Monday, November 30, 2009

Pretty little skeins

Today was not as fiber centric as yesterday, but I did manage to get some photos of the fiber I plied up yesterday. First, here are three skeins of the fleece I was given by the guild:
The skein on top is Targhee spun longdraw from hand carded rolags. Next is Shetland spun worsted draw from hand carded rolags rolled to keep the fibers aligned (if that makes sense). I remembered the prep of this fleece but for some reason thought that it was Romney. Luckily I wrote about it earlier this month so I could go back and learn that it was actually Shetland. The last skein is the Romney prepped and spun woolen.

Once all of my samples are spun I'm going to have to knit them up into a scarf or something that can take advantage of all these little skeins. I may knit up a small sample of each just to get an even better sense of the wool characteristics.

Speaking of samples here are the small skeins of Romney I made from the top I bought when I bought my new spindle:
The one on top is the one I spun up on my spindle and the bottom one is the new one I spun up on my wheel. Part of my reason for buying these bits of Romney was I want to spin and knit myself a grey sweater and I wanted to see if either of these colours would work for me. While I really like both of them I don't think that either is quite the right grey for me. I will keep looking.

In the meantime I have finally cast on for the Christmas sweater after getting the needed measurements. The race is on.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

No Christmas knitting today

I had a lovely day off today playing with fiber. I did some spinning and a bunch of plying (pictures to follow) on my wheel. Then I took a break and finished up my snap dragon mitts. Finally I did some prep work so that I will have more things to spin next time I sit down at my wheel.

I'm very pleased with how the mitts turned out. If I had had any extra yarn I would have made them a few rows longer but they will work just fine as is. I ended up ripping the one mitt back several rows and starting the ribbing sooner, but I was in luck and had slightly more yarn in the second ball, so I did have enough yarn for some ribbing on the thumbs.

Tomorrow is another day off for me and I have made plans to get the measurements I need to get the sweater started. Now that the mitts are done there should be no other knitting to interrupt my Christmas knitting. Now if only I can keep myself from spending all of my time spinning...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Almost ready

I didn't find much time to knit at work today, but after supper I managed to knit a few rows on my mitt and another gauge swatch for the Christmas sweater. I have now washed my gauge swatches and all that remains is to get the measurements for the sweater. With any luck I will have all of the measurements in the next day or two and I can really get started on this.

In the meantime I have my mitts and my spinning to keep me busy.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reward for good behaviour

I think I was right about the universe hiding my mitt pattern so that I would get going on Christmas knitting. Tonight I picked up the yarn for the Christmas sweater I'm planning and there was the mitt pattern hiding underneath. I'm going to be good and make a sweater gauge swatch instead of working on my mitts tonight.
Since the swatch will need to be measured and washed and measured again, I guess I will just have to work on my mitts instead tomorrow.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

M.I.A.

Not much to share tonight. I'm on the Thursday late shift and I had errands to run this morning, which means I didn't have much time to knit or spin. I did a few rows on the second mitt, but I seem to have lost the printed pattern for it sometime between when I went to bed last night and when I got up this morning. I think the universe is trying to make me work on my Christmas knitting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Yarn

Another lousy photo, but it shows one of my fingerless mitts all but done. The problem is that I am knitting these with leftover yarn, which I carefully divided in two, and I've run out. Ideally I would knit a couple more rows of ribbing at the top of the mitt and a few rows of ribbing around the thumb hole.
My plan is now to knit the second mitt in the hopes of having a bit more yarn leftover on it. If I don't have slightly more yarn, or God forbid I have less, I will place the thumb hole a bit lower on the mitt and make up the hand length that way.
In other yarn news, my Knit Picks order was delivered today. I now have the yarn I need to knit my brother's Christmas present sweater. Now I need to get together with him to discuss fitting and other pertinent details. I won't show pictures of the yarn tonight, since I'm sure it will soon dominate my blog and you will be lucky to see anything but it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Restart

Having finished the pair of socks, I needed something to take to knit night tonight. I would have taken my next Christmas knitting but I didn't have time to find the yarn and the needles, and print the pattern. So I picked up the fingerless mitts I've been making to match my orange hat. I found my 4 mm needles (or at least I found 4 of them) and my yarn and I was out the door.
I'm glad I switched from the 4.5 mm needle I was using on the first mitt (the one on the left.) The picture sucks, but the new mitt has better stitch definition and it also seems to have a better fit. Now I just need to finish the new mitt and rip out the old one and reknit it. I also need to not run out of yarn. Wish me luck (and remind me to get back to Christmas knitting).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Look what I have

The once-birthday-and-now-Christmas-present socks are finally finished. What is more, I have actual natural lighting pictures of them:
I'm pretty pleased with these and I really hope they fit. Next on my Christmas knitting agenda is a hat, I think.

Of course I could have cast on a new project once the socks were finished, but instead I spun a bit on my spindle and then spun a bit more on my wheel. I didn't take any pictures of this work but I did snap a quick shot of the little skein of finished Romney spun up on my new spindle:

The yarn is about a fingering weight and I don't have a whole lot of it. I'm sure I will find something to do with it. I should soon have another little skein of a lighter coloured Romney spun up on my wheel. Perhaps I will have enough for a small hat or something. We shall see.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresh air

My mother and I took advantage of the really nice November weather we've been having here and escaped the city. We drove out to one of the wetlands west of Moose Jaw and had a nice walk along the partially frozen shore. There wasn't much wild life around but I found plenty to interest me on the ground:
a pile of tiny shells,a patch of lacy ice,
and a patch of lacy ice catching the winter sun.
It was really nice to have a quiet walk with no real agenda. It was also nice to get home, curl up under a warm blanket and knit away at a sock. What a great day off.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tired

It was a long day at work today and boy am I glad that I have the next couple of days off. I had just enough energy to make a skein of my spindle yarn and drop it in some hot water. It isn't dry yet, but I like the look of the results so far.

I also managed to get the heel turned on the now Christmas socks. It will be nice to get them off the needles on my days off. With as many knitted gifts as I have planned another Christmas project should be cast on as soon as they are cast off. I guess I had better start thinking about which project will be next.

Or maybe I will just sleep for the next two days...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Spin by day and ply by night

This morning before work I managed to finish spinning the last of my spindle singles. I was planning on letting them rest a little before trying to ply them up. That didn't happen.
After making a couple of really small samples, I decided that I wanted to make a 3 ply yarn. Going by weight I tried to split the singles into 3 equal parts. I wrapped the singles around some large marbles I had on hand and then plied from these balls.

I must admit that there was some cursing in the early going. Part of my problem was that the cat decided to help by chasing my little balls. I took a short break and when I picked it up again things went much more smoothly.

I'll probably make a small skein tomorrow and set the yarn. I look forward to seeing how the final product turns out.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Success

The socks did not get finished but I did get a lot of spinning done at the birthday fete. I'm going to chock this up as a success. I'm also going to post pictures tomorrow. Promise.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I give up

Even after working away at the unfinished sock at knit night tonight it is still only at the heel. There is sadly no way that this pair of socks will be done in time for dinner tomorrow. Unless I called in sick at work... no, these socks will go unfinished.

Happily, though, I realized that while they would be late as a birthday present, they are a Christmas present ready well before they are needed. So the plan is that I will get something else as a present for tomorrow and hold these in reserve for Christmas.

Since they will eventually be a gift I will not be able to knit on them at tomorrow's party. Perhaps I should pack my spindle...

Monday, November 16, 2009

More than half done

Well I managed to get one sock done and the second started. I'm not sure the pair will be done by Wednesday evening, though. I only really have tomorrow evening to work on finishing the second sock. At least one is finished and can be gifted. The second will be done sometime this week I'm sure. Wish me quick fingers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Keep going

Today I ignored the siren call of spinning and plugged away at the pair of socks I need done by Wednesday evening. I'm about half way through the foot portion of the first sock, so things are looking good.The trouble with tight deadlines is that they don't allow for a lot of ripping back to fix mistakes. I managed to make a couple of mistakes in the heel portion of this sock. The first mistake (and the only one I was even tempted to go back and try to fix) left me with an odd number of stitches after I'd finished the turn when I should have had an even number. I'm not sure where I made the mistake but if I had had more time I might have ripped back and redone the whole heel turn. Whatever went wrong here I will try not to repeat it on the second sock.

The second mistake that I realized part way through the gusset decreases involved not remembering that I had 4 more stitches on the last needle than on the other three. The result is that, instead of working the heel flap and turn on half of the sock's stitches, I worked it on just under half of the stitches. I decided I could live with this, as long as the second sock is made to match.

Hopefully by tomorrow night I will have this sock finished and it's twin progressing nicely.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Cast on

This evening I finally set my new spindle down long enough to cast on the pair of socks that I'm hoping to have done by Wednesday evening. Since I want them to knit up quickly I didn't want to chose a fancy pattern or knit them entirely in ribbing. I did, however, want them to have some give in both width and length since I am making them to fit someone whose foot measurements I don't know exactly. I've settled on knitting 3 rows plain and then knitting one row of 2 x 2 ribbing. I'm pleased with the results so far.

The race is on.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Big plans

Well, I managed to do almost nothing on the fibery front today. I spun a few more yanrds on my new spindle before work but that was about all. I have lucked into a 3 day weekend, though, so I'm planning to redeem myself. I have a pair of socks to make major headway on. I would also like to finish my fingerless gloves before it is too late to wear them. There is also spinning and plying to be done. With any luck this will be a very productive weekend.

But it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Temptation

I had this morning off since I was on the evening shift. I took advantage of the free morning to make a quick run to Golden Willow, my LYS. The plan was to pick up a ball of sock yarn destined to be knit up into a very plain pair of socks that I want to knit as a present to be gifted next week.

I thought I might buy one of the more heavily patterned self striping sock yarn since I never get a chance to use it with most of my socks. After much contemplating I ended up buying a much plainer ball of Trekking XXL. The more patterned stuff just really didn't speak to me.

So I picked out my sock yarn and made my way to the till. And right there near the till was a jar full of Magpie Woodworks spindles. I have often considered ordering one of these spindles and here was a whole selection of them available without the worries of shipping. I succumbed to temptation. I am now the very happy owner of a top whorl cherry spindle.

My plans to cast on and get to work on this slightly rushed pair of socks gave way to playing with my new toy. I regret nothing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Food and fiber

Well, I took full advantage of having today off. I slept in, did some knitting, did some spinning prep, did some spinning proper and made quiche and sweet potato pie. I did not, however take day-lit photographs. In fact, by the time I decided to take pictures for my blog (which was well after I had eaten quiche and pie), I couldn't find where I had put my knitting project. So instead, here is a picture of some of the rolags I made out of the Shetland fleece sample:


I decided that I wanted to try spinning it with a worsted draw so instead of rolling the fleece off my handcarders top to bottom I rolled it side to side. This results in funny little rolags that are much shorter than the usual variety. I think I've spun a bit more than half; this picture is of all that remain.

I can't say that spinning Shetland this way is all that easy, but with mix of really different fiber lengths I don't think that spinning it woolen would be much simpler. I plan to prep the white Shetland to be spun woolen to see if I'm right about this.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Change of plans

Sadly two person knit night was canceled because the other person wasn't feeling well. I shouldn't say 'canceled' since 'postponed' is closer to the truth. Since I was planning on spending the night at home I actually picked up an older project that has been languishing and started putting on the finishing touches.

My plan was to finish the neckband, take some bad flash photos, and then write about the whole history of the project. My mother invited me out for a beer, though, so knitting and photography was put on hold. I'm not complaining, it was a very tasty beer. The result is that I'm quickly writing up a post minus both knitting details and pictures before the strike of midnight.

Tomorrow is a day off, here, so there is some chance that knitting, photographing and blogging will take place at a more reasonable hour. Unless, of course, there is some change of plans.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I'm a genius!

No new knitting to share tonight. I still need to find the needles I want to use for my fingerless gloves and I haven't cast on anything else in the meantime. This is sure to change tomorrow since it is my two person knit night and I will want to bring some sort of knitting.

Until then I thought I would share something about the crochet I showed off yesterday. As I'm pretty sure I have mentioned before I learned to crochet well before I learned to knit but I never did much with it and I never followed a written pattern. The first pattern I followed was for the hexagons I started back in April. It is a really clear, nicely written pattern so I didn't take my success with it as proof that I could actually use a crochet pattern.

After the hexagons I followed a pattern to learn to make granny squares. Again I thought that this only proved that I could follow this particular pattern. So yesterday when I found a picture in the old crochet pamphlets that caught my eye, I decided to see if I really could follow just any crochet pattern. Low and behold I could.

For several minutes I felt like a genius. Here I was able to follow the confusing looking instructions and make something that resembled the picture provided. Then it hit me that this are not a confusing code that I managed to crack using only my tenacity and careful reasoning. This was a set of instructions meant to be followed and written to be as easy to follow as possible. Oh well it was a nice feeling while it lasted.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Day of rest

My Sunday off turned out to be less the day of knitting and well lit photographingthat I had planned and more a day of sleep and small projects. I ran some errands I needed to do with limited success and organized some of my stuff but that was about as productive as I got.

I kept starting or almost starting something only to move on shortly after. Most of what I did accomplish was a direct result of my foray into organization.

First I made a home for some old knitting and crochet patterns I was given several years ago. Inevitably I spent some time flipping through the pattern booklets looking for interesting things to make. This led me to try to follow one of the crochet patterns. It makes a table cloth of joined squares and I wanted to try to make one of the squares. I got this far before I had to run my errands:


I'm not using the right hook size or the correct yarn but it is more of a little experiment than anything else. I've learned that I can follow crochet instructions and I'm getting used to how to read my finished work.

Second, I found my hand cards so I made rolags out of the Targhee and the Grey Romney fleece that I got at the guild meeting. I then spun them up long draw on my wheel. I'll let them rest a day or two before I wind them off to ply. Unsurprisingly, the short stapled Targhee spins much better long draw than the long stapled Romney. I think I will try spinning the other two colours of Romney short draw.

And that was basically my day. I'm looking forward to next weekend when I actually get two days off in a row and I can run errands, catch up on sleep and get some knitting done. Or at least that is the plan and I think I've shown how good I am at following through on this sort of plan.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Whoops

After writing last night that I had made two pairs of sock out of one ball of Opal sock yarn, I took a closer look at the pair of Rick socks and realized that the colour was the same but the yarn was not Opal. Then I remembered that I made a pair of ankle socks out of the Opal but forgot to take a picture of them before I gave them away. So while it is true that two pairs of socks were made out of this yarn it is not such an amazing feat after all. Sigh. That is what comes from not keeping better track of my summer knitting projects. I could also blame my penchant for buying very similar colours of yarn again and again.

While I'm admitting my faults I might as well share a not very good picture of the fingerless mitts I am making to match my orange hat:
I finally weighed my remaining yarn and I am cautiously optimistic about getting a pair of matching mitts of a reasonable length. Looking at the fabric produced so far, though, I am less sure about knitting these mitts with 4.5 mm needles. I think I may rip out my work so far and restart with 4 mm needles. I want my mitts to be a bit tougher and denser than my hat since they will be seeing more rough wear.

Luckily I have tomorrow off and I can devote some time to serious knitting. Unless, of course, I sit down at my spinning wheel. Whatever happens, I'll try my best to get in focus pictures in natural light.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Finished socks

Since I had no other commitments tonight I managed to finish the pair of Monkey socks I have been working on. I think it took me longer to find the skein of contrast yarn for the second toe than it did to knit the thing. But the pair is finished and currently blocking.
What impresses me most about these socks is that the main colour yarn is the leftovers of the pair of Rick socks I knit in June and wrote about in July. One ball of Opal sock yarn yielded two pairs of socks. I might have to buy another ball or two.

I can now say that my Christmas knitting is well underway. Now I just need to figure out what I am going to knit for my brother for his birthday later this month. Hmm, maybe I should have started with that...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A nice welcome

I wasn't sure if I was going to have a picture to show tonight. I actually managed to remember that there was a Weavers and Spinners guild meeting tonight and moreover I had both the energy and desire to attend. This meant, though, that I couldn't really spend my evening working on something to show the blog.

I was in luck, though. Tonight's guild meeting ended with the start of a fleece study. We were offered parts of several types of fleece to take home and spin up however we chose. We are supposed to bring in a small sample of our results along with details on how we achieved it. I now have bits of Sheltland (in two colours), Romney (in three colours), Targhee, Merino (top rather than fleece), and some sort of cross:
This bounty alone would probably ensure my return, but it turns out that the guild is also full of friendly welcoming people. I think my first Thursday of the month's evenings are now spoken for.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Day off

I had today off and I did almost nothing, knitting or otherwise. I did find some time to work on the Monkey socks and I am now a toe short of being done the pair. I will wait until the pair is done and blocked before I show another picture, though.

Tonight I will share a picture of my current spinning project. I took advantage of being home during daylight hours to snap this photo:It is some merino that I dyed up when I dyed the wool for Liam's Surprise Jacket. I've divided the top into 3 equal strips so that I will get clearer stripes. I've spun up one third of the top and am now working on the second third. I think the final 3 ply should come out about fingering weight.

I think it is interesting that I rarely crave spinning on a spindle the way I do spinning on my wheel or knitting but when I actually start I find it very hard to put down. I find that I prefer spinning merino on my spindle rather than on my wheel, but I'm not sure quite why.

Tomorrow night I'm thinking of attending the Regina spinning and weaving guild's monthly meeting. I'd love to have fellow spinners to hang out with. If I go I'm sure my spindle and merino will go with me. There really is something to be said for portable spinning tools.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coffee and knit night

More or less since I moved back to Regina my friend Veronica and I have been getting together Tuesday nights to drink warm caffeinated beverages, chat and knit. Two or three weeks ago I didn't have a portable project on the go so I grabbed some sock yarn and some needles and a pattern book. My plan was to start knitting some new socks but all of the patterns in the book required a bit more focus than I had that night. So I cast on for yet another pair of Monkey socks.

It was just as well I didn't get started on something more complicated since I realized shortly after that the yarn I had picked up was already half gone. I decided to use some contrasting yarn for the heels and toes of my Monkey socks so that if I ran out it wouldn't be as obvious.

So far so good. I am finished one sock up to the toe and am about this far into the second sock:

At my current rate of progress I will need to find a new project for next week's knit night. I will also have the first of my Christmas knitting done. Hurray for Monkey socks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Perfect fall hat

OzB wants pictures which rules out my current works in progress. Luckily (?) I have several finished projects that never made it to the blog. I think my favorite of the lot is my Snapdragon hat:
This project began back in April when I was participating in a Ravelry spin along. The challenge was to spin something everyday. I had a bunch of white wool top which I dyed up in small batches so that I would have something colourful to spin. One of the batches of top came out a really lovely bright orange:
As soon as the top was dry I sat down at my wheel and spun it up and then made it into a simple 2 ply:
I ended up with about 300 yards of yarn somewhere between a fingering weight and a dk weight. It reminds me a lot of Shetland jumper weight yarn used for colour work.

I loved the yarn but didn't have a project in mind so it remained on the top of my stash pile waiting for me to find the perfect thing. I thought about using it for some stranded work but I wasn't sure what colour I would use it with or what sort of garment it would work best as.

The I spotted the Snapdragon hat on Ysolda's blog. The yarn weight was just about right and the colour matched so I jumped on the excuse to buy the entire Whimsical Little Knits 2 collection.

I cast on September 17 and was done a couple of days later. I've been wearing this hat every chance I get since it came off my needles. It is the perfect fall weight hat and I'll be sad when it finally gets cold and windy enough here that I'll need something warmer.

I still have some yarn left so I've been working on a pair of fingerless gloves to go with the hat. I don't know if I'll have enough yarn to knit the mits I have in mind but we shall see. One of these days I'll get a picture of them...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's November already

Now that it is November all of the Christmas knitting plans that have been quietly stewing in the back of my mind should star appearing on my needles. Since I've got several hats planned, a few pairs of socks, and a sweater I should really be getting a move on. So far I'm half done one of the pairs of socks and I'm getting ready to place an order with Knit Picks for the sweater yarn.

November also means that it's time for NaBloPoMo, which gives me some extra motivation to return to the blogging habit.

Here's to a productive month.