Sunday, May 29, 2011

One of those days...

I'm having one of those days. Spinning my rainbow wool is helping though because it's going so well. Here's a preview of it:

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Selling Wool

I've joined the Etsy world and set up a shop! Here's a preview of the first round of goods:

I've got two more chunks of wool in progress and another idea in my head. I figure eight is a good number to stock the shop with until I see if people will buy what I'm selling. Please buy it and support my addiction!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm a happy knitter.

My cabling is working! I realized that I forgot to post my hand drawn asymmetrical cabling schematics last post, even though I wrote as if it would be there, so here it is, followed by a picture of the actualized cables. I'm far too excited about it.

In other wooly news, I broke one of my knitting rules. I started a second project before finishing the one already in progress. I don't let myself do that often because I know if I do I won't get anything finished. I blame my pretty handspun, the purple, blue, and white stuff. I placed the pretty skein on my bookshelf and it kept staring at me, begging me to use it. The original plan was for it to grow up into an entrelac scarf for my mother. The colored bits are too short for entrelac to look good with it though. I ended up with tri-colored patches and after very little time spent on it I decided it just wasn't working for me. Ribbet! It got frogged. New plans emerged. Meet my mitten zygote.

Feel free to spend a moment admiring the center pull ball attached to above mitten zygote. It's my first successful center-pull.

As with most of my projects, I'm not really working from a pattern. The thumb gusset seems like it should be the trickiest bit and I'm happy with how it turned out. I'm going to finish off the fingers part with a little decreasing to shape it and then bind it up with the kitchener stitch...something similar for the thumb; we'll see what happens.

I need to keep notes to ensure both mittens match, so I'll try to transform them into a pattern.

On the spinning front, I'm still working on the blue/green BFL. I'm also still dyeing wool. Once I have a few more 4 oz braids ready, I'll set up an Etsy shop. I only have one totally finished, but two more are on my balcony drying. Here's a peek:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Project Updates

I've been cabling almost as long as I've been knitting. I read about it in "The Complete Book of Handicrafts" (the book that taught me to knit) and it clicked how crossing the stitches over one another would create the look I wanted. I never did get the hang of interpreting other people's cable charts or instructions. When designing my own patterns with cabling, I make a spreadsheet and fill in x's wherever I want knit stitches to be and leave the purl spots blank. Whether I'm crossing stitches over or under gets worked out as I go.

This technique works wonderfully for symmetrical cable designs. On one row all of the stitches get crossed over and on the next the get crossed under. Over, under, over, under. I can handle that.

If you recall, I'm working on a knitted stole with an asymmetrical cabled pattern, a diagonal lattice going from the bottom right to the top left. Have you caught on to my problem yet? My technique works beautifully when I have ribs from both sides coming together in a woven pattern. It works significantly less well when the ribs are only coming from one side and weaving over pre-existing ribs.

The moral of this somewhat long winded story? I've pulled out the cabling pattern more times than I care to count on this darn stole. This morning I finally sat down and drew a very precise picture and solved my problem. I needed to alternate over-under in the rows. Here's my lovely picture:

The stole is still not worth sharing photos of. Once the cabling gets far enough along to see that it's working out like I'd like it to, I'll post pictures. Either that, or I'll post photos of something entirely different done with this green yarn. I'm sick of it now, but if this cabling works, my opinion might change.

I've got spinning news too. Do you remember my initial goal for spinning? I wanted to spin enough yarn to make an entrelac scarf. I've got it, spun and dyed. The scarf is after the stole in my knitting queue.

I dyed the yarn after it was spun and photographed the process.

The finished yarn, waiting to be dyed.

I wrapped it around a table so I could spread the dye out.

I soaked it in water and laid it out on a cookie sheet.

I dribbled concentrated, unsweetened Kool-Aid on to the parts I wanted dyed.

I took some time to contemplate what life as a smurf would be like.

The finished product! Dyed and's so pretty!

After I finished off the 210 ids of yarn for the scarf, I started on the blue-green BFL I bough at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm in love with spinning color and have some white roving that soaking right now so it can be dyed. It may get spun by me or it may get stashed away to be sold on Etsy. We'll see. The thought of opening a shop is an enticing one.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

I wish I had a million dollars. My apartment would be overflowing with fiber if that was the case.

My mom and I celebrated Mother's Day by going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. This is one of the many, many reasons she's an amazing mom. She knit a scarf about two years ago and knit on a machine some when I was very small (small enough that I don't remember her ever knitting), but so far as I know that is the extent of her fiber fondness. Nonetheless, she happily accompanied to the festival today and even bought me a funnel cake while we were there.

The funnel cake was pretty fabulous, but that's not what you're here to read about, is it?

I didn't go into the fest with any detailed plans on what I wanted to buy. I knew that I couldn't spend a lot and I knew that I wanted to get some non-wool fibers. Here's what I walked away with:

My first purchase was this gorgeous blue-green roving. It's hand dyed Blue-Faced Leicester from Bullen's Wullens. Out of the three vendors I purchased from, Pat Bullen was the only one without a website. Complete contact info for the three vendors can be found at the bottom of this post. I'm pretty sure that Pat was the woman I spent most of my time interacting with at this booth. I had the conundrum of being sure I wanted to buy roving from her, but not being able to decide which color I wanted. She gave me just the right amount of attention as I stood there staring and stroking the wool. I wish that she did have a website because I would definitely buy from her again.

Next up were two small purchases, silk caps and an ounce of bamboo top. These were both from Shadeyside Fibers. A man was working at this booth and he patiently explained the difference between silk caps and silk hankies to me. Honestly, I'm still not too sure what the difference is other than the shape, but he was very friendly and patient with me.

Finally, I bought this amazing superwash merino from Fiber Optic Yarns. I'm so in love with this colorway, called "Polkadots and Moonbeams", that I'm understanding other people's fear of spinning pretty roving. It's so pretty just as it is...what if I mess it up when I spin it?

Everyone I interacted with was very friendly and helpful. My favorite was the woman who raises corgi and was wearing a shirt with a picture of sheep driving a convertible with a corgi in the backseat and "Corgis are back sheep drivers" across the top.

We checked out the animals and the working sheep dog show too.

The entire festival was wonderful. If you're in the DC metro area, I would definitely suggest it. If you're interested, here's the contact info for the three vendors that I purchased from. All of them were helpful and come with my recommendation.

Bullen's Wullens
Pat Bullen

Shadeyside Fibers LLC
109 Brown Road
Oxford, NY 13830

Fiber Optic Yarns
Kimber Baldwin Designs
PO Box 42782
Cincinnati, OH 45242-0782

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Flower Sweater Done!

I finally finished the flower sweater! I finished up the knitting bit of it on Tuesday and it took until today, Saturday, to sew on the flowers and leaves and to tuck all the loose threads in. I loathe finishing. Here's a photo of it blocking:

Yeah, I just lay sopping wet clumps of wool out on the floor and call it blocking. I straighten out the patterns and when it's a little less sopping wet I'll straighten my hems a bit more, but that's about it. The only measuring I do is to make sure the arms are the same length. The rest I eye ball. Don't judge me lazy blocking. It's not nice and my sweaters still turn out pretty.

I've started my next project and even written something that vaguely resembles a pattern. Here it is:

CO 252 (size 8 needles)
knit 31 rows
knit body of shawl
knit 10 rows stockinette
k4, k2 tog
k5 rows
k3, k2 tog
k5 rows
k2, k2tog
k 8 rows
Bind off.

Know what it is? It's a tubular shawl/wrap/thing inspired by the Totally Tubular Boob Tube designed by Stefanie Japel and published in Stitch 'n Bitch Nation. Here's another photo, one of the book and the started project:

I'm planning for more curled hem lines and I'm thinking the body of the top will be mostly double knit with asymmetrical lattice cabling going on a diagonal from the right hip to the left shoulder on the front. I haven't entirely decided yet though.

The yarn is merino wool that was donated to me to make something for the holiday craft sale that I do so much of my knitting for. My next project for myself will probably be a dark brown cardigan with wide lattice cabling on the back and some other sort of cabling on the front and arms. I haven't worked out the details yet. I'm waiting for Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool to go on sale at the local big box craft store. I'll need two skeins for my project, so if I can get on sale it'll be under twelve buck total, which would be pretty awesome.

I'm still spinning my big box of wool up. I'm slowly adding to the wool wrapped around one of my kitchen chairs. At last count it was around 100 yds. Once I have two hundred I'll set and dye it. I have two packets of Kool-Aid waiting to meet my yarn and turn it into a blue/purple varegated lump of wooly love. If it turns out, it'll become an entrelac scarf for my mother. Shhh...don't tell her.

Here's a close up of my freshly spun wool:

It's getting a lot more even, which I'm attributing to a longer staple length and splitting the roving into eighths instead of fourths. The extra split means less drafting, which I suck at.

In mostly unrelated news (I'm feeling chatty), I baked my first loaf of sour dough bread today. I made the start myself and I think it needed to mature a bit more. The bread has an awesome sourdough flavor, but didn't rise quite enough.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


My wool from Sheep Shed Studio came today! Three pounds of white merino roving. I picked it up around noon and managed to make it home without opening the box because I thought it would be a good picture for this blog. You know, the box waiting to be opened. It isn't. Here is what three pounds of wool looks like:

It's gorgeous and I immediately buried my face in it. That's the natural reaction to wool, right? I was vibrating with excitement and have already spun up about 150 feet of it in a nice, neat worsted weight single. I don't know if it's my practice with spinning plastic or the slightly longer staple length (probably the latter), but I feel like it's been significantly easier to spin this batch of wool evenly than my first batch, which was Shetland. The fact that it was my first batch probably has something to do with it too.

I have two packets of Kool-Aid waiting to dye this yarn blue and purple once there's enough of it for a scarf.

The skirt is coming along well, but I think it will be too short for conservative dressing little me to wear on Easter Sunday. Also, that lovely silky thread I wrote about...turns out that thread loves to tangle itself up on the bobbin. My machine winds bobbins pretty loosely anyways, so that combined with the lack of friction in this thread makes bobbins go nutty. I have a firm belief that stress relieving activities shouldn't be exceedingly stressful. Crazy belief, right? Right now the tangling bobbin thread (three bobbins worth so far!) is more stressful than stress relieving, so I'm taking a break. It's going to be a fab skirt though, great for going out. All that's left is the bottom hem, so once I decide what to do with the thread, it'll be a quick finish.

I'm off to visit my dear little two year old niece for Easter, which means very little crafting until next week. Hope you have a grand holiday weekend!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Easter Skirt

This is a sewing-heavy post. If you are a die hard yarny and refuse to read about other needle crafts, skip down to the last two paragraphs.

It occurred to me this afternoon that I don't have a thing to wear to Easter Mass. Being the crafty gal that I am, the obvious solution was a trip to the fabric store to buy materials for a new skirt.

Before I get too far into this post, let me warn you that I don't like. I see yarn or fabric and I get a picture in my mind of what I want the end product to look like. I find it frustrating if I can't find the appropriate pattern to make that mental picture come to life. I also get frustrated following the pattern. They either end up too easy to the point that it feels like monkey work or they're ridiculously difficult and I end up not having a clue what the designer wants me to do. Designing my own patterns give me a creative outlet for my problem solving skills. Crafting becomes a puzzle that is a joy to solve.

So, back to my skirt. I headed off to the fabric store with the thought of an A-line skirt that falls beneath the knee and has a side closure done with neat row of bra-snap type clips and possibly some decorative buttons. I figured it would be made out of cotton and have a built in slip. All of this is fairly flexible though.

The fabric store, of course, has all sorts of wonderful fabrics that make me wonder if I should give up looking for a traditional job and become a full time seamstress. The answer to that wondering is no, I shouldn't. I can sew, but I'm over casual about silly things like totally even hemlines. Also, I like health insurance.

I meandered around the fabric store for even longer than I'm meandering about topics in this post and then I saw it. You've had those moments, right? You are sure what you're looking for, but then, there, the one thing that you need to make your life complete and it's on sale! For me, today at least, that one thing was hot pink brocade with little gold flowers. It was gorgeous and entirely impractical. Love at first sight. Plus, I wouldn't need to worry about a slip! Life was good.

I picked out the appropriate notions, including some wonderfully silky thread, button snaps, and cute little gold buttons and was on my way after practically arm wrestling the fabric cutting attendant to get just a snip cut off of the corner of my (already bought) fabric so I could bring it into the craft store down the road to match necklace making supplies. I basically wanted a postage stamp sized swatch that I could stick in my pocket so I didn't get clashing shades of pink. You would have thought I had asked her to scribble all over my pretty, pretty fabric with a permanent marker the way she acted though.

Long story short, here's my pretty, pretty fabric, the gold buttons, and the necklace I made to go with it.

Remember when I said that I don't like patterns? It's okay if you've forgotten. It was ages ago. There's one significant problem with being a pattern renegade. Patterns have nice, neat supply lists. These are beautiful things for people like me who have the tendency to be ditzy when they're overcome by beautiful pink brocade at fifty percent off. I only got a yard of fabric. Being a lazy person who cuts out two pieces using the fold to make them symmetric means I needed two yards. Whoops.

I think I'm making it work though. I cut down the factory fold and then cut the two rectangles that produced down the diagonal. This left me with four triangles which I used to make panels. The skirt will fall a little above the knee instead of below, but whatever, I'm not a nun-in-training anymore so that isn't a huge deal. It does mean that my decorative buttons would fall on a funny place, mid left butt cheek, but I have thoughts for putting them on a leather band as a necklace. We'll see.

In knitting news, since this is a knitting blog, the flower sweater is coming along. I'm done with the first sleeve and have five or six inches of the second one done. I'm visiting family over Easter and that will either provide me with a whole lot of time to knit or very little.

My white wool for spinning has been shipped and is due to arrive on Tuesday. I keep checking the shipment tracking page, but it hasn't made the shipping go any faster yet. Don't worry, I'm not giving up...I'm still checking it obsessively.

Monday, April 11, 2011

SBB is gone!

I've finished the body and have started on the first sleeve!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sweater Body Boredom

I'm blaming my unpacking, which is almost done (!!!), on how slowly the flower sweater is going. I've been on a sweater kick lately. I've knitted six sweaters since Thanksgiving. They inspired the name of this blog. I've been running from my anxiety by knitting sweaters. So far, it has been working. So long as my needles are moving, the anxiety isn't there.

But now I'm stuck. I don't know what it is, but I have no interest in knitting this sweater. It's supposed to be an off white scoop neck sweater with two flowers intertwining on the left hand side. I'm imagining loose sleeves and rolled hems. It isn't a hard sweater, which could be the problem. More likely is that my mind is going in so many different directions that I've been having trouble sitting still long enough to do anything substantial with it.

A mock up of the flowers.

The apartment is more or less unpacked. I have a phone again so I can't start applying for jobs again. Things should be settling down a bit. In the mean time, I'm doing what I can to fight sweater body boredom. Sweater body boredom, or SBB, is when you're knitting the body of a sweater and just continuing in pattern until the body is the length of under arm to waistline. After five or so inches, its harder to see progress. It feels like you're knitting and knitting and nothing is getting done.

There is a ridiculously simple solution for SBB: stitch markers. I slip a coiled stitch marker onto the yarn at the beginning of the day and knit it into the sweater. As the day goes on, I can see more easily the progress I've made. Since it's a coiled stitch marker, it's easy to remove for repeating the process the next day. This sounds silly, but I swear it works if you're a competitive person like me. I like to knit more today than I did yesterday and this helps me with the goal.

Here's the progress so far.

The reusable bag from spun plastic has been temporarily set aside until I accumulate more bags to spin. So far I've gone through ten and it's about a third of the size that I want it.

I ordered three pounds of white roving from Sheep Shed Studio on Monday or Tuesday. I'm still waiting on it and think it would probably be a good thing for the progress of the flower sweater if it doesn't come until next week.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Double Twisted Stitches

A fellow knitter from wanted to know how to do the double twisted knit and purl stitches from the "Vampire Knits" book. She posted instructions and here is my best guess on how to do them.

Google books shows the full instructions from the book. They weren't specific enough for my taste though. Anyone else have a better guess at what the intended result is?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Spinning so much I'm dizzy.

I finished up my half pound of brown roving last Friday and I've ordered 3lb of white merino. I'm planning on spinning and then dying it. Right now I still break my roving a lot when I draft, so I think that will be a better order for me than the inverse. Here are pics of the hat that some of my yarn turned into and the ball that was left over. I'm think some fingerless gloves will be good for the remainder yarn.

I had the thought that it would be neat if I could turn disposable plastic bags into a reusable shopping bag, so I've been working on spinning plastic bags.

Bags on the spindle, single ply.

Ball of bags, single ply.

Plied bags.

To spin them, I folded each bag in half vertically until they were about two inches wide. Then I sliced off the handles and bottom. Keeping the bag folded (it's waaaay easier to cut that way), I cut it horizontally into strips about an inch wide. After I unfolded the strips I had about twelve loops per bag which I joined with slip knots. Once they were joined, I spun it as normal.

As I was spinning I learned a few things. The smaller and tighter I was able to make the slip knots, the less visible the were in the final product. Also, the twist doesn't travel up plastic near as well as they travel up wool. To compensate, I rolled the plastic between my thumb and my fore finger to work the twist up. Rolling the plastic also helped where there were bumps from the seams in the bags, slip knots, and general slubbiness.

I'm still working on the flower sweater. Spinning has taken the front seat for now, but between when I finish my plastic bag and when my next batch of wool comes I hope to get some work done on the sweater. I am currently unemployed and don't have a telephone, which is needed to gain employment. All of this means more time for crafting. As much as I love crafting though, I think I would still love employment more. Anyone want to hire a fiber obsessed mathematician?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I just finished another 22 yards of usable yarn! My spinning is definitely getting more consistent.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Apartment, New Spindle, New Wool

I've started moving out of the monastery and into an apartment (still no job yet...anyone in Northern VA want to hire a mathematician?) and, as promised, I have gotten myself a drop spindle.

On Monday evening I went out to Alexandria to visit Fibre Space. I almost died at least three times due to insane traffic and got horribly lost due to bad, bad Google Maps directions, but it was worth it. A sweet miniature poodle named Bella greeted me in the wool room with lots of love and kisses on my nose and a wonderful woman named Kel helped me pick out wool and a spindle.

I picked the beginners top spindle, which is unremarkable except for the fact that the spindle is a octagon, and 8 oz of gorgeous brown Shetland roving. I spent the entire drive home fondling the wool with one hand. Oddly enough, there were no near death experiences on the way home, just an excessive amount of traffic. Wool must be good for my driving.

My pretty, pretty roving.

Split roving with less flash...not sure why about the less flash bit.

I managed about ten yards last night and broke it off so that I could practice setting the twist. This morning it was dry, so I wound it into a cute little bundle. It's horribly inconsistent and wouldn't be good to work with (plus, there's very little of it), so it is living on a bookshelf in my new apartment as a keep sake.

I dare you to tell me my yarn isn't adorable.

I managed another 28 yards or so this evening before the spindle filled up. It's slightly more consistent and I'm hoping to get enough from this batch of wool to make a hat.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sock Design

I finished the gray sweater yesterday and it is in the laundry room drying. I have some mid-finishing photos that I took on the fly. I'm kind of in awe of the's just so big. It was supposed to be big, don't get me wrong, I am just in awe that I managed to create it and in two-and-a-half weeks as well! Not having a job has been a very good thing for my knitting needles. Unfortunately, it's not been a good thing for just about every other aspect of my life.

Detail of the cabling.

The sweater! How'd it get so big?

I started another sweater last night and then restarted it this morning after I realized I had twisted it and was knitting a mobius strip. I had only gotten an inch or so done, so it was too big of a deal to frog it.

I've managed at least six sweaters since November and decided this afternoon that it was time for a change of pace. While browsing knitpicks, I found this yarn and fell in love. Upon seeing it, I started imaging deep blue socks with shooting stars done in the lollipop color.

I've knitted approximately 2.75 socks in my life. The three quarters of a sock was a misshapen mess that I created in high school. It's probably still on the needles somewhere. The other almost two socks are socks that I knitted last fall or early winter. I just need to bind off the toes of the second sock. Actually, I probably need to reknit a round of the toes to fix where the needles have fallen off while being jostled about from place to place and stitches have been dropped before I close up the toes.

I don't think the fact that I'm a ridiculously inexperienced sock knitter should stop me from conceiving my own sock designs though. has an amazing sock tutorial and I used it to knit a miniature sock with some scrap yarn. That was easy enough, so now I'm knitting some slippers with more leftover yarn. The slippers are a little trickier because I don't want them to have a top until I get down to the toes. We'll see how that goes. For now I've knitted both heels and gussets; now I'm working on the foots. I'm doing them at the same time using a long circular so that they'll be the same length. I'll figure out the toes when I get there.

Itty-bitty sock.


As a side note, I'm always amazed at the difference between using a speed light and a pop-up flash. I used the pop-up yesterday for the photos of the gray sweater. I pulled out the speed light this evening for the socks. The difference is really substantial. Moral of the story: if you spend all that money on a dSLR, you might as well add in another hundred bucks or so to get a proper flash. Also, learn how to use said flash!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

daydreaming about wool

I'm preparing to move out of the monastery fairly soon. The exact date hasn't been set yet, but it's ever looming on the horizon. When I leave, I'll have a credit card of my own again, which means I can more easily make online purchases. I'll have to be pretty frugal until I get a job (translation: no ipad 2 for me yet), but I've given myself permission to get a drop spindle and some fiber. I'm hoping that the learning process will take enough time for me to get a job before I need more wool.

I know I'm getting ahead of myself, but I already have a knitting project picked out for my first nice skein of yarn. I want to make another entrelac scarf. I made one for myself this past winter and it was a quick and fun knit. There's so much pretty, pretty hand dyed wool for sale out there and I'm envisioning some luxuriously colored fiber dripping off my finger tips and onto my needles. Yes, yes, I know that it will probably be a while before I'm able to spin consistent and even yarn, but a girl can dream, right? Don't rain on my parade yet.

The scarf, if it ever is created, will be for the holiday bizarre. It's an interesting challenge coming up with projects that balance the resources of time and money that go into them with how much a perspective customer would actually pay for them. Sweaters seem to be a safe bet and I'm hoping that an entrelac scarf with hand spun wool will be one too.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A New Start, A New Blog

How's this for a new story? I'm moving out of a monastery. I was becoming a nun and now I'm not. Have you heard that one before?

There are, of course, many more details to that particular story, but it isn't what this blog is about. This blog is about my compulsive knitting habit. Knitting is my stress reliever of choice and life's been stressful lately, so here I am, churning out sweaters like mad. Thankfully, the nuns hold an annual craft sale, so the fact that I'm making more sweaters than I have use for isn't a problem.

My current obsession is learning sweater design based off this template. Right now I'm working of a grey men's sweater with this design on the front:

It will most likely end up as a turtle neck sweater. The yarn is very soft and I think would be nice even against sensitive skin like that on one's neck.

I'm using Stitch Nation's Bamboo Ewe blend in Mercury. It's a lovely, lovely blend to work with. I've done a couple sweater with SN's Full o' Sheep and it's a joy to knit with, but it pills like nobody's business. I still love knitting with it; one just needs a sweater comb handy after wearing a piece made out it. Anywho, I have high hopes for the Bamboo Ewe blend and want to eventually use it to knit this sweater, probably in Twilight.