Sunday, October 15, 2017

An Official Quickie

I have a very quick post today, mainly because I've done no spinning since the end of Spinzilla and I have one sleeve to finish on my Rhinebeck sweater, but I did want to share a final picture of the yarn I spun and my officially yardage. Here's the entirety of my week of crazy spinning:

The six unicorn skeins (all fingering weight and chain plied) totaled up to a little more than 500 yards, while the larger skein on the right (a two-ply fingering spun from 4 oz. of Frabjous Fibers BFL) is about 346 yards. All told, my final Spinzilla yardage was 3,071.8 yards -- not too shabby!

I'm obviously taking a break from spinning at the moment, but I'll be ramping it up once again as soon as I get back from Rhinebeck in order to add some more skeins to my Indie Knit and Spin booth. I got some new fiber in this past week, thanks to a KAL prize from the 90% Knitting podcast group.

This is Polwarth from Gale's Art that Lisa got in her SSK goodie bag in a previous year she attended. Polwarth is my favorite to spin, so I'm looking forward to having fun with this braid!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pattern Debut: Calamosca Cowl

And now for something a little different!

Usually when I post about a new pattern, it's one I've published in my Ravelry store or that's been printed in a magazine. Today, however, I'm very excited to share a new pattern with you that is part of the beautiful Color Shift collection from Knit Picks! This is a design that's been hiding behind the scenes for the better part of this year, and I've been dying to share it with you -- so I'm so excited that the day has finally arrived when I can!

The Color Shift collection is all about the slow fade from one color to the next. For my design, I worked with Knit Picks' Chroma yarn, one of my favorites for stranded colorwork because the color changes happen in the yarn, without the need to actually change the color. I took full advantage of this in my design, the Calamosca Cowl.

This pattern has two stranded colorwork parts. First, the chevron-y pattern of the outside of the cowl is worked. Then, after working a purl turning row and switching to smaller needles, a simple dot pattern is worked to form the inner lining of the cowl. Finally, the smaller section is folded to the inside and the two parts are joined with a three-needle bind off. This construction not only conveniently places all the floats on the interior of the cowl, thus keeping all the pretty part of the colorwork where it can be seen, but it results in an extra warm fabric.

Using a solid with a gradient really helps the colorwork to pop, and short floats make this an excellent project for someone new to stranded work. The sample in the book uses Black and Weather Vane, but there are many possible combinations. I happen to love Chroma because it's so snuggly in addition to having such beautiful colors, and it's not the first time I've used it for a cowl. The worsted weight version knits up so quickly and makes such a squishy fabric.

While you can't get the pattern in my Ravelry store, you can buy it individually from Knit Picks or as part of the whole collection (and you can get it as a printed book or an e-book). There are 15 beautiful patterns in the full collection, so it's a great deal!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

On a Mission

Now that Spinzilla is over, I have one primary mission for the next week and a half or so: finish my Rhinebeck sweater. I think it may be a nail-biter, but I'm going to do my best to make it happen. Last night I picked up the stitches for the first sleeve and worked a good bit of the short-row sleeve cap shaping. I'm hoping to get through the rest of that tonight so I can start working the whole sleeve in the round -- I have a feeling that part is going to fly.

Short-row shaping means that there's really no good place to stop, hence the disheveled look of this sleeve. Once it gets going, it's fairly fast, but of course getting to this point is always a challenge. Any time I have to pick up a very specific number of stitches I invariably end up ripping and redoing at least once (I think it took me three or four tries with this sleeve). I actually have an extra stitch somewhere in there that I'll need to hide because I had a slight gap when I finished picking up the last section and had to pick up one more stitch to fix it.

The sweater is a bit too big to bring to work for my lunch break knitting, so I've been working on my new sock design again -- and I finished the first one today! I'm very pleased with how this knit up.

I've already got a draft of the pattern mostly written, which means that I can likely take a couple of photos of the completed sock and get the pattern off to my tech editor this weekend (given that sock yarn usage is so variable, I don't need to finish the pair to determine yarn requirements). I'll still knit the second sock, of course, but I have some yarn support on its way to me for a new pattern that I'm hoping to debut early next month, so it may have to wait.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have a sleeve to knit!

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Thank Goodness It's Only a Week

Spinzilla is coming to a close tonight, and I'm very happy to see it end. Not that I haven't enjoyed spending so much time spinning, mind you, but my body is not very happy with me right now. Somehow the limited time period makes it easy to push myself to keep spinning even when things are hurting, and that could do some serious damage in the long term.

That said, I did get everything done (or will, as soon as I post this) that I wanted to. Yesterday, we did a spin-in at the HipStrings studio. I managed to finish spinning up all the rest of my unicorn sampler singles, and as of this morning, they were all plied.

Top to bottom: Unicorn Fluff, Baby Unicorn, Soulmate, Unicorn Seeks Soulmate, Space Unicorn, and Dark Magic

While these have been skeined up, they have not yet been washed; I'll do that tonight just as soon as I finish plying the last skein (which I'll get to in a minute). As long as I was there, however, I decided to make a pretty sizable fiber purchase. I've been wanting to knit a Boxy sweater, and rather than buying more yarn, I thought it would be fun to spin for one. I spent most of the afternoon pondering colors but had a lot of trouble deciding because there were three that I really liked. Then my friend Anna came up with the brilliant idea to do a fade, so that's exactly what I'm going to do.

These are all the HipStrings Buoy blend, which is 37.5% BFL, 37.5% Shetland, and 25% Manx Loughtan. The three colors I picked are (left to right) Sky, Bay, and Mussels. The colors will fade from light to dark from the top of the sweater to the bottom, assuming I do it right. I'm excited to get spinning, but I'll likely need to put it off for a bit to get some other things done.

My last skein for Spinzilla will be finished up as soon as I post this. It's the BFL that I was spinning on my Turkish spindle for the week; I got a little more than half of one ply done on the spindle, but in the interest of actually finishing it, I spun the rest on the wheel.

I finished the last of the singles spinning and plied most of the skein over at the Steel City Fiber Collective this afternoon. Luckily one bobbin ran out just when I needed to leave and go home, so I'll wind off the rest of the remaining singles and Andean ply them. I'll skein this yarn up and then all the skeins will go take a bath. As soon as they're dry, I'll be able to determine my final Spinzilla yardage!

Thursday, October 05, 2017

At the Halfway Point

We're more than halfway through Spinzilla now, and I'm feeling it. As much as I envy those who get more spinning time because they don't work full time like I do, I'm not sure my body could handle it. I definitely overdid it on Tuesday, so I spent the evening working on my Rhinebeck sweater instead of spinning more. It turned out to be a doubly good thing, as it gave some of my joints a bit of a rest and enabled me to finish the body of the sweater!

Sorry the photo's so dark -- it's a gloomy day here.

I'm getting a bit nervous that there won't be quite enough time to finish the sweater, especially given how much knitting time I'm giving up to spinning this weekend, but I'm going to do my best. The nice thing about this pattern is that after the sleeves are done, I'm done -- there is no finishing to be done other than weaving in ends (which I've been doing along the way so I don't have to do them all at the end) and blocking. If I have to, I'll have a bit of a knitting marathon next weekend, when all we have planned is a family dinner on Saturday night.

But let's get back to the Spinzilla recap. As of last night, I have finished up the third fiber blend in my unicorn sampler and moved on to the fourth. This one, Unicorn Seeks Soulmate, is probably the easiest to spin because it's just merino with a bit of sparkle.

I'm also continuing to work on the BFL I've been spindling, but I think a wheel intervention might be in order to get the entire 4 oz. spun and plied before the end of Spinzilla. I split the braid up into 16 little bundles of predrafted fiber, and I'm managing to get two into a cop. Considering the first cop took me two days to spin (well, two lunch breaks), it's unlikely I can manage it all on a spindle alone.

I think I will have to play things by ear and see how far I get by the weekend. I'll be heading up to the HipStrings studio on Saturday afternoon for a spin-in with the team, and if I've gotten all the stuff done on the wheel by then, I'll just take my spindle. If the worst that happens is I don't find the stuff on the spindle this week, I can live with that.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Spin All the Shiny, Sparkly Things

It's day two of Spinzilla, and I have certainly done my share today. I took a day off from work to go to the eye doctor for my annual exam (it's not much use going to work with my eyes dilated seeing as my job involves reading all day), so that meant lots of extra spinning time. I estimate I spent somewhere between four and five hours at the wheel today. In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best idea, as I'm feeling it now. In any case, I have a lot to show.

Last night I started in on my HipStrings unicorn sampler. I'm working my way through the bag pretty much from top to bottom, which more or less equates to lightest to darkest. I got through most of the first bump, Unicorn Fluff, last night and finished it up this morning. Unfortunately the photo I took does not want to upload to the blog, but you can see it here.

I immediately started in on the next color, Baby Unicorn, and finished that as well.

Superfine merino, baby llama, merino, and Stellina

I am spinning at least four of the bumps onto the same bobbin, as they're all in the range of 25-30 grams each. I plan to chain ply all of these, so in between each blend, I'm putting in a length of plain fiber (some leftover Romney from my first fleece) that's a natural color and that I'm spinning a bit thicker so it's very obvious:

The last color I worked on today is Soulmate, and I think I'm about halfway done with it.

Superfine merino, merino, bamboo, rose, and Stellina

This blend is proving to be a bit more difficult to spin than the previous ones. I think that's because this blend contains a fair amount of viscose (from bamboo and rose fiber), so it's a bit slick. I've actually had the single break on me about three times, not so much because it was snapping but because I lost my grip.

I'm going to see if my hands feel better tonight before I decide if I'm going to spin some more; if not, I'll take a break and work on my Rhinebeck sweater. That might not be a bad idea -- if I do, I should be able to finish the body tonight!

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Spinzilla Pregaming

Spinzilla officially kicks off at midnight tonight (or, rather, tomorrow morning), but as I have to be up early to go to work in the morning, I won't be staying up late to start. But I am prepared. I spent most of my free time this weekend spinning up the remainder of the batts I received in the class I took with Jillian Moreno at SSK. Amazingly I managed to get all the singles onto one bobbin:

I plied everything in two plying sessions today, and the skein is now hanging to dry in the upstairs bathroom. Here's what it looked like before washing:

The colors aren't quite accurate here (that's what happens when you wait until almost 5 p.m. to take a photo), but at least you can get a sense of the variation. The blue was spun from the smoothest batt, and it's probably the thinnest yarn in the skein, but overall it looks to be in the neighborhood of sport to DK. I estimate that I should get about 300 yards once it's dry.

My wheel is now all ready for Spinzilla spinning, which I'll start tomorrow evening. In the meantime, I've got a spindle project lined up to take to work.

This will be the inaugural spin on my Turkish from Subterranean Woodworks that I bought at SSK. The fiber is some deep stash that someone gave me a number of years ago, some BFL from Frabjous Fibers. I have no idea how long it was in that person's stash, but regardless, the fiber was pretty compacted, so I took some time this afternoon to split up the fiber and predraft it a bit. Predrafting is not something I've really done since I first started spinning, but this fiber really needed it. Now I've got a bunch of fluffy little nests to spin. I can't wait to get this spin started!