Monday, March 30, 2009

Green Tailed Jay

Still no knitting to show, since there's still no knitting going on to show (although the bug has now nibbled and I'm feeling the itch), but I did finish a spinning project that's been in the works for a while now.

I'd taken out a three-month membership in the Butterfly Girl Designs spindle and fibre club, and this was the first batt I received. It's in her Green Tailed Jay colourway, a mix of one-third black merino, one-third green merino, and one-third green bamboo. There's more black than appears in the picture below and the colour is a bit off, but it's the best I could do to capture the shine of the bamboo. The spindle I started with was a Ledbetter with a lacewood whorl, .95 oz., although I later switched to a Bossie.

I liked all the colourways I received in this club so much that I actually went back and ordered a double dose of each one that I'd received: Buyer beware. :-)

This was my first time spinning from a batt, and it was quite interesting. Not exactly relaxing, more so ... absorbing. Each fibre drafted out differently and it was difficult to keep the singles even, so much so that I eventually gave up and went for "even enough." The green merino felt what I could consider to be normal, the black merino wanted to be extra floofy, and the bamboo was sticky and slippery and wanted to be very, very skinny. It took a lot of park and draft to play with it. It was kind of like one of those video games that sucks you in and you play and play and play and next thing you know, hours have disappeared.

I ended up with 470 yards from 6 oz., about 400 of which came out to 20 wpi and 70 yards at one end about 25 wpi. I'm not sure what happened there. I know that I drafted some from the end and then switched to spinning from the fold, as I seemed to get a better mix of the fibres that way, but one end of the skein is definitely different and I don't think the difference is all attributable to that.

In the end, I'm happy enough with it, although it is really hard to get a picture that shows the shine and drape from the bamboo. The finished yarn has a nice shimmer and hand to it, but I'm wondering if the colour differences might be too much for lace. A swatch is the only way to tell for sure.

So, where did I leave my knitting needles?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Up and Down

First, the Up.

I participated in the March/April Spin-along in the All Spun Up Ravelry group. Kristin's fibres and colours are always gorgeous, but this time around was a particular favourite of mine -- lovely, soft BFL that looked like this:

Double Yum!
I don't very often knit with worsted weight, but for some reason I've had a goal of spinning it, two-ply. No, I don't know why, and no, it doesn't matter. Spindles generally want to spin thinner yarns, and since my first awkward attempts, I've just gone thinner and thinner. This time, though, I made it thick.

I find spinning thickly to be difficult, so it's fairly uneven, but it averages 12 wpi. Despite my throwing fibre into the twist as quickly as I could, it still came out fairly dense and only 160 yards, but I think it will make wonderfully warm pair of mittens. I love these colours.

I am also amazed at how quickly it went. One evening per ply, and one evening to ply -- a finished yarn in three evenings.

I had meant to take a picture of the yarn on the spindle, but it went so quickly that I kind of forgot, so here's one of the spindle I used. It's a Forrester Dervish. It weighs 1.77 oz. The top whorl is hickory, the bottom whorl is Caribbean walnut, and the shaft is maple. I originally thought it would spin very fast, but it didn't. It was quite steady, though. I only mention it here so that the next time I get a hankering to make worsted weight, I know which tool to use.

So, now for the Down.

I mentioned in my last post that I've been suffering from a lack of knitting mojo, particularly as it relates to socks. Given the amount of sock yarn I have, this is rather distressing. I joined Sock Madness III in the hopes that it would give me the kick in the pants that I need to get back at it. The first pattern came out this week, and I duly cast on. Unfortunately, I'm just not feeling it. I've got the leg three-quarters done but have absolutely no desire to finish it. The inspiration behind the pattern is quite clever -- a quilt block translated into knits and purls. The heel is innovative -- an afterthought heel, but with a flap and gusset. The problem is that I don't think the pattern is translating well and the 32 stitch repeat is too big to read visually. To my eye, the sock just looks .... wrinkled. I obviously haven't knit it yet, but I'm pretty sure the flap will end up too short for my foot, and the gusset is to be decreased over only four rounds so I'm pretty sure it won't fit properly on my high instep. I hate dissing on people who volunteer their time and effort to organize and participate in all these wonderful "alongs," because I do think they are a wonderful thing that help build the knitting community. That is not my intention here. Neither do I mean to denigrate any one particular pattern -- everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and it's a very personal thing. Really -- it's me, not you.

Confession time: I've already got nine "trouble" socks sitting here. Yes, nine - 9! You know, the ones that don't quite work out the way you thought they would, or the yarn didn't work with the pattern, or whatever. You put them aside to cogitate on them or to wait for the right pattern to pop up, start something else in the mean time, and there they sit. If it were one pair, I'd chuck it and call it good, but nine? I can't do that. I'm tired of doing this to myself. It's draining. I have to do something with these, finish them up and move on. With the Sock Madness sock, it feels like I'm just doing it again. Argggh. I also have three singleton socks that I'm quite happy with, but they all involve sitting in front of a chart. That's fine when you're in the mood for that, but when you're not, it's also ... arrrgh.

I'm dropping out of Sock Madness. I apologize if I took someone else's spot and they really wanted to get in. It looks like I was the second-last person out of 200 to sign up, so I don't think there was a waiting line, but just in case you were trying and didn't get in, I'm sorry. I won't do it again. I'll add the yarn from those socks to the pile of "what do I do with it now" stuff, and get back to plodding through the ugly socks I mentioned in my last post. I figured they were so ugly that no pattern would save them, so I'm just knitting them plain. Maybe I'll go rent a couple of movies so I don't have to look at them while I knit them.

Speaking of which, some people wanted proof that they really were ugly. Well, here you go:

See? Ug-ell-ee.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Feeling not productive

I think I jinxed myself by commenting in my last post that I was getting things done. Turns out that working 12-14 hours a day the last couple weeks has the opposite effect. Go figger, eh? Not much time for blogging, and not much time for doing anything worth blogging about.

Still knitting. Working on a pair of socks -- slowly and sporadically. They're UG-LY. I wonder why I keep forcing myself to finish them instead of just chucking them. I'll have to keep that in mind as a topic for another post. Despite my dismal performance last year, I did sign up for Sock Madness again this year, in the hopes that it would revive the mojo, but now I'm afraid it will just bog it down even more. Guess we'll see what happens.

Still spindling. I actually have one yarn that's ready to be plied, and will likely finish another one this evening. Then I just have to ply. More about that when they're done.

So, why am I posting when I have really nothing to say? Well, I received an email the other day that I thought was pretty clever, so I asked for, and received, permission to share with you. So I am. It's a way to do the garterlac dishcloth that doesn't involve a cast-on. The following text and photo are courtesy and copyright of blogless Jane. Thank you, Jane!

I love your garterlac dishcloth. I make lots of dishcloths for gifts, and this has become one of my favorites.

I have found many loose cast-ons that work well but then I thought, why have a cast-on row? Here is a change I tried that is pretty neat:

Wind off enough yarn to knit the three top triangles and don’t break it. (I actually knit 8 rows of 25 stitches each, which will always be enough.) With scrap yarn, crochet a chain of about 32 to 35 stitches.

With the dischcloth yarn, knit an increasing side triangle. Pick up 8 stitches on the chain and knit the square. Skip 3 or 4 stitches on the chain and pick up 8 more for the next square. Skip 3 or 4 stitches on the chain and pick up 8 stitches for the decreasing side triangle.

On this first row, everywhere the pattern says SKP, just K1. Then finish the dishcloth to the end. Turn it around, and using the yarn that was wound off, knit another top row. As you get to each shape, pull out the crochet and pick up the stitches that the chain was holding.

This results in a cloth with 90-degree rotational symmetry. Yes, it’s just a dishcloth; but I am the Anal Knitter.

Thank you for sharing your great patterns.