Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 R.I.P.

2007 R.I.P.
Buh-bye

1. Secret of the Stole, 2. Mystery Stole 3, 3. Tangled Yoke Cardi

2007 Spinning FO’s

I had my first spinning lesson in March 2007. Here are some skeins since then. Some of the most fun knitting this year has been with my own handspun yarn!

2007 Spinning FO's

1. My First Tiny Skein, 2. Spinning Progress March 12, 3. Spinning March18,
4. Spinning March 19, 5. Spinning April 7, 6. Spinning April 26-1,
7. Spin April 26-2, 8. Kid Hollow mohair, 9. Spinning April 26-3,
10. Spinning April 26-4, 11. BFL Willow, 12. Inspiration,
13. Merino/Silk/Angora, 14. Corriedale Class skein, 15. Rambouillet,
16. Merino-Tencel, 17. Falkland Thundercloud, 18. Antigua BFL,
19. Cormo DK, 20. Chocalpaca, 21. Goblin Eyes

2007 Knitting FO’s

For my first year-end as a blogger, here's a quick look back at some finished projects. There were a few items at the very beginning of the year that didn't get their picture taken. And knitting production was hampered by my falling down the spinning rabbit hole.

2007 FO's

1. Annemor #4, 2. Husband Mitts, 3. Forest Canopy Shawl
4. Cleite Shawl, 5. Cherry Garcia and wristies, 6. Scarf with Weldons Border
7. Argosy Scarf, 8. Charade Socks, 9. Springgrass Socks
10. Amble Socks, 11. One Skein Shawl, 12. Wisteria Scarf
13. Jaywalkers, 14. Monkey Socks, 15. Mad Cow Socks
16. Forever Husband Socks, 17. LacyLeaves Pi, 18. Swallowtail Shawl

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bird in Hand

Bird in Hand - Back started
Back of hand and thumb gusset

I have jumped on the mitten bandwagon! No sooner had I finished my Black Dog mitts, than with Margene as my inspiration, I cast on for the very popular Bird in Hand mittens designed by Kate Gilbert.

Bird in Hand - Palm started
With a little flower on the palm

Just a couple of quick pics for you today. More on how they are different to knit than the Selbuvotter soon.

Bird in Hand - Xmas lites

Merry Mittens Everyone!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Selbuvotter - Annemor #4

Terri Shea’s Selbuvotter is a wonderful resource. After detailing the history of a particular style of Norwegian mitten, which is unique in having an origin with one woman’s work (Marit Guldseth Emstad), Terri has produced modern patterns using the traditional motifs and style which evolved during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The book contains patterns for mittens and gloves in various yarn weights and in sizes for a child, woman, and man. The motifs range from a stunning array of starkly geometric or gracefully curved snowflakes, to Art Deco lilies. And don’t forget the moose, reindeer, ravens, and dogs!

Inspired by my sister’s very large black dog Grindley, who will have to be an honorary Norwegian elkhound this winter, this is Annemor #4.

Annemor #4 - Done

The mittens are knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, on Addi US2/3mm circs. I like to knit with the main color (MC) in my right hand and contrast color (CC) in the left, throwing and picking to follow the charts. There’s a good discussion of color dominance related to which color to hold in which hand in stranded knitting at nonaKnits.

Annemor #4 - Palms

Ultra Alpaca is very versatile and I’ve knit it at 6+ to the inch, all the way up to typical worsted gauge. At 50/50 wool/alpaca, it has a lot of resilience, more like its wool half than its alpaca half. I have found that the gauge relaxes just a bit with a soak, so if you are using it, wash your swatch!

The yarn knits up nice and soft, but with good stitch definition. Given that the entire hand is stranded, and so, double thick with stitches and carried yarn, the mittens are nice and warm. I would consider knitting these a little looser and fulling slightly for more wind resistance, and might experiment with that on a future pair. With use, the fabric develops some halo, but not enough to obscure the colorwork.

Annemor #4 - Thumbs

I used a strand of waste yarn rather than setting the thumb stitches aside, casting on new stitches, and picking up later for the inside of the thumb. I also made the effort to match the stitch pattern on the inside to the rest of the palm.

Details:

Pattern: Selbuvotter, Annemor #4. There are errata for several patterns, HERE.

Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, 1 skein each Black and Light Green Heather, worsted wt. I used about 140yds of green (MC) and less than 100yds of black (CC).

Needles: US2/3.0mm, Addi Turbo circulars

Gauge: 6.5 stitches/inch

Started: December 9, 2007

Completed: December 19, 2007

Finished Size: 8.5” hand x 12” long

Annemor #4

Friday, December 14, 2007

Arf !

Dog Mitt One - Back

Back

Dog Mitt One - Palm
Palm

Dog Mitt One - Thumb
Thumb

Dog Mitt One - Inside Thumb
Inside Thumb

Selbuvotter, Annemor #4. Details later. Mitten #2 is on the needles. Time’s running out.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Forest Canopy Shawl FO and a new WIP already

The Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl in handspun BFL is done!

Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl Done

Susan Lawrence’s pattern would be an ideal beginner lace project. The pattern is clearly written, gives complete instructions along with explanations of why things are done, includes both charts and written directions, has a small easily memorized repeat, and introduces several lace techniques. Best of all for new lace knitters, the pattern is written for sport weight yarn. For many who are new to lacy knitting, one of the most difficult things is to get used to very thin yarn on what seem like way too big needles. Knit in finer or heavier yarn, one would simply adjust needle size and number of repeats for as small or large a shawl as you wish, or have yarn for. So, another pattern good for skeins of handspun.

Forest Canopy Shawl Scallops
Beech trees make great shawl models

The shawl is knit from the center neck down, using a simple cast on, and four YO increases every right side row to create the triangle shape. The leaf lace pattern is composed simply of Knit, YO, and SSK, and the WS rows are plain purl. I like to use stitch markers on complex lace patterns, but Susan’s instructions were correct. This lace is so easy to read, markers really aren’t needed, and I think this would be a good pattern to help beginners learn to “read their knitting”.

Forest Canopy Shawl Texture

More experienced lace knitters will find this pattern is practically like taking a vacation. And I mean that in a good way. It’s very relaxing and knits up quickly. For this project, I wanted to knit something in a simple, regular pattern so it wouldn’t compete with the striping I knew was going to occur with this handspun, and I think it worked out well

Forest Canopy Shawl Edge Detail

Knit as written, the shawl looked like it would be about the size stated in the pattern. But I knit a couple of extra repeats of the main chart for just a few extra inches in width and length. Since I’m planning to give this to a friend who is very tall, it’s still going to be a nice shoulder size. I made no other modifications. Though if I were to knit this again, in a solid color yarn, I would like to put some beads at the points of the scalloped edge.

The BFL has knit up very soft and warm, with just the teeniest bit of a halo. The fiber from Sakina Needles was great fun to spin, and has made a nice cozy shawl. I’m hoping my friend will see this a bright fun everyday scarf rather than some delicate dressy piece that languishes in a closet somewhere. Fortunately I have enough of the handspun left over to make myself some wristies. I’ve also got another 4oz of the fiber, but I’d like to spin that into a Navajo-plied 3-ply to maintain the long bands of color from roving to finished yarn.

Forest Canopy Shawl Blocking

Because of the small size, I blocked the shawl with blocking wires along the top edge, down the center “spine”, and through the points. The finished size is just right to sit comfortably and stay on the shoulders without a lot of fiddling.

Forest Canopy Shawl Blocking detail
Blocking Detail


Details:

Pattern: Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl, by Susan Pierce Lawrence
Yarn: Handspun BFL, Antigua colorway, fingering wt, approx 375 yds
Needles: US5/3.75mm, KnitPicks Options circs
Gauge: n/a
Started: Late-September 2007
Completed: 12/9/2007, and it only took that long because I set this aside for about six weeks
Finished Size: 56”w x 26”

All in all, another quick fun knit! Now, I’m embracing my inner hummingbird, and making the most of my sort attention span with some very entertaining small projects. The sweaters are languishing, unloved right now. But, Oh yes, I’ve already started something else.

I received my copy of Terri Shea’s Selbuvotter last week, and it’s wonderful! I’m going to have to start wearing mittens, I tell you, since I want to knit so many of these. Flipping through the patterns, I found one that immediately made me think of this guy

Grindley
My Sister's dog Grindley on the ferry in Everglades City, FL

With Plenty of Ultra Alpaca in the stash, I started this last night

Dog Mittens RH started
Selbuvotter, Annemor #4

My sister is getting mittens for Xmas.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Cleite Shawl Done!

Cleite Shawl Done

I started spinning last Friday night and finished knitting this Friday night. A new land speed record!

The Yarn

Spun from the November fiber in Wooly Wonka’s Exotic Fiber club, a lovely soft chocolate alpaca, a 2-ply ranging from heavy laceweight to fingering weight. Yes, I could have spun more evenly, but I don’t regret it for a second, I wanted to spin something and I wanted to finish it Now!

Cleite Shawl - running out of yarn
After the third time through Chart 2, I started to worry

I did come up a little bit short on yardage compared to the pattern specs which were for a much thinner laceweight. As a loose knitter though, on the same US3’s called for, I ended up with a nice size shoulder shawl, just a bit larger than Mim’s.

The Pattern

The Cleite Shawl pattern is currently only released to the fiber club. Keep an eye on MimKnits as she posted that she’s working on a full size version for her pattern shop.

Cleite - Texture

The shawl is a triangular shape, worked from the center-neck down. The lace patterns form what look like feathers or spear-heads – appropriate I suppose for the Amazon Cleite’s journey to the Trojan War. Though it looks fairly complex, the lace was quite straightforward, with an easy repeat across each row that had a nice regular quality. So, it knit up fast. Don’t let my knitting friends tell you otherwise, I am really not a fast knitter. I have to take lots of breaks for my hand and arm, but I do have stubborn determination.

Cleite - Blocking
Wet blocked, using blocking wires on snap-together foam flooring blocks

Help with blocking the Cleite Shawl
As soon as the pins came out, Ivy offered to help

As Miriam says in the pattern instructions, the scalloped edge is formed by the decreases and YO’s in the last rows so that a knitted on edging is not required. She also notes it is perfect for handspun as you can bind off when you run out of yarn. Which I did. I was only six rows short of finishing the last repeat of the second chart, so I had made it past the last decreases for the spear tips, with enough rows of eyelets after to get a nice pointy finished edge. Knit again in a finer yarn, I would love to place some beads at each of the points before binding off.

Cleite - scalloped edge detail

The Shawl

Sturdy yet soft. Lacy yet warm. Scarf size for a little coziness at the neck and shoulders.

Cleite - Edge detail

Details

Yarn: Handspun alpaca from Wooly Wonka, 2-ply lace to fingering weight, 286+ yards, spun on the Lendrum DT, fast flyer
Needles: Addi Lace, US3/3.25mm
Pattern: Cleite Shawl, MimKnits
Started: November 23, 2007
Completed: November 30, 2007
Finished Size: 46” across, 22” deep


Thank You Anne and Miriam!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Spirits

In the spirit of the impending season, I want to share a recipe that I’ve often made for the holiday dinner. There’s still time, since this is best mummified in cheesecloth and soaked in liquor for a few weeks.

Many years ago (I think I was halfway through college), I found an old recipe clipped from the newspaper in one of my Mother’s cookbooks from her days as a new housewife in the late 1950’s. The faded newsprint had a note, in my Kentucky grandmother’s handwriting “This is the cake you all enjoyed so much at Xmas last year.” It’s dated 1964.

Over the years I have fiddled with the ingredients a bit and the result follows. But with important notes first.

Use the best bourbon you can! This is no time to scrimp. You only need a small bottle. Get the good stuff. I’ve had decent results with Old Grandad. And, you can try other liquors as well. I’ve tried Irish whiskey, and I think a dark rum like some Mount Gay or Meyers could be quite tasty too (with some grated coconut, mmm).

The original recipe was written as more of a traditional “fruit cake”. Nothing gives me the shivers quite like those icky colored candied “fruit” bits. If you like them, I’m very sorry, and you can have my share. The point was, I’ve most often made this with golden raisins alone. The black raisins seem to scorch more easily, and the golden have a lighter flavor. I’ve also used dried cranberries, and I think you could make a nice fruity cake with dried cherries, apricots, currants, and maybe dates included.

And how does this relate to knitting? It’s going to be baking for a good long time. So get some knitting done while you wait!

Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Cake

Makes one cake
Preheat oven to 250°

2 cups sifted flour

2 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp nutmeg (also cinnamon, mace, allspice, and cloves if you wish)

2 cups brown sugar

1 cup butter (2 sticks)

6 eggs, separated

1 cup bourbon

1 pound coarsely chopped pecans

1 pound golden raisins


Grease bottom and sides of a 10” angel food cake pan or two 8” springform pans, and line bottoms with greased brown paper. (A recipe of its time – I certainly think you could use parchment paper instead)

Mix 2 Tbsp of flour with nuts and raisins and set aside.

Sift remaining flour with baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Cream butter and sugar. Thoroughly beat in one egg yolk at a time. Beat in sifted ingredients alternately with bourbon. Beat until smooth.

Stir in pecans and raisins.

Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into batter.

Turn into prepared pan. Bake at 250° - about four hours for angel food cake pan, or about 2-1/2 to 3 hours for springform pans - until cake tester comes out clean and top springs back. Place a shallow pan of water in oven for first 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours of baking.

Cool 30 minutes on a rack. Turn out and remove paper. Cool completely.

Store wrapped in bourbon-soaked cheesecloth and in plastic in an airtight tin. (Nowadays, get a nice big ziploc bag)

Best made at Thanksgiving, and soaked until Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Doing My Part to Keep the WIP Alive

“Is the WIP blog post dead?” some are asking. Not here at Lots of Yarn, and I’ll tell you why. I’ve had several forced “rest periods” from knitting in the past four years (before and after three arm surgeries). I found my first knitting blog, WendyKnits through an article on blogging in the Washington Post. Wendy linked to other blogs, and they linked to other blogs, and I am embarrassed to tell you how many blogs are in my Bloglines right now.

I have learned so much, have been inspired, and have been moved to try knitting things I never had any idea existed, or had any idea I would want to knit. Some I’ve liked more than others. Lace has stuck. And I have an epic stash of sock yarn. Oh, and now I’m a Spinner. Down the rabbit hole.

Knit bloggers have made me laugh, sometimes when I’ve really needed it. And made me think. There are some keen analysts and really good writers out there. Some have shared such poignant episodes in their lives and the level of trust in their dear readers is reassuring to me that common decency still exists in increasingly rude times. There are caring, funny, smart, and wise (mostly) women who make an effort to put what they love out there, and it’s just amazing sometimes.

Bloggers have been my vicarious stitchers at times, and have made and fixed mistakes and shared them with us, and we’ve all had a chance to learn. Of course, celebrating the happy FO’s is fun too, but the WIP’s, and the lessons they teach, are what I love best. So whether you are a process or product knitter, or a hybrid of both, I hope you will find something useful here on occasion.

The Cleite Shawl is now through two repeats of Chart 2. I’ve been weighing the remaining handspun after each, and I’m figuring and calculating, hoping I’ll just make it through four full repeats. Of course I can bind off a few rows early, but I’m knitting faster, so I won’t run out.

Cleite Shawl chart 2 twice

The lace pattern is very straightforward and rhythmic once you get through a complete repeat. I keep forgetting to knit the few knit stitches on the WS since the dark brown yarn makes them less obvious, and have resorted to hanging markers on each which look silly, but keep me from going on auto-pilot.

Cleite Shawl chart 2 detail

The handspun is quite uneven in spots, but part of the beauty of lace is that it’s not a smooth solid fabric anyway, and pinned out the lace is still looking lovely.

If you are knitting this from the Wooly Wonka Exotic Fiber Club pattern, note that errata are posted HERE.

Husband Mitt One is done. You know what? It is hard to photograph your own hand. The Husband hand is out of town, so I’m working this out as I go based on some mitts I made him a couple or three years ago, and won’t weave in the bound off ends until he tries them on for length.

Husband Mitt One

As I mentioned the other day, I started with AnnyPurls’ adaptation of Hello Yarn’s Cable Twist sock, cast on 64 stitches, worked out a gusset, fiddled with the thumb, changed needle sizes to snug up the cuff and top, and there you have it. The yarn is 2-ply fingering weight spun from Wooly Wonka hand-dyed BFL. And I cannot say enough nice things about how wonderful the roving was to spin or knit with. Husband Mitt Two is already on the needles!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

On a Roll, Chocalpaca = Cleite Shawl

As promised yesterday, here’s the finished skein of alpaca, fiber from Wooly Wonka’s Exotic Fiber Club. Click photos for big!

Chocalpaca skein
After its soak in Soak

I didn’t give it the full rough wet-finishing treatment, just a few vigorous dunks in very warm but not hot water. The yarn didn’t bloom as much as it just softened quite a bit. It was spun with a pretty good twist to keep it together, then plied to be balanced.

Chocalpaca close-up

The singles were pretty uneven in spots, totally the result of my hurried spinning, not the fiber. This could easily have been spun finer, but I was in a must-finish-something mood, and I also wanted a little sturdier shawl as a finished product.

Chocalpaca with EC 25 cents
Chocalpaca with 25 cents EC, about the size of a US quarter

The East Caribbean Dollar is the currency of most of the Eastern Caribbean island nations and territories.

Final specs: 3oz, 2-ply, 19-22wpi which makes it (as predicted) a heavy laceweight/light fingering weight, 9tpi, 286 yds.

So, I immediately cast on for the Cleite Shawl. The pattern, from Miriam Felton of MimKnits, was part of the club package, though she’s test knitting a full size version and so I’m guessing the pattern will be available soon.

Cleite Shawl - chart 1
Just beginning, though Chart 1

Cleite Shawl - chart 1 detail

The alpaca is knitting up beautifully, and this will be a sturdy, soft, warm shoulder-size shawl.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Chocalpaca*

Some thoughts on spinning the alpaca roving from Wooly Wonka’s Exotic Fiber Club.

Click the photos for big.

* = yes I made that up

Chocolate Alpaca- Bobbin 1
Bobbin One, you saw this earlier

The fiber has a smooth long 4-6” staple, and a firm rather than fluffy feel. The fiber notes recommend spinning with a tighter twist than one might with a comparable sheep’s wool. I found the alpaca easy to spin after getting a feel for it, though at first, as promised, it was drifting apart a bit while winding on. The color is a rich solid rusty chocolate.

chocalpaca-2 bobbin 2
Bobbin Two, looking much like Bobbin One

I started out spinning the fiber for a 2-ply laceweight to knit the Cleite pattern from Miriam Felton that was part of this month’s offering. Spun per Mim’s recommendation with a semi-worsted, forward draw, but not having even touched the wheel in seven weeks, I was too impatient, and wasn’t up to trying for Mim’s 30 wpi(!). Seriously, I needed to spin and finish something. All I need is about 300 yds of something.

chocalpaca-3 bobbin 2 flash
With the flash so you can see the sheen

Wound on the niddy-noddy, 286 yds. I’m going for it.

chocalpaca-4 on the niddy

I’ve been reading posts to one of the spinning lists trying to describe how to avoid over-plying, and what a balanced 2-ply looks like with the fibers in the singles ending up parallel to the length of the yarn, like this =//=//=//=.

chocalpaca-5 fibers aligned
Fibers aligned, close enough for government work

chocalpaca-6 ready for a soak
Ready for a soak
I predict fingering to heavy laceweight

Tune in tomorrow to As The Wheel Turns for post-soak photos, finished gauge, and the cast on for a lacy shawlette.

Saturday Sky: Crisp

Saturday Sky 20071124-1

It’s really and truly Autumn! Most of the leaves are gone, frost was heavy last night, and the air is dry and clear and crisp.

Saturday Sky 20071124-2

Virginia plays Virginia Tech here in Charlottesville this afternoon in the classic in-state football rivalry – playing for bragging rights and this year for a trip to the conference championship. Everyone in the Commonwealth is still feeling the losses at Tech, and especially living in a university town we feel the sense of a near miss. But with five UVa degrees in the immediate family, I’ve got to say,

Go ‘Hoos! Beat Hokies!

Saturday Sky 20071124-3

I’ll be watching and spinning the lovely alpaca top from Wooly Wonka’s Exotic Fiber Club. I’m spinning it to a 2-ply laceweight to knit the Cleite pattern from Miriam Felton that was part of this month’s offering. The fiber has a long staple length, is easy to spin once you get the feel for it, and is the color of melted baking chocolate. Yum!

Chocolate Alpaca- Bobbin 1

I’m getting some good help today!

Ivy Sleeping 071124

Happy Saturday everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ummm, What Blog?

Lots of travel + general slump + work crunch = no blogging for a while

Knitting:

I’ll give a full UFO report, to keep myself on track (or not as the case may be) after Thanksgiving. But, to tide you over, I will show off some progress on Hypoteneuse now.

Hypoteneuse Stole 071121

The stole is coming in the home stretch with only five more repeats to go, unless I lengthen it. This is going to be a great cozy everyday wrap for the chilly TV room or traveling. The Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool has a soft yet sturdy feel that is warm but very light. I can just see it shoved in a bag on a plane trip with no ill effects and being just the right weight for those times when there’s just a little too much AC.

Hypoteneuse Detail 071121
32 + 42 = 52


You may remember this merino-silk-angora from The Woolen Rabbit.

Merino/Silk/Angora - Color blocks

I don’t know what possessed me the other day, but now it’s a cute neck and wrist warmer set.

Cherry Garcia and wristies

The neck warmer is Hello Yarn’s Cherry Garcia, knit as written, and the wristies are simply ribbing with a few cable twists thrown in. I was determined to use every bit of the lovely yarn and succeeded in only having about six yards left over. So much fuzzy halo, so much silky sheen!

Speaking of handspun,

BFL Willow

I started some fingerless mitts for the Husband. He loves them for operating the ham radio in his chilly radio shack. This is BFL in Willow from Wooly Wonka spun to a 2-ply fingering weight. I’m using AnnyPurls’ adaptation of Hello Yarn’s Cable Twist sock as a departure point and will knit these to fit a manly size mitt.

Manly Mitts in BFL handspun

Yes, I guess this does count as Holiday knitting. I’m putting my sweaters on the back burner and will see if I can get the Forest Canopy Shawl and maybe the Secret Stole done in time for gift giving.


Teaching:

I taught my first Introduction to Lace class on Monday night and it was fun. We could have gone on for another hour or two, I’m sure. I’ll know better next time how to pace things and will try to schedule the classes for weekends rather than evenings after work. I showed lots of samples of lacy knitting, covered basic yarns, needles, and techniques, worked on some swatches, and we got started with a lacy scarf from VLT as a class project. I’m hoping to run the class again after the first of the year when things aren’t quite so busy for everyone.


Spinning:

And in exciting news for me, I’ve just registered for a class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in NC for the second week in January. Spinning Lavish Luxury Yarns will cover lots of fiber types, carding, dyeing and spinning techniques for the various fiber characteristics. I am really looking forward to the workshop, especially after hearing such wonderful reports on the classes from Robin H and Mary L.


I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday weekend. If you are traveling, be safe!