Floatin’ Along

Welcome to my entry in the Bark ‘n Knit WIP Parade.

A group shot was out of the question, so grab a cuppa’, a snack, and settle into a VERY comfortable chair…

But wait!  Every parade needs some pagent queens, right?

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Haddon Wood’s Princess of Joy, more commonly known as Sissy, is riding on the well-used chair of the late Pop.  She is wearing a glow in the dark ruff, accented with orange bells.  She is sponsored by the Woodridge Hound Club.

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Next up is the Haddon Wood’s Junior Miss Princess Gretchen Greer.   L’il Miss GG is a foot entry (and thus, she sulks).  She sports a very seasonal gown with a glitzy jack o’ lantern.  She is sponsored by the Hogwarts Crup Alumni Society.

Both princesses’s attire was donated by their doting Gramma MJ.  (And yes, the girls are at work today, and they’d like you to read their very important post today too.)

We now return you to the parade in progress.

First up are my spinning works in progress, just because there are fewer of them and they are easier to cover.

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April 2008

This definitely holds the title of oldest WIP.  It’s an unknown fiber that came free with the first spindle I purchased.   There’s a tiny bit on that spindle, and even more on my Kundert.  I’ll be practicing with this until I feel like a slightly competent spindler.  (Is that a word?  It should be.  Spinners who can master wheel and spindle are special.)

DSC01804Next up is the first pound of wool I bought.  It’s of an unknown, coarse, krinkled crimp stuff that LOVES to be a tightly twisted laceweight single.  I spun about a 1/3 of it on my Bellus and another 1/3 or so on my Aura, and it is what I’m spinning on now.  I want to finish it this month, as I started it immediately after a friend lost her battle with breast cancer.  I think I’m going to navajo ply it and then it’s definitely going to be Grace’s Comforting Embrace, the shawl she had just finished designing when my friend died.  Grace kindly donated the proceeds from the sale of this pattern for a time to cancer research. 

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Last in the spinning WIP division is the silk merino the Knight gave me for my birthday.  It’s all spun up, waiting for me to find the right commercial yarn to ply it with.  It’s roughly a fingering weight single, and I have visions of it being knitted into a lovely stole or cresent for dressier wear.  Any and all suggestions would be appreciated, both in terms of a plying yarn and a pattern.   I think I want either black or pewter…

Now, to the knitting projects on the needles.  I am happy to say there are no crochet WIPs.  For whatever reason – maybe because crochet is sooo quick? – I tend to finish what I start in crochet in a short order.

October 2010 005First up is the Tea Party Cardi, which I hope to finish this month too, but I need to get knitting.  I have the back done, but only a couple of inches of one front panel.  That’s a close-up of the broken rib pattern that dominates the sweater.  It’s a very fast knit, but I haven’t had much time to knit at home, and it’s a bit too bulky to take it with me as a travel knit.   I’ve had it on the needles 2.5 weeks, so a more realistic completion date might be mid-November.  I’ll need three buttons for the front.  Any suggestions?

DSC01318My most recent cast-on is a mystery sock a bunch of us are doing together in the Stash Sock group on Ravelry.   Since it is a mystery knit along, I’m not sharing photos, but that’s the yarn.  The goal is to finish by year’s end.  I’m really enjoying knitting with the Shi Bui yarn, even if the color is “peony”.  I’m pretending the color is merlot or some other lush, red wine that makes me think of fall.  I’m doing these socks magic loop, one per circular needle, but I’m knitting each clue on each sock before I move on.  I’ve finished clue #1 on one sock, but not the second.  And I believe clue #3 is being released today, so I’m falling behind, right on schedule.

October 2010 004I have another sock on the needles, the awesome Cotty pattern in a custom hand-dyed colorway by Ann.  This is my easy, breezy travel knit, and there’s no deadline, although the colorway says muted Christmas to me, and Ann did give me the yarn for Christmas 2008.  She calls the colorway Spring Ahead/Fall Back, and I can see that too…

As an aside, because this post won’t be too long already, I do need to tell you how much I love the ChiaoGoo Stainless circ.   I wasn’t at all sure about that bend in the metal tip near the cable join, but it makes the join a non-issue.  And the stainless wrapped in rugged plastic is a GREAT cable too.  I need more circular needles like I need another hole in my head, but…  Of course, you might guess that they’re available at Dog House Yarns & More.

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Those are the three projects I’m actively working on.  Next up is the shop sample scarf for Dog House in a laceweight cashmere.  The pattern is one Plymouth released for their Eco Cashmere, and it’s a nice pattern, but I cast on for this in April, right before my knitting mojo went on a summer sabbatical.  I haven’t been able to get back into it, but I need to, because it’s a heavenly little cashmere… just ask Gretchen.  I’d like to finish this before I go up on Halloween to teach a magic loop class at the shop, but something has to give…  I can’t finish everything NOW!

DSC00804The other lingering WIP I worked on over the summer was MooSon.  I’m ashamed to admit I cast on in April, 2009.  It’s a great pattern and an even better Gypsy Knits custom-dyed yarn.   It was supposed to be a birthday gift that year, so I’m still hoping it’ll be a Christmas gift this year.  If not… well, there’s always said birthday 2011…  Christmas 2011…  You get the point.  Can the intended recipient guess this is for her?

DSC00375Even older is the gift made from another Gypsy Knits custom dye job.   Ravelry says I cast on in February, 2009.  Anita found it and figured out it was for her when she was doing some graphics work for me.  The mystery is though… neither of us have a clue when she’ll get it!  Sadly, despite this photo, it is almost done.  I think I have a bit of one sleeve to finish and then all of the second sleeve and the trim.  You’ll understand if I don’t remind her of the pattern or tell her when I hope to have it finished, right?!  😉

Do parades have an intermission?  Maybe this one should.  Get up, stretch, head to the bar for a latte or something else to wet your whistle…

DSC01415Actually, we just have one more hibernating project.  Sadly, I’m going to have to frog it and start over (it’s a good thing – I need a smaller size!), but I think it’s next up on the sweater agenda.   I cast on for Whisper in December 2009 (look!  less than a year ago!) almost immediately after Jessi sent me some of her laceweight to try.  I haven’t broken it to GG – Gretchen Greer – that her second favorite yarn is no more, but I’m not beyond a shameless plea for any remaining laceweight in her former shop inventory to head my way!  For Gretchen’s sake, right?!  It is a FINE merino, in every sense of the word.  And if ever you need help deciding how soft and premium your yarn might be, Gretchen works for cashmere, new frocks, carrots and bananas.

My float would be bigger/longer, but I did frog two projects two weekends ago.  Just don’t go look at my queue, okay?

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Catching up is hard to do

I’m so far behind on what I want to share with you that I have no idea how we’ll ever catch up. 

Oh where oh where has our Mama gone?

There is a very rude, fussy post on the fur-girls’ blog.    I’m wondering now – in the hour plus since I wrote that post – if maybe Sis is just stressed out because I wasn’t home enough this weekend?  I know stress can cause rashes on humans, and while this isn’t exactly a rash…  I’ll be interested to hear what y’all – and wondervet – think.

So.  The weekend!  Friday night, I went to a League-related cocktail party.  It was great to catch up with some old friends, and I met a few new (to me) people too.   Saturday, a League board retreat, complete with a DISC assessment.    What I got out of it is that I can over-think my way into such a hearty misrepresentation of myself that even a facilitator will note that clearly, my results weren’t accurate for my personality.

Sunday was the spin-in.  Please see Amy’s report for more photos and her take on the day.  It was the first time I’ve spun with more than one or two other people, and it was almost overwhelming.   There were friends I don’t get to see often, new friends to make, and such a variety of expertise and spinning wisdom to take in…

One such expert sat just to my right.  That’s a supported spindle, and she’s spinning a batt she made yesterday.  (Hold that thought – we’ll talk more about batt-making later.)  She also spun some of the finest, softest cotton I’ve ever seen with the same spindle.  She gave me some great ideas about how to catalog my fiber stash, but I’m also shopping for a Takhli spindle.  She suggested starting with a metal one, usually found in brass…

Oh – don’t miss her basket in the bottom of the photo.  That was her grandmother’s knitting basket.  My own heart swelled up so that I thought it would burst!  I love the history – personal and general – in fiber arts.

Barbara of Stony Mountain Fibers planned this lovely event.  That’s the great woman in the center, and a local gal (I finally figured out that I knew her from work!) making her own batt.  Barbara generously brought lots of fibers for us to blend via the Strauch Mad Batt’r.

There’s the batt I made.  I ran it through twice, because smooth and blended was what I was feeling yesterday.  It’s almost exclusively mohair.  There’s some teal wool in there, a bunch of different blue and green mohair locks, and I THOUGHT I was blending some soysilk roving in there, but that brilliant lady with the supported spindle used the same stuff to make her batt, and she reported that too was mohair.  I can only aspire to that kind of fiber, tactile awareness.

There was also a swap table, and I came home with two goodies.  The gal who fell in love with what I’d taken hadn’t planned on participating in the swap table, so she forced some hand carded and processed alpaca on me.  The plum-colored stuff is also mohair.  Seems I like mohair.

I  had the best time!  I do believe this is going to become a regular event, and there’s even a rumor of a local spinning guild forming.  I hope more of you can join us next time.  We have room for at least 100 spinners, I’d say.  I also vow to bring my spindles next time and get some help making friends with those little buggars!

Somehow, that reminds me that Jessi had so much fun moving into her new home that she’s moved to a new blog too, and she’s having a contest for some Wollmeise.  You don’t even have to tell her I sent you.

How was your weekend?

Spin Me ‘Round-round

Alternate title – Look Kathy, No Wheel!

Fiber, unknown wool.  Purdy pink, long, strong fibers.   The crappy stuff at the bottom of the shaft was spun long, LONG ago, maybe two years or so ago.  The finer, tighter-spun stuff at the top was the recent effort.

Here’s the question…  What am I doing wrong when I wind on?  (For the non-spinners, that’s when I take the long length of yarn I just made and wrap it on the shaft.  It shouldn’t slide on down to the bottom as mine has.)

See the way the yarn just stays up near the disc portion on those?  THAT is what I can’t do.  I’ve tried applying more tension as I wind on, but that doesn’t seem to do the trick.  A Ravelry pal said to try the football shape (the orange yarn, above?), but I’m really at a loss…

Sissy didn’t have any ideas either.

While I can’t say I love spinning with a spindle, I have lost my hatred for it.  I really feel the need to master this little beast, so all input is appreciated.

And Jessi?  It only hit the floor once, and I had an assist there.  Gretchen didn’t think that spindle should be in my lap if she wasn’t…

So, any Easter plans?  I’m looking forward to the warm weather, finishing up a project I almost started and finished at the beach, and getting back to work on the blankie.  I also have to face our taxes, but let’s not talk about that, okay?  Tell me about chocolate bunnies and pretty eggs and new Easter dresses instead…

Trying

Before I begin whining  sharing my attempts at hand spinning, here’s a link to my fabu artist friend’s blog, where you can see the beginnings of her project for which she wanted the photos of my hands knitting.  Do poke around while you’re there; I happen to think she’s very gifted and has such a fresh approach to art, combining it with literature, life, philosophy and so much more.

So, I kept in mind my promise to Mary  to spin for an hour, three days in a row, and set out for day #1 yesterday.   I started with FIRST, as I call my (duh) first hand spindle.  Anita the spinning prodigy had already told me she couldn’t keep it spinning, so when I got frustrated, I carefully pulled out my Kundert Spindle, tied on its leader, took a deep breath, and suddenly, found myself SPINNING. 

Note the thick-thin of FIRST’s yarn.  It’s still far better than what I tried to produce in our brief interaction with hand spindles in the spinning class last month, but it’s hardly worth celebrating.  In contrast, look at what a difference the Kundert made.  Both of these bits were spun with the same roving, within a minute or two of each other.  Yes, it’s hardly consistent, but it’s closer to it than FIRST’s yarn.  Best of all, while it took me about fifteen minutes or more to spin that small bit on FIRST, I spun that on the Kundert in a fraction of the time… maybe two minutes?

I’m fast learning about what I like in a spindle.  (Aside from anything Mary suggests…)  That’s an evil little cup hook, which seems to encourage overtwisting.  There’s still no notch on the thing, and as disenchanted as I am with it now, I doubt I’ll bother to have the Knight put one in.  It shall remain FIRST, and it’s easy on the eyes, but I don’t know that I’ll ever reach for this heavy, cup-hooked, non-notched fella’ again.  (After these photos, I did spin up what remained of the attached roving, but that’s probably the end of its spinning.)

There you have my beauty, in need of a stately name.  I moved the fiber out of the notch so you could see it and the hook.  (If I had my favorite book with me, I could tell you what kind of hook it is, and why it’s the best kind for top whorl spindles.)  I still have to pre-draft in a serious way, but I suspect that now that I am getting the hang of spinning with a spindle that actually SPINS, the rest of the techniques will come too.

The Kundert and I enjoyed this view while we hung out on the deck.  (FIRST might have too, but obviously, we haven’t bonded.)  That’s a trio of wild dogwoods, the State tree and flower.  The local Dogwood Festival is in full swing, with the parade and the grand ball tomorrow.  I still want a pink dogwood and a redbud, but not this weekend.  

Tomorrow, I’ll head towards Richmond for our knitting guild’s monthly meeting.  Sunday, I hope to drive over to Pop’s hometown for the Cestari Wool Festival, as a warm-up for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend! 

Never Say Never

I think perhaps that’s my new mantra.  I am pretty sure that at 14 (give or take?) when I threw down the knitting needles, I said I’d never want to knit.  I know for a fact that about a year ago, I said I’d never have any interest in crochet.  Then, spinning.  Now, a spindle.

Meet my new source of frustration.  You might recall that after my spinning class, I had zero interest in spindles, as opposed to wheels.  Well, since I’m such a belabored shopper, I’m wanting to spin and have nothing to spin with (on?).  Anita found this spindle kit in an Etsy storeMary purchased a bottom whorl version, and two days later, I found myself purchasing the very same kit Anita purchased.

It came with instructions and a couple of sample fibers.  It should have come with its own parachute.  See that?  That’s the floor of the dog pen, below our back deck.  I was out there on the deck, spinning away, so proud of how it was going.  I stopped to wind on a bit, and next thing I knew, the tail end of what I was spinning was feeding into what I’d already spun.  I was working on untangling that mess and trying to get going again, and I suppose I overspun a bit…  Next thing I knew, my new treasure very literally took flight from my leg (I was giving it a good spin to get started), flew through the rails on the deck, and landed below.  (Couldn’t just have thudded against the rail and landed on the deck.  Not with my luck.)

Luckily, it was none the worse for wear.  I managed to get to my spindle before Sissy did, since she wasn’t quite sure what we were doing in the pen.  It’s a very pretty little spindle, but I’m going to have to get the Knight to notch it for me, at 4:00, Robin says… 

A spinning bag is also in order.  I think one of Kathy’s bags  will be ideal.  Then, I can stand and spin while playing fetch with the dogs…  I’m betting one of you spinner-types will also point me to a specially designed spinning bag, hint, hint?

I will say that I found this WORLDS lighter, prettier spindle easier to use.  It spins – as in whirling ’round and ’round – like a top, unlike the big clunker we tried in class.  Also, it’s so visually appealing that I WANT to try to make us a team.   Still, I’m planning to get a Kundert before we head to the beach.

If you look closely in the upper left corner, you can see my little helper.  I was surprised that she wasn’t curious about the spinning thingee, dangling in the air.   I think it’s neat that it’s signed and dated.  Perhaps if I do take to this form of self torture  artform, I’ll remember that this was my first, and hopefully only flying, spindle. 

I feel a multi-post day coming on.  I have a tea-along post due, and probably another coffee swap question to answer too.  However, I also have an article due for a newsletter TODAY, so I think I’ll tend to that first.  (I did get my billing done already this morning, lest you think I’m a total slacker.)  I did have to stop working on work to look for the new Panda Soy Sock Yarn.  (Thanks, Cassababe!)  Turns out it won’t be available until July, so I’ll make a shameless plug now for belated birthday gifts of the same. 

This isn’t getting that article written.  I need to remember to attach the recipe form and copy the webmaster too… but that’s not exciting, bloggable news, is it?

One more tidbit to help me avoid doing what I should  before I wrap this up.  Many of you share your children’s milestones on your blog, and I’ve been sharing Sissy’s too.  However, today was a special day in MJ’s life.  Last month, she finally learned how to check her own email account.  Today, she made her first online purchase, all by herself (if you don’t count me talking her through it).  Yes Ann, I am an enabler.  Aren’t we all?