Monday, July 21, 2014

Tour Update

No fancy updates here but I did finish my second bobbin of Briar Rose BFL last night so I'm all ready to start plying tomorrow.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer non sequiturs

I'm spinning like a dervish (well, a dervish who sneaks in 20-30 minutes with the wheel after work in the evenings) and having a blast with the Tour de Fleece. So far, I've managed to spin every day of the Tour. Yay! Naturally, my photographic evidence is scant - my only daytime shots are from last weekend and are making their way from my phone onto the computer while I type (along with several hundred other pics of this and that). Tomorrow is a rest day on the Tour and I'll poke around a bit to see if there is some fun way to show off my nighttime snapshots of spinning progress. A gif maybe?

But for now, I thought I'd share a few non-spinning delights. Ok, not too far removed from spinning, at least for this first one.

Pretty much as soon as the yarn was dry, Tadpole and I wound up my new polwarth/silk yarn. And I cast on the next day. Kuura is a delightful pattern to knit - interesting yet intuitive and not too busy. I'm flipping the main body and edging charts to have a lacier body to the shawl. We'll see how it looks in the handspun.

So far, so good. This yarn is just lovely to knit.

And, bit by bit, I'm slowly working the crochet bind off on my Fiori di Sole shawl.

I feel like this is moving at a glacial pace but it's not quite that bad. Maybe more like tortoise speed. It would probably finish up more quickly if I didn't ignore it to play with my new handspun.

And, in non-knitting news, I have pumpkins!

Honest to goodness pumpkins in my backyard garden (ok, expanding onto the driveway, if I'm being really honest). That picture is a day old now and the little pumpkin was almost the size of my fist when I went to check on it this evening.

I've got some handspun calling my name before it's time to turn in for the night so I'll just leave you with this shot of our garden visitor hanging out with the zucchini.

How many rows can I knit before I nod off on the needles?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

And we're off!

Sitting down at my spinning wheel last month proved much more fun than I'd hoped. The polwarth/silk blend was a dream to spin and exactly what I needed to get back into the groove with my wheel. So, in a typical fit of ambition, I decided to join the Tour de Fleece this year.

I have a bump of 12 oz of Briar Rose Fibers BLF top that will be perfect for my goal of spinning every day of the Tour. And I have my team in place to cheer me on:

We dropped our cable subscription ages ago so I was thrilled to see that you can download an iPad app to watch the Tour de France. Tadpole and I watched today's stage streaming live while I spun this morning.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Before I could spin the BFL, I had to finish up my polwarth/silk blend. Nothing like a holiday weekend (and a baby who naps reasonably well, not to mention a three-year-old inspired to nap, too, by the prospect of staying up late to watch fireworks) to make the time to finish up spinning and plying that fiber braid.

This is the first handspun yarn that I've wanted to start knitting up as soon as it came off the niddy noddy. 

That's approximately 4 oz, 418 very light, airy yards of worsted spun 80/20 polwarth silk top from SweetGeorgia Yarns

It's still ever so slightly damp so I'm trying to restrain Tadpole's (and my) urge to wind it up right now. I think it wants to be a Kuura with the charts flipped like in this version.

I think we can hold off a little longer. My team is chomping at the bit to get back to spinning.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Rogue fibre

It's been a while since I've sat down at my spinning wheel - I'd gotten bogged down in an ill-fated attempt to learn woolen style spinning. So, with a burst of inspiration from a fellow spinner, I decided it was time to go back to my comfort zone of worsted style.

This week I pulled out a braid of Sweet Georgia polwarth + silk fibre in the rogue colorway and stole some time to sit back down at the wheel. (I may have even moved sprout's play mat down into my office/craft room so I that could spin a bit with her while tadpole was at school.)

Hello, wheel. It's good to see you again.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


I had a fantastic idea for a kids sweater bouncing around in my head recently. It would be a simple stockinette raglan, worked bottom up, with the bee lace from Cookie A's Kai-Mei sock pattern along the raglan seams. 

This design started to get a bit squirrelly from the get go. I couldn't figure out what edging to use for the bottom hem that wouldn't detract from the bee lace. A turned hem would have been great, except that I only have 400 yards of the yarn I'm using and I didn't want to lose yardage on the hem. So that was out (now that I think of it, a picot hem might have worked). Then I thought: seed stitch! At this point, I didn't want to transition from seed stitch at the hem to a stockinette body so I decided to make the whole body in seed stitch. 

I happily motored along to the underarm and used a provisional cast on for the sleeve stitches at the yoke. This is my favorite sweater construction for babies and kids - work bottom up to the neck and then back down the sleeves with whatever yarn is left. 

I think I made it through two repeats of the bee lace. It was just a mess. 

I had forgotten one of the key elements of Kai-Mei's success: negative ease on the sock so the foot stretches out the lace. That was not going to work on a kid's sweater. 

So I ripped back to the start of the yoke and decided to borrow from another of my favorite patterns. This time around, I tried a braid cable at the raglan and hid the decreases in the cable. 

That works much better. I threw in some short rows to shape the neck. The sleeves are stockinette and should knit up quickly at this gauge. I'll probably use a turned hem to finish them since it looks like I'll have enough yarn. 

Miss Tadpole even agreed to help me check to make sure the neck was loose enough. 

EZ's sewn bind off worked like a charm. But then the sweater was off a moment later. 

Once I'm done with the sleeves, I think I'll write this pattern up. At the very least, I'd like to make a coordinating sweater for sprout. And this will be a nice pattern recipe to have handy for gift knitting. Plus, if I'm really good, I can set up a spreadsheet to crunch the numbers for me. 

(I haven't forgotten about the purple sweater pattern - it's on the list. I just need to get my pattern writing feet wet again before I dive into that one.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

On the edge

Two blog posts in a week - when was the last time I did that? Someone must be napping in her crib more.

Two of my current WIPs had me thinking about garter stitch edges lately. If you just knit row after row, that first stitch often gets loose and floppy unless you do something to tighten it up. These two designs tackle the problem in clever ways. No simple slipped stitch here!

First up, Martina Behm's Hitchhiker - that addictive little scarf pattern - grows into a toothy swirl of garter stitch. The teeth have a stockinette edge and the curve is formed by a k1f&b on every row (beginning the RS rows and ending the WS ones). The result is a tidy, yet extremely elastic, edge. No need to pick up and knit a border to hide imperfections on the edge.

(This is my new midnight knitting project, now that I've finished the girls' latest knits. The decadence of the cashmere silk blend I'm using more than makes up for any boredom my fingers might feel with the garter stitch.)

Romi Hill's Fiori di Sole has the cleverest garter stitch edge treatment that I've seen on a lace shawl. Instead of the typical basic garter edging, she has you work a garter eyelet band with a decrease on the very edges of the shawl to balance the yo eyelets (ssk, k1, yo, k2 on the right edge and k2, yo, k1, k2tog on the left). The decreases tighten up any looseness from the previous plain WS row and give a lovely (yet sturdy!) edge which I expect will come in very handy for blocking.

If you're working a sweater or similar garment with a garter stitch edge, I'm a big fan of slipping the first stitch of the row knitwise, with the yarn in back. It makes for a neat and tidy edge without disrupting the garter ridges. That's what I used on Sprout's latest sweater and it worked like a charm.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

In which one of my daughters models her new hand knit garment

Why yes, Tadpole and I have been reading Winnie the Pooh together. Those chapter headings must be rubbing off on me.

Both of my girls have new hand knits. One of them has tried hers on. That would be the immobile one, currently lacking the words to say "I'll try it on later, mommy."

Tadpole has a lovely new dress - the Goldilocks pattern - and I think it will fit. Hopefully she will be up for trying it on before she outgrows it.

Sprout was a more cooperative model in her new sweater, although she wriggled so much I had to switch to auto focus on the camera. Try telling a two-month-old to hold still - it just doesn't work. But happy, energetic babies are delightful creatures so we still had a lot of fun. Before I get distracted with the baby shots, here is the sweater itself:

Now for my model:

See why I wanted to make sure I showed you the sweater first? I kept getting distracted by those baby blues. Ok, now you can see how the sweater fits. It's still a bit big on her so I'm hoping it will fit for another couple of months - at least through the cool early summer evenings.

Now that I have you thoroughly distracted by the baby pics, I'm thinking of writing up the pattern. Any interest? This version was knit on size 1 needles using Sundara fingering merino yarn. Yes, there were lots of tiny stitches. But the stitch pattern would also look lovely in a heavier sock or even sport weight yarn on larger needles.

So if I were to write this up, would you prefer a free pattern with just one size or would you rather have multiple size and yarn weight options for a fee? And, perhaps more importantly, would you be interested in test knitting the pattern? I can promise an interesting knit, some clever details, and a satisfying FO. But you'll have to supply the baby.