It’s Still Raining Here

Well, yeah. It’s spring. As one of my cousins says (repeatedly, and I think, somewhat annoyingly), “It’s just weather.”

Well, yeah.

It’s one of those days where as soon as I think of something that I want to do outside, I no sooner get my gear on and look outside to find it pouring. I take the gear off, decide on what to do inside that is at least marginally productive, get immersed in that task – and, you guessed it: the sun comes out.

In the interest of getting something sort of productive done, here’s what I’ve been working on:

Sock Repair  – I blogged about the first time I used the toe-up two-at-a-time sock pattern last fall, with the first effort being knit in some purple superwash merino in a DK weight that I had in deep stash. I knew that the soles probably wouldn’t last long around here with the Tile Floors That Eat Socks. I was right. Hole number one showed up a couple of weeks ago.

Being too lazy to cut off the sock at the bottom of the leg and re-knit it in yarn that would be a little hardier in this environment, I performed a “stage 1” repair:

20170324SockRepair (1)

Pretty much just picking up and re-knitting the area on the ball of the foot that shows all the wear. For good measure, I “fixed” both soles. The fabric is so cushy and warm and lovely to wear that I really don’t want to toss them out when this fix wears out. At that point, I will probably just cut off the foot and re-knit it with something that will last. Like steel wool. ( I jest. Probably Romney.)

Spinning – The big bunch of Romney is dwindling slowly (down to four bags, one big tub, and one large basket of batts!). I’ve now got nine 30-gram balls to ply. This afternoon I plied up the combo spin singles that I had resting, and now have a skein awaiting washing. If it shrinks to a 60-inch wrap, the skein will be about 270 yards of what I can only assume will be a sport to DK weight 2-ply. The last 2-3 yards are chain plied, because I had just a bit left on the storage bobbin.

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Meanwhile, my lettuce starts are ready to transplant outside. Unfortunately, the garden is not yet ready to receive them. Guess I’ll have to gear up and go play in the rain!

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It Was So Simple to Start With!

Time flies! Let’s begin:

FOs: Nada. Just working on big projects, I guess!

WIPs: Continuing to spin the big pile o’ Romney. Thus far, I’ve got 751 yards of finished 2-ply and 5 balls of singles to ply.

20170313 2-ply Romney DK

2-ply Romney, before washing

I’ve got a lot of Romney left to spin. It spins beautifully and just about drafts itself. But after spending so much time spinning charcoal Shetland, then brown and moorit Shetland, I am ready for some COLOR!! Hence,

20170317 ComboSpinFibers

Late last week I pulled out all my fiber stash except for the white Merino/silk and a little bit of alpaca that I had set aside. I had three braids of dyed Merino blends (some silk, some sparkly nylon) plus a bunch of natural dyed Merino and BFL that I had left from last summer’s dye fest. I stripped it all out, mixed up the strips, and randomly stuffed them into my big fiber basket that sits on the sewing table just an arm’s reach away from my spinning wheel.

The plan is to spin one storage bobbin (i.e., TP tube – about 30 grams) full of Romney, then one of the combo spin. So far, that plan’s working quite well. I’m using the same drive tension for both, so that’s pretty easy. I guess eventually I’ll then have at least two sweater quantities of yarn to knit with if I am persistent. The basket shown above is holding about 560 grams of fiber, so I will probably get enough 2-ply yarn for something. It’s spinning finely enough to end up as a sport or DK weight, but because it’s mostly Merino, I won’t know what I’ve got until I’ve plied and washed the yarn. The stuff “poofs up” when it’s washed.

The mitered square throw is coming along. No pictures for now, because I’m working on writing a pattern for it. Let’s just say that I started off with the basic mitered square idea, then wandered off on a tangent to build panels of squares separated by panels of texture or lace. I am also incorporating some interesting textural stitches, some bead work, and may include a little color work as well. Some of the texture stitch squares are proving to be real head-scratchers to work out a way to maintain the mitered square idea and incorporate, for instance, a texture stitch on a 4-stitch repeat without skewing the mitering or the texture stitch. I can see it may end up as a stitch sampler, with the written pattern being for someone that isn’t afraid of learning some new techniques.

Of course, now I’m contemplating purchasing pattern authoring software.

Sometimes the whole thing makes me want to stuff it into the project basket and go knit something EASY!! Or go out and plant radishes. If it would quit raining, that is.

No FOs Today

I guess the title says it all. I’ve been knitting and spinning and carding a good bit of fiber, but I haven’t got any finished objects to show for all my efforts. I will, however, show what I’ve been doing.

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This is the barest start of my mitered square blanket. I’m knitting this with sock yarn scraps. Each square is 3.5 inches across and takes right at 3 grams of yarn. I’m working with a mix of superwash, “regular” sock yarn, and handspun and am focusing on wool, silk, and alpaca. (No acrylic touches my needles! Ever!)

Here’s the same thing a few days later:

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Since this picture was taken, I’ve completed the base row and the second row and have started on the third row. I’m really happy to be knitting with some color.

I’m still working on B’s scarf. I’m more than 24 inches in and am still enjoying the pattern. I’ve just started on the third ball of yarn and have two hanks in my basket for this project. Just in case, I’ve got more of the same fiber “in stock” so I can spin more of this lovely 2 ply if needed. It’s just heaven to work with, so I really don’t mind that it’s undyed.

I’ve been wheel spinning some of that pile of Romney that I’ve got, and have hand carded a bunch of it. (One of six bags was hand carded. Yikes.) I drove down to Latimer Quilt Center and borrowed a Clemes and Clemes drum carder today so I could speed up the process a little. Spent three hours this afternoon carding ONE bag of locks:

20170307 CardingRomneyLocks

What you don’t see here is how messy this project is! Seeds and stuff going everywhere – my trusty supervac is off to the side here and I’m sucking up all the junk every so often so I can control the mess factor. The batts are so lovely, though, I can hardly wait to start spinning them!

20170307 CardedRomney2

Goin’ Nowhere

I woke up dreaming of planting peas and radishes and spinach. It’s early enough in the spring now to plant peas in the bean beds and get away with it, I thought – they’d be done by the time I can safely plant beans. And of course, radishes and spinach, because: why not? I dreamt that I would get out there today and rake out the little bitter cress that is already rosetting its way across the garden spaces and waiting for just the right second to shoot out its flower stalks.

Just the day before yesterday, I clomped out to the big garden, basket and kitchen shears in hand, and dug and trimmed the rest of the leeks and green onions. Checked out the Russian kale stalks that I’d given up for dead after months of on-again off-again freezes and snows and realized that they were very much alive and putting out new leaves.

Must be getting close to Spring! Time to buy seeds!

For now, though, I’m going to be content with holing up inside, though: we’ve got two new inches of snow this morning. And, apparently, more on the way. I see it as time for planning the gardens and for spinning and knitting. Not wasted time, indeed.

No finished objects this time. But more work done on my sole WIP for the moment:

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This is B’s dress scarf in progress. I’ve completed about 24 inches of 66 so far, and finding this a very enjoyable knit. Keeping my interest without being overwhelming. And the yarn! Oh, the yarn: a very soft and squishy merino and silk blend in a two-ply. Spindle spun and plied. (Yes, lots of work.) Here you see it with the third ball of yarn, which I started last night. I just want to pet it, it’s so lovely! Squeee! (And you know me, I almost never “Squeee”!)

Spinning is coming along. I am loving the Griffis wheel, although I am seeing clearly some of her limitations and am casting a roving eye toward others.  JMS Cassandra and the Schacht Flatiron are a couple I’m drooling over right at the moment. The JMS fits my budget better than the Schacht. I’m not settled on a double treadle, really, and want to try one out before I jump into a purchase. Griff is a single treadle, and I like her just fine. Treadling her is kind of like tapping my foot to music, except with a slightly rocking heel to toe motion.

I’ve finished spinning the last 8 oz. of the moorit Shetland and have about 6 oz. of nice 2-ply yarn and a ball of singles to play with. (Seen below “pre-spa” with Kokopelli.) The 2-ply will very likely become part of a shawl in the near future. Not sure what I’m going to do with the singles. Might ply it with something else or finish & knit it as a singles yarn.

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Earlier this week, I dived head-first into the first bag of Romney locks. Oh.My. I think I’m in love! I carded my way through the first half of the first of six paper grocery bags full of washed locks and I’m seriously loving this fiber. It spins effortlessly. I’m getting about 3 rolags to the bobbin and 3 bobbins to the storage ball  (Griff has a tiny bobbin – she’s a flax wheel). I’m spinning my way through a big basket full o’ rolags and have not quite finished half. After I’ve finished the basket, I want to take the next half of this bag and spin from flicked locks so I can compare the difference in the singles.

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It’s still snowing, but for now, it doesn’t bother me! Nowhere I need to go, and I am not in any hurry to get there.

KALs and Stuff

I never knew that I was a joiner, but I’ve found myself hooked into the world of Knit-A-Longs (KALs) and Spin-A-Longs (SALs) and I’m having a good time with the idea of participating in a virtual crafting group. I’m so enjoying the pictures and chatter online (Ravelry) posted by the other knitters and spinners – nearly as good as going to a LYS knit-night. (But better – no travel over icy roads!) Among the KALs I’ve participated in recently are the Grocery Girls SockBash2017 for January and February and a couple of month-long themed spin-a-longs in other Ravelry groups that were pretty fun. Such a push for the creativity! It’s like being given a really juicy writing prompt.

FO’s – just one since the last update: Courtney’s birthday socks!

20170211-cocosbdsocksThese started out as vanilla toe-up TAAT Magic Loops socks, but then I added a Fish Lips Kiss heel and did the leg patterning in the Hermoine’s Everyday socks stitch pattern. A little yarny embellishment adds some interest and ‘fixes’ a hole or two that I discovered during blocking. The FLK heel is a winner – it is destined to become my ‘go-to’ heel pattern (just like it is for so many other knitters these days!). The yarn is from ‘ancient history’ stash for me – years ago I got into the habit of buying 100-gram lots of sock yarn, so I had two balls of this colorway to play with. The socks used 51 grams, so I still have enough for another pair of socks if I choose a second color for the toes, heels, and cuffs. I don’t know that I particularly care for the length of the color sections – I think I’d prefer them to be a little shorter, so the stripes are narrower – but I think the yarn is totally usable and works up very nicely. It’s a superwash merino with a bit of nylon, so it will wear well. KnitPicks yarn is dyed well & doesn’t tend to fade over time. Coco will probably wear out these socks before the yarn fades. 🙂

WIPs: Just one for now, B’s scarf. I’m plodding along on it, still enjoying the merino & silk spindle-spun 2-ply yarn and thankful that the pattern is interesting enough to keep me from being bored silly. In an 8-row repeat, the odd rows have a good mix of front and back cables in two different widths (8-stitch and 12-stitch) with the even rows being a simple K1P1 to echo the front side. I’m doing two iterations side-by-side of Bruce Weinstein’s Reversable Cable Scarf pattern that B picked out last year on a Knitter’s Pride US-2 bamboo circular needle. I’m not excited by the needle, but the bamboo keeps the yarn from sliding off the needles if I’m not paying attention to it, so it’s saved me from dropped stitches many times during this knit.

Spinning: I’ve finished the Shetland & Merino spin that I was working on and have about 1,000 yards of cushy light worsted to knit something lovely with. I haven’t chosen a pattern yet, but I’ll be looking for one with minimal texture because the colors will hide whatever texture is there. I’ve yet to swatch, so will do that before I get serious about choosing a pattern.

[And I’ve been terrible about taking pictures lately, too.]

Just one little project on the wheel now: I’m spinning up 8 oz. of moorit Shetland so I can make a 2-ply to include in Joji Locatelli’s “The Girl From the Grocery Store” shawl:

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I’m considering the moorit Shetland for one of the lace panels. Or not. We’ll see.

Whoosh! Went January!

Oh. My. That went fast! It seems like just yesterday – or at least last week – that we were just getting back from our Christmas holiday in Las Vegas. Since then, we’ve spent two weeks in Mexico (missing the 2017 “Snowmaggedon” event completely!) and I’ve even completed a couple of projects.

FO #1: Socks! These are the first socks I’ve made with my handspun yarn, and they’re for me. (Not sure why WordPress is insisting on rotating my image, but I’m not going to worry about meta data today.) I knitted these with Staci Perry’s toe-up TAAT Magic Loop pattern, and find that they fit really well. 20170126_seaofcortezsocks1

FO #2: A hat for Grandson, who is 14 on Valentine’s Day. The yarn was given to me a couple of years ago, and is a handpainted superwash merino sock yarn by The Sanguine Gryphon in their Prince Edward Island colorway. Knitted on US 5 circular, held double. Should be cozy and warm for Madras, Oregon springtime!20170131_joshs14thbdhat

WIP #1 continues to be B’s scarf, knitted on a US size 2 circular in handspun 85% merino / 15% silk blend. Kinda slow going, so we hope it will be finished before the start of the 2017-18 season for Oregon Symphony. It’s a goal.

WIP #2 is a quick pair of socks for GrandDaughter, again toe-up TAAT Magic Loop. This will be my project to keep my hands busy while B is in the hospital with his shoulder surgery tomorrow. That, and an audio book on my smart phone & I’m all set for hours of waiting.

Spinning: Not much. I had promised B that I would finish sewing the curtains for the dining room before I did any more spinning. Auto-magically, viola!, the curtains got done yesterday. ‘Cause I wanted to spin. 🙂 So, for spinning, I’m plying the shetland / native-dyed merino that I spun last month (!). I also spun up a ball of pale yellow / light tan / bright orange yellow singles yesterday, just to have something colorful to spin. I experimented with carding together the three colors so I have short color runs in the singles. I will probably chain ply it and then knit up a swatch to see what it looks like.

I haven’t started carding or flicking the Romney locks yet, but will be doing so soon. I’m kind of making myself work on the Shetland first. I know how I am!