Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It's Two in the Morning...

...do you know where your shawl is?

Mine is on the floor, where I was going to block it, but now I'm not bothering.  It's the blue one again.  I reknit the border on a larger needle but without altering the stitch counts.

It wasn't enough!

So tomorrow when it's dry, it's getting folded up again and set aside while I finish my Vernal Equinox (on clues 6a and b) and then ponder the yarn I'm going to use for a new KAL that starts on May 1st.  My goal of the end of April for publishing this shawl is going to get pushed back to the end of May, in all likelihood.  Hmph.  I was frustrated the first time, now I'm just annoyed.

But I've put far too much work into this shawl to write it off as a pretty failure and not publish the design!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Bitter Seaweed

I finished this last Friday, but I had trouble getting good pictures all week because of the relative position of the sun to my work schedule!  Today I decided I'd rather work with imperfect light than not blog any longer, so here we are.

Pattern: Bitterroot
Yarn: Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in Tide Pool Heather
Beads: #8 Toho seed beads in Transparent Capri Blue
Yardage: 713
Needles: US 5
Size: 66" wide x 33" deep
Would I knit this pattern again? Absolutely.  I might skip the beads next time, though, I'm glad I tried beaded knitting, but it was very tedious, and I don't think I like the effect enough to bother doing it again.  Plus I like to pet my shawls when I'm wearing them (who doesn't?) and hitting the beads at the edge spoils the softness of the yarn to me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Leeloo Dallas Multicraft!

The orange sweater is now entirely yarn!  The yardage estimates vary depending on which skein I weigh, which I attribute to not having a scale that does partial grams, but I likely have at least 3600 yds and up to 5000.

Last night I whipped up a tote bag from the celestial shirt I liked so much, and what's really great is that I only used the two shirt fronts--I still have the entire back and sleeves to play with!  I can't get a good picture of it, but I kept the front patch pocket intact and made that side the lining piece, so the tote has a large interior pocket.  The handles are satin ribbon from my stash.

And I'm in the home stretch on Bitterroot, I have ten rows to go before the bind off!  But they are of course the longest rows, and several of them are beaded, which takes sooooo long.  But I think it will be worth it.  So now instead of a smallish green blob, it's a very big green blob. 

I hope to have it done in the next few days, then crank out clue 5 on the VES, then go back to my shawl design and finish that by the end of the month.  I'm not ambitious, or anything, you think?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Oh Sew Beautiful

The fruits of my sewing machine's labors thus far--a circular needle organizer and a needle roll!

Also, because I wasn't ready to start reworking the blue shawl, I (finally!) cast on a Bitterroot!  It's just a greenish blob right now, I'm in the middle of chart C, which means it's not large enough to be impressive because of its size, but it's too big for me to try to spread it out on the needle to impress with the lace.  I have this feeling it's going to be gorgeous, though.  I just know it.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Thrift Stores FTW

With a phone call and GoogleMaps, we found a local thrift store today that I didn't even know existed until last week--it's run on the upper floor of a local church, so it has odd hours and isn't near any other businesses, which makes the odds of running across it casually quite small.

I found four things there, and three at my trusty Goodwill I went to last week, and it's a good day!

Forgive the crappy picture, it's gloomy today.  The top sweater is really more of a camel color, 100% acrylic, will likely yield me more cobweb weight yarn.  Last week, I didn't know about "killing" acrylic yarn as a blocking process, so I thought I couldn't knit lace with it, and since then, the Ravelry forums have set me straight.  Soft acrylic in colors I like now comes home with me instead of being passed over!

The teal is 100% silk, and looks to be knit from a yarn composed of many plies without much twist holding them together--a common enough construction for cotton and cotton-blend sweaters, like the purple one I frogged for my VES.  I'm hoping once I have this one frogged I can separate the plies and get loads of silk lace weight in one of my favorite colors!  If I can, I have the perfect project for it already lined up, but I have some others to wade through first....

The gray is 100% cotton and destined to be dishcloths.  I have many, but some of them are looking pretty sad these days, and it might actually be nice to knit a matching set of cloths from the same yarn instead of "whatever color of Sugar 'n' Cream caught my eye last time they were on sale", which is the overriding color scheme I have now.

The blue striped fabric is two king-sized pillowcases that are going to be (hopefully) cloth napkins, and the shirt is polyester (reasonably soft, thank goodness) that I'm positively dying to make into a tote bag for myself.  A celestial print on green instead of blue or black?  Couldn't turn that one away, not only is it gorgeous, it's so rare!  Even better, it's a men's 2XL, so I have plenty of it to play with.

Not shown are the pair of khaki shorts I found for myself, seeing as how I only had one functioning pair of shorts to my name, I was happy to find them; and two more stuffed animals destined to be presents for my brother's growing brood of children.  They were too cute to pass up!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


...to be frogged.  At least partially.

It occurred to me as soon as I noticed the problems with this piece, that the last thing I had to frog and reknit--Wisteria--was nearly the same shade of blue.  Perhaps it's a sign.

Anyway.  Here is the new design which I have mentioned on and off--this one was always intended to be self-published, so it doesn't need to be a secret.

That certainly didn't prevent it from being a failure!

Perhaps you're looking at it thinking "But that's pretty!"  (At least, I hope so.)  It is.  There are a lot of things about it that make me quite happy:  I like the overall proportion of center to border, I like the wave in the line of yo's where the border starts, I like the way the two pattern stitches work together.

What I do not, not, not like is how the border blocked waaaaaaaaaay tighter than the center and still looks too small.  I can't get a straight line along the top edge without creating a dimple at the bottom of the center triangle.  I can't get the feathers in the feather-and-fan to be fully straight and parallel to each other.  Blocking does not solve everything!

The solution, fortunately, as far as I can tell, is rather simple.  I just need to rip out the border and knit it again on larger needles than I used for the center.  It doesn't alter my stitch counts, leaving my hard-fought battle with the math for this design in the past.  It will use a bit more yarn, being at a bigger gauge, but I barely used any of the last ball before binding off, so I'm confident that I'll have enough.

But the border is ten inches deep!  Commence the wailing and gnashing of teeth.  I just can't face it yet.

I spent all morning finishing the third clue for the Vernal Equinox KAL--that project, at least, is on track--and then spent most of the rest of the day finishing this.  I'm heartbroken.  I'd already frogged a partial border once to switch stitch patterns, since my first choice was awkward to work and wasn't turning out the way I wanted.  That, of course, is the culprit here--I didn't swatch the feather and fan variant I made up to replace it, so I didn't know it would pull in so much compared to the center pattern

 No more knitting today.  Maybe even tomorrow.  I think it's high time I indulged in some video games!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A New Plan

Spinning has defeated me for the moment, I admit.

Thrifting, however, is making a comeback.

My Vernal Equinox Shawl is being knit from yarn I recycled from one of my own sweaters, one that I loved dearly and wore often until I stained it too badly to be saved.  Poof!  Now it's yarn.

It occurred to me after getting all that yarn processed that there's a Goodwill about two hundred feet from my bank....

Wednesday when I took my check in, I came home with this:

Women's XL, 100% Merino.  The tag said $2.99, and I was perfectly happy with that, but then at the register it turned out that it was a green tag sale day, and I had not noticed the plastic bit of the tag was green, so it was really only 99 cents.  Score!

Last night, feeling the sting of spinning rejection, I decided my new ten minutes a day plan would be to turn this sweater into yarn.  (I did the purple sweater for the shawl in a long evening, and my arm was wearing out from turning the swift!)

Here's my progress so far.  Considerably more than ten minutes a day so far--it took me a little over half anhour last night to get all the seams apart and cut the neckline off of the front--sadly, the V-neck was cut, not knitted in.  But I'm saving those scraps as dye testing pieces, as this orange is really not my color.  I'm thinking deep chocolate brown....

And then I probably spent another hour unravelling as we were watching TV.  Today I did ten minutes before breakfast and then maybe another twenty watching more TV (I'm catching up on FlashForward!).  The plan is at least ten a day, not only ten a day!

One more thing--while I was checking content labels and inspecting seams, my husband went and found something else entirely.

Isn't he just adorable?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spinning: A Rant

So, I showed off my spinning a while back.  I've been trying to do the whole ten minutes a day plan in order to both spin consistently and consistently spin.  If that makes any sense!

This morning I watched a few videos on Andean plying, which seemed a far better method for my fine singles than plying from a center-pull ball, which was disastrous the time I tried it, all tangles and fuming and swearing.  It went well.  Tricky at first, but by the end, I think I was okay with the method.

Then I really looked at the yarn.

I don't like two-ply yarns!

It's not that I think mine is bad-looking.  It's not.  On a rational level I understand that.  A little uneven here and there, some places that despite plying are still a bit overspun.  I just don't like it.  I've sometimes looked at other people's handspuns and thought...sure, it's pretty, but it's two-ply. 

I like singles.  I like multiple plies.  I'm really not sure what I don't like about two-ply, but I just...don't.

On top of that, it gets worse.  The yarn I plied this morning that I should be so proud of?  Twenty yards.  Yep.  A bobbin that took me longer than I'd like to admit to spin got me twenty yards of yarn.  That I don't like.  Multiple-ply yarns seem to me like two (or three or four or five) times the work!

Clearly, trying to be a process-type spinner when I'm so obviously a product-type knitter is a terrible plan.  Clearly, I need a wheel.

Except that I've never used a wheel, I know nothing about wheels, wheels are expensive and you have to maintain them and know how they work and I don't know how they work!  (Yes, I know, find a spinning guild and learn.  I don't have a car and live in an area with no public transit.  It's just not going to happen right now.)

Either that, or I just keep slowly spinning my singles and (gasp!) not plying them.  Every beginner spinning resource I've researched puts the kibosh on knitting with singles.  I understand why, to a certain extent.  Singles aren't balanced.  Singles will distort your knitting.  Singles will twist and sag and bunch if you look at them funny.  Singles will blight your crops and murder your firstborn.  (Well, no one actually comes out and says that last part....)

So I'm not supposed to knit my singles.  Too bad I like them better and can get twice the yardage!

But other spinners have knit their singles and the sky hasn't fallen....what am I missing?

After measuring my meager little skein, I am very tempted to box up all my spinning gear and forget about it for another few years.

I think I'm going to spend the afternoon on my newest design project, which, unlike my spinning, is going very well.  That will show my spinning who's boss!