Sunday, 31 March 2013

State of the WIPs, Duckfest Edition

You know how sometimes holiday traditions take on a life of their own? Somehow roast duck at my place for Easter dinner has become a Thing. A Very Important Thing, in fact. So important that it is now known as Duckfest.

Anyway. WIPs. Lots, but fewer than I started the year with!

The bedspread is progressing nicely. I've added a few more rows of squares, and I crochet a few more squares every time I finish something else. And since I'm currently down to just one portable project, the squares will be getting a lot more time in the near future. It'll be good to use up some more scraps, too!

The Yule Shawl is actually being worked upon. Slowly, slowly, I am getting it finished. The trouble with cobweb-weight yarn is that I can't knit it without looking at my fingers, so it goes really slowly.

Thistle Tsocks are also coming along quite happily. As with Vintage I've decided to work them both at the same time (on separate needles, I'm not insane!), so the first has ribbing and the lace set-up, and I'm just finished the ribbing of the second.

My Reverse Engineering sock is about half done and I'm enjoying it. Two circular needles not so much, but it's good practice. This is the project living in my handbag at the moment - as fussy as the pattern looks, it's actually really simple.

Spinning is in a bit of a hiatus at the moment because it's so cold that my fingers get numb while I'm spinning. However, here are the outstanding WIPs for the sake of completion:

Undyed BFL. It'll be a sock-weight true 3-ply when it's done. I'm currently working the second bobbin of singles.

Tussah silk. Spinning this on my Turkish spindle. It'll eventually be a 2-ply laceweight. I need to figure out some sort of carrying case for this spindle so that I can take it to work with me. It doesn't fit in my spindle tube, and it's too fragile to just sit in my handbag.

And last but not least, my Juno BFL/silk sock yarn. This will go back on the wheel once the undyed stuff is finished. I'm not in any rush because it's not like I need more sock yarn...

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

It's a mystery!

My place of work has a crafting club that meets once a week at lunchtime. It's nice. We sit, we gossip, we knit, we spin, we do other crafts, we help each other out, we eat our lunches. Last summer we also ran a learn-to-weave session at the staff conference. We needed materials, of course, so sent out an email soliciting scraps of unwanted yarn. Ended up with a ton of the stuff!

The pile of scrap yarn was so large that it took four of us an entire lunch hour to sort through all of it. While digging through I found a neatly-wound cake of sock yarn. It was pretty, and I seriously pondered taking it home with me until I woke up to the fact that it was only about 50g of yarn, which is not enough to make a pair of socks. So I set it aside and kept digging.

Imagine my shock when, a few minutes later, I pulled out an entire sock - one that matched the cake of yarn I'd just found!

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One of my colleagues suggested that I try it on. It fit my foot perfectly, as though it had been knitted for me. Of course I decided to swipe the sock and the yarn. I figured I'd be able to reverse-engineer the pattern at some point and get a new pair of socks for the work of just one.

Well, this was months ago, and the sock and its matching yarn have been sitting in my WIP basket ever since. I've pondered starting to figure it out every so often, but never had the mental energy. It wasn't exactly a high priority.

A few weeks ago a Ravelry friend asked me to help her figure something out in a pattern she was knitting. It was in a book I didn't own, but as it was one I'd wanted for ages I decided to just buy it. One can never have too many books of sock patterns, after all. It came, we talked, her problem was resolved. I was flipping idly through the rest of the book when I had another surprise - there, on page 43, was the cable pattern for my mystery sock! I had found my first clue!

The book in question is more of a design-your-own stitch dictionary than an actual pattern book, so I still have a lot of stitch counting and experimenting in my future. But I'm a whole lot closer than I was. And to help me out even more, the anonymous knitter didn't sew in his or her ends. I'm able to tell from the placement that the sock was knit toe-up with a short row toe that was provisionally cast on. So helpful.

The initial burst of figuring things out inspired me to do some counting, so I've actually started making the second sock. It's 60 stitches, 6 repeats of the Yarn-Over Cable pattern across, and 15 repeats up the length of the foot. I'm using 2.5mm needles, chosen by the very scientific "hold the sock up to other socks I've knitted and pick the needle that gives me matching gauge" method. I'm also using two circulars because all my 2.5mm DPNs are otherwise occupied at present.

I think it's going quite well so far!

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Friday, 22 March 2013

I can stop any time I want to, honest!

I just don't want to right now. Yeah, that's it.

all about cowls 001
Another Catesby Cowl, crocheted from that handspun I just finished.

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A Bandana Cowl, knit from a skein of handspun I received in a swap just before the winter holidays.

Fine. I give up. They are less bother than a scarf and less likely to come undone than a shawl. They're still not warm enough for snow, which we had this morning, nor for freezing rain, which we're having right now, so I don't see myself abandoning the scarf collection any time soon.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

The trouble with spinning

It's awesome really, transforming fluff into yarn. Unfortunately, it doesn't get anything out of my stash! All I do is move it from the fiber basket to the yarn basket.

Here are a couple of long-term pieces of fluff that have recently made the migration!

Up first, the orange merino that everyone in the local SCA has seen a dozen times. I won this fiber on Ravelry last April - one of the groups to which I belong has a monthly competition to set personal spinning goals and complete them. I started spinning this on my resin Wildcraft spindle during the Tour de Fleece, and it somehow became my event project. It's been all over the country, indoors and out, and I've used it as a demo tool for teaching spinning. In February I finally finished spinning it.

I spun it in thirds with the intention of doing a 3-ply on my wheel after it was all done. That meant winding it off the spindle and onto wheel bobbins, a task that took several hours for each third of the fiber. The plying itself only took about two hours. Ended up with 270 yards of yarn, 90g. Lost about 10g because the fiber wasn't perfectly divided into thirds. Oh well. It's still a usable amount. I'm planning to turn it into socks one of these days. I can always use more socks.

The second actually pre-dates the orange merino. (As an aside? The day I figured out that I could break off spinning-projects-in-progress was the day I stepped down the path of having WIPs take years instead of weeks. Fail.) This was a braid of merino/nylon I bought from Easy Knits a long, long time ago, at the first iKnit Day. I had planned to spin it up into a proper sock yarn, 4 yards to the gram, and actually started spinning it up the that spec. Unfortunately, it was taking absolutely bloody ages, and it was not a fun spin. Don't get me wrong, the fiber was absolutely amazing. The nylon was blended in beautifully and it drafted like butter. I just don't get on that well with merino.

I finally decided in the last few weeks that life is too short for a spinning project I wasn't enjoying. So, I took 20 minutes, plied that up, washed it, whacked it, and threw the rest of the fiber back on the wheel to turn into something heavier. Three days later I had 140 yards of a heavy worsted-weight yarn, and my yarn basket is a little bit more full.