Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Choose Zebra ~

I think I mentioned "the deal" that I have with my daughters, that I have a pair of socks for each of them on my needles at any given time. The youngest daughter has been lucky as I started a pair of beloved Jitterbugs for her before the holidays, and then she gave me the Pot 'O Gold sock yarn for Christmas, so I cast that on too... for her..... so she now has two pair of socks going on my needles....My oldest daughter's socks were finished for one of her Christmas gifts, so I told her she needed to check out my sock yarn stash and pick out her next socks. In order for her to choose, I laid out many skeins of my sock yarn on our bed (I should have taken a picture ~ the choices were glorious!) as there were choices from both Sock Summits, plus some beloved Jitterbug, and a few scores from eBay....She chose the Claudia Hand Painted, colorway Zebra, from the 2011 Sock Summit. Lovely purple and lime green against a dark background. I'm borrowing Jitteryknitters' KA bamboo knitting needles, and these are pointy and slick...I am very impressed with them!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Spinning Australian ~

After fluffing and pulling and tugging and smoothing for two hours, as I mentioned yesterday, it was finally time to spin this delightful 100% Australian merino. It spins like a dream and my Pocket Wheel made lovely slim single ply from this fiber. Very rarely did a fiber clump jump through my drafting fingers (see the thick "jump" in the middle), so much of this ply is even and thin.... I did notice that after two hours of spinning, my fingers were not so nimble with the drafting, so more clumps were jumping through. Sadly, I needed to stop, even though I wanted to keep spinning, as my nice thin singles were not so even and thin the longer I pushed myself. So now the fiber and singles are waiting for me to come back tomorrow, well rested and ready for more spinning! Hurrah!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spinning prep ~

I had hoped to spin my lovely fiber from Ms. Gusset, a colorful 100% Australian merino wool which was given to me as a delightful gift at the 2011 Sock Summit from my wonderful knitting friends. I didn't realize that the fiber was not ready to spin, as it needed a lot of fluffing and pulling and lofting, as it was very compressed. Perhaps flying from Australia to Portland caused some of the compression. So I took two hours today and made the slim snakelike fiber tube (that you can see in the first pictures) and fluffed and pulled and lofted into lovely soft cloudy lite fiber. The colors are so lovely, and the shade changes so pretty. I had to keep taking pictures of the transformation from little dense tube to lovely soft fiber....now I can't wait to spin this!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pot o' Gold Gussets ~

I am making good progress on these bright and cheery socks for youngest daughter. Already on the gusset, and just cast on over Christmas vacation. This is the yarn that she gave me for Christmas, and how lucky she is to know that I will knit her socks with "my" gift. She is double lucky, as she already had a pair of socks going on my needles, in my beloved Jitterbug. My "deal" with my two daughters is that I always have a pair of socks for each of them on my needles. Such a deal, you say??!! I love this deal, as I know they love my hand knit socks and that gives me a lot of pleasure to knit for them. Oddly, my oldest daughter has not chosen yarn for her next pair, so we will do that soon....

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mango Blocking ~

Here is the next shawl in line for blocking, my mango handspun! The thick and thin handspun makes a very different look than the smooth and sleek look of the Trillian, and I love the complete difference! Variety is a wonderful part of knitting! Choices in patterns and yarn, and needles and fiber.....love love love it all!!!! So beautiful!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trillian Blocking ~

Now that the snow and ice are not on our roadways, I was able to get the blocking boards that I share with the Jitteryknitter. Fun that I have three projects to block, yet not enough blocking boards...I have never had this issue before - see how wonderful it is to have a week of snow, ice and knitting ~ equaling three finished projects!!! Here is the lovely Trillian blocking. A beautiful shawl and one that I can knit while having a conversation too! A bonus during the time we had 10 kids and parents in the house for "after sledding" and "before snowball fights" cocoa and marshmallow consumption...plus dinner and lunch with so many snow bound happy people, I was happy to be knitting during the happy chaos! Now I can see how lovely it is!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Double Trillian ~

I could not resist the call of the Shibui Staccato sock yarn, silk blended with merino. Oh-so-soft and a delicious mint green color. A beautiful contrast with the lovely red Signature Needles! I could not resist casting on another Trillian Shawl. Plus, I think my maple Knitting Buddy was lonesome for more Shibui, as they had a fabulous relationship! Look how happy the Knitting Buddy is with this Shibui.......very happy indeed!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spinning polwarth ~

As the thawing of the snow and ice continue, I am able to spin one more of my 1 ounce samples of polwarth. This is my last one, and once it "rests" I will practice Navajo plying once again. I hope that this plying technique will become easier and fluid, as for now I stop-and-start as I used to for drop spindling. I am enjoying the practice, and am looking forward to what to spin next, so I can practice Navajo plying again, and again, and again!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Navajo merino/tencel ~

Practicing my Navajo plying again, this time with the lovely purples of my merino and tencel blend. I love how soft this feels, and the plying looks fair. I still do not completely understand the finer points of how to Navajo ply, as looking in my Visually Spinning book as a less than satisfying description and two pictures where I cannot see what the spinner's hands are doing. There must be many spinners that believe this is easy-peasy and feel they don't need to spend time with the details for beginners. So I am muddling along, and having a delightful time, as the twist is lovely and snug, and I am reminded of my dearest jitterbug twist, and perhaps someday when I am a great spinner, I can ply a jitterbug twist....ahhhh, my fondest spinning dream!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Thawing finish ~

Now our snow and ice is melting as our Pacific Northwest rain is coming back as if we could forget what life is like without the rain. No more sledding, no more snowball fights ~ just slush and puddles and grass peeking out on some lawns. Many tree limbs down as well, but our power is still on, and we are counting our blessings. As I was thinking of casting on another Trillian shawl out of my lovely Shibui Sock yarn, I made myself a deal that if I could finish one project on my list, I could cast on the Shibui....so......which project is the closest to being done? Yes, you guessed it...my scarf out of my handspun. This is the handspun I made with the drop spindle, before I received my Pocket Wheel. This is the BFL fiber given to be by Jitteryknitter for my 2010 birthday, to ensure that I would go into the "spinning rabbit hole" and never come out again.... and I did! (Thanks, Lisa!!!!)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snowy finish ~

Another snow and ice day, as the power just came back on but still icy on the roadways. We were an entire day without power, and we made the best of the situation by all the neighbors sticking together for meals and support and relaxing fun. The kids are still having a blast, and the adults are enjoying some down-time as well. I have finished Trillian, and I love everything about it! I love the yarn with the hard twist and the colors are fabulous. The Signature Needles are a dream with this yarn as well, plus the pattern is easy enough to work on while having a conversation (however be careful on the phone, don't drop any stitches!!!) Since the colorway is Zinnia, it seemed perfect to take a finished picture in my garden. I had to clear off one of my sweet pinkie birds for the photos. Aren't they lovely! As I was casting off, I started thinking about two other skeins of Shibui Sock that would make another lovely Trillian... would that be too obsessive to cast on another Trillian so soon??!!???

Friday, January 20, 2012

Power outage knitting ~

Another snow day on our hill, but this one begins with no power - yes, lights out in the wee hours of the AM so we have plenty of time to get ready for the night. Well, we are still the hub for the neighborhood kids, sledding and snowball fights and lots of cocoa and marshmallow consumption. Also lunch and dinners, and we are having a blast. I did finish my mango handspun shawl, and as you'll note by the wee ball in the picture, I had just a teeny bit to spare! The thick and thin yarn makes it look rustic, and I'm excited to see how it will look when blocked. Very satisfying to knit with one's handspun! Even more satisfying to finish a project with one's handspun! Knitting with a headlamp worn as a necklace is the secret to knitting in a power outage. If you don't have a headlamp in your knitting bag now, I recommend you get one soon!!! Also took a picture out in the snow, just so you could see the shawl in more light...
Note: the power is now on while I'm posting this, as I am not yet clever enough to figure out how to post to the blog without power...my phone just won't do it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Snow day knitting ~

Since I had a bonus day home early from work, which turned out to include a bonus evening where I could stay up late since I didn't have to wake early... I decided to cast on with my hand spun yarn which is oh-so-soft mango, a blend of merino and tussah silk. The pattern, Chastain Park Shawl, is one I found on Ravelry, searching under the category of 150 yards or less, as I only have 149 yards of this lovely yarn. Since this is only the second (third if we count the sample Corriedale) that I've spun and plyed on the Pocket Wheel, it is still thick and thin, yet lovely and soft. The shawl has a rustic sort of look to it so far. I almost finished knitting it, as I was knitting into the wee hours, waiting for the snow storm to hit...by 2:00 AM the predicted storm had not hit...so I went to bed with only a few more rows left to knit....so I should finish this tomorrow, right?!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Snow day spinning ~

Lucky and cozy are we, as the snow falls around us and the schools get closed, and my job sends us all home early...my mind turns to what bonus activity I could be doing now that I have a snow day.... so we are safely off the roads, and cozy by the fireplace...and I'm spinning a new blend on my Pocket Wheel. This is a blend by Rain City Fiber Arts, the same company that I bought the yarn for the Track Star socks, and I love that yarn and I LOVE her color blends....So I've been thinking of this blend, as I bought three 1 ounce samples of 50/50 merino tencel when I was still drop spindling. It looks lovely spun as a single on my wheel! I am wondering how it will Navajo ply, but that will be tomorrow's project, since I'm hoping for another snow day at home!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Snowy knitting ~

We have finally received our first snow. Much has fallen, and there are deer hanging out under our cedar trees to keep out of the falling snow. My youngest and I walked to the grocery store, but no driving on our hills, so that is a relief. The chickens have enough food and their water has not frozen. The cat is happily sleeping in her warm bed in the garage. My sweetie said he would "chain up" and drive me to work if the roads are still covered...so nothing to stress about....Just some knitting on this snowy day! P.S. I think I've fixed the two stinkin' dropped stitches, but they don't look perfect...so I'm not showing a picture of the "fix" but I am hoping that it "blocks out", right?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Heart stopping drop ~

I have never learned how to weave a dropped stitch back up to the "live" stitches on the needle. I have never learned the difference of weaving a purled stitch from weaving a knitted stitch. I have never learned how to be calm and not freak out when I have dropped stitches. This nasty dropped stitch business happened while on the phone with my folks, I was reaching for a notepad and pen to write an address, and pulled out at least eight stitches of Trillian off my needles. Six stitches were easy to get right back on, but those last two stinkers... I may need an intervention....however, I am still breathing into my paper bag...trying to stay calm.....note to self: perhaps a good New Year's Resolution would be to learn how to get dropped stitches back into place...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Packers and socks ~

As the Packers battle New York, I'm knitting away on these very bright socks. This yarn has a great twist and the colors are bold and happy. I had to switch to size 1 needles to get a snugger fabric of knitting, and I think that will be better for these socks... but it might take me that much longer to knit them with smaller needles!P.S. Dropped many stitches on my Trillian in an unfortunate event, and was able to get all the stitches back on the needles except one stinker...I may have to take them all off and reload them *gasp* to get that stinker back in line.....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

95 at Starbucks ~

"95 at Starbucks" is a text I sent tonight. In case you need to know the code translation of this text, it means that I have 95 stitches on my needles for my Trillian shawl. I need to have 191 stitches before I can start the edging, so I do have some knitting to power through before that time. No competition, but Jitteryknitter is also knitting the Trillian, and we are keeping each other posted on our progress ~ no competition, just a friendly Knit-A-Long. The good news is that I've started my second skein of this lovely Zinnia Shibui, and this yarn is such a twisty delight of plying...As you can see the extra bump of yarn at the top of my knitting buddy, that is the 30 yards I've separated for the edging...very exciting!!!!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Navajo polwarth ~

As my spinning homework for this month, I needed to spin more singles so that I could practice my Navajo plying that Sam taught me this week. I spun one of my little 1 ounce samples of polwarth (beautiful fiber) so I could try to remember all the bits and pieces that Sam taught me.So far, so good, as it seemed to be working through the chain and keeping the chain going with the "live" loop and "live" single moving through it. Still have lots more practicing to do, as I still stop and then pedal the wheel, then pull more single through the loop and then stop...and then pedal the wheel. Almost like spindle spinning again! I am very happy I was able to practice so soon after the class, as I hope some of the good teaching will stick in my brain and finger/hand memory. I have another one ounce sample of the polwarth to practice with...Hurrah!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Yarnia done ~

Thankfully, I have cast off the socks made from Yarnia's yarn. I am happy that I stuck with these socks, but the many threads that make up Yarnia "yarn" is not my favorite, as my true love is a twist like my beloved Jitterbug or Koigu.... splitty yarn drives me a bit bonkers...So, Yarnia is cast off, and I will be donating the rest of this yarn to a good cause, so that other knitters can try this interesting blend and style of yarn. For now, I'm happy to be done with these, and to give them to my oldest. She likes them well enough, and I've let her know that she can now choose some sock yarn from my stash for her next socks... Excited about a new cast on!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Navajo plying ~

OMG. I have to start with that, as I had a most awesome spinning class on Sunday. I had looked at some of the Navajo plying tutorials on YouTube and couldn't make heads or tails what the ladies were doing with their hands or their fingers.. I needed a close up webcam of their fingers so I could see what they were doing with the single ply with each step... Thank heavens I have the best EVER spinning teacher, as she was ever-so patient with me, showing me and re-showing me how each hand works, and then pedaling the spinning wheel, and then the loops of the single and then holding the chain and pulling the "live" strand from my single as I put it into the loop that I'm keeping open... I asked her if she would do a YouTube with close-ups of her hands, as it made so much sense once I could see what she was doing. I still can't do it very well, as I could really use a few more fingers and hands and brain cells to get every piece and part to work together. Although some of my yarn looked like a horrible beginner, I LOVE IT as the twist in some places looks like my beloved Jitterbug and Koigu. My homework is to practice more more more! Hurrah!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Trillian and Tea ~

Now that the holidays are over, I sadly leave the eggnog lattes until the next season... and I'm back to Earl Grey tea...still knitting with my knitting buddy (made by my sweetie, with his roller blade wheel as the moving gizmo) on the Trillian shawl, up to 89 stitches on my needles.
As I recall from the Jitteryknitter, I need 190ish stitches before working through the edging (don't worry, I'll check the pattern before the next step...All I know is I need to keep knitting :) )

Friday, January 6, 2012

Yarnia heels ~

I wouldn't recommend this Yarnia "yarn" for socks, as it is not plyed so it is very splitty while knitting. It is actually approximately 10 strands of assorted fibers wound into a skein... (If you've not checked out Yarnia in Portland Ore, I'd recommend a visit, as it is rather amazing) However...the sparkle and glimmer of the strands within the group of threads is such fun that I'm still enjoying this knitting project.I've turned the heels and now ready to begin a cuff pattern.I think I'll use my "favorite at the moment" cuff pattern from More Sensational Socks since it only has 4 rows and a fun mock cable look to it. I can't wait to be done with these socks! I hope the fiber wears well, too!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spinning last year ~

I realized that I forgot to post my last spinning of last year. Holidays were too busy to keep track of all the activities, and although I took pictures....they were never posted.....My homework assignment to have complete for my January spinning class is to have spun a colorful one ply so that I can learn to Navajo ply. I picked out a little bump of BFL/Tussah and started to spin. It turned out lovely and full of bright colors. I may check out some YouTube tutorials on Navajo plying, just to see what I'm in for at my spinning class this weekend! I'm so excited!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trillian Progress ~

The Trillian shawl is looking good. The yarn has a lovely twist, almost like my beloved Jitterbug, and that twist makes this Shibui a delight to knit with. The colors...ahhhh, the colors are so vibrant and warm.... When my daughter asked me to drive her to practice on this pouring rain evening, I thought I would take this sunshine "zinnia" brightness to the coffee shop and brighten up my raining evening.It worked. Although the rain kept pouring down and the wind kept blowing, my zinnia garden kept growing more lovely each row!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Heels ~

I am slogging through these Yarnia socks, as I want to get them off my needles and on to my "done project" list already! The sparkles in the individual pieces of the fiber make me think of New Years' Eve fireworks, so that is keeping me going strong!Not the greatest picture...
*sigh* Starbucks is out of eggnog until the next holiday season