Monday, January 29, 2007

Entrelac Scarf and a "what do I do now!" project.

Very slow knitting week as I had the "Stupid Cold." The Stupid part refers to my thinking capacity; this cold made me so dumb that I couldn't keep a knitting pattern straight that only required me to count to seven. Had to put that project aside until Friday when my IQ rose several dozen points.

I blocked the Entrelac Scarf made in Rowan Tapestry.

I used my Blocking Wires I received for Christmas; what a nice straight edge it made. Don't think I have enough pins to have made such a straight line without using these wires. They're a pain to thread through damp limp knitting but now that I see the finished project I'm a believer. (Why did that old Monkey's song just pop into my head?)

This scarf started out as the demonstration piece for the Entrelac Class I teach. The pattern's my own. It took four balls of Rowan Tapestry.

Here's a close up. Tapestry was a delight to work with; my first experience with Rowan Yarn. No splitting, NO KNOTS and no thick and thin spots. Rowan Yarn is expensive but if it's all this nice I would say it's well worth it's cost. Now if Rowan can produce such a consistent yarn why can't other companies? Does Rowan have a trade secret or something that other yarn companies don't?

Here's a picture of my current problem child.

It's not the camera angle the right glove is much smaller than the left. These fingerless mitts are the third pair I've made. The other two pairs matched; what happened to this last glove? I used the same needles and followed the same pattern but obviously something didn't work. The only mistake I can find is that I did skip (who knows how or why) two rounds between the top of the cuff and the beginning of the thumb gusset. That doesn't explain why the gloves are smaller around and over an inch shorter than the left mitten. I have enough yarn to make another mitten but I wish I know which size will come off the needles next!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

More Mittens and another Dishcloth

It's been a busy week in my neighborhood. I attended TNNA on Monday. My first visit; I found it a great education in the marketing of yarn. There were introductions to yarns I'd never heard of before, fondling of yarn I'd only drooled over in print and on-line plus reunions with old friends that had had color make-overs. My major surprise at TNNA was at the number of Needlepoint Distributors! By square footage it had to be half the show. I found this astounding as here in San Diego of the three needlepoint shops I know of two have converted over to knitting yarn as their major inventory item. Who is doing all this needlepoint?

And I have to mention that next door to TNNA there were over 7,000 Mary Kay representatives attending their own conference. They were all wearing the same all black two piece outfit. It was like watching a swarm of ants; they were everywhere. I felt extremely colorful in my red boiled wool jacket. Many of them were posing in front of the white Mary Kay Cadillacs as I walked by; with all that black and white, my red jacket should be the focal point in all their pictures! They'll wonder, who is that lady in the red; where did she come from?

Tuesday I drove up to Laguna Beach to visit with my cousin that was here from Colorado. We met at the yarn shop in town; after my needlepoint observations from the day before imagine my shock to walk into that Yarn Shop to find the back half of the building was dedicated to (wait for it...) NEEDLEPOINT. While we were in the shop, maybe two and a half hours, there were seven other customers; all were there for yarn. Not one for needlepoint - I rest my case.

My cousin and I get together several times a year when she travels to California; each visit we pick a different Yarn Shop to meet. We visit, we shop and we sit and pull out current projects to share. Imagine my surprise when my cousin pulls out four pairs of the exact same fingerless mittens (see previous posting) I've been making! We hadn't discussed it before hand, although she had emailed me a while back asking if I had ever made any and what pattern I'd used. At that time the only pattern I'd used hadn't worked out well; the palm had been way too narrow.

I had my red ones and another pair made out of Cascade Yarns Baby Alpaca Chunky to show her.
This pair now belongs to oldest Daughter who is modeling them here. (I managed to snap this picture seconds before she left with them. It's been that cold here in lately!)

My cousin and I both bought the same poison green yarn to make another pair. Mine are very nearly done.

I've also finished another dishcloth. This one is Snow White from Harvest Moon Designs.

And I want to show you what I have to go through to keep my small black cat from sleeping on this dishcloth while I was blocking it. I grabbed everything within reach to build this barrier; it worked. Silly Cat!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Cabled Fingerless Mittens

I've been making fingerless gloves; finally found a pattern that fits perfectly plus they're fun to knit. The pattern is from Pretending Sanity

They're like eating potato chips you can't stop knitting 'em! On size 8 needles in Chunky yarn they're a quick knit.

This pair is make in Panache from Knit Picks. Cuddly soft in Alapca, Cashmere, Silk and Merino. (I bought 2 skeins, if I had bought a third plus left overs from the first pair I'd have enough yarn to make a whole second pair. That would be two pair for $15USD minus shipping costs.)

I only made one change to the pattern, I knit all the ribbing on one size smaller needles. See the ribbing on the left wrist is looser than on the right? Right hand ribbing was done on size 7 DPNs.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Working on UFOs

1/10/07 Ed. Note: For the non-knitters or quilters a UFO is an UnFinished Object.

Out in Blogland it seems that everyone is going on a Yarn Diet or resolving to finish UFOs; as I said I'm not one for formal New Year's resolutions but I thought I could try and finish just one single UFO. I have a Summer Braids sweater that I had to stop working on when I had that nerve problem in my left arm; acupuncture stopped the pain so I've no further excuses from getting back to work on the sweater.

I previously had it up to where you divide for the L & R fronts, sleeves and back. I spent an hour yesterday following the "Set up Armholes" instructions. Nothing unusual there except for the phony side seams (I'd never heard of such a thing. It would have been much easier doing a slipped stitch every third row.) Here's a close up:

Really just time consuming, not difficult. You drop the designated stitch all the way to the bottom of the work, right down to the cast-on. Then using a crochet hook you pick the stitches back up alternating picking up two yarn bars then one bar. It gives you an infinitesimally larger knit stitch than the rest of the work. Really not worth the effort as far as I can see. Maybe once the sweater is blocked you'll be able to see more of the stitch size difference.

And just because I had the camera out here's a picture of the Braid section at the center back.

Started the UFO finishing by setting the twist in some of my Handspun. It's been so dry from the Santa Ana weather pattern that it all dried in one day; that's very unusual for where I live.

Right to left: green is my sock yarn, Blue is some fiber that I carded with my drum carder early last year a mix of lots of different fibers that I had around, The salmon color is some 50/50 Merino Tencel that I bought at the Torrance Fiber Fest last Fall and what appears to be gray but is really a silver, purple with touches of green is from Crosspatch Creations. A mix of Corriedale Wool, tussah silk, Bombyx silk and rayon. The hardest part, for me, is deciding what to make with my handspun.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Handspun Sock Yarn - My First

Wednesday I started my third year of spinning classes. When I started attending these classes my thinking was that I was only there to learn about yarn; how it's made, the differences in fibers and what yarn is good for making certain items. I had no intention of becoming a Spinner and definitely didn't intend to purchase a wheel.

Watching lots of other people spin is mesmerizing! Took four classes, one month, to hook me. One very nice woman lent me a castle type wheel she wasn't using - she had two others at home. (I couldn't imagine owning three spinning wheels!) I practiced and practiced and purchased my own wheel two months later. And I've been spinning ever since.

Not to say I've been turning out quality product, just having fun. Once I could consistently keep the wheel spinning and the fiber twisting I set myself the goal of making a fingering sock yarn at some distant time in the future. We worked on it in class and I kept trying but I never could make a single fine enough or smooth enough. Socks prove that old "Princess and the Pea" thing; as you walk the soles of your feet can feel the smallest bump.

Jumping ahead two years I was given just under two ounces of fine merino that I hand dyed. The fiber dyed so nicely I set out to try spinning very fine singles - one more try at sock yarn. I'm still not sure if it was my skill or the fiber but I was easily spinning consistently fine/thread singles. I Navaho ply it. (That method shows off your color runs and gives you a 3 ply yarn.)

Here's the result - 1.7 ounces/138 yards:

I'm very pleased with the colors too.