Back to Spinning

Today is my birthday. I took the day off work and was all set to spend the day pondering the past and the future too, but thinking back over just the last year I got totally sidetracked when I realized I have finished only one spinning project this year, and it was on January 1st so it barely qualifies.

I never even blogged that spin. I started it during Tour de Fleece last year. (I skipped TdF entirely this year…)

It was SW Merino fiber from Quaere, in the colorway Jovial:

I stripped the roving into 8 skinny pieces and spun for my usual 3-ply sock yarn.

I n-plied it.

Then I knit it into man-sized socks with a toe-up heelflap and gusset (my dad wears holes first in the bottom of his heels, so I thought it would do nicely to have most of the reinforcing there.)

There’s a Loop bump on the wheel right now, and as soon as I finish posting this I’m going to pull out the wheel and get back to the joy that is spinning.

The bump is Inner Warmth, and I used the same method that I did in Splitting a Loop Bump to split it into three parts.

I’ll do a three ply. I know, I know, I could have just spun it as-is and done a Navajo ply if I wanted a 3-ply gradient, but I wanted to stagger the color transitions so that the fade is more subtle. Plus tearing the bumps up is really fun.

The Finishing Drive

I have a case of the finish-its, which is a rare and special thing for me. It started when I knocked out that feather-and-fan sock from the last post in no time flat, and I quickly gave a similar treatment to another pair of UFO socks.

talkingfishperpensockmeadows

I have plans to finish at least one more pair from the pile of unfinished socks with a non-matching mate.

I have a couple of knit-a-longs coming to a close here, and I surprised myself by not only finishing the items, but actually weaving in the ends (which was a lot for these colorwork socks).

arendelles moire

The sense of accomplishment at finishing things continued on to actually blocking a cowl that had been languishing for a while.

petal

I almost bucked the trend when I got new handspun in the mail from the fantastically talented bockstarkknits and had to find something immediately to knit with her Leftovers yarn. I browsed Ravelry for quite awhile before I realized that I had already written the pattern that I really wanted and so I cast on for a Scrample shawl.

I’m claiming that this is still in the spirit of the finish-its, because I not only already finished it, but blocked it, and haven’t cast on for anything new since.

leftovers

I’m even actively working on a few more long-suffering UFOs. Let’s see how long this case of finish-its lasts. I could get a lot done if my jumping off point was all half-finished things…

Really, self? + More than you wanted to know about twisted stitches

One of my coworkers has been in and out of the hospital recently, and I learned that she likes crazy socks. Naturally I was possessed with the urge to knit her a pair, but I needed to do it quickly and so I lit upon the idea of knitting a (sort of) match for one of the single socks I’ve got lying around. I found the one Talking Fish sock I had and decided to knit a mate, except with a more normal construction so that the waves go perpendicular.

wavesocksThese feather-and-fan socks are fast and I will totally knit them again.

But working on this long-hibernating pair got me thinking: this sock was one of the 16 from the Sixteen Lonely Socks post, so I went to check how my progress was going on that.

The results are not encouraging.

It’s been just over two years since then. Of the 16 incomplete pairs at that time, three have been caught up to half-finished, two have been frogged, and -not counting the pair I’m working on right now- only ONE pair has been fully finished. Naturally, it’s the crazy fancy handspun UFOupdatepair, because that’s how I roll.

So what the heck have I been knitting since then? I counted all the socks I’ve logged in Ravelry since then. (Yes. I sometimes knit things that are not socks. I used to knit a lot of shawls but have apparently only done 3 of those in the last two years, which is mostly due to the fact that while I love making them I don’t know what to do with them anymore. Next to socks, the most common thing of the last two years is cowls (9) and fingerless mitts (5), and the latter frankly suffer from the same second-item-problem as the socks, so let’s just not count them right now, ok?)

In the last two years, I have begun no less than 53 pairs of socks. I have finished 26 pairs in the same amount of time, which includes the one pair in the corner of the picture above. Seven pairs have been frogged. That gives me just under 50% completion score and something like a 10 unfinished pairs per year accumulation rate.

At some point I created a “Lonely Socks” tab on my Ravelry notebook so I could try to keep track of it, but given that the tab now shows 37 pairs, I think it’s gotten away from me.

Of course, the current dedication to the socks I’m knitting on for the coworker makes me just want to cast on a million things. I should just embrace my fickle nature and not stress about all the half-finished projects littered in my wake, right?

Hey, anyone want a little lecture on knitting structure as it pertains to twisted stitches?

Back when we were doing a knitalong for my Vergeven pattern, I wrote this up in a forum, but I’d like to expand on it here. Full disclosure- I’m a little crazy with my stitches. The Vergeven pattern uses some very specific increases to get a certain look, but is written clearly enough that everyone can follow along to get the right effect. My personal mods that I do on the fly tend to veer off into weird, and this is one of them.

veeeesLook at this sock (isn’t it neat?*). See how each 2-stitch rib looks kind of unusual? How it’s symmetrical and if you look at the colors they make a tiny little M (or W) shape in each rib?

The pattern is 2×1 ribbing, but it’s not plain knits. It’s not even plain knits through the back loop (ktbls).

It’s p1, ktbl, [k1 so it twists the other way to mirror the ktbl while wrapping the yarn the opposite direction], or something I call a ktbl-mirror. So the rib is *p1, ktbl, ktbl-mirror*.

The first time you put the ktbl-mirror on top of a plain knit stitch, you have to do [slip next st as if to knit, slip it back to the left needle as if to purl, k1 while wrapping yarn around needle the opposite direction of normal].
Assuming you remember to wrap opposite, it sets up the stitch with a reversed stitch mount, so after that you knit it through the front loop (like normal, sort of, except it looks strange) but continue wrapping opposite.

Yes. It is weird and kind of annoying. But look how pretty!

I present, for your perusal, a poorly drawn paint sketch of a closeup of the stitches:

ktbl-mirrorWhen you put these two stitches next to each other in this order, you get a rib with tapered edges. You can also put plain knit stitches in between the twisted stitches (ktbl, k2, ktbl-mirror) and it will make ribs with a rounded look.

I thought it had kind of an industrial look, which is why I used it on the Steampunk-themed socks above.

I also experimented with flipping it, putting the ktbl-mirror on the leading edge of the rib. In this case, it makes a really sharp edge to the ribs that just pleases me to no end.

sharp

See, like these socks->

These have a [p1, ktbl-mirror, k1, ktbl ] rib.

What do you think? Would you ever try it or am I alone in my madness?

*Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete?

The year so far

Well I’ve been quiet lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to in the crafting realm…

Spinning:

I finished spinning the rainbow yarn from last post. I tried for a little less twist in this one than I usually do, because the blend already has some nylon for strength. I’m quite pleased with the result.

rainbowI also finished up the Orange & Turquoise yarn. For that one, I had 2 ounces each of two different SW Merino fibers. I vertically stripped each piece into 4 bits, then tore each of those bits into 4 pieces. Then I alternated spinning one from the turquoise & gray batch with one from the aqua & orange batch (have a look at the picture from that post for them all lined up), and finished by chain-plying.

fishKnitting:

Aaaand that yarn has already been knitted into socks. I felt like mixing up the colors even more, so I opted for 2-row striping plain toe-up socks with a modified short-row heel.

fishsocks

I’m quite amused how the colors matched back up on one of the cuffs.

The Moonrover yarn we saw last post has already been knitted into socks too, also of my own invented design. The cables look cool but kind of make a mess of the fit, especially at the ankles.

8-8

Also those Bluebell & Clover socks from I-don’t-remember-when were frogged because I was unhappy with them and knit into something much more pleasing: Puschkinia socks from Kirsten Kapur.

bluebell

The silver shawl pictured in the last post was also finished! This was really a win for me, because I’d been working on it for at least four years (it had gotten to the point of only being airplane knitting) and I thought it might never get done.

Modeled by my lovely friend T

Other Adventures:

So the sewing became all-consuming for a little while, because I became a little obsessed with the idea of a TARDIS box bag (idea supplied by the delightful Chris.) I ran through several prototypes, but by the fifth or sixth bag had worked out all the details. So naturally I stopped there and haven’t made any more since.

Tardis Bags

I was also recently sent to Alaska for work for two weeks. I took the only full day I had off and visited the Musk Ox Farm in Palmer. I scored some sweet, sweet qiviut in the raw form and I’ve spun just a tiny bit of it so far.

muskyMy brief searches of the internet so far haven’t yielded an abundance of info on spinning raw qiviut, so I mostly winged it and it seemed to work out. I’ll take lots of pictures when I spin the next batch.

 

 

There’s no knitting in this post

I know, I know, I haven’t posted in ages. Plus this post is all about sewing.

So I do these themed swaps with knitters, and I’ve been getting into sewing again to make project bags for my packages. The latest theme was “Chinese New Year”.

It’s been really fun and I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve developed a favorite style: drawstring top, round bottom, fake leather fabric at the base so it’ll stand up if you set it down. I realized after polling the swap forum that there’s another element many knitters prize in their project bags: pockets. So I got to it with a zipper!

bagI cut the top above the drawstring at a slight angle and I think it makes a very fetching fan shape.

But even before I got to making the bag, I had decided that what my package *really* needed was a fortune cookie-shaped notions pouch. I scoured the internet for ideas, but the only thing I really liked was these high-end coin purses.

Well, leather is likely beyond the ability of my antique sewing machine, so I found some Marine Vinyl in the right color, the perfect lining fabric from pennycandy on spoonflower and a sew-in purse frame of the right size, and made it up as I went. I am sort of giddy at the cute result.

fortune

There’s really not too much to it: Measure the curve of the purse frame and multiply by 4 to get the approximate circumference of circles to cut. Fold in half, sew the points of the lining and the outside, fold in the edge of the lining and sew it into the frame by hand. Garnish with a stitch marker and away you go!

cookie

I did one prototype where I tucked the vinyl seams inside, but the vinyl was too stiff and made the inside a wrinkly mess.

Sewing it into the frame is definitely the trickiest part, because it naturally won’t lie flat. My prototype has pretty dreadful frame seams. But one careful stitch at time forces it into place, and then the stiffness of the vinyl and purse frame are all that’s needed to make the whole cookie keep it’s shape.

Oh, look, I’ll throw in a bit of spinning content. I finished that Moonrover yarn; it’s navajo-plied fingering weight squishiness.

MR yarnAnd then I started “Tie Dye Rainbow” SW Merino from Quaere; it’s split in half by weight and also to be Navajo-plied fingering weight for matching socks, because why not?

rainbow

Moonrover Fangirl

That orange and turquoise fiber I had on the wheel? I totally abandoned it because Lacey of Moonrover is having a SW Spin-along and like the Moonrover fangirl I am, I ditched everything that isn’t hers. (I’ll go back to it someday, no worries. Wait, did I say that about the Grape Jelly SW BFL too? Shush, I do what I want!)

SW Moonclouds:

clouds

I’m taking each cloud bundle and un-knotting it, wrapping it carefully into a roll, then stretching it out like a mini moonbatt. I’m spinning them one after another long draw, matching ends.

flowI’m spinning for 3-ply fingering weight yarn (of course) and I’ll n-ply.

onbobbin

What else have I been working on? I’ve been kind of all over the place lately, letting my whims cast on whatever suits them.

I did finish the Peeta Socks.

wheat

And the Vicarious yarn has been re-cast as a version of my Vergeven socks.

vicarious

And I finally got to the border on this epic shawl I’ve been working on for …. um…. 3 1/2 years. Pattern is Windswept, yarn is 50/50 merino/mulberry silk.

epic

No word on when I will actually finish it.