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