Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spinning! and Knitting!

Swirl Sweater. I love this yarn. Each round is close to (a little more than ) 500 stitches, so each round takes a while. The welts are 5 rounds each and I am on welt 6. 

Topiary wrap

Close up
With the edge ribbing

It looks a lot better than I thought it would after the first half a pattern repeat. I am very pleased, and it feels so nice. Silk and cashmere will do that. ; )

Ravelry painting yarn. This first picture is some of the fibers I used for the second ply. The first ply was a solid medium blue. My inspiration painting was apparently painted in layers. I chose the medium blue as my base color, with "small brush strokes" of other colors over it.
What do you think?
I like it.
 Finn fiber by Spunky Eclectic in the Acadia colorway, which is my current spinning project. It will be plied with white or blue (or both) fiber. I'll have to test things out before making a final decision.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sad Ravens fan .... sigh

They lost, and I am very sad about that. I really thought they could do it this year. But they did put up a good fight and that makes it a bit less painful. Sigh. I guess I will have to cheer the Giants on in the Superbowl. I have a brother who is a Giants fan and besides, how could I cheer for the team that beat mine anyway?

I haven't been feeling well - breathing problems brought on by the weather, exacerbating my respiratory illness and headaches, also brought on by weather changes, of which there have been way too many lately - and that is interfering with my life. I haven't been walking because not much exertion causes me to cough and wheeze a bit. I haven't been spinning because when my head hurts, I can't relax and spin the way it needs to be done. Knitting has been going on, though, because there is almost always something I can handle knitting. ; )  

Topiary in Kathmandu is looking good. At first I didn't think the pattern would show off enough in this textured yarn. I kept going because I loved the way it felt and now I am glad I did. The pattern is still a bit hidden but not as much as I thought and it is going to feel soooo good when I wear it.

The Swirl sweater, knitted  with Cascade Rustic is growing. It actually grew a lot during the football games on Sunday. It's mindless, boring knitting that goes well with other activities. I love how it feels and I think it will look great when finished.

The Jeweled Cowl gets a bit of attention now and then just because I enjoy it. I think it's about half completed but I haven't counted rows so I'm not sure. 

Bob's sweater has been ignored in the last week but it hasn't been set aside. I'll get back to it soon.

I think I will be able to get back to the mawata mitts this weekend. The finger has finally healed enough that I can leave the bandaid off and I think I can keep the fibers out of the cut at this point. I'd love to get those finished soon so I can wear them if we get winter back. I also won a package of multi colored mawata (many different colorways in the same package) that I want to knit into a cowl. I like using mawata unspun for knitting. It's different. I draft as I knit rather than drafting lots of mawata (or should that be many?) and then knitting. It's a different rhythm.

Work is terrible right now. Everything is a mess because the offices of Cardiac Surgery and Cardiology are moving, together, to another building. Not only is the move itself interfering with work but after, work will be much harder. We will, of necessity, be less productive because we now have to go range among 4 buildings to get our work done. it's stupid and the administrators don't seem to give a d**m that they are making work that much harder for those of us who see patients in the hospital. No one has privacy or quiet to work in because it's all cubicles, no offices except for the attending doctors. The offices are 2 blocks from the hospital! Bleeping idiot administrators! Why aren't they moving out of the hospital?

Sorry. I get a bit wound up when I think of the stupidity of people who move others around as if they were inanimate objects.

Have a good day and I'll try to do the same.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Winter, you are confusing me

I don't know whether to bundle up or open up! We have 20 degree days alternating with 50 degree days. I suppose I should be happy for the easy ones, but it is confusing. sigh.

I an knitting so many projects that I love right now that I am having a hard time making a decision as to what to knit each time I sit down. That's a good thing. I never feel as if I have to "make" myself knit on something to finish it. Actually, I'd like to skip work for a few days and really get into fiber.

I cast on my Swirl sweater. It's a pretty purple color with light grey trim. I really like it a lot. I am on the 3rd welt (it's worked from the outside towards the inside) but had to stop over the weekend. I cut my thumb up near the fingernail and purling hurt. a lot. So, since the next 5 rounds of about 500 stitches each were to be purl, I put that on hold. My finger is better now so I hope to get back to that soon. I don't have any pictures, yet.

I am still working on Bob's sweater. The pattern is interesting enough that it's not tiring to knit.

I put the Jeweled Cowl on hold because of the other projects I am working on, but last night I did a bit of that again. I love that cowl. I love beads on my knitting projects.

Carol gave me an interesting gift this year. She bought the pattern and yarn for a project (a pair of gloves) and we will spend time knitting (at least some of it) together. We swatched and knit the cuff this past weekend and will start our fist KAL session today. Fun. The yarn is two colorways of a Noro yarn that will make it look sort of like Fair Isle. Here are my colors - pretty, aren't they? The cuff is finished now and the patterned hand knitting has started, but just barely.

I plan to start knitting Topiary this week. Elizabeth asked me if I was interested in one of the KALs at our LYS and this was one of the ones I liked. I think it will be a cozy but elegant wrap. I haven't chosen the yarn yet. She hasn't made a choice yet, either.

The mawata mittens are on hold because of the cut on my finger and they will stay that way for a bit longer. The silk fibers will get caught in the bandaid or the cut and neither prospect sounds appealing to me.  Same thing goes for the mawata scarf I was doing as practice for the mittens. It will get finished but not yet.

I still have 2 socks on the needles but they aren't going anywhere ....

Spinning - I want to do more spinning and I've been better at grabbing 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there. the end result is more spinning time and that's good. I am working on some Finn now that was a shipment from Spunky Eclectic's fiber club from several years ago. Blues, greens, some rose and white. I hope it will make a nice cowl since it feels so soft. I may ply it with something, but I have to see what more of it looks like spun up first. Next I'll get back to my grafton batt and finish that, then we'll see.

The weather has really caused a problem with my breathing recently, so my goal of walking almost every day isn't being met. I do plan to start again as soon as my breathing allows. That's the thing about goals - you can always get back to trying to meet them. ; )

I have been clearing out clutter in the house - old records and negatives from when DH and I ran a photography business. It's amazing how good I feel when I've cleared out a corner or few shelves. I'll be working on old magazines next. it will be hard to toss some of the crafty ones - you never know, right? But I am going to narrow it down to 3 or 4 magazines and keep those issues, get rid of the rest.  

I have to get out to the local Joann  store and buy buttons. I knitted a baby sweater for a friend and it's all done, way ahead of time, except for the buttons. This selection has to be fast - the shower is on Thursday! 

Have a great day. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Goals

I can't really explain the reason for it, but I flop when I make resolutions (which just makes me more likely to fail at other resolutions) but do pretty well when I set goals for myself. Maybe resolutions feel more firm and therefore if I don't get there, I have failed as compared to goals that I strive to meet? I don't know, but there it is.

My goals for 2012 in no particular order are:

Improve my physical condition (at least for now that means walking as close to daily as I can make it)

Declutter - house, office, fiber and yarn stash, everything.

Knit more yarn than I buy (in other words, knit more from stash and less from the store, though I do want to support my LYS)

Spin more fiber than I buy

Learn something new in the fiber world. Maybe ply on the fly, maybe a new-to-me knitting technique, long draw, whatever.

Learn more about the candidates that will be controlling our lives for the next few years so that I make informed choices (limited though they may be)

Spend time with Bob doing both work and fun things. Savor such times.

Savor every minute with Mom and try to increase the number of minutes this year.

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's official

I am over-committed. Fiber wise, work wise and home-wise.

Knitting first (as usual): I have on the needles
1. Bob's sweater, most of which still needs to be knit.
2. Jeweled cowl
3. Riff socks
4. SKYP socks
5. mawata mittens
6. Swirl sweater

I have committed to:
1. gloves (it's a Christmas gift) KAL
2. a cowl per month
3. Topiary KAL

All of those are good projects and I want to make them.  I have other things on the needles that I don't consider active projects, but that I'd like to get done at some point. I have to review those soon, frog what's not going to work for some reason and get going on the rest.

Spinning - on the wheel or spindle:
1. silk on spindle
2. grafton batt on wheel
3. masham on spindle
4. Icelandic on spindle

I have so much fiber still to be spun that it's beginning to embarrass me. It was all in one place right after Christmas and I couldn't believe it was all my fiber in those bags. Must get to work on it soon.

Work - I don't think I can even get into that. Suffice it to say that I will be working on cloning some time soon.

Home - I really want to de-clutter and re-organize. I have to get over my "let's save it in case", but how to strike a balance between that and wasting because in some cases "in case" happens is a puzzle to me. I made some progress over the weekend. I got rid of a lot of old business papers and photographs from our old photography business. There's more of that to go, but I think the worst is done.Yippee!

I want to exercise every day. I get home from work after 6 most days and, because I get up a little after 5 AM, go to bed by 10 PM. That's not a lot of time for dinner, dishes, exercise, spending time with DH and fiber time. Somehow I have to work that out.

I obviously have my work cut out for me. I had best get to it.

Have a good Purple Friday, and Go Ravens!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I've joined the Knit, Swirl Group

I made the commitment and bought the yarn. I swatched and measured. Some time this week I will be casting on over 650 stitches to begin the Shades of Gray Swirl sweater. I hope I get the book soon. I am sure it will help.  ; )

I finished spinning and plying my North Ronaldsay fiber. You can clearly see the hairs vs the downy kind of fiber.

I found this to be a different kind of fiber than many others, and nice. It seems to have guard hairs and soft downy fiber all in one, but the hairs don't seem to irritate or poke. I had hoped for some fingerless mitts from this fiber but I am concerned that it won't hold up to that kind of wear, so now I am looking for another use.

Bob's sweater is moving along. I have to measure the length to see whether it's time for arms yet. I think not but I hate to waste knitting so I don't want to exceed the desired length.

I am knitting mawata mittens.  The great cast on (for the Ravelery group) was Friday. I have started 3 times. This last try appears to have done the trick. I have the correct circumference for my wrist. Silk doesn't stretch much (if at all) so it's important to be pretty darn accurate. I love the colors and find the knitting to be addictive. These are the mawata I am knitting with:

 and this is the start of the second attempt. The one after this was the right size. The bag in the background, BTW, was my gift from my Knitting Secret Santa. I love knitting bags and this one, with the sheep, is adorable. I don't know if you can see it, but there's a shamrock on the rump of the big black sheep near the top right of the picture.

I should be knitting more on Bob's sweater, but it shouldn't take long to finish these, so I alternate. The jeweled cowl has taken a back seat to the mitts and the sweater, but there's no rush there.

I blocked the Shaelyn shawl on Sunday. I love it and will have a hard time giving it away, I think.

We drove up to Manhattan on Saturday to see the Christmas tree on the last day it was lit. We were disappointed because, though the tree was lit, the other decorations in Rockefeller Center were already down and the light show had stopped. Next year we'll go earlier, like we usually do. OTOH, the weather was awesome! We didn't even need to wear gloves. We took our time walking around the area, looking in store windows and just enjoying the ambiance.

Sunday was filled with morning chores and afternoon football. I am so glad that the Broncos sent the Steelers home. : ))

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Honka scarf finished!

It's been 3 years and a few days since I cast on. I love the scarf, and I enjoyed knitting it but the next double knit project I make will not be patterned on both sides. I think I'll try for just a double knit fabric with one color on each side. I just think I'd like the  next DK garment to take less time to knit. ; )

Anyway, it's one skein black cascade 220 and two skeins silk garden, knit on size 3 DPNs. I have to weave in the ends and block it before you see a finished  photo.

That was the sum total of my fiber efforts last night. I decided to use the new year as my impetus to get walking again. Of course, that's just when Mother Nature decided to show us that it really is winter. It was very cold and hard to get out to walk last night, but I did it! By the time I walked, we ate and I did the dishes and took Bob for his fountain drink, I was tired and headed into bed. I finished off the scarf and then browsed Ravelry for a while before turning out the lights. I had been up since 4:30 AM.

Tonight I hope to spin another section of my grafton batt on the wheel before picking up the knitting. The knitting might be Bob's sweater or it might be the jeweled cowl .... not sure what will interest me tonight.

Have a good day.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Ravelry project

 I have been spinning for a specific Ravelry project. There is a design challenge in one of the groups that I was following. I wasn't participating but just following along, inspired by the creativity I saw there. I finally got up the nerve to post a comment on the fan page and was invited, along with a few others, to participate unofficially in the challenge. What fun it's been! A lot of thinking, planning, test spinning and a bit of fiber purchasing has been involved. 

We were supposed to design a collection of three yarns - all inspired by a masterpiece painting of our choice. I chose this Cezanne painting - The  great pine. It looks like a windy day, possibly stormy sky, which I love to see (as long as I am not out on the boat) LOL. The colors are very saturated. I love the feeling and the colors.  

I took these two fibers (Gulf coast native, dyed by me)

 (mystery wool, over dyed by me)
and spun them, one on the wheel and one on the spindle. I plied them together, two plies of the gulf coast native and one of the mystery wool to get this 3 ply yarn.  This color is a bit lighter than the actual yarn.

Which, when knitted up, looks like this. This color is pretty accurate.

It bloomed in the wash and was heavier than I thought it would be. Being a 3 ply, it has great stitch definition and I like it best with large areas of stockinette and just a bit of cabling or texture.

Next, and here is where the purchasing came in, I took a selection of these locks

blended them on my hackle to get this

and spun them to get these yarns. These yarns represent the sky to me. This one a bit smoother, though fluffy and light, like clouds,

and this one, a bit more thick and thin also like the clouds in the sky.
Then, for the tree trunk and foreground of the painting, I took brown alapaca and some painted locks that I had drum carded at the spinning retreat last year 
and spun it into an uneven singles.  

I am not sure yet whether I will ply it on itself or whether I will comb some of the orange/gold locks and use that for the second ply.   More sampling ahead. 

Happy New Year

I hope that this new year is more peaceful, healthy and happier for all than last year.

I was home for much of the week between Christmas and new year. I had been working hard to get all caught up so that I could spend as much time as possible at home this week and it worked out well.

I was able to do a lot of cleaning, some organizing and clearing out, spinning and knitting. I enjoyed spending time with DH as we worked together on some projects. Sigh. It was good.  We spent New Years Eve at home as usual. Bob read, I spun, having joined a virtual spin in on Ravelry to spin in the new year. We watched the neighborhood fireworks at midnight and then snuggled into our bed.

New Year's Eve spin in. I didn't enjoy Dick Clark's show much but I really liked listening to the New York Philharmonic play.

Grafton Batt lace weight progress. Color  is not accurate, but I'll try again. 

I have new projects to report on and updates on ongoing works. I will be doing a KAL to make Mawata mittens in a few days. I decided to buy some dyed hankies in colors that I love. I forget what the name of this colorway is but I really like it a lot. It came from Wooliebullie on Etsy.

I had some un-dyed hankies, plus some that I had purchased previously that were languishing in my stash box. Melanie came over on Friday and we spent a fun afternoon dyeing silk hankies (mawata) for her and looking over her fiber related gifts. I am hoping for some pictures of her dyed hankies once they are dry.

The next day I decided to knit up the old, languishing hankies into a scarf to get a feel for them before knitting something that made size matter. I hated one of the colors in those hankies (possibly why they languished in my stash?) and decided to take care of that issue after being inspired by Melanie's creativity. I soaked them for several hours, pulled out the dyes we had used the day before and chose 2 colors. I applied dye mostly to the area with the color I didn't like but didn't worry if I got it on the nice purple that was there. I chose navy blue and dark green, poured them on and slid the pan into the oven. It was quite breezy so they had a good drying time outside for several hours, then, because I was impatient, I put them over the heat vent overnight and I had dry hankies to knit the next day. Here is my progress so far. The bright purple was there and the navy blue and green are covering the sort of reddish purple that I didn't care for.

I decided on a diagonal garter scarf - it's an easy project. I like the mawata knitted in stockinette more, but the garter made the increases and decreases necessary for this scarf design less noticeable.

 I have pictures of my unblocked Shaelyn shawl to show you. It's a nice, comfortable size for over the shoulders (or on the lap) and may get a bit bigger with blocking, though I don't plant to pin it out stretched but to just pull it out and let it dry. It is very light weight, feels squishy and is very comfortable. It may or may not be a gift at some point. I haven't decided.

I enjoyed knitting this pattern and may knit it again. It might work well with some hand spun odds and ends. We'll see.

 I am knitting the Jeweled Cowl using Posh Yarns Arabella and some seed beads. It took many attempts to get this right, mostly because I apparently had forgotten how to join for knitting in the round without twisting. Dummy me. Anyway, I got it started properly and was knitting merrily along. I looked it over, though and had to look REALLY hard for the beads. Out it came (again)  and larger beads were purchased. I am moving along nicely now and I like it. Only one small section of the cowl has beads and the rest is stockinette in the round, so it's a nice project to knit on even when you don't have much energy or concentration.

The beads are still subtle but not hard to find.

 I was working on Bob's textured sweater but admit to getting sidetracked over the holiday. I'll get back to work on it soon.

 The double knit Honka scarf is almost complete. I will reach the end of the pattern repeat in about 10 rows. I then have to decide whether to knit until the yarn is gone (which will not be another full pattern repeat and so the scarf won't be symmetrical at each end)  or to end the scarf with the end of this pattern repeat. There won't be much yarn left at that point, so that's probably what I will do. That means that there is another FO coming in a few days!

Happy New Year!