Saturday, April 28, 2007

second verse, same as the first

with my mum still away & the RSA unfortunately scheduled to work today, i've had another day on my own - which means another day of lazing about in my pajamas, & of course, spinning. i've finished up the rest of the crown mountain superwash merino in "my boyfriend's back", & i'm totally in love with this fibre! the colours are fantastic, and it spins like a dream - lovely to work with in every way. & the finished product?

as i worked my way through the bundle of roving, i saw that the colourway was beginning to shade gradually from darker, deeper colours on the outer layers to lighter, brighter colours on the inner layers, although it stayed within the same colour family. you can see the gradual shift in the picture above, with the skeins hanging to dry, and it's even more evident when the yarn is skeined up.

initially, i was very slightly disappointed with this effect - i was really enjoying the deep colours of the first part of the roving bundle & was a bit miffed that the depth of colour didn't carry through to the centre of the bundle. but the more i look at the finished yarn, the more i like it. after all, if i wanted yarn with perfectly even colouring, i wouldn't be spinning it myself in the first place - i'd just buy it from a shop. for me, the beauty of handpainted & handspun yarn is in its "imperfections" - that's what makes it different from commercially produced yarn.
i'm still deciding if i'm just going to knit it up as is & end up with "fraternal" rather than identical socks, or if i want to try to spread out the colour variation by alternating rows from a lighter skein & a darker skein so that the finished socks are more similar to each other.
either way, i'm looking forward to trying it out - apart from one previous failed attempt (yes, i frogged icarus, i just didn't tell anyone!) i haven't actually knitted anything with my own handspun before, so i'm very excited. & i even managed to clear the decks before i finished the spinning, to make room for another pair of socks-in-progress - the monkey socks are done!

project specs
pattern: monkey from cookie a. via knitty
yarn: koigu kpppm in shade P133B, 2 skeins with only a tiny amount left over
needles: 2.5mm rosewood holz & stein double pointed needles for the leg, and 2.25mm bamboo crystal palace double pointed needles for the foot
modifications: i switched to smaller needles for the heel & foot for a snugger fit & to make the foot sturdier, and did an eye of partridge heel flap with a garter edge instead of a plain heel flap, just 'cause i like it.
next up? the handspun "boyfriend's back" socks, of course, and a new spinning project - a commission to spin up this lovely lorna's laces fibre for a paying customer, no less!

how exciting... have a great weekend everyone!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

in a spin

things are still busy around here, what with everything. my lovely mum has been over visiting from canada, and while it's been great to see her & spend time doing things with her, it means that i've been spending lots of time doing things other than knitting, spinning, and blogging! the RSA even took a couple of days off work to hang out with us as well, & so i've had lots of company. however, my mum's gone away for a few days to visit other folk while she's over, & the RSA is back at work, so i've had the entire day to myself today.
& believe me, i had great plans as to how i'd use my sudden solitude! it mainly involved a) not getting out of my pajamas at all (apart from the period during which i was walking the pup this morning - i did get dressed for that); b) watching all the tv shows i'd been taping while i've been out & about (most of which are too embarrassing to mention, let alone watch when there are other people in my house, even if it is only my mum!); c) eating sweets; and d) SPINNING.
you see, i'd been fairly canny when i heard my mum was planning a trip over from canada. i said to myself, "self", i said, "wouldn't it be clever to place an online order for something you've been coveting for ages, and have it delivered to canada instead of to the UK? that way, less shipping costs = more money to spend on actual goods!". & when my mum arrived with a suitcase full of what i'd ordered (in hindsight, i did, perhaps, slightly overestimate the free space in her suitcase) & i couldn't start working on it straight away, it tested my willpower a bit. but today, with a full day to do whatever i liked?? well, that's another story...

this is crown mountain farms superwash merino roving, the same roving they use to make their fabulous "sock hop" yarn, in colourway "my boyfriend's back" (left, as roving & a bobbin of spun singles, and right, as a 2-ply yarn). i haven't quite managed a sock weight with this one - the finished 2 ply is 150 grams & 190 yards (so far - i've still got another 150 grams or so of roving!) & so i suspect the finished handspun socks will be thick socks for wearing about the house, but i'm still pleased with the result. the fibre is dyed in gorgeous colours & is wonderfully prepared - i barely had to do any pre-drafting at all, and it spun up easily. & even better, each bundle of fibre is over 8 ounces in weight (230 grams approx) so there's plenty to practice with. not only do i have more than half of this colourway left to spin up, i also have two more bundles waiting in the wings - "brown eyed girl" (left) & "secret agent man" (right).

& just so you know who to blame, this is all anne's fault - i've been browsing the crown mountain website ever since she mentioned it. my mum's suitcase was stuffed to the gills, & now my house is overrun with brightly coloured rovings - anne, i blame you!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

cat's paws

my littlest sister catriona asked me to make her a pair of fingerless gloves for her birthday present, & as i've now been told that they've arrived safely (her birthday, incidentally, was at the beginning of march - oops) i can post some details without ruining the surprise!
presenting the "cat's paws" fingerless gloves:

project specs:
started 14th march, completed 11th april (this probably could have been a much faster knit, but i kept getting distracted by other things - sorry, little sis!)
yarn: fleece artist merino sock yarn in "ebony", less than half of a 100 gram skein
needles: 2.5mm rosewood holz & stein double-pointed needles
pattern: my own, but using eunny jang's excellent endpaper mitts for tips on shaping the thumb gusset, & marnie mclean's hooray for me gloves for help with knitting the fingers
this was my first time working with fleece artist sock yarn, and it was absolutely gorgeous - beautiful colours, and the yarn was very soft & sproingy. luckily, i have more than half a skein left, so i might knit a pair of these gloves for myself as well (just to use up the leftovers, you know). the fingers were very fiddly to knit though, so my next pair might just end at the knuckles like eunny's mitts do - it's much simpler that way!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

at long last

at last - proper photos of a finished object! i finally managed to take advantage of some nice weather & convince the RSA to pose in the seamless hybrid for a photoshoot in a friend's garden.

seamless hybrid 1seamless hybrid 2
(full frontal [hope nobody's googling that & ending up here by accident - how disappointing for them!] ; neck & shoulder detail)

seamless hybrid 3seamless hybrid 4
(full back; back shoulder & shirt-style yoke detail)

project specs:
pattern - elizabeth zimmerman's seamless hybrid sweater, from her fantastic book "knitting without tears". this is more of a set of sweater-building guidelines than an actual pattern, whereby you can choose your own yarn & needles, and use her basic rules for a perfectly fitted sweater.
yarn: rowanspun dk, colourway "thor", almost exactly 6 full skeins (50 grams/219 yards); rowanspun dk, colourway "goblin", less than half of one skein (you can't see it in these pictures, but there's a contrasting hem at the bottom of the body, the cuffs, and inside the neck, a la brooklyntweed's version).
needles: addi turbo 4mm circulars (for the body); addi bamboo 4mm dpns (for the sleeves)
started 8th january 2007; completed 5th april 2007
this was a great knit - easy & fast enough to let me feel as though i was making progress, but with enough interest at the neck & shoulders that i felt challenged. if i was to make it again (& i may well do) i would make a few changes, notably by using paired decreases on the raglan part (instead of EZ's suggested sl2, k1, psso) to make a more definite decrease line. i might also do less raglan decreases & make the saddle shoulder longer & narrower. all in all, though, i'm very happy with this sweater (& so is the RSA, thank goodness!).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

controlled chaos

what a long time between posts! things are continuing to be quite chaotic here, what with everything.
the weekend was spent staying with friends in glasgow, partially just for a fun easter weekend visit, but also so they could dog-sit for us on sunday night when we went out to see these guys. fantastic!!!


i've had another training day at my lovely new job, which went very well. i managed to get a bit more comfortable with the workings of the shop, and also managed to have enough knitting time to finally finish the secret knitted birthday present for my baby sister, who's working in korea at the moment (& whose birthday was at the beginning of march - oops). i'm really happy with the way they turned out & will definitely post pictures as soon as she gets them, but i don't want to ruin the surprise yet.
& just in time for my mum arriving on friday morning, the spinning/knitting/spare room is finally finished, apart from the skirting boards (which need to be painted, & we're missing the bit that goes along the bottom of the skirting but i can't remember what that's called).


the bathroom still needs to be painted, which is tomorrow's job, along with all the standard house-cleaning that one usually does before their mother comes to visit, so i'll be pretty busy! but now that i've finished the secret knitting, i've freed up the needles that i needed to cast on for my second monkey sock, so i may squeeze in some knitting time as well...

Friday, April 06, 2007

its own reward

the seamless hybrid is finally done! until i can convince the RSA to pose for some sweater-modelling shots, here's a closeup of the shoulder & (correctly sized) neckband, hemmed like the cuffs with a little bit of hidden colour...

the last little bit was quite a slog in the end. after incorrectly sizing the neckband, i had to rip out not only the neckband but also one entire shoulder saddle, the back of the neck, and part of another shoulder saddle. sigh... but at last, it's done. i did enjoy knitting it - the yarn was deliciously tweedy, and elizabeth zimmerman's "recipe" (to quote "pirates of the caribbean", it's not a pattern per se, but it's "really more like guidelines") was quick to knit & easy to follow - but there's only so much gray stockinette a girl can put up with.
how should i treat myself after the miles of gray?


some purple hipknits cashmere, some hot chocolate, and the pattern for the obstacles shawl (courtesy of anne at knitspot). with a pattern this beautiful & yarn this soft, even swatching can be its own reward...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

oh, the excitement!

the week has managed to get away from me once again - i've been overwhelmed since the last post with various things, so here's a roundup of the week so far...
on sunday, the spinning room finally got a real floor, thanks to the amazing efforts of the RSA, who put down a whole new floor on sunday afternoon.


i can't even remember what happened on monday, except that i knitted away on the seamless hybrid sweater, & managed to get to the point of joining the arms to the body.


mainly, i was overcome with nerves & excitement about my first "training day" at the new job on tuesday. turns out i didn't need to be nervous at all - the training took the form of knitting, talking to people about knitting, selling people knitting things, and drooling over pattern books & fondling yarn... er, i mean learning about the shop stock... it was great!! alas, i was too excited about the whole thing to remember to take any pictures of anything.
on wednesday it was the RSA's birthday, & she even managed to have the day off work, so we went out to enjoy the sunshine.


there was also baking of iced ginger cakes (one of the RSA's favourites), and yet more knitting - i'd hoped to have the seamless hybrid finished in time to give it to her as an actual birthday present (unlike most of my knitted gifts, which are always late - for christmas, i gave her a ball of sock yarn which has still to be turned into a pair of socks!) but alas i miscalculated the neck opening, and although i did "finish" the sweater late in the evening, i then had to rip out most of the neck as it was far too small for anyone to get their head through! le sigh... (i didn't take a picture of that either, it was bad enough that i had to rip it all out, & the annoyance didn't really need to be immortalised!).
& today, there will be yet more seamless hybrid knitting, as i try to remedy its neck problems. i'd like to finish it while it's still cool enough to actually need a wooly sweater!!
in other news, more spring-inspired sock yarn has also been added to the old maiden aunt site:

tulips from amsterdam05apr07

superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn, 380 yards & 100 grams, colourway "tulips from amsterdam". happy spring!!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

oh, the places we'll go

introducing the new car...


isn't she cute! she doesn't have a name yet, but is undeniably a girl car (& will of course be named once i've got to know her a bit better). it took a few minutes for me to get back in the habit of driving, but apart from a slightly hairy moment at an intersection (where i was being a bit too cautious, and not one, but two drivers decided they couldn't be bothered to wait for me & instead would cut around me & turn across in front of me instead of letting me go) it's been fine.
& oh, the wondrous places we can get to now that we have our own transport!!
yes, well...


we needed flooring for the ex-workshop room, & it was cheapest here. after a few wrong turns & several trips around the same roundabouts, we managed to find it, and then got sucked into the strange time-warp that is ikea. somehow, even if you only go in for a couple of things, the entire afternoon seems to disappear....
& even though we only went in for flooring, i managed to sneak a couple of bright spring furnishing things into the pile of purchases as well - they were so cheerful, i couldn't resist.

maybe our next car trip will be to somewhere more exciting, but for now, i'm just enjoying having freedom again. & also new cushions...