight merino or BFL. This braid of 80% BFL and 20% silk from Friends in Fibre has been calling to me with its lovely blues and purples for a while now, and I thought it was time to spin up something truly yummy.

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in "Blue Moon"

Friends In Fiber BFL/Silk in “Blue Moon”

After watching Felicia Lo’s Craftsy class called “Spinning Dyed Fibres” and discovering that the braid had lovely long runs of colour, I decided on a fractal spin. This is a process whereby you split the braid lengthwise down the middle, and then spin one half as is to get the afore mentioned long stretches of single colour. The other half is then split lengthwise as many times as possible and spun up one after the other. This creates shorter runs of colour, and then the two are plied together. Real results are only visible once the piece is knit up and I haven’t gotten that far yet.

After plying on Saturday, I Tweeted this picture:

First run at plying

First run at plying

One of my followers, an avid spinner, commented that it was pretty and I asked her if perhaps the plying was too loose. I have a tendency to overspin my singles with the knowledge that the plying will take some of it away, but it seems I am a bit overcautious with the plying. “Fluffykira” kindly suggested that I run it back through the wheel – something I wasn’t actually sure I could do – if I felt it wasn’t plied tightly enough.  She assured me it would be fine and that I could just soak it again afterwards and all would be well!  I can’t say how grateful I am to her. After 45 minutes or so, and an episode of Battlestar Galactica…this was the result.

And after a second ply...

After a second ply…

Next time I will know not to be quite so judicious with the amount of twist I am adding.  Because frankly, having to re-do all this a second time was a bit of a pain, even if it was totally worth it in retrospect.

Finished skein

Finished skein

Next up…indigodragonfly PandaBaa in “Cast On Couch”.  This gorgeous red-purple colourway in merino/bamboo will be going on my wheel for Tour de Fleece!  In fact, indigodragonfly has entered a team into the festivities.  Come join us on Ravelry!

Spinning FO: Blooming Bougainvilla

Remember this?

Last week I decided that the spindle spin I had started during Tour de Fleece two years ago was never going to get finished unless my Lendrum got involved.

I am pleased to report it’s all done!  And it turned out remarkably well, all things considered, although it’s not as even as my most recent spinning.

The Woolee Winder I purchased is a miracle worker.  I easily got the single onto a single bobbin.

The Finished Single

The Finished Single

Then on Monday evening, I “Shireen-plyed” my yarn.  This is a name I have given to a faux-Andean plying method that Shireen came up with last week.  4 oz of single is a bit hard to Andean ply without cutting off circulation to your fingers, so Shireen wound it into a centre-pull ball, and then plied the two ends of the ball together.  A small downfall to this method: towards the very end, the ball collapses and gets a bit tangly.  The up side?  You never have mismatched single from having two bobbins that don’t quite match.  In this case, I did it to ply older, thicker, spindle spun yarn with newer wheel spun yarn in an attempt at consistency.

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Certainly not perfect, but I am actually pleased with the result, regardless of the thick and thin quality.

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Next up…the second half of my Friends in Fiber BFL/Silk fractal spin!  Have to clear my bobbins for next week’s Tour de Fleece!

FO: Vintage Lace Socks

Earlier this year, my friend Carla launched Georgian Bay Fibre Company, a hand-dyed yarn company that dyes exclusively BFL and BFL blends, and takes its inspiration from the beautiful scenery of Georgian Bay.

Her sister, Christina, also a long time friend, was designing some patterns for her (my favourite kind: socks!) and asked if I’d be so kind as to test knit for her.  The first one I tested was a knit and purl design called Squadron Socks; it was a lovely pattern but that pair never got completed as I made a very poor choice in yarn and it really didn’t suit.  I plan to knit them again in a semi solid, when I get a chance.

Her second design was a much bigger success for me, and (because?) this time I chose to knit it in Carla’s Kilcoursie Fingering yarn.  The colourway I chose was her 2014 Colour of the Year, called Wakefield Lilac, and I could not have been happier with how they turned out.

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Vintage Lace Socks have a lovely delicate lace panel down the outside of the foot, front and back, and the result is beautifully feminine.  It was a nice relaxing knit, once I was able to memorize the lace pattern.  (I don’t immediately see past the single YOs and SSKs to see what the pattern is doing and until then, I rely heavily on the chart!)  I did have a heck of a time with the YOs….at least a couple of times a repeat I found myself having to pick up a missed YO…a hazard when one knits lace in front of the TV, I guess 🙂  And the colour is totally reminiscent of the lilacs that grew every spring in my grandmother’s yard.

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I always like knitting socks in the summer because it means that come autumn, I have new socks to wear when the weather turns cool 🙂  I am really excited to have these ready to go for September.

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Pattern: Vintage Lace Socks by Christina Bossart

Yarn: Georgian Bay Fibre Company’s Kilcoursie Fingering (BFL/nylon blend) in Wakefield Lilac

Who Was It Made For?  Test knit/Me

Were There Changes Made To The Pattern?  I did make the toe a little wider (the pattern says to stop when there are 8 stitches on each needle, but the top of my foot is somewhat square so I stopped at 10)

Did I Learn Anything New?  No

Anything Else?  Not that I recall.

Would I Make Another?:  Yes

(Photos courtesy of Shireen, over at the Blue Brick!)

Caught the spinning bug

Two years ago, when I started spindle spinning, I signed on for Tour de Fleece, a Ravelry event that takes place during Tour de France where we spin the same days that the riders do.  I got through a 50g merino sliver in the first three days, and started on a 115g braid of Mixed BFL from Two If By Hand in an interesting pink and gold colourway called “Blooming Bougainvilla”.

 

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I got 9 or 10 days into TdF and fell off the wheel, so to speak, with about a third of the braid on my spindle.

My Houndesign spindle...as pretty as the fibre!

My Houndesign spindle…as pretty as the fibre!

And so it has sat in my crafting cupboard for the past two years.  With my renewed interest in my wheel, I decided I’d probably never finish this on a spindle.  But why couldn’t I finish the braid, but on my wheel?  Since there’s only a third on the spindle, if I spun the other two thirds on the wheel, the amounts would be uneven and make for weird and awkward plying.  So what’s a girl to do?

I’ll tell you…she spends an entire episode (and then some) of Scandal winding the spun yarn off her spindle onto her wheel, then attaching some new fibre to it and continuing the effort.

And off we go!

And off we go, albeit a little blurry!

The yarn is significantly thicker than my current spinning so it will be a task to keep it that way.  And if I choose to chain ply, that resultant yarn is going to be quite thick.

Here’s the most interesting part…looks like I spin in the opposite direction on my wheel than I do on a spindle.  With the spindle, I push off the inside of my left leg, this causing the spindle to go counter-clockwise, resulting in an “S” twist.  With the wheel, I default to pushing the wheel clock-wise, resulting in a “Z” twist.  So for the next few days, I have to remember to spin my wheel as though I were plying, instead of my usual way.

But at least a two year old spinning project will get finished.

What old projects have you resurrected because you got tired of knowing they were just sitting there?