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?