Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Up, Up, and Away

Mr Blue Heron keeping an eye on the tower sections
Mr Blue Heron keeping an eye on the tower sections - Click for Bigger

Well, tower work is done for this trip. We erected three 10’ sections of the big tower on Monday, taking it to 90’ so far (finished height will be a little over 130’). Today we hoisted up the guy wires which stabilize the tower. Here’s Peter smiling for the folks at home!

The Big Tower at 90 feet - 20070530
What? You can’t see him smiling?

We’ve got it set up so the two of us can pretty much do all the tower work. We‘re using the Highlander and lots of rope to hoist things. Since the big tower is some 200' into the field and the little tower about 100', we set a 6x6 post right by the driveway which has a big eye bolt. We clip a block on there, one at the base of the tower and there’s something called a gin pole that extends above the last tower section with a block at the top. I simply drive down the driveway and up go the tower sections. Wheee! I’m making it sound simpler than it is. But the two of us have now put up a total of 260’ of tower, taken down 70’, put up five big antennas, taken down three, and put one of them back up with more to go up when the second tower’s done. Only four more sections to go. For now.

The Sock Pal socks are coming along. I’m past the heel turns and decreasing the gussets.
Sockapalooza 4 Socks in Progress
Interlacements Tiny Toes, pattern adapted from Springgrass Socks

I’m knitting the socks in tandem and it will be fun to have both socks done practically at once. And early. I’m usually a major procrastinator, but these aren’t due to be mailed until August 2.


Merino/Silk/Angora - Take One
Merino/Silk/Angora roving from The Woolen Rabbit

This fiber was a bit challenging to spin. The mix of silk and wool spins with occasional lumps and bumps. So after sampling a bit, I finally decided to spin it a little thicker and looser and let it be what it wanted to be which is a little uneven. I have four more ounces of this fiber so, I figured I would have another chance if I didn’t like how it turned out.

Another factor in planning what I wanted the yarn to be, and how to spin it is how the roving was dyed. There was a gradation from blue to green to gold/yellow over the roughly two yard length of the roving, and I wanted to keep the color change rather than have the whole skein barberpoled. So I split it lengthwise and spun it on two bobbins, then plied them each from the same end. The second bobbin was more uneven than the first, had a bit more waste, and spun up shorter. But, I did get my long color sections from end to end of the skein.

Merino/Silk/Angora - Color blocks
Blue to Green to Gold back to Blue

The blend of merino, silk, and angora is wonderfully soft, and drafts to a medium staple length. The angora provides just a bit of halo which no doubt will increase with knitting and wear. I was aiming for enough twist to keep the yarn from pilling too badly in a finished product, while keeping the very soft fluffy hand that is what is so nice about this fiber.

Taking Rhonna’s advice, I tried a more measured approach to plying instead of being in such an awful hurry. I counted while treadling specific lengths of the singles, and got in a rhythm of pinching off sections and letting it wind on the bobbin without stopping. So, the result was as even as the singles would permit, and it went fairly quickly.

This soft, light, lofty yarn wants to be a little scarf or cowl. Definitely something warm and next to the skin.

Fiber/Weight: Merino/Silk/Angora roving, approx 1.5 oz
Purchased from: The Woolen Rabbit
Spun with: Louet Victoria
WPI/Gauge/TPI: ~12wpi / light worsted / 3tpi
Plies/Method: 2 / standard
Yardage/Finished Wt: 142yds / final wt TBD
Started: 5/24/2007
Completed: 5/29/2007
Intended Project: Small Scarf or Cowl

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Enough for a Small Shawl

Inspiration fingering weight
Inspiration Fingering Weight

Fiber/Weight: Corriedale pencil roving, Inspiration colorway, 4oz

Purchased from: Crown Mountain Farm

Spun with: Louet Victoria

WPI/Gauge/TPI: 16-18wpi / fingering / ~ 6tpi
Whorl/Tension: Medium whorl / medium-high tension

Plies/Method: 2-ply / standard

Yardage: ~438yds

Started: 5/16/2007
Completed: 5/25/2007

Intended Project?: Was to be socks, now maybe a small shawl

I weighed out 4oz of the CMF corriedale pencil roving, intending to spin enough fingering weight for a pair of socks. Now that it’s done, it would make nice socks, but I think I’m not ready to put this yarn on my feet quite yet. I’ll wait to spin some superwash for that!

Setting out to spin for socks I wanted a fairly high twist, both in the singles and the finished yarn. I think the singles are fine and just about right, but I’ve got just a bit too much twist in some of the plied sections.

The singles were spun drafting as I went with my self-taught who knows what it is worsted draw. The color blocks on this roving are short. Based on a sample skein, I knew there would be a lot of barberpole, and I liked it, and went with that rather than try in any way to separate the colors. My singles were reasonably consistent, and for me this is the most of anything I’ve ever spun. So, I’m happy with the amount of variation.

I really liked the CMF pencil roving. The colors are pretty, the fiber is smooth, staple length is several inches, it drafts easily, and I found no felted sections or VM.

I used my a tensioned lazy kate, my plastic needle gauge as a plying guide (!), and plied for a looong time. The plying tension really varies a bit too much and I think I either need to learn to ply faster, or break it up into several sessions so I don’t get tired and start to get a lot of inconsistency.

The finished yarn has a soft, smooth hand, and is nice and squooshy in the skein, though not elastic.

So, I accomplished my Goal, to spin a larger quantity of light fingering weight with reasonable consistency. And, I like the finished yarn!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rambouillet - Lacy Rib Swatch

Even as a very new spinner, with some encouragement from Margene and Anne, I decided to jump in with both feet and try the Wooly Wonka Exotic Fibers Club. Our first fiber is Rambouillet wool which is a fine wool somewhat similar to merino. Each fiber comes with information on the breed and fiber characeristics and a knitting pattern. Here's my first attempt spinning the Rambouillet and swatching the Lacy Rib from the pattern.

I spun up just a little bit, maybe a quarter ounce, aiming for the 13wpi 2-ply noted in the pattern, gave it a bath and swatched the Lacy Rib. Here's my result.
Rambouillet Swatch-1
Rambo first swatch

I neglected to note my yardage after plying, and sure wish I'd taken a photo, but I did end up with a very puffy soft 13wpi (between sport and DK), knit it up, and am getting a nice fabric at the 5spi gauge.

The last two fibers I've spun were BFL and Corriedale, so the difference in fiber texture and shorter staple length were quite noticeable to me. At first I found it challenging to get going without breaking the single, but finally settled into a shorter draw that worked better. Anne's notes were absolutely correct it's easier to spin it thinner than thicker if you want to avoid lumps and bumps.

Spun and plied with a moderate twist, the yarn was a little uneven in the skein, though a lot of that could be my newbie spinning [vbg]. I finally understand the description I've read about fiber being chalky, and would describe the plied yarn as soft though not smooth. Knit up the fabric is bouncy and squooshy, and again soft but not smooth, with slightly blurred stitch definition.

So, my question for experienced spinners is, can the rambouillet be spun smoother, or is it in the nature of the fiber to keep its peach-fuzz feel?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Golden Compass

I have an occasional tiny weak spot for fantasy lit, and loved the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman. Krista found this on Robin's blog , and I had to do it too. Don't worry, no more memes and games after this. It'll be Knitting, Spinning, and Lots of Yarn!

Summer Knitting Goals

Jean has been keeping me busy lately! Here’s a fun contest I found out about on her blog that ties in neatly with my own wish to get some things organized and DONE this year. It’s being run by Ali who designed the Blue Sky Alpacas Fitted Tank, with patterns and yarn as prizes.

The Rules:
1.) Leave a comment on Ali’s blog letting her know what color yarn you want and mention that my blog sent you there.

2.) Then head to your blog and post a list of your summer knitting goals (there may be an end-of-summer contest of some sort to celebrate summer knitting accomplishments...) and mention this contest.

3.) Lastly e-mail Ali with the link to your post! Be sure to mention in your post for anyone who follows your link to let her know what blog they jumped from as every 'referral' will earn you another entry!

The Contest will run through the end of the month May.

My Summer Knitting Goals, in no particular order:

1. Sockapalooza 4 Socks – need to be done and mailed by August 2nd.

2. Knit a summer sweater for myself, probably blue Cotton Classic in stash, maybe another CeCe with ¾ sleeves.

3. Finish the felted tote that I never work on.

4. Get back to work on the lilac gansey cardi so I can wear it this fall.

5. Knit some more socks. i.e. knit the Mad-tini second sock. Then knit some more socks.

6. Knit some lace. Specifically, knit and write up the pattern for a shoulder shawl for a lace class at the LYS.

7. Knit the Husband’s mitts from my handspun.

Saturday Sky: After the Rain

Saturday Sky 20070519
Charlottesville, VA after the rain

Friday, May 18, 2007

Lots of Things to Do

I’m taking care of a little business today.

First, Spinners go check out the first issue of the new free online spinning magazine/website Spindle and Wheel. There are articles, product reviews and tutorials, especially a fun one on spinning beaded yarn.

Big Birthday Sale at The Needle Lady on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday May 25, 26, and 27 (Memorial Day weekend). Check it out if you are in or near Charlottesville. Comment or email me and I’ll send you the details.

And now, I’ve been tagged for 7 Random Facts by Jean.

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write on their blogs 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog.

My 7 Random Facts:

1. I was trained as an Architect, but worked in construction management for 15 years. I’m expressing my creative urge these days with fiber pursuits rather than making buildings.

2. I have ice skated across the Potomac River.

3. I like to knit lace, but cables, not so much.

4. I have been known to shout out the answers while watching Jeopardy and seem to have larger than needed areas of my brain devoted to storing less than useful bits of information.

5. I will not knit with Lion Brand Homespun, never ever again.

6. I like to knit most things on circular needles.

7. I do not care for green peppers. Red, yellow and orange are fine. Green, meh.

And since I’ve always been bad at chain letters, worse at rules, and the knitbloggers I know I don’t know how they feel about memes, I’m tagging anyone reading this who wants to be tagged.

I’ve started my Sockapalooza 4 socks and have decided to get both socks going in tandem.

Springgrass Socks In Progress-1
Hmmm, another Project Spectrum contestant?

The yarn is Interlacements Tiny Toes in a very green colorway that matches my Sock Pal’s blog, and the pattern is adapted from Craftoholic’s sock pattern. Taking a cue from photos on the pal’s blog, I wanted to make sure the leg and cuff wouldn’t be too tight so started on US1’s and am switching to my usual US0’s at the ankle. I also wanted a full 64 stitch sock so added a couple of stitches to the chart and made them twisted ribs down the sides.

The Tiny Toes appears to have my old friend Louet Pearl as a base and is great to knit. The pattern is quite easy, if I would just stop forgetting my YO’s at the middle of the row.

Eye Candy Friday: Hot, Hot, Hot!

Look what the mailman brought!
Zeneedle Prize!
Hot red laceweight, not being done justice by our rainy dark day today

Thank you Margene! For guessing correctly in her contest, I received not only fiery-red-like-the-Sun laceweight yarn (a cone!), but also some super-cute project gift cards.

Cute Notes
I’m a purple grrl, love the needles

And, the knitters favorite addition to the knitting bag, some mocha dark chocolate, Yum!

Margene’s Zeneedle has been an inspiration to me for knitting, lace, and spinning. Motivated by her writings, I’m learning to find the process-knitter within this goal-oriented project manager. She always has an encouraging word and is so supportive of so many stitchers of all kinds, and it really makes a difference. A wonderful blog-friend indeed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Made More Yarn

BFL Pussy Willows
Blue Faced Leicester, Pussy Willows

Over the weekend, I finished spinning and plying the Wooly Wonka BFL roving.

BFL Pussy Willows
290 yds, 2-ply sportweight

I hoped to spin enough 2-ply sportweight for some fingerless mitts for the Husband, and I am very happy to have done just that!

BFL close-up
The obligatory gauge shot with a dime

Specs (bearing in mind my novice status and that I'm still learning even how to take the proper notes):

Fiber: Blue Faced Leicester roving, hand-dyed, Pussy Willows, 2 @ 2oz

Purchased from: Wooly Wonka Fibers, from Anne’s Etsy shop

Spun with: Louet Victoria

WPI/Gauge/TPI: 14wpi / Sport / avg 5.5tpi

Plies/Method: 2-ply / standard using tensioned lazy kate

Yardage/Finished Wt: 290yds / 3.2oz

Started: ~5/6/2007
Completed: 5/13/2007

Intended Project: Mitts for the Husband


Spun on slowest whorl, but with fairly high (for me) twist, medium tension. Plied with fairly high twist and medium tension.

The BFL is soft, easy to spin, medium staple length. I think I am using a short-ish forward draw. I split the roving lengthwise and spun both bobbins in roughly the same order to try to get a bit of subtle striping in the finished yarn. The yarn does have a mix of solid and barberpole sections. I had several breaks in the singles while plying which were probably a function of the tension (?). In some cases I was able to join the errant single back in and continue, a couple required knots.

My spinning and plying continue to improve, though there are slightly thicker and thinner, tighter and looser areas. The yarn bloomed a bit with a soak to set the twist. I’m quite pleased with the finished product.

Monday, May 14, 2007

101 Knitting Things

My first meme! This is going around and fits right in with my desire to organize, analyze, and set knitting goals this year.

Mark with bold the things you have ever knit, with italics the ones you plan to do sometime, and leave the rest.

Garter stitch

Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (=modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Baby items
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
Teaching a child to knit
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dying with plant colours
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cosies...)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items)on two circulars

Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else's handspun yarn
Knitting with dpns
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dying yarn
Knitting art
Knitting two socks on two circulars simultaneously
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO

Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self patterning/self striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mits/armwarmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Friday, May 11, 2007

Eye Candy Friday: Yarn!

Yarn Yard Club - May

The Yarn Yard's Yarn Club May offering. Sunny, springy, happy colors

From Juno's Stash Sale
Tess Designer Yarns - Green
Gorgeous Tess Designer Yarns tone-on-tone mossy olivey green wool/nylon sock yarn. At 450yds per skein, there's plenty for a shawl.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Knittin’ Honey

Since you all know I am good for some self-deprecating knitting humor around here. I’ll actually show you my knitting progress this week. For a variety of uninteresting reasons, not much knitting is getting done, though there is a little more spinning later.

Swatching for my Sockapalooza 4 sock pal:
Sock Pal Swatch
Don’t worry sock pal, it won’t be in this ugly color

Starting a sample baby sweater for the Shop in Tofutsies:
Tofutsies baby sweater started
It will be very cute if it doesn’t drive me mad first

ONE Mad-tini sock from my sidelines Sock Madness knitting:
MadTini One
I am really just cranking out the projects!

I have some lovely new fiber acquisitions, which I won’t subject you to, but you can go see them HERE.

I have spun up half the singles for the husband mitts. It gets cold in his radio room and he loves the fingerless gloves I made him a year or so ago. Now that he has a second station, he’s gonna get more mitts.
BFL Willows
BFL, Pussy Willows, Wooly Wonka Fibers

And, having gotten that off the wheel, I decided to spin up the rest of the Kid Hollow BFL/mohair roving I got at Sedalia.
Kid Hollow skeins

Added to the little sister skein, I now have about 350 yds of light DK singles with tons of texture, color and little slubs of mohair. The sheen and softness are hard to capture in the photos. I’m thinking a simple shoulder shawl or big scarf.

So, there you have it. I want to get going on the Sock Pal socks, get back to my gansey cardi, knit about ten different lace projects, spin about five pounds of fiber that have arrived, and achieve world peace.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

UFO Resurrection: Amble = FO

Someone asked when does a WIP become a UFO? The answer is this pair of socks.

But today is a happy day, after knitting the second toe three times, the Amble Socks are DONE!

Amble Socks Done
Amble Socks, Done! And they count for Project Spectrum too!

Started in August or September of 2005, the first sock went veeerrrry slowly, and I’m not sure why the pattern had so much trouble sinking into my brain. It was put down and picked up several times, and when I finally finished the first sock, the pattern repeats just zipped right along. I guess it was time.

The second sock exemplifies the gauge issues that have been a result of my left arm’s periodic surgeries and immobilizations. At different times I have knit quite a bit looser or tighter depending on how much the arm hurt, or how far along I was in PT.

What do we learn from life’s lessons? Knit socks in sections, and bring both socks along in bursts. No, I will not knit two socks on two circs. Tried it, love the idea, dislike the reality.

Yes, I know I need sock blockers.

Pattern: Amble, by Alison Clayton, Six Sox Knitalong, a simple gansey patterned top-down, flap-heel sock

Yarn: Lang, JaWoll superwash wool/nylon, color pistachio, used about 70g

Needles: Various US0, US1, US1.5, Inox and Addi circs, 2.omm, 2.25mm, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8-9spi

Started: August 2005

Completed: May 5, 2007

Finished Size: Womens US 9½ -10 (for my sister)

I worked on this pair of socks over a very long period of time and between arm surgeries. Both of these factors meant that my gauge was all over the map. I decided partway down the first leg that I should go down a needle size, which was fine for the rest of the leg and foot. The second sock, started a year later, knit up much tighter. And at the heel turn I had a decision to make.

Though I almost ripped the first sock out and gave up this project, the finished socks feel fine on, and will be a gift to my sister.

The Lang JaWoll, is very soft, nice to knit though very fine gauge, has crisp stitch definition in the pale solid color. JaWoll comes with a matching spool of reinforcing thread which I used at the heel flap/turn and toe.

I found my ability to read and memorize the stitch pattern improved dramatically from start to finish, and this made the second sock knit up a lot faster than the first. I think my intervening lace projects increased my skills in reading the knitting and being able to “see” and knit a simple repetitive pattern like this without constantly referring to the chart.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Saturday Sky: May 5, 2007, and Spinning Stuff

saturday 070505
A bit gloomy

We’ve had grey skies and chilly weather for several days, but Spring is in full force and lots of things in the garden are blooming. Soon enough it will be too hot and we’ll be wishing for cool.

Sorry knitters, a bit more spinning stuff, but I promise a knitted FO tomorrow. And perhaps a decision on my Sockapalooza pattern and yarn! No word from my Sock Pal yet, I’m feeling lonely.

Look what came for my new wheel, extra bobbins.
victoria bobbins
Santa drives a big brown truck all year long

Just as the sure sign of knitting ADD is a huge needle stash, I’m finding the diagnostic criterion for spinning ADD is lots of bobbins. I mean, the wheel only came with three, how can I spin and ply, and spin, and spin some more, with only three bobbins? Bobbins from The Woolery.

And, a bit brighter than my gloomy sky
Thunderclouds Falkland roving

Thunderclouds Falkland roving
Part blue sky, part storm clouds

From Black Bunny Fibers Etsy Shop.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Resistance is Futile

Krista suggested we meet at Limerick Fibres (no website, but HERE’s info) in Gordonsville this afternoon to check out sock yarns for our Sockapalooza 4 sock pals. It was my first visit to Limerick, surprisingly, and it’s a nice shop. Lots of colors of Cascade 220, and a nice selection in general, but we were on a sock yarn mission. Both our pals have sensitive feet and we have to be choosy. Well we both came away without sock yarn, but not completely empty handed.

I found a few simple sweater patterns (‘cause someday I will have enough handspun to knit a sweater, and heaven knows I have stuff in yarn stash right now, and I like simple sweaters), and yes Mary, YOUR hat.
sweater patterns-1
Inspected for the highest quality

Found a lace stitch dictionary to add to my collection.
knitting lace book
Knitting Lace, Susanna E. Lewis

I’ve been wanting to try spinning some superwash for possible socks or mitts and found this roving that is fit for any woodland creature, or the husband – chocolate brown and mossy green, about 5oz.
woodland superwash-1a
Woodland creature roving

And then, my extravagance for the day, 2oz of cashmere. Yes, two of these. I could not resist. Well, I guess I could have, but why would I have wanted to?
cashmere fibre
Soft, and fluffy. Did I mention soft?

Krista, G (her little man) and I then walked over to The Gentle Gardener to look for some plants. She got a nice Lamb’s Ears, to continue the soft and fuzzy trend. I found a lovely glazed flower pot, amazingly buy one get one free, and a few things to fill in the pool garden where I have eradicated the lemon balm which was doing just a little too well, a meadow sage, a hardy geranium, and a new one for me (but with a deer resistant tag one I had to try) Amsonia hubrechtii or Blue Star. Pictures later when the garden looks a bit more filled in and not so weedy.

Northern Albemarle County is absolutely gorgeous, particularly this time of year. So, it was a great day for a drive to the country. And if I ever get the hang of this blogging thing, I might remember my camera once in a while.

Quality control provided today by Ivy.
Ivy 070501