Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What Timing!

I wasn't around for it while it was a mystery knitalong the first time, but I have joined up with a mini-KAL for the Vernal Equinox Shawl, which, of course, started three days ago on the Vernal Equinox!

We're doing one clue a week, at least at the start.  I was hesitant to throw in with this because, though I love the shawl and want to knit it, I didn't think I had the right yarn for it, until I saw the (very) small stash of sweaters I've been meaning to recycle.  And voila!  I spent Sunday morning unraveling, skeining, and washing.  By the time I was home from work yesterday, everything was dry, and I wound one of the skeins and whizzed my way through the first clue.

Oh, hey, look, it's purple!  But a different purple!  A warm, rich mulberry.  It's also still a little kinky despite the washing and weighting, but I'm sure that will block out, right?  Right.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Surprise! It's an FO!

One that I somehow never got around to blogging about while it was still a WIP.  I'll do that, if you don't watch me.

Pattern: Windsbraut - Sommerwind [Ravelry link]
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Cashmere in Mulled Grape
Yardage: ~600
Needles: US 5
Size: 68" wide x 34" deep
Would I knit this again? Yes and no.  I adore the border pattern, which is why I chose this shawl in the first place.  I like the center lace pattern well enough, but if anything, I'd do some sort of hybrid shawl with this border grafted onto the start of a different shawl.

Readers who've been with me since the beginning may recognize this yarn...I'm almost out of it, I swear!  I just started my final ball in the last few rows of this piece.  I have plans for the remainder that involve a scrap-happy project currently in development.  I'm toying with the idea of over-dyeing the shawl in deep blue or black, just because I have these two already and I do happen to like colors other than purple.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

We're Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

...how about you, you, you?

I'm sad that I didn't get better pictures of the red pandas--one of my favorite animals, and one that I haven't seen in a zoo before!--but my friend says once she gets home she's sending me copies of all her pictures, so there will likely be a second zoo post in my future.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Back in Blue

There's been lots of things going on chez Avrienne in the past two weeks.  Remember those guests I mentioned?  They were here from the Tuesday I last posted, until this pastThursday.  The days leading up to their visit were consumed by a flurry of cleaning.  Then when they got here, it was cooking, eating, drinking lots of wine and cider and beer, and the playing of many, many board games.

Also, there was a day trip to Frankenmuth, during which I totally neglected to get pictures, and then later a trip to the Detroit Zoo, where I got many.  But that's another post all on its own.

Today, in the first of many updates on what interesting things I've been up to, I'm happy to present a craft I've long neglected....spinning.

I learned to spin on a drop spindle in college, from the same lovely woman who taught the weaving class at the college craft center, and who shortly thereafter went on to open a local yarn shop!  Ah, memories.  Ahem.

We used these immense spindles her husband had made for us, and I wasn't very good at it, and I didn't stick with it.  But then several years ago, I really started to notice all the lovely handspun yarn floating about the blogoverse, and I picked up this little spindle, traded on the Knittyboards for some fiber, and off I went.

That spinning phase lasted, oh, a few weeks.  Maybe a month at best, I don't recall precisely.

I don't know exactly what caused me to pick up the spindle again three weeks ago.  I didn't see any particularly noteworthy spinning being done, I didn't get enabled by anyone, I didn't fall down and hit my head and say "Spinning!  That's what I need to do now!"  I just...wanted to spin.

Having traded for it so long ago, I have no idea the exact fiber I'm spinning here.  I picked a braid of roving out of the stash because I liked the color, but I'm pretty sure it's wool (most of it is, aside from one bunch I'm sure is alpaca and another I suspect might be) and it's soft enough that I'm willing to bet it's merino.

I'm trying to spin the singles fine enough that it will be a laceweight yarn when I ply it, or at least a light fingering, because I have ambitious visions that it might someday be an Echo Flower Shawl [Ravelry link].  But I have no idea how much yardage I'm going to end up with, so it's certainly not set in stone.  Right now I'd just be thrilled to stick with it long enough to get through the whole thing!

I am trying to subscribe to the Ten Minutes A Day theory on handspinning, and doing fairly well so far, though there were many days while my guests were here that I simply didn't have time, which I think can be forgiven.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Inner Child is Goth

Or so it seems.

Pattern: Citron
Yarn: Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino in Merlot, overdyed with black
Yardage: ~410
Needles: US 6
Size: 42" wide x 20" deep
Would I knit this again?  Surprising myself, I'm going to say yes.  When I first saw this issue of Knitty, I was far more taken with Bitterroot, which I still intend to knit.  I wasn't going to knit a Citron at all!  But I kept seeing beautiful Citrons on Ravelry using various color-changing yarns, and I really liked them.  When I realized I had nearly enough Baby Lace left, I dyed it and off I went.  It was an enjoyable knit, and while I don't feel the need to have another myself, I could see it being gift knitting in the future.

Modifications:  I didn't have enough yarn for the full pattern, I always knew I'd come up a little short.  So for the ruffle at the edge, I ended up with five rows beyond the increase row instead of eleven.  I rather like the shorter, flirty ruffle.

Also, I've never worked with the original yarn called for (Malabrigo Lace) but it seems to be a thicker laceweight than I used, because my Citron is incredibly airy, and I managed, unintentionally, to block all the ripple out of the ruche!  I don't mind, though.  It was my least favorite aspect of the pattern...I did this one for the shape and the color.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

My Kinship with Long-Tailed Cats

It's been a long time since I was so nervous to hit "send" on an email.

But after a morning of writing, editing, charting, shooting detail photos, more editing, more shooting, and a lot of double- and triple-checking....the oft-mentioned, never-seen pattern is speeding through the ether to Knitty.

Am I supposed to be wished luck or a broken leg for pattern submissions?  Is there a standard for that yet?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

An Excuse To Play With Beads

Like many crafters, I have a bead box.  It started accumulating back in fifth grade when I saw other girls wearing daisy chains, and I had to have one.  Seed beads are the gateway drug of beading.

I still love my seed beads, though the stuff I made then certainly looks unsophisticated now, but eventually I learned some rudimentary wirework.  I'm still a better hand at bead weaving on or off-loom, and beaded embroidery, but I managed to dust off my skills enough for this:


Hmmm, what might that piece of knitting be?  Maybe....a Citron?

I started it last week (with that laceweight I dyed and never got around to showing off before starting a project with it!) and in the early stages I had no trouble keeping count of the rows, since they were so short.  Now, at row 16 of section 4, if I get into a groove I can easily just keep knitting and forget to count.  I can read knitting pretty well, so if I lose track I can figure it out, but it's irritating, and I wanted a better way.

First I considered the ever popular row counter bracelet, but for me, these have several drawbacks.  One is that I'm simply not a bracelet person.  I have tiny hands with correspondingly tiny wrists, so when commercial bracelets rarely fit, I just got in the habit of not wearing them.  Earrings, on the other hand....

Ahem.  Moving on before I hop over to Etsy to drool over earrings.  I can do that for hours if someone doesn't stop me.

The next problem with bracelets was that I feel I'm just as likely to forget to move a bead over on the abacus as I am to lose track of a mental count.  I know me fairly well at this point, I think.

The third and final problem is that I simply didn't have the appropriate supplies to make a decent bracelet.  Beads, yes; anything appropriate to make the form of the bracelet itself, the clasps, the materials for the O-ring...no.  That's just not the kind of stuff I was making last time the bead box came out of hiding.

In my perusals of potential bracelet purchases, I ran across the chain style of counter, which I had not really seen before, and off I went.

An hour later, I had an exceptionally crappy chain counter.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me the first time that I would need to hide the wire ends so that they didn't snag on the knitting.  But the first time, I definitely didn't do that.

An hour and a half after that, I had two much better chains with hidden wire ends.  It didn't actually take me that long to make them, some of that time was choosing the beads from my collection.  I was hampered by the fact that I only had goldtone wire of the right weight, but a lot of the beads I liked would look better with silver.  So I'm definitely getting some silver! 

A closeup for structure:

The dangly charm marks the bottom end.  I saw chains with numbered beads, but I don't really like those (and thus don't have any) so I chose eight beads of one type and two of another coordinating type to be the fifth and tenth beads.  So here, as I said, I'm on row 16 of the 20-row section; I have to remember the first ten (the only deficiency a chain counter has compared to a bracelet, which can go up to 100) and my needle is in the sixth link.  When I get to the chain on my next row, I will stick the needle in the seventh link instead and voila! it counts the rows for me.

Hmm, I wonder if I have any goldtone french wires to make matching earrings....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Worth the Wait

Two new finished objects are making an appearance today...one knit by me, and one not!

First, my swap scarf arrived safe, sound, and absolutely gorgeous.


I cannot begin to say how much I love this scarf.  Participating in a swap always carries its risks...will your partner flake out? Will she send you something hideous?  Not this time.  I love the colors, I am such a sucker for deep, rich jewel tones, and the yarn is rayon, so it just seems to glow under the right light.  I love the leaf pattern, I love the tapered ends!


And though I don't have too many scarves of the long-and-skinny variety, this one is the perfect length to wrap once around my head like a headband before wrapping around my neck.  I nearly always have my hair up, so I could get used to that!

A huge round of applause for the scarf's wonderfully thoughtful knitter, Gypsysoul!  And from me, many, many thanks, I will wear this scarf with a warm neck and a warm heart.

On to my own FO....at long last....Wisteria!

Pattern: Wisteria, by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Elann Limited Edition Kashair, in Blue Cascade
Yardage: ~1100
Needles: US 6
Size: 37.5"
Would I knit this again?  Well, since I had to knit the body twice, I feel like I already have!  But setting that aside, the pattern is extremely well-written and clear, the charts are excellent, and despite the complicated cables, this seemed like a quick knit.  If I hadn't had to frog, and if I hadn't also set it aside multiple times to get other things done, I'm sure I could have turned this out in less than two weeks instead of two months.  The second sleeve only took me four hours or so!
Bonus question...would I use this yarn again?  Oh, my, yes.  This is a 38" women's sweater at a worsted (almost aran!) gauge.  It weighs a mere 300g.  Yes, you read that right.  It took just shy of six balls of yarn at 50g each.  This thing could practically fly away, it's so light.  Did the yarn look a little weird and matted in the ball?  Well, yes.  But it blooms nicely, and the texture makes the stockinette sections of the sweater visually interesting.  Can't beat the price, too, the actual cost of this for me was $21 plus the shipping.  (I bought two extra balls because I was originally making a larger size, but hey, bonus, I have enough left over for a nice shawlette or something!)  If there's ever a bag sale of this stuff, I'm all over that.