Sunday, April 22, 2018

Full of Fiber

While I may have been focused on my knitting over the past week, don't think I haven't been thinking about my spinning! First, here's a proper look at the two skeins I finished last weekend with the two different preps of the same fiber blend.

This is the skein spun worsted from combed top, and it's a light fingering and approximately 370 yards.

And this is the woolen skein, spun long draw from batts, which is closer to DK weight (though variable) and 175 yards.

New fiber has come into the stash in the past couple of weeks. First, there was a batt that I won as a prize from the 90% Knitting podcast, 2.9 oz. of merino, BFL, Corriedale, milk protein, and nylon from Unwind Yarn Company -- a bit of a collector's item, as I understand that Dana no longer sells fiber.

Then my Southern Cross Fibre March 2018 shipment showed up; the colorway is Islander and it's on Falkland top.

And because I don't already have enough fiber in my stash, yesterday I finally had a chance to stop by the Ross Farm Mercantile in Washington, Pa., where they were featuring a Hobbledehoy trunk show, and I picked up some beautiful battlings (I actually bought two bags so I'd have a full 4 oz. to play with, but I didn't want to make a mess).

Lest you think all I'm doing is acquiring fiber these days, rest assured I'm still spinning. I pulled out some older SCF club fiber (last September's shipment of Squawk on Spelsau top) and am spinning up some three-ply sock yarn.

There's some yellow, burnt orange, and brown in the colorway as well, but I just adore this bright green.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Other Hobby

The problem with having a busy week and multiple projects is that you don't make too much progress on any one of them. I'm still working on my sweater, the baby sweater, and the Mister's socks. My sweater has a nearly complete body (I'm about halfway through the ribbing at the bottom). The baby sweater is a little further along than it was the last time you saw it, and I'll be working on finishing the body tonight. The Mister's socks are now in the home stretch, as I've gotten through the gusset of the second sock and am now cruising down the foot.

It looks like I might be playing a game of yarn chicken on this sock, but as the first sock weighed just slightly less than half of the whole skein, I might just squeak it out.

Seeing as the knitting is not all that exciting at this point, I thought I'd talk about what I've been reading lately -- I really haven't talked about books here in a long time! I've been reading more this year than I have in years past, probably because I am reading more e-books these days (which means that I can read while I knit or spin because there's no need for an extra set of hands to keep the book open).

One of my favorite books that I've read so far this year is Beautiful Wreck by Larissa Brown.

I'm fairly certain that I bought this book when it first came out in 2016 (it was published by Cooperative Press, which you might know more for its craft books) and started reading it shortly thereafter, but I didn't get beyond the first chapter at the time because I didn't really understand it. I thought I'd give it another go because I'd heard so many great things about the book, and I quickly discovered that the first part is meant to be a bit confusing because it's set in the future -- and then nearly all of the rest of the book is set in 10th-century Iceland. I found the story very compelling, albeit a bit implausible (as is any story involving time travel), but the writing is just beautiful. I have also recently read the first part of the sequel, which was good but not as good (and I'm anxiously awaiting part 2).

Currently I am reading Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. This book has been on my wish list for several months, and I finally broke down and ordered a hard copy last week when I was ordering some books for Rainbow. I'm glad I got a physical copy, because I can already tell that this is a book that I'm going to want to display in my library. I'm only about 30 or 40 pages in so far but am enjoying it immensely. Being a word nerd, the subject matter appealed to me right off, but Kory has a wonderfully humorous way of approaching the field of lexicography. (It also doesn't hurt that I've since found out that she's a knitter!) If you enjoy reading about the English language and its idiosyncrasies, and you don't mind a bit of profanity, then you'll enjoy this book. I'm looking forward to reading more of it this weekend.

Do you have any great books that you've read recently that you'd like to recommend? I'm always on the lookout for good books to add to be "to read" pile!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

WIP Wrangling

After a beautiful, warm weekend, we've been plunged back into winter here in Western Pennsylvania. I walked to work in a snow squall this morning, and while it's nice to have another excuse to wear my woolies, it feels a bit like torture after Mother Nature has teased us with some truly lovely weather (not to mention that it's really depressing to see all the spring flowers drooping under the weight of snow).

At least with this cold snap it no longer feels so ridiculous to be knitting a colorwork sweater! After neglecting my Humulus for several days to work on the baby sweater (and then doing a lot of spinning over the weekend), I picked it up again Sunday night and am now extremely close to starting the ribbing at the bottom of the body.

When I started this project, I'd hoped to get it done by the end of April, but I'm not sure if that'll actually happen. I'm sure the sleeves will go quickly, but there is still the baby sweater to finish -- and as the baby is due in less than two weeks, I really do need to get a move on!

Late last week, I finished the yoke and put the sleeve stitches on holders, so I'm on to the fast part of the body. I know it won't take long to finish this, but it's so tempting to keep knitting on my sweater instead. If I can be really focused and productive and get both sweaters done by the end of next week, I'll be very happy.

I'm also still working on the Mister's socks, which really haven't been any sort of priority and have only seen action during my lunch break knitting. But I'm in the home stretch now, having just turned the heel of the second sock. I have reached the boredom stage with them at this point, so they're a bit of a slog. At least they require a minimum level of attention!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Ready for the Plying Party

I did a lot of spinning yesterday. It was a beautiful day here, so I got up and went for a run first thing (my first run of the season!). Then we walked to get some breakfast, and after that I took care of all chores around the house I needed to do -- cleaning, laundry, etc. The Mister took Rainbow to the park to meet a friend, so I didn't feel at all bad about spending the afternoon at my wheel.

First, I finished up the second bobbin of Pebble combed top singles (from my HipStrings Synergy Club shipment), which really didn't take very long.

The first bobbin had been resting for nearly a week, so I didn't want to ply right away, but I wasn't ready to get up from the wheel just yet. I figured I might as well get the carded version of Pebble out and start spinning that. I had forgotten just how quickly woolen spinning goes, and before I knew it, I had both bobbins of those singles done, too (I think it helps that it was only about 2.7 oz. of fiber total in the batts, too).

Spinning these two preps back to back really gives a good illustration of just how different your yarn can turn out given the method of fiber prep. These two batches of fiber had exactly the same fiber content, but look at how different they look spun up:

You can really see so much more of the colors of the sari silk (and the regular silk, for that matter) in the woolen-spun singles, though they're also much more inconsistent. I'll be doing my best to get these both plied up today, so soon I'll be able to compare the finished yarns.

I also had a little fun yesterday afternoon with my drum carder and the leftover fiber from my Boxy spin. I had 2 oz. each of the darkest and lightest colors (Mussels and Sky), so I thought I'd blend them up. I also threw in some silk, though that didn't blend so well and I ended up pulling most of it out. Rainbow helped with these battlings.

They're a bit darker in real life than they appear here; for some reason, my camera doesn't like to capture the color of Buoy accurately. These aren't great, but they're certainly spinable. I think I need to learn more about how to use my drum carder, as I have a feeling I'm doing something wrong or not optimally. If anyone knows of a good class or resource, I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Baby Break

Knitting continues on my two WIPs and they don't look much different from the last time you saw them (though the body of my Humulus is now about three inches away from the ribbing at the bottom), but I've put them aside for the moment to knit a quick baby gift. I can't remember the exact due date of the baby in question, though I believe it's later this month. Regardless, I didn't want to be scrambling to whip something up right after the baby arrives, so I figured I'd cast on now and make quick work of it. I pulled everything out and got started at about 9 p.m. last night, so this is about an hour's worth of knitting.

This is the Hyphen pattern by Lisa Chemery, which may look familiar because I knit it earlier this year for another baby gift. I'm using some very deep stash Knit Picks Shine Worsted -- and by very deep stash, I mean that it's been in my stash for more than a decade now. I think I originally bought about eight skeins of it but used three a number of years ago for another baby gift. I'm making the smallest size of this sweater, which calls for 275 yards, so that should use up most of what's left.

The color here isn't completely accurate due to the dim light this morning. The colorway is called Watermelon, and it's a really deep bright pink. It seems to be a discontinued colorway, so I can't even link you over to the KP site for a better picture. Suffice it to say that it's a little less orange that it appears here.

This yarn isn't my favorite, mainly because it's a bit slippery and has such low yardage per ball (75 yards per 50 g), but it works well for this purpose -- and it was sort of free, as it was already in the stash. I think the sweater will be adorable, and that's really what counts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Theme Is Stockinette

I am in a very stockinette place right now. Considering how busy life has been the past several weeks, it's not entirely a bad place to be. For me, stockinette is soothing because it is mindless and repetitive. I know that last week, after very long and very mentally arduous days at work, it was such a balm to be able to sit down with my knitting and just knit in the round for an hour or two.

The main stockinette project at the moment is my Humulus. Though I'll be the first to admit that the body isn't as stimulating as the colorwork yoke, I am still very much enjoying knitting this, and I like seeing the small variations in color and fabric density in the fabric I am creating.

I believe I'm about halfway down the body at this point, if not a little more, and I can get a couple of inches knit in a good evening of knitting, so I expect that body will be finished before too long. I'm now alternating my second and third skeins of the main color and have enough remaining on both that I'm confident I will finish the body before they run out. That could mean that I will end up with an extra skein of yarn -- and that means more Buoy to play with once the sweater is done!

The other stockinette project is the socks I've been knitting for the Mister. Even though his feet are only about an inch longer than mine, they seem so much longer, so there's a lot of stockinette. I finished the first one last night and weighed it and the leftover yarn, and it looks like I should just barely be able to squeak out the second sock from what I have left. I'm glad I decided on a shorter leg!

Office still life with giant man sock

Soon I'll be knitting something other than stockinette in the round, as it's just hit me that we're already a third of the way through the month of April and I have some baby gift knitting to do -- our neighbors are expecting a little girl, and I believe she's due to arrive later this month. I've had this bright watermelon pink Knit Picks Shine Worsted in my stash for years (I only used three skeins of it for another baby gift several years ago) and think it will be perfect for a spring/summer baby.

I'm planning to knit another Hyphen, this time in the smallest size, as I know it knits up quickly and adorably. It will be the first of several additional sweaters from the pattern, as Rainbow's next sweater will be one in the largest size and I'll also be making a miniature one for her American Girl doll. And all of these will be some shade of pink. If I get sick of it halfway through the second one, I have only myself to blame.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Comfort and Challenge

After finally finishing my sweater spin last weekend, I wasn't quite ready to be done spinning my default yarn, so I pulled out some of the fiber from my first HipStrings Synergy Club shipment. This fiber is a really interesting blend of Merino wool, Zwartbles wool, Tussah silk, and sari silk. Though the Merino was originally in three shades, blended with the Zwartbles and the silk, it has a brownish gray look to it. Every so often, though, there's a pop of bright color from the sari silk. It's really quite lovely.

I finished up the first bobbin yesterday, after spinning most of the singles on Friday night, and it was quite a surprise to look at it yesterday morning and see all those colors that I just couldn't see at all when I was spinning in the evening.

I very nearly started the second bobbin straight away, but I thought that before I did, I should try to challenge myself a bit. I had purchased an ounce of dyed cotton on a whim from Jill when she had her Small Business Saturday sale last November, and I actually tried to spin it last weekend with no success. I got some really great advice from some folks in the HipStrings Ravelry group, though, including from Jill herself, so I decided to give it another go. This time went much better!

It's very irregular, has some pigtails and corkscrews, and it's not particularly balanced, but it's cotton! That I spun on my wheel! I didn't end up with very much yarn, maybe only 60-70 yards, but it's a start. I found it difficult to spin and a little hard on my hands (probably because I was not spinning it optimally), but I did definitely get into a groove toward the end. I can't say that I'm a total convert to spinning cotton now, but I'm proud of myself for not giving up after a disastrous first try. I always think it's good to stretch yourself as a spinner (as any sort of crafter, really) -- but I think that for the time being, at least, I'll probably stick to wool.