Knit two or more.

I’m not big on repeating things that I knit.  Well, patterns, that is – I will knit two sleeves, two socks and two mittens.  I tend not to have 2nd ___ syndrome.

And there’s also the charity knitting exception.  Sure, I’ll knit a bunch of socks for charity, but there are always some changes that I make to the project each time, just for me, to keep it interesting.

The same goes for gifts – last year I knit some necklaces for gifts – but each time I twisted things up with the color of the beads and the yarn.  This year, I’m doing the same thing with a different pattern:

I’ve got three necklaces in a couple of evenings so far:

Scallop-edge beaded necklaces
my modifications to the pattern can be found on Ravelry here.
Last night, contrary to my usual knitting mojo, I actually knitted a second time in exactly the same yarn and size.  Behold the fingerless mittens:

Fingerless mittens

It’s actually a modified glove pattern by Ysolda called Vintage Button Gloves, and no, I don’t use any buttons either.  The yarn is partly why I decided to knit them again, it’s a lovely alpaca, merino and silk tweed called Acadia, which I am in love with!

The first pair I made were a gift to my friend Aimee, and it turned out that I bought enough yarn to make two of them, although I didn’t know it at the time.  Once the first pair were sent off in late winter, I cast on for a pair for me, but then the weather turned warm, and my interest waned.

Last night I was rooting around in my knitting things, and found them — with only part of the 2nd hand and two thumbs to do.  So I got busy and finished them, just in time for my trip back to Princeton next Saturday, where they’ll come in handy.

I don’t think a third pair will be happening. Knit two was plenty.

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Spindle Spinning the Lazy Way

Over a year ago I bought an interchangeable spindle from KCL Woods, which has multiple shafts that screw into the top whorl of the spindle.  And I have spun lovely yarn with this spindle:
Test spin KCL modular spindle

But I didn’t have a Lazy kate to go with these spindles.  A Lazy Kate is a spinning tool that allows one to place the spun singles each onto a place from where you can combine, or “ply” the individual yarns together.  If one owns a spinning wheel, you usually buy a Lazy Kate to put the bobbins onto.

I tried this little combo with a clear Lucite container:
Spindle Kate 2

It didn’t work very well – the yarn kept getting caught in edges and on the spindle. The Shoe box version worked about the same. The best luck I had was with letting the shafts wander over the floor, but then the singles would get caught in each other. Plying sucked.
Well, KCL Woods has a Lazy Kate for its spindles, and I finally bought one:

KCLWoods Lazy Kate for Spindles

and I spun a couple of sample yarns that my lovely friend Judy (who is in the middle of buying a manufactured home and blogs about it at Wine, Spinning and Song) gave me.   One single was pure wool, the other a lovely wool-silk blend (the shiny one on the bottom):

Spun singles Sept 2012 b

I put the spindles into the Lazy Kate and made some very lovely yarn!

Spinning with KCL Woods Lazy Kate

Using this tool with the interchangeable spindle is now pretty efficient – it saves any rewinding of the cop onto another device, and I can now ply straight from the shaft of the spun singles.  It also make me want to figure out how to transfer the cops from my other spindles onto a set of sticks that can go into the Lazy Kate too.  I will spin more if I can make it more efficient, and spindle spinning is very portable!

The yarn I spun is very delicious in color and feel – I’m hoping to find a tad more yarn to combine with it for a lovely cowl as a gift.

Spun yarn with Lazy Kate

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Swatch Matters

I am always surprised when people tell me that they don’t like to swatch.  Really? It always shocks me. I consider it like an investment plan with a return of about 100 to 1.  Anyone who got that kind of return in the financial world would think that they were in a pyramid scheme like Bernie Madoff’s.

But it is true for me.  For the small effort of knitting a swatch, somewhere in the vicinity of about 6 by 6 inches, measuring it, and then treating it like the wearer will for washing, then remeasuring, I  get to understand the fabric’s characteristics, whether it will shrink or grow, or become softer and drapier.  Then when I knit the project (usually a sweater), all the 100 times the work I put into the sweater will result in a garment that is the right size and shape!

Seriously, I think the crazy people are the ones who do not swatch for sweaters.  I, personally, do not have time to knit a garment that won’t fit, or will be a failure because the yarn does not act like I think it will.
Case in point, the Guy Sweater that I’m knitting.  I’ve finished the back, and using my handy-dandy swatch gauge calculations, I knit the back (or as I refer to it: my other, really, really big swatch) and decided to treat it like the swatch – just to confirm that it was doing to be close to the right size before embarking on the remaining two-thirds of the knitting.

It looks pretty good:

and the measurements are spot on (whew!).
Guy sweater 1c

(the colors are off in this photo – the yarn is actually a lovely gray-blue that will be very good for the giftee)

In related news, the kitties are enjoying the guest bed as must as I thought they would!  Today I take boxes to storage, and papers to shred.  The decluttering continues apace.

The cats on the bed

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The Yarn Harlot has magical powers

In the middle of the spare room clean-up, a distressing fact hit me in the face – I could not find my button stash.  Nowhere.  The bag they used to be kept in? I moved them.  But where?  I checked the yarn bin, and came up empty (admittedly, there was a ton of crap in there).

So last night I was weaving in the ends of my sweater, and knowing that I would reach the moment when I wanted to have the buttons put on my sweater with the little backing button bought especially for this.  And magically, the Yarn Harlot started a little tweet fest while her oven was warming up.  So I asked her

@YarnHarlot where did I hide my button stash? Can’t find it.

And she replied:

Steph Pearl-McPhee@YarnHarlot

@reneerico Tin on the bottom shelf. (Wait, that’s mine.)

So true.  And then I realized that my first instinct, that I had put the small baggie of buttons with the yarn bin was probably correct (and I am not so good at thoroughly looking in that first place.  The magic of the Yarn Harlot, I tell you!

And now my sweater has buttons and is a complete FO (rav project details for Hey Teach):

HeyTeach1e

The button stash is now clearly marked!

Button stash

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Perspective

My apartment has been moving in a trendline away from the hoarding.  Back on July 4th, I had family over for a meal, which required a clean-up and straightening up of several rooms, but not the “extra” room – my home office and guest room.  In fact, more items found their way there because I was cleaning up other areas.

With today a holiday, it was time to begin to tackle the room.  I had no illusions that I could even get through the entire room or even the whole closet – organizing all the way takes a lot of time.  So my goal was to get enough items out of the room or into the closet so that it is a functioning room again. As in, one can reach all the lights, sleep in the bed, and use the desk without tripping on stuff.   I figured it would take 4-5 hours, and I was right – it was about that with breaks.

I made it most of the way.  See, you can walk from the door to the bed without a problem now:

Decluttering1

and my spinning stash is off the floor and organized on a shelf in my closet:

Decluttering5

With a bit of work (and only a bit), the desk will be usable:

Decluttering4

and I’ll be able to reach the office supplies with a turn of the chair.
Decluttering3

What I knew I wasn’t doing to get done was to go through all the boxes that came my way when my Mom moved up near me:
Decluttering2

At least they are organized, and I can get into the closet.  In the coming weeks, the plan is to go through these boxes and reduce them down and get the photos organized.  With the cleanup that I’ve done, there is now room to do this.

I do have a trip to make to the storage unit (they were closed for Labor Day) – the holiday decoration boxes don’t need to come back for a few months – but now I have boxes that are new and tight and not kitty-shredded.

In knitting news, I am very, very close to wearing my Hey Teach cardigan:

Heyteach1c

This is a lovely sweater, and I’m thrilled with how it is turning out, including my somewhat modified 3/4 length sleeves. The only glitch now is that some weeks/months back I moved my button stash for knitting and I can’t find it now! It must be in a really smart place. In that stash are the backing buttons for the lovely and very inexpensive buttons that I found at Joanne’s on Friday:

Heyteach1d

After I finished the button bands, I realized that I had reversed them – oh well, nobody is going to know the difference in this era, I think.

For those keeping count, of the three sweaters I’ve been working on, the 1st is done, the 2nd is very close, and I’m finishing up the back on the 3rd. Now, I’m pretty sure that there will not be any more sweaters right away – I think I’ll need a break!

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