Finishing, WIP-ing, and RIP-ing

There’s been a fair amount of fiber-related work here at Casa del Revknits since I am mostly staying off a leg to prevent further injury til we figure out what’s up. It roughly falls into three categories.

Finishing

The Christmas knitting continues apace – I’ve knocked out another pair of socks from Kate Atherley’s new Custom Socks book. Any serious sock knitter will want this on their shelves, as the author deconstructs sock sizing, sock versus shoe sizing, and fitting the unusual foot. It’s quite perfect, as one would expect from a technical editor  (she techs for Knitty.com). If you have weird foot to ankle circumferences, narrow or wide heels, have a tough time fitting your foot, this is a great book. In addition, the instructions are really, really clear!

I adapted a pattern from the book called Wellesley – altering the cable to work better with the variegated yarn that was in my stash.

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I also “finished”some yarn – it started out as polwarth wool and silk 50-50 merino top, from Into the Whirled, purchased two years ago at Rhinebeck. I had spun the single on my KCL multiple shaft spindle, so I made a two-ply plied on my trusty 2 oz Schacht spindle. The fiber is the one on the left…

IMG_1914Unfinished yarn:

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And after soaking, twacking, and hang drying:image

This is a laceweight yarn, about 600 yards. Ivwill probably be used for shawl, I have to show off the beauty and drape of this yarn!

WIP-ing

Yes, there are some WIPS (works in progress), neither of them a dishcloth. The Osebury Rock Shawl is on hold – an odd thing occurred with this project, which is part of Ysolda’s 2015 Shawl Club. While I can’t say enough good things about this club there was a small hiccup for this project. It turns out that many of the knitters, including me, are running out of one of the colors despite it being test knit ok. Because it is Ysolda and she is fabulous, she is working to resolve the situation instead of just leaving us to hang trying to make do. I hope to sign-up for next year!

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I have a new WIP because a pastor in my congregation has just taken on two foster children with her husband, one of whom is a small baby, so I’m making the Buttons Cardigan in a lovely varigated DK Regia yarn. This is my go-to pattern for baby sweaters, and with the washable DK yarn, it’s perfect for a busy mom. I hope to finish in the next couple of days, and make a matching hat as well. The chill in the air has reached Fresno!

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RIP-ing

I am saying good-bye this week to one of my hand knits – a pair of socks out of A Verb for Keeping Warm’s Creating yarn. It’s very soft and lovely, and the socks have been great, but I have come to realize that 100% soft wool, such as this beautifully dyed 100% merino wool, doesn’t hold up in wear the way that merino-nylon blends do.

The brown yarn is a previous patch in wool-blend yarn, but now there a big hole below it. I’ve now mended these a couple of times, and it’s time to move onto to new socks!

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Less

I’m a little more than one month out from The Great Clear Out (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3,   and the final piece) and I’ve been struck by  the flow-out from this move in my life.

  1. The clearing out continues. This was always the plan, since I didn’t finish things, just got over the hump, but I have downsized twice in the size of storage unit that I need. The current one is a petite 4’x5′ (a mere 20 percent of the big one), and if all goes to plan, I may not even need  this one by the end of the year. That would be SO nice! Also, I find that random drawers that were not part of the clear-out get organized because it feels better. I got my car cleaned and sorted out the trunk of my car.
  2. Room for other things in my life. That old saw about less is more? Totally true. With less visual clutter at home, and it now being easy to get to things that I own, there is more time in my life. No longer am I digging through crap to get to what I want.
  3. New goals. Among the room created is the mental space for new goals – get fitter and lighter.  I took a sample class for a new exercise program that my Y may bring in for us to teach, and it was really, really hard, to the point that I realized if I want to teach it, I have to get in better shape. So I’m adding on more workout times, different classes (cardio dance, zumba, yoga) which are fun and I feel better, and fit into more clothes. I’m going to see how far I can get this body!
  4. Saving money. Yep, it’s cheaper now too, with the smaller storage unit, and being able to see everything I own and use that instead of buying things. Between the savings on internet and phone that I worked on in the spring, paying for things like insurance all at once to save interest and fee payments, I am now looking to save for some goals – a big trip, retirement, etc.
  5. Stash busting. I didn’t really intend this, but since the Mendonoma trip, I’ve been knitting from stash – using up a lot of little bits with the yarn in a bowl hats, socks from bits of handspun, all for Afghans for Afghans. Will I make it to Labor Day without buying yarn for me to knit? Stay tuned!

Fiber stuff

The “baby shower” for Afghans for Afghans has me a little obsessed. These hats were the result of my yarn in a bowl experiment, and some of the socks are from samples of or leftover handspun.

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Although I haven’t officially participated in Tour de Fleece this year, I must be feeling the vibes, because I finished plying some really old fiber in the stash, which I think will become a large felted bowl for Wildcare.

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Then I plied the Into the Whirled BFL. I think I had split this to fractal spin, but then the tags fell off each of the removable spindle shafts, so in fact the plying was completely random, and the skeins are different from each other. Oh well, now I know to make sure the tags stay on!

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2013 Craft in Review

De young Museum

The turning of the year brings perspective. It’s a chance to reflect on the past, and embrace the future.

I checked my Ravelry projects page (which was mostly, but not completely in review. Here are the totals from that and my memory of things knitted but not in there:

  • Socks: 14 pairs (mostly for Afghans for Afghans)
  • Necklaces: 9
  • Sweaters: 8 (most not for me)
  • Shawls: 6
  • Cowls: 3
  • Fingerless Mittens: 3
  • Shell: 1 (my own design, not in Ravelry until I figure out whether to publish)
  • Hats: 8
  • Pet Toys: 5
  • Other: 2 (ornaments of my own design)

In addition to all the knitting, there was a fair amount of spinning and fiber fun, thanks to my two fiber festival adventures at the opposite ends of the poles as these events go: the Big Sky Fiber Festival in Hamilton, MT, and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, NY. I met designers, teachers, sister spinners and knitters, and even a yarn company owner. I had terrific students in my knitting classes, and learned a few new skills to help me spin more efficiently and design knitting patterns.

I’m also gearing up more for my own design work, a couple of things that I can’t share yet, but will do when the time comes, and hopefully some more independent design and teaching as well.

Truly, without my craft, I don’t think I would have made it through the year. When all else seemed overwhelming and crazy, I could count on my knitting and spinning to get me through the next chapter.

And now, with 2014 here, I’m off to start on my new practice of working through The Artist’s Way with some other tweeps. I often suck at these things, but I have company, which I hope will help me keep my commitments!

Is there anything you are planning for your 2014 craftiness? Share in the comments!

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Rhinebeck Redux – Part 2

Rhinebeck is more than a marketplace, which is its charm. I happened on a sheep-dogging demo when I wandered in around 12 noon on Sunday

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and then met Amy again for lunch. (You should really check out her video blog Hudson Valley Knits.) I got to meet her mother-in-law after lunch, and then I had one of my fan girl moments when Amy Herzog and her trusty sidekick Jackie were only 10 feet away. They are as lovely in person as you would want them to be, and I apologized for not bringing my beta-test Customfit sweater on the trip (needed cardigans for my long journey amid wonky HVAC systems). Amy had read my review of Customfit, (you have checked it out, right?) and we chatted about all the plans – some secret – that they would like to bring to the market. And bless Amy, she got my photo with the two of them:

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Stash Enhancements:

I don’t need any yarn really, and the fiber had to really call to me. I managed to buy some yarn from Cephalopod Yarns (Bugga in a really subtle colorway), and on Sunday, another very bright skein for a secret gift at Miss Babs. These are the two skeins:

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and then I went by Into the Whirled, and showed Chris (the dyer) my hat and cowl combo that I knit after spinning her lovely BFL.

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She was quite interested (no lines at that moment) so I wasn’t pulling her away from customers) and shared what must be a dyer’s dilemma: she only had time to test knit swatches of her beautiful colorways. I might have bought certainly did buy  a couple of more bumps of fiber to spin. But since this was the second fiber festival of the year for me, I held back because I have a lot of fiber to spin!

IMG_1914I also bought a couple of new spindles, and an adjustment to a third. In Abby’s class, we got to choose a student spindle, so I picked up a low-whorl one since I don’t own any, and with Amy, we found an interesting hybrid, a top-whorl Turkish spindle. I know! Amy apparently has been getting a lot of looks with hers, but the price point was good, and I didn’t see a lot of other ones at Rhinebeck. Finally, I got some new arms for the Trindle  I bought two years ago – these are heavier, and are little bronze hearts. Really lovely!

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Finally, I left with lovely memories of amazing samples, trees with flaming leaves, and the knowledge of a special time..

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Rhinebeck Redux – Part 1

This year, I was lucky enough (again!) to have a work trip out to the NJ/NY area that ended just before Rhinebeck (aka New York Sheep and Wool) festival began, so I once again had an experience of a lifetime.

As two years ago, I stayed in a house down in Hyde Park, just slightly more sane than actual Rhinebeck, and drove up with better directions and a shorter trip than last time — by at least an hour.

Patsy, my host, was welcoming again, and this time I got the lovely big room with the rocking chair, and queen canopy bed. Very smart choice, and I loved it.

Last time when I went to Rhinebeck it got a little lonely hanging out all day on my own and not knowing anyone, so I put up on the Ravelry board that I was looking to join in dinner with anyone, and Amy of Hudson Valley Knits responded that we could have dinner. Now Amy did more than that, she invited her whole knitting group – the Peekskill Knitting Group to have dinner, as a preview for Rhinebeck (Amy called it the Rhinebeck Rehearsal Dinner!). Amy’s husband is a chef, so she knows good food – we had dinner at Birdsall in downtown Peekskill. A lovely craft beer/ale/cider house and focusing on locally sourced food, we ate in the garden (there were heaters), and had a wonderful evening:

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These ladies are a ton of fun! What a nice warm-up to the actual event!

This year, because I had screwed my ankle up, I did not take in the whole adventure the way that I did two years ago – I didn’t make it to the animal barns, I stayed away from a couple of the meet-ups because the hill footage was too much for my right leg. I did, however, get to take a class with Abby Franquemont, in fact, two classes.

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They were lovely, and she has an inductive style to teaching classes, so you can think that perhaps she doesn’t know what she’s doing unless you figure it out. I got there early the first day and we chatted about teaching adults, since I’d just finished doing that myself, so I knew what she was up to. I learned to spin on a low whorl spindle, and a couple of new tricks to do long draw in a more ergonomic manner. Plus, we had a young spinner in our midst. Meet Ashley.

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She is 10, and the granddaughter of one of the organizers, who brought her and her little sister along to be runners for the classes, but oops, she ended up being a spinner. By the beginning of her second day of spinning, she already had five balls of yarn (!!!) She is spinning tussah silk in this picture – amazing and wonderful.

At the end of the first day, I had bought some stuff, eaten lunch, oh, and bought Clara Parkes new book and gotten her to sign it. More photos and experiences tomorrow, including the stuff I acquired!

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Tour de Fleece -Day Five

Happy Independence Day! (NSA approved message)

Onto the spinning. I’m finished with one of the three projects for Tour de Fleece.

First, fingering weight BFL wool, spun on my Lovely Asciano spindle. So smooth and lovely that I have to figure out a good pattern for it.

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Second, a yarn very different from the first, a wooly untamable kind of funky tweed. I love it!

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I love this yarn – it’s fluffy, bouncy, full of texture. This is just the first half, so more fun to come!

Today I’m at the Marin County Fair to demo spinning with my much more expert friend, Judy.  I’m sure we will evangelize some into the fiber world.

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Learning Curves

I’m on a fiber learning curve. Several of them, in fact.

  1. Double-knitting:  this is one color technique that I’ve never done before – and I finally see why folks do it.  I’m working on a scarf (the Mysterious Disappearing Dot scarf pattern by the lovely Lucy Neatby), and although it takes a bit to get the technique perfected, this project is turning into potato-chip knitting.Disappearing Dots scarf
  2. Knit  Companion Software.  This is actually the reason that I’m doing the scarf – I saw a tweet by Lucy Neatby that she is the first designer to have pre-loaded patterns into Knit Companion for the iPad. I received, for $12.50 7 patterns by Lucy, the knit companion software for those patterns, and associated pdfs and videos.  While I had seen this software before, it seemed to me as an experienced knitter to be more work than it was worth – I can read a knitting pattern, use Goodreader with pdf patterns already. Here was an opportunity to try it out with someone else having done the work to load the patterns in (the only sensible use of it for me – your mileage may vary).  I’ll do a review in another post.Beginner singlesLoaner spinning wheel
  3. Spinning on a Wheel.  Yep, I’m trying out spinning thanks to my friend Judy, who is loaning me her Louet S10 wheel to take a class on spinning.  I spent a whole evening not getting the wheel to work, gave up, and thought I’d wait ’til the class.  I was feeling like an idiot even though I was trying to do it with just a short demo by my friend and no class. In the morning that seemed stupid, so I tried again, and figured out how to get the fiber at a rate that sustained the spin, and how to pedal in a way that works (here, I find, my aerobics training comes in handy – moving at a regular beat is something I can do).  I’m now able to sustain spinning a relatively smooth single, and it took about an hour to  get to that point. One coincidence was reading yesterday an article in Entangled magazine about another spindler who learned to spin on a wheel – Rachel Rayner, and she had very similar experiences to my own (including an evening when the she couldn’t get her wheel to spin).  It nice to know that a learning curve is just a learning curve!
  4. SOAR – or the Spin-Off Autumn Retreat – which is an up to one-week adventure in spinning that moves around the country each year.  This year it is at Tahoe City, on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.  I’ll be taking a variety of classes – including Beginning Spinning on a Wheel (with a great teacher), Andean, spinning with camelids and Tahkli spindle spinning (used for short fibers like cotton).  A fiber extravaganza, and I might find myself ordering an electric spinner because the honorariums for teaching at Princeton Seminary and doing a memorial service just about equal the price. I think Calvin would agree that it is the providence of God showing itself, I’m sure of that!  It will be good to be with friends, sister fiberistas, and snowy alpine beauty outside!

That’s plenty of learning curves for October, so I’ll leave it at that. I’ll report back from the SOAR retreat and how my spinning wheel class went.

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Return to Spindle

You would have thought that attending the largest fiber festival in the country would have lit a candle under my spinning. But it didn’t. I spun some BFL that I had already int o another not-sock-yarn, and then the spinning mojo just plain gave out.

No longer. I don’t have anything that I’m dying to knit, so I pulled out some merino- silk fiber from Ellen’s1/2 Pint Farm and got to spinning — it’s 2 oz of luxury, which I’m spinning lace- weight to make a small shawl, but if the spinning goes well, it might get entered into the County Fair here in Marin.

See the prettiness?

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Spinning, Woolen Style

I probably have mentioned that I’ve only been spinning on a spindle about 8 months or so, having learned last summer at a class at Llama Llama Knit. All that I’ve done has been based on that class, and what I’ve read in Respect the Spindle, and tried to see on the DVD of the same name (not easy).

But there’s been no feedback, everything has been trial and error, and some things went well, others not. I’m pretty good at getting a consistent single now, but my joins were awful and frustrating. Plying has been ok, but I need to learn a lot more.  I’ve stuck to worsted spinning style, and couldn’t figure out what the woolen thing was all about.

For the new spindler, the class opportunities are surprisingly sparse in the SF Bay Area – once you’ve done the intro class, everyone expects folks to get a wheel, I guess. Finally, I saw that Michael Wade was teaching at Article Pract (which I’ve still never been to – hmmm, East Bay trip might be needed!), but then I couldn’t take the class, and then he was teaching at A Verb for Keeping Warm and I could take it – yes! Even though it was on a Sunday, it was in the afternoon, and did I mention that these classes are hard to find?

It was cloudy and rainy, and it was the end of winter break for schools (fondly known as “Ski Week” in our neck of the woods because so many families head to the Sierras), so the traffic was awful, but I allowed plenty of time to get there. So I was able to buy anything I could think of totally essential items for my fiber life.

And Michael, of Fiberbeat fame, couldn’t have been sweeter or more helpful. Seriously, the guy is amazing – he podcasts, blogs, turns out amazing knitwear and spinning, and is a great teacher too. He helped me figure out new joining methods in a snap (SO helpful), and even made up some shoe-box plying boxes (how sweet is that!):

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But the best thing for me personally was figuring out the woolen, over the fold method of spinning. I had been doing a very short draw with the over the fold, which is kinda half-way there, but with Michael demonstrating I totally figured it out. I took home the lovely undyed BFL and spun up my singles in a snap. Last night, having got home before 10 pm for a change, I plied the rest of it and set the twist, and woke up to this loveliness:

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There are still some things to work on, but it’s a very good start!

Isn’t the shine just something to behold – all that lovely squishiness just is so lovely. The plan is to make some cat toys over the weekend for a kitty toy swap – so they’ll hold catnip and have the handspun aroma. I can now dye bits of the yarn with my food coloring, so I feel all so crafty now!

Next-up – I’m taking Michael’s navajo-plying on the spindle class on March April 17th – a whole new set of skills to perfect – yay!

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Saturday Show and Tell

I am hopelessly behind at work – my sinuses are giving me migraines, and other than getting my router up and running again after Comcast decided on its own to simply delete my modem (which they own!) from my account, the day was a complete wash-out, workwise.  Meds make the brain so fuzzy that I can’t do my kind of work.

That said, I have gotten a couple of things this week that have brightened my days.  First, from the fine folks at Ravelry, I got my Ravelympics pin, so my lone Bob pin from 2008 now has company:

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And I broke down and bought the Spin-Off DVD from 2008 – I figure that it’s less room than the magazines, and I’ll get a feel for whether I should subscribe or not.  I haven’t had a chance to do more than a quick glance through one issue, so the jury is out.

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My targhee singles got spun up fast.  The plan was to make a 3-ply yarn for socks, but I wondered how this very bouncy, crimpy fiber would behave, so I did a test ply with 2 strands, set the twist, and knit a small swatch.  I think I made two-ply sock yarn – about 7.5 stitches to the inch, with lot’s of wonderful bounce and stretch.  I’m liking the colors, they came out way more muted because I haven’t learned to navajo-ply yet – I hope to take a class with Michael of Fiber Beat next month.

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The toe-up socks, ai ya-ya.  The pattern is Sherie’s Posies Socks (rav link) from Socks from the Toe-Up by Wendy D. Johnson. First, I had to downsize the pattern because the sock was way too wide – so I made the side lace pattern smaller, and ditched the diamond lace pattern because just the hearts showed up better, and my sock is narrower.  These adjustments worked (although downsizing the sock meant that I had to reverse engineer Wendy’s heel – I wish she had a worksheet for her heel because this was not much fun to do, a trial and error kind of thing.)  But all things considered, the first sock went well. (This is the 2nd sock the first sock, but you can see what I did with the pattern)

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And then I started the 2nd one. Apparently my magical powers to count to 29 failed completely, because after getting all the way through the heel and starting on the leg, I noticed a couple of problems.  First, the sock had 4-6 too many stitches because I failed completely at the beginning of the toe and compounded this later as well, and made the lace pattern incorrectly (making the heart longer and wider) which meant the socks most definitely did not match and also didn’t fit well.  Sigh.

I ripped back to the toe, and did the sock again – I’ve been checking my work, and so far, things look good, and I have only 1.5 lace repeats left, so I think and pray and hope that this sock will be done very, very soon.  With all the trouble, it’s a good thing I really like them!

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