Archives for posts with tag: handspun

I’m probably going to wind up making knitting nemeses or something by posting this, but I just came home from the weirdest Stitch ‘n’ Bitch of my entire life. Dude.

I’d been to this particular group once before. I’d made plans to meet up there this week with turtleknitter (Mary)–we were going back and forth between either meeting up on Thursday or going to the S’n’B tonight (Wednesday) to see the musician they’d booked. Apparently he’d come to play once before and a lot of people liked his show. Having listened to some clips on his MySpace page, I said I was interested in going to see him, so Wednesday it was.

I almost cancelled–I had a bunch of work to do by EOD today (spent a couple of hours finishing it up once I got home from knitting)–but decided no, I should make the effort to go see some live music and meet some new people.

The S’n’B is held in a very large local cafe with lots of different rooms. The concert was in a room all the way in the back. When I arrived, people were sitting around four tables arranged in a circle; on the other side of the room was a stage with folding chairs set up in front. I sat down, started chatting to the people around me, and not long after that it was time for the music to get going. The organizer of this S’n’B asked if we should perhaps either move to the chairs in front of the stage, or move the tables forward so they all faced the stage. Since yarn and coffee was already spread out everywhere, there wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm about either idea, and the musician ended up just sitting at a chair at the circle of tables.

He requested that perhaps we could all stop talking and quietly listen while he played, if that would be OK. I have to admit I was kind of put off by this, since I had come to the S’n’B pretty much specifically to socialize, and the postings about the concert hadn’t really made it clear that we weren’t supposed to talk at all. I guess I’m not sure whether the default at a concert should be talking or not talking, but I’ve been to a lot of coffeehouses over the years, worked in one in high school, and I’ve never been to one that demanded absolute silence from the audience. Usually the normal background activities go on during the music–talking, drinking coffee, studying, working–and if the musician is really good, people will shut up and listen.

The woman next to me kept talking to me and showing me her knitting. I admired (she had some great fingerless mitts made from Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in a deep purple color, and a newly finished merino hat) and after the first song, we were admonished again by the musician: “please, it would be really helpful if you would not talk while I’m playing, it’s really, really distracting.”

“Well, it’s not like you even wrote that song yourself,” said the woman next to me (he’d just played a cover song).

“Well, this one is one I wrote myself,” he said, and went on playing.

So we sat quietly for a while and listened to the music. Mary came in, and sat down across from me–I sneaked over and gave her the skein of handspun I’d been saving for her:

(posed below alongside my new Sundara yarn:)

Mary had given me a huge chunk of this delicious purple Miss Babs BFL batt at our last spinning meet-up, so I thought it would be nice to give her the squooshy, lofty, pretty Navajo-plied handspun that the batt became. (As it turns out, it was great timing, since it was her birthday on Monday and I didn’t know! Happy birthday, Mary!)

I admired the mittens she was making vewy, vewy quietly and then went back to my seat.

The musician played a cover of “Androgynous,” by the Replacements, which I appreciated, and a fun song about sneakers. He apologized if he had sounded bitchy earlier, and told us he had been to Africa and “it’s amazing how it changes your life.”

After a bit, the musician took a break, and the organizer made an announcement that anyone who felt like talking should go into the other room before the music started up again. “It’s not just distracting for him to play, it’s distracting for us, who want to listen.”

I may be misquoting a little here, but this is the gist of what happened next:

The musician called out to the woman next to me, “You should try working on your attitude!”

She retorted, “Well, you should try working on your singing!”

He started talking about how his singing might be an acquired taste, and maybe you would have to have refined tastes and appreciate music in order to like it.

The organizer said to the woman next to me, “Go fuck yourself!”

And about half of us trooped off into the Talking Zone and the rest of the room arranged themselves adoringly before the musician for the rest of his set.

So, yeah. We got kicked out of the S’n’B for being too loud. And the organizer swore at us. It was really weird. Now I’m kind of afraid to go back! It wasn’t even that I was trying to make a statement about the music, or identify myself as a troublemaker… actually, I thought the guy’s music was nice; he sings and plays the guitar well. It was just that I came to S’n’B for socializing in general, and Mary and I had specifically made plans to meet up there to chat, and neither one of those goals was being met by the concert setup. But now I think I may have been blacklisted.

I also found out afterwards that the organizer is engaged to the musician, which would explain a lot about the interpersonal dynamics there.

It was just a very, very odd experience all around.

Amusingly enough, one of the people who left the room with us was an anthropology student who had come to the meeting because she had to write a paper about a group of people, and she had chosen to come observe a group of knitters in action. She had expected to write a fairly boring paper about a standard Stitch ‘n’ Bitch session–looks like she hit the anthropology jackpot.

On the bright side, I’m now about 4 inches into both sleeves for my Flicca coat. Soon, cuddly sweater coat goodness will be mine! I’ll have to decide soon if I want to close it with buttons or a belt or leather toggles (I’m leaning towards toggles, but I think they’ll be the most trouble to locate). It is pretty gigantic and heavy already (10 skeins in) and I can only imagine how heavy the versions on Ravelry knit in Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky must be–I have both yarns in my stash, and RYC Soft Tweed seems pretty airy and lofty, while Yorkshire Tweed Chunky is much heavier and denser. I did the math and ten yards of RYC Soft Tweed weigh 5.7 grams, while ten yards of Yorkshire Tweed Chunky weigh 9.17 grams!

Edited to add a few corrections to clear things up as per some comments made by the organizer (Mackenzie), since it looks like I did misquote:

  • The person who was talking was talking loudly and yes, her comments were rude. I think that was already clear from the description of what she said, but just in case that wasn’t, there you go. I also missed reporting an additional bitchy/sarcastic exchange between her and the musician, which you can read about in Mackenzie’s comments below
  • I was wrong; it wasn’t the organizer who said “go fuck yourself,” but the person sitting next to her.
  • I accidentally gave the impression that the Africa comment had to do with asking people to be quiet, which it didn’t. I was just summing up the different things he said during the first part of the set. It was unrelated banter between songs and had to do with the content of one of the musician’s songs.
  • Mackenzie wasn’t the one who organized the show; the owners of the cafe did that.

Thanks so much for all the nice comments and advice, everyone. As it turns out, the gout-esque toe pain condition culminated in a late-night ER visit last night/this morning, and a followup podiatrist visit today–we ended up at two different clinics and it took a couple of hours. But we think we might have a diagnosis (Morton’s neuroma) and some special orthopedic shoe inserts to help take the pressure off the affected nerve, and on the bright side, I now have about 11 inches of the back of a giant sweater coat knit over the course of two days spent waiting for doctors. I guess the problem might persist for a while but the podiatrist thinks it should correct itself eventually. I did finally get a nap after work today so I feel a little less crazy and exhausted.

Here is a project I finished about a month ago, but haven’t posted about yet…

Pattern: Two-color brioche scarf; the stitch pattern can be found for free at Run and Not Grow Weary or
Size made: I forgot to write this down, so I have no idea how many stitches I cast on, but could probably reverse engineer it by counting the stripes. I can tell you that it’s quite a bit wider and a little bit shorter than most scarves I make for myself.
Yarn used: Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted in 720 Ash, about 2 skeins or a little less, held double-stranded; and about 2/3 of a skein of handspun, hand-dyed bulky two-ply, one of the first yarns I made for myself. I think I dyed the singles separately in the microwave with various colors of Kool-Aid including generous amounts of Grape and Berry Blue. It took a bit of work to figure out a way to showcase the yarn, and I think the two-color brioche works well, separating the stitches out enough so they can be individually admired, like little handspun jewels.
Needles used: US Size 13/9.0 mm Boye circulars (this stitch is worked flat on circular needles because it involves sliding the stitches every other row rather than turning the work.)
Date started: Not sure. It must have been late 2006/early 2007, around the time I learned to spin; it sat around mostly done for ages before I decided enough was enough and it was long enough as is.
Date finished: August 18, 2008
Notes: I love two-color brioche. I also love the way this yarn looks, but it’s kind of a giant, wide, heavy scarf, so I’m not sure how much use it will get–possibly will be passed up in favor of lighter, woolier attire, as I tend to go for long skinny scarves more than wide short ones. Maybe I should seam it up into a vest or shrug or something. It probably weighs something like two pounds, though… I packed an awful lot of wool into that bulky two-ply handspun.

The unseasonable giant wool scarf + tank top photo was taken right when it was done, in August.

oh, and my current yarn crush is Malabrigo Sock. What’s yours? Malabrigo Sock is now available for preorder at Whitknits, and you can see lots of colors there–Abril, Archangel, and Indiecita look especially dreamy, though I wish I could see them all in person. I know the color of the skein I have is wonderful, though I’m not sure if it turned into a real colorway (Persia?) or if it stayed as just a test color.

My dad and stepmom are coming to visit this Wednesday, which I’m really excited about! But aside from that, I’m just feeling awfully tired and stressed out right now. Among them:

Rahul has some kind of shooting pain in his toe, possibly gout, that woke him up in the wee hours of the morning and has been hurting him all day. This also woke me up and I’ve been very tired all day. He can’t get an appointment with a doctor till next Monday, and I really hope the pain lets up between now and then.

We got our move-out notice from the old apartment and to our surprise, not only did we not get back a penny of our deposit, but they want to charge us nearly $350 on top of the deposit, for an apartment that was in pretty good shape when we left it (with the exception of the kitchen floor, not one of the itemized charges). Among the charges is $100 for 2 smoke detectors. I got the bill in the mail the same day I got a flyer from Menard’s advertising a two-pack of smoke detectors for $4.99. (After a mail-in rebate, but I can absolutely assure you the rebate is not in the amount of $95.01.)

I also got a notice that my health insurance is being discontinued because I moved out of state. Apparently I should be able to transfer it, but it’s yet another thing to worry about.

So in the meantime, to soothe myself, here are a few things I’ve been doing…

I cast on for Flicca in RYC Soft Tweed in Twig, which is a very interesting, light, woolly, spongy yarn. It seems to be constructed of some sort braid or nylon chainette used to hold airy unspun roving into place. Twig is a soft beige color with subtle blue flecks, and I hope my affection for it holds up once it’s in giant sweater coat form. I’ve been buying and getting rid of different chunky yarns for this sweater since it came out, and nothing seemed to work out, but I think this one will probably work OK–it seems lighter and drapier than many of the other chunky yarns I’d sampled.

I’ve also been engaging in mildly guilt-ridden shopping and various swaps through Ravelry that have been cheering me up. I’m sending a box of lightweight wools and blends in exchange for a drop spindle, and recently swapped some cashmere tweed for some wonderfully soft vintage Berroco BFL. And I have some blue Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed coming my way from someone’s destash. Mmm, Beaverslide. I petted samples that Elli brought to our knitting night probably a year ago and really liked the feel of this yarn.

And I’ve been spinning, and making plans for a spinning study group with Mary and possibly also her Hindi teacher’s daughter, who is 8 years old; neither of us has ever met her, but she’s very interested in learning to spin cotton like a charkha the way her great-grandma did. Not that we can help out with that, but we can at least show her the basics of spindle and wheel spinning so she can get a taste of it before her parents splash out for a charkha.

Here’s a mini-handspun project I’ve dubbed Quantette, because it’s essentially just a small entrelac swatch worked from the middle of Knitty’s Quant headband pattern–I didn’t have the yardage to make it into a real headband, but I can at least keep it around and pet it.

I spun fine singles from a little 20-gram sample of hand-dyed merino, preserving the color runs, and then navajo-plied it rather tightly to keep it self-striping, winding up with about 41 yards of 15 wpi yarn. It seemed durable enough to be a reasonable sock yarn, but still bouncy and fairly soft.

The roving:

The yarn:

The Quantette, knit on size 3 needles:

So here’s yet more yarn I spun up. This is the 4 oz. of indigo-dyed Coopworth from Handspun by Stefania I bought at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival. It was such a dream to work with, smooth and easy to spin, I couldn’t stop working with it…

It started as roving:

Z-spun singles were not enough, so I made them into an S-twisted two-ply:

And then the two-ply was not enough, so I plied it again, with a Z twist, making it into my first cabled yarn:

Gorgeous, isn’t it? In some lights it reads with a greenish tint, almost teal, while in full natural sunlight it looks closer to a pure, cool blue between cornflower and cobalt.

I have about 93 yards of it. I kind of wanted to do a cabled hat to take advantage of the roundness of the yarn, but I don’t think I have enough yarn for that… what to do? Perhaps colorwork, or a contrasting brim? I have some cabled Di Ve’ Zenith in frosty gray that might work in terms of texture and weight. Or I could just start with cables from the top down and see what happens–perhaps it’s enough, if I use large enough needles.

I’ve been so obsessed with spinning fibers on Etsy lately. I keep clicking around and putting things in my cart and then taking them back out again. But I couldn’t resist buying this champagne-colored baby camel-tussah silk fiber when I saw it on sale:

I hadn’t spun with it before; I was pretty much 100% inspired by rainydaygoods’ post about her little glowing camel-silk sample from A Verb for Keeping Warm. (And also the incredible sensual pleasure of seeing and touching Handmaiden Camelspin.) Coming off my experience with spinning buffalo fiber, I was a little afraid I wouldn’t be up to the task of spinning it.

But as it turns out, it is the dreamiest stuff I’ve ever touched. Fluffy and buttery soft, it’s easy to draft, and it wants to be spun fine and smooth and even. I worked up a tiny sample skein and then a little sample lace swatch from that, on size 6’s:

After petting the swatch for a while, I shook myself back to my senses and went back to finishing the bulkier yarns I had on my wheel (spinning some BFL, sampling the CSA fiber from Four Crows Farm, spinning up a rainbow tweed batt I bought in Point Reyes)… but I’m saving the camel-silk for a spinning treat for myself. Once I finish all the faster spinning, I’ll settle down to the hours and hours of creamy laceweight camel-silk. And I’ll have to come up with a perfect pattern for Camelspin, both store-bought and handspun.

Once upon a time, there were three women, elliphantom, hapagirl (go check out her amazing new sock pattern!), and yours truly, who went to visit a llama farm named Yellow Wood Llamas.

They made fast friends with an incredibly friendly llama named Michele.

And brought home some of her wool–fine and silky soft, caramel-brown with bits of white.

The wool became singles:

And then the singles were plied together into a nice two-ply:

And the wool was skeined and washed:

and it became ever so beautiful.

(~4 oz./176 yards/11 wpi)

There was also a 1.4 oz silky black batt from a llama named Kona.

It looked really creepy, actually, like a matted head of hair, so it got spun up really quickly to avoid the feeling of a decapitated head lying on the couch. It was a little harder to draft smoothly, so it was a little lumpy-bumpy, and ended up as a shiny Navajo 3-ply (only about 42 yards):

And the two yarns sat waiting patiently for a handsome, charming pattern to come along and sweep them away to finished object-land, where they could live happily ever after.

The End.

So I just posted about the YELLOW Malabrigo lace I bought, but that’s not the end of it, not by any means.

I just got the prizes from winning Best Original Design for Malabrigo March for Prickle in the mail yesterday. They are lovely!

First of all–get an eyeful of the giant pile o’ prize yarn at the contest moderator’s blog. Wow. Aren’t those all just amazingly gorgeous?

Two of the skeins from that giant pile are now mine!

A skein of merino worsted in Hongos, a pink and brown variegated colorway:

And a skein of their brand-new superwash sock yarn, in “Test Color,” a lovely light blue with a subtle mixture of turquoise and gray shades.

Here, take a closer look.

Yum! It’s soft and pretty, but I can’t tell you much more than that yet–I haven’t skeined it up or swatched with it yet.

Now, if you’re my mom, don’t read any further! Everyone else, go ahead. There’s more Malabrigo goodness behind the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

The bad news first: Rahul lost his Very Plain Hat at the Little 500 on Saturday. That was quick.

The good news:
I already spun up most of my fiber purchases from Saturday, and I am in looooove with the lac-dyed Corriedale. The buffalo, surprisingly, not so much. The second bag of it turned out to be less well-prepped. I was finding it really hard to spin and hairier than the first bag. So I’ve probably spun only about a quarter of the second ounce.

I haven’t checked out the WPI yet on either yarn (and I know my grist is not very even), but I’m guessing the buffalo is about a DK to worsted weight, mostly, a two-ply with a lot of twist. I was hoping for downy softness, but it has too much hair and VM to be really soft–perhaps a few hours picking stuff out of it will improve the feel of it. It might turn into mittens, combined with some green Cascade 220, or maybe with some gray handspun I have lying around. I haven’t decided yet. I have about 65 yards of it. You can see the lumps and bumps where I was having issues drafting the second bag of fiber.

I think the Corriedale is an aran to bulky weight. It’s a two-ply, spun much softer and bulkier than I usually spin, and it’s squooshy and plummy and gorgeous. Most of these pictures came out slightly too blue–the yarn has more red undertones. It took a lot of rinsing to get all the excess dye out, but I think it’s pretty clean now. It’s next-to-neck soft, and I have about 100 yards of it, so my plan to make a scarf out of it should work. Oh, and I soaked it in grapefruit Eucalan and it smells really delicious, too. Look at all these pictures. I love it!

Also, Knitting Daily has their Reader’s Choice awards posted. You can download 5 free patterns between now and Wednesday afternoon, so go get them while you can:

Cable-Down Raglan, by Stefanie Japel

Nantucket Jacket, by Norah Gaughan

Sunrise Circle Jacket, by Kate Gilbert

Tweedy Aran Cardigan, by Norah Gaughan

Swallowtail Shawl, by Evelyn A. Clark

I’ve knit two of these (the Sunrise Circle and the Swallowtail Shawl) and highly recommend both of them!


So we went to Tales of Hoffmann at the IU Opera Friday night, and sadly, it was not a resounding success. I looked up halfway through the first act, and Rahul and our friend Trevor were both fast asleep, not having been captivated by the singing, flying glow-in-the-dark wine and beer bottles, the song about a crippled dwarf, the manufacturer of magical eyes (yet another Blade Runner-ish element in this opera), or the tale of doomed man-robot love. Trevor left after the second act, and Rahul complained bitterly that I was making him stay for the entire opera. On the plus side, I enjoyed it, and I got to wear my Swallowtail Shawl, which I knit sometime last year and haven’t ever gotten a chance to wear since then. It’s Handmaiden Sea Silk in “Forest,” one skein, and is fastened with a beautiful Perl Grey shawl pin from Robynn. Afterwards, we went to a couple of local bars (Bear’s Place and the Root Cellar at FARM) to meet up with friends.

Bright and early on Saturday morning, I met up with Kalani, Nicole, Leigh, and Norma at the Sample Gates, and we drove about an hour northwest, for a field trip to The Fiber Event in Greencastle, IN. It was so much fun!

We saw a sign for Live Nude Bait on the way. (also gold panning and cigarettes!)

The weather was somewhat cold (around 40 degrees) and rainy, but thankfully a lot of the fair was indoors, and all of it was at least under a roof of some kind.

We saw some sheep being sheared!

One of the more experienced shearers was teaching a woman how to shear sheep, grabbing a sheep and flipping it over onto its back in one deft motion, like a judo master.

sheep rush

He righted it again and when it was his student’s turn, the sheep did not want to be turned over. It dug in its heels and resisted.

resisting sheep

Mostly, though, once the sheep were upended, they lay there quietly as the electric clippers buzzed.

Inside the fair, there were piles and piles of raw fleeces and rovings all over, and skeins of hand-dyed yarns dangling from hooks or piled in bins.

We saw fluffy angora bunnies:

We made friends with alpacas and llamas:

Doesn’t this one look like it’s on the red carpet at an awards show?

I’m actually sort of afraid to take pictures of llamas, particularly flash photos. They always stare at me intensely and put back their ears, and I’m afraid they’re going to spit at any minute.

We saw this antique New England braiding machine (from the 1800s, but I forget exactly when–1816, maybe?) whirring around. On a related topic, apparently there’s going to be a conference for owners of antique sock knitting machines, this June, in Nashville, IN. I see people using these around town every so often, at fiber arts events or in the yarn shop. They seem like fun.

We saw Kalani’s Shibuiknits patterns for sale at one booth, and thought she should surreptitiously autograph them and put them back on the rack. Here’s the famous designer herself, posing with her patterns!

I saw this sort of creepy-looking needle-felted creature–not sure if it’s a bear or a dog. The sign says: “Hello, My name is Secret. I’m named Secret because I have a secret. It is up to you to figure out what it is. You may have to pick me up to find out. Good luck!”

When you pick it up, the secret is that there is a smaller needle-felted creature embedded in Secret’s ass.

We ran into Elli, from our knitting group, and Wendie, who lives up in Indy. I was looking at a sign on a table and a woman there said “Excuse me, are you Huan-Hua?” Startled, I said yes, and she introduced herself as Holly, one of my test knitters for the Botany Baby Sweater! I saw Suzanne, who runs one of the yarn shops in town, and Diane, another spinner and knitter from Bloomington, and met an indie dyer I’d seen posting on Ravelry.

Here’s a group picture we took outside:

From left to right: Nicole, me, Kalani, Leigh, Norma, and Elli. Leigh is clutching a large ball of roving. She bought two balls of roving. The funny thing about that is that she doesn’t spin. (Yet.)

Here’s an equally important group purchase picture–the trunk of Nicole’s car, packed full of our purchases for the day.

Here’s what I ended up buying:

A skein of golden-orange Creatively Dyed Yarn, fingering weight. You can get her yarns at the Loopy Ewe, too. The label says it’s color number Gras #102, 100% superwash merino wool, approximately 500 yards. It’s a four-ply, low-twist yarn and will probably become lace of some kind. However, I’m not sure if it’s correctly labeled–it really doesn’t look like superwash merino to me, as it has a bit of a halo and shine that suggests alpaca or mohair. It also gave Leigh instant pricklies when she held it against her neck, suggesting it’s probably one of those fibers, not just wool. Or it might be a longwool sheep–I think she said it was “Wensleydale merino”–Wensleydale and Merino are two different breeds of sheep, as far as I know, but if it’s pure Wensleydale or a blend, that would explain the shine (it’s a luster longwool breed) and texture.

I got 4 oz. each of some naturally dyed rovings from Handspun by Stefania. I got stuck in this stall for probably half an hour, full of indecision–should I get indigo-dyed Jacob? Cochineal-dyed handspun? A handspun mitten kit containing fluffy white Great Pyrenees dog fur? I thought their prices were really good for handspun–$35 for a handspun mitten kit.

I finally settled on Corriedale dyed in lac (the bug that gave lacquer and shellac their names)–the base wool is a mixture of gray, black, and white, which is what gives the roving that range of dark to light purples:

and also a Corriedale-silk blend dyed in cochineal, madder, and Osage:

But my prize find was 2 oz. of buffalo down for $5 an ounce! I saw it elsewhere at the fair for $18 an ounce, and even that was apparently a bargain, since they’re selling it online for about $25$40 an ounce. I haven’t seen a lot of guard hairs in it, though there is a pretty good amount of wood and burrs. It’s from Jehovah Jireh Farm. I was also tempted by some gorgeous, autumnal-colored roving, a sample of which you can see on the right in the first picture, $12 for 8 oz. of a 50-50 wool-alpaca blend, if I remember right. But I stupidly repacked my bag before leaving and left my checkbook at home, and only had $25 in cash, so I was prevented from buying from a lot of the vendors, including this one–the buffalo plus alpaca-wool would have decimated my cash supplies, so I stuck to just the buffalo in the end.

Thing is, I hadn’t touched my wheel in months, so I felt really guilty about buying new roving and I was determined to turn at least some of my fiber into yarn before the day was out. And I did it! I must be the world’s slowest spinner–it took me about 2 hours to spin one ounce of buffalo fiber. It wasn’t the easiest fiber to spin, because it pulls apart into fluff really easily when you try to draft it, so before I got the hang of it, I was breaking it about every 30 seconds. It’s still awfully uneven, but I’m hoping it will improve once it’s plied.

But here are the fruits of my labor:

A very high-twist single in order to keep the fiber together, as fine as I could get it without breaking the fiber as I spun (not that fine, really, probably a little lighter than fingering weight), to be plied and made into who knows what at the end. I hope it fluffs up at the end, when it’s plied and set–I have a tendency to overspin and produce kind of ropy yarn. I’ll probably have some tiny amount of yarn at the end, 25 yards or something, but hey. It will be handspun buffalo down yarn!

I also went home with a major yarn crush on Briar Rose Fibers, but was so overwhelmed with the beautiful selection that I ended up not buying anything. Thankfully, they also sell their yarns online and go to a lot of different fiber fairs around the Midwest, so it wasn’t my last chance–I can think of an actual project to make and buy an appropriate yarn and amount based on that, instead of wildly snatching up everything from their entire booth like I had wanted to.

I also fell in love with Sea Silk in Peridot, a color I’d seen pictures of online and suspected I would like. I did. A lot. I’m not sure sea green and silver are great colors for me, but who cares? SO PRETTY. Again, though, it’s available online, so I can wait.

Before I forget, too, I took some experimental videos with my digital camera at the event. Flickr just started offering free video hosting, so here are the videos! I don’t think I can embed them, since I’m using free hosting on WordPress, so you’ll have to click through. Sheep shearing, and sheep waiting to be sheared. Turn up the sound–the main reason I took these was to capture the hilarious bleats and yells from the sheep waiting to be sheared.

I screwed up!

So a few days ago, I finished making my presents, went down to Hobby Lobby to get gift bags, wrapped everything up, wrote up little cards and care instructions, put everything in big boxes and drove down to UPS to mail them, with a great sense of pride and accomplishment swelling in my chest.

Then I found out it would cost $63 for each of my two packages to get them to California by Christmas! I don’t have that much holiday spirit. So my presents won’t arrive till the Friday after Christmas.

Here are two more of the Christmas projects I finished.

Pattern: Fiber Trends Felted Clogs

Yarn used: Unfortunately, I have no idea of how much yarn I used, since one was handspun and the other was recycled. Some amount of my neverending hyacinth violet Lopi, some amount of black walnut-dyed handspun Romney singles, both single-stranded. The yarns were really hard to felt–I had to run them through the washer on hot three times, and they still came out kind of fraternal, but at that point I had run out of other clothes to wash with them and lost patience with trying to get them exactly the same size.

The Romney singles didn’t felt very evenly or completely, as some areas were very energized and others were quite underspun and soft–but it did felt to an interesting and pleasing kind of boucle texture that worked well as the trim/contrast color on the clogs.

I quite like the lavender and light brown combination.

Needles used: US size 13/9.00 mm

Started: 12/13/07

Finished: Finished knitting 12/16/07. Took another day to felt, and one more day after that to caulk the bottoms.

Size: Women’s Small. Pre-felting, the clogs were roughly 13.5″ long, 6.5″ across instep at widest point, 21″ around ankles, and 6″ high.
pre-felted clogs

pre-felted clogs 2.

Post-felting, they were roughly 11″ long. 5.5″ across instep, 14.5″ around ankle, and 3″ high.

Subjectively, this meant that they fit my feet reasonably well lengthwise, but were very loose around the instep.

Mods: I accidentally knit the outer sole and bumper in the main color instead of the contrast color. The bumper was showing little blips of the wrong color and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Then I looked at the pattern again and realized that I was supposed to knit them in brown instead of lavender. Hence the brown blips showing up where I had picked up stitches.

The other thing I did was, instead of purling, to just turn around and knit the other direction in the round where it calls for 6 rounds of reverse Stockinette stitch at the ankle. I figured it was being felted anyway, so why not? I don’t usually hate purling that much, but it really wasn’t fun with the big thick needles.

Notes: I made these for my great-aunt for Christmas. I don’t know what size shoe she wears, so perhaps they’ll fit her better than they fit me.

Some research on this pattern on Ravelry revealed that there are two versions of this pattern, and you’re SOL if you bought the old version and want to upgrade to the new one. You just have to buy it again! I thought that was pretty annoying.

I knit the old version, AC-33x, printed on teal paper. The new version is labeled AC-33 and is printed on white paper. The newer version is apparently narrower than the old version. It seems like the new version would fit my feet much better than the old version, but I’m not sure I want to shell out for the pattern again. The designer suggested that I could leave out one or two plain rows from the sole to make it narrower, but apparently there are many other changes to the new version, including the decreases being moved around to different places.

I wear a women’s size 6.5 or 7, but after testing the pattern this time, I think I’d make the women’s size small despite the admonition that it’s only suitable up to size 6. It seemed still quite loose on me.

I added stripes of latex caulk to the bottom for traction. Nicole’s advice was to use latex caulk instead of silicone caulk, which gets very slippery when wet. I took this advice, but despite her excellent clog-caulking tutorial, I totally forgot to buy a caulk gun and ended up digging out caulk from the container with DPNs and slathering it over the soles–hence the somewhat skimpy amount shown here. The only color I could find was white, which seems to get dirty VERY fast, but better that than super slippery clogs. Unfortunately, I didn’t put enough on the soles to find out how effectively they retain traction on wet surfaces. They seemed pretty good, but there is so much exposed felt, I’m not totally sure, and I found the clogs getting so dirty from my sliding around the bathroom floor that I decided to stop all clog-testing immediately in the interest of keeping them looking at least somewhat new.

I have a lot of Lamb’s Pride worsted stashed away to make this pattern again–twice, once for myself, once for my boyfriend. I feel kind of sad that it didn’t fit me that well, but perhaps with a more quickly felting yarn and the two plain rows removed from the sole, it will be OK this time.

For my great-uncle, I made this:

Pattern: Jared Flood‘s Koolhaas, from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007, now also available as a single pattern from the Knitting Daily pattern store

Yarn used: Plymouth Encore Worsted in 0149 Light Blue Heather, left over from my Tilted Duster, about 0.75 skein

Needles used: Size 6/4.0 mm for the ribbing, US size 8/5.0 mm for the rest of the hat

Started: 12/17/07

Finished: 12/17/07

Size: 18″ around, unstretched; 8.25″ high.

Mods: When I was knitting the first Koolhaas I made, I thought it would be interesting to try using twisted stitches instead of cable crosses. So I used the following twisted stitches throughout the hat:

“1st st” = closest to needle tips (distal)
“2nd st” = farther from needle tips (proximal):

1/1 LPC: knit 2nd st through back loop from behind and leave on needle, knit both sts tbl, drop from needle.

1/1 RPC and 1/1 RC: k2tog and leave on needle, knit 1st st again, drop from needle.

I prefer working right crosses with twisted stitches, and I think they look cleaner, so I substituted a right cross instead of a left cross on rows 3 and 7. However, I didn’t notice until I got to the decreases at the crown that the decreases would start spiraling the opposite way. Oops. Because I was in a hurry to get this done, I wasn’t about to rip back or rewrite the decreases to use k2tog, so I just let the crown go the other way. Perfectionists will doubtless be disturbed to their core by the untidiness of this substitution.

The twisted stitches have better stitch definition than the cables–they really pop!–but they also cause little tiny holes all over the knitted fabric. They’re faster and less fiddly to do, I think, but in the final analysis, I think the original pattern’s 1-over-1 cables are superior.

The holes are really only visible when the fabric is stretched out, so if there were an application for this pattern with positive ease, I think the twists would be a suitable substitute. However, since this hat is a few inches smaller than the average head, the holes do become visible when the hat is worn.

The twisted stitch version came out a little bit larger than the cabled version. I don’t know if this was partly due to the difference in yarn, but the needles were the same and I knit them right around the same time.

I took some side-by-side photos and some closeups so you can see for yourself and decide. Obviously, the brown hat in the photos is the Koolhaas made the proper way, and the blue hat is the twisted stitch version.

Cable pattern, stretched out:

Twisted stitch pattern, stretched out:

It’s been getting cold, and closer to Christmas, and both of those are inspiring a stream of little bagatelles…

I forgot to include my ball of gray Cotswold-angora roving in this picture (and the dishwater gray Hideous Panties) but I thought it would be nice to put together a little still life of the various grays, cool and warm, matte and shiny, that I’ve been working on lately:

In the back, my Lara sweater; clockwise from there, my feather and fan cowl in silver Artfibers Ming, pinned with a beautiful Perl Grey ringstick from Purlescence; my Dryad Mitts in Squirrel Heather Knit Picks Swish; and a skein of local, millspun alpaca from the farmer’s market–worsted weight, 50g/110 yards.

So the Ming Cowl is done, and I’m suffering from Ming withdrawal. Sigh… look at this stuff.

Apparently, I can make this heap of silvery gorgeousness look like a crumpled heap of grayish fabric when I wear it, but I think it’s beautiful anyway.

Pattern: the Luxe Neck Warmer from Knit 2 Together

Yarn used: Artfibers Ming, Color 08

Needles used: Size 10/6mm Denises

Started: 10/14/07

Finished: 10/25/07

Notes: This is the second time I’ve knit this pattern. It’s a nice pattern, if more decorative than truly warm.

So that’s one thing. Here’s another. The farmer’s market alpaca from the top picture quickly turned into another warm gray winter accessory:

Pattern: Cat Bordhi’s Cashmere Moebius Cowl

Yarn used: Alpaca from the Bloomington Farmer’s Market for the main part of the cowl; my own handspun angora for the edging. The white angora fluff I used (“roving” seems like such a harsh word) was from Breezy Manor, and was the leftovers from the second mini-skein I spun up and Navajo-plied for Last Minute Knitted Gifts angora booties for my friend Jen’s newborn baby.

Needles used: Size 10/6mm 40″ Addi Turbos

Started: 11/5/07

Finished: 11/5/07

Mods: I ran out of alpaca yarn, so I switched to the angora for the edging, made it through only rows 1-3 of the lace edging, then started to run out of angora as well and began to bind off. I ran out of yarn during the bindoff, and had to use the no-yarn crochet hook bindoff for the rest of it. Thankfully, the unusual shape of the cowl means that a tight bindoff will not impede getting the finished object over your head.

Notes: I loved using this alpaca. It felt so fluffy and light while I was using it that I felt like I was knitting with cake frosting, or whipped cream. It’s warm and utterly soft and fluffy around my neck, and the rather hard, overspun, rope-like twist I put into the angora is good for durability, and keeping the angora from shedding and flying away too much. I took pictures with my preferred way of wearing it–tight against my neck with the half-twist overlapping in front like a shawl collar, and the excess fabric folded down to tuck into my coat. I think Cat Bordhi’s version has a smaller circumference, which seems more attractive as an accessory but less warm for the chest. I might try the pattern again, subtracting one pattern repeat.

The pattern uses Cat Bordhi‘s signature Moebius cast-on, basically a clever way of getting your needle through both the top and the bottom loops of a provisional cast-on, with the half-twist that makes the Moebius strip one-sided. The Girl from Auntie has a great series of posts about approaches to knitting Moebius strips, and Thomasina has compiled a big list of links to other Moebius patterns on her geeky knitting page.

“A mathematician confided
That a Möbius band is one-sided,
And you’ll get quite a laugh,
If you cut one in half,
For it stays in one piece when divided”

Have you ever knit a Moebius strip using Cat Bordhi’s method? I definitely recommend it as something to try at least once–it’s fascinating. The cast-on is for the “equator” of the Moebius strip, and the knitting grows up and down from there as you knit in the round. All the lace lines in this pattern slant the same direction as you’re knitting them, but once you’re done, you can see that they are facing you from the right side on one half of the strip, and on the wrong side from the other half, so you have a half stockinette, half reverse stockinette cowl with chevrons of lace radiating out from its equator. You can probably see this best in the top picture I posted.