Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vacation Dye Kitchen

Here's a bit of what I got up to during my vacation earlier this month:

This is destined for some kind of summer-y garment. I was aiming for a slightly more subdued color, and it may end up in the dye pot again before I'm finished... but overall it was a very satisfying experiment.

Monday, May 7, 2012

These should be done by now

Yet there they sit, in nearly the same position they sat last Sunday, when this picture was taken. Pretty cute, huh?

I decided I've been suffering from Hare Syndrome-- capable of impressive speed but also of taking a nap within sight of the finish line.

Perhaps I've proven myself already in feats of knitting speed and endurance, but it would be nice to move these to the done pile...

Friday, April 20, 2012


The past two-and-a-half months have been difficult-- lots of unwelcome surprises, disappointments, aches and pains both physical and mental. I haven't written much about it because I try to avoid complaining, but if I had the option to start 2012 over again tomorrow with a clean slate, I'd have a hard time saying no.

I found out Sunday that my row gauge for White Pine was off by quite a bit-- another addition to the series of unfortunate events. This wouldn't be a problem at all if there was no waist shaping and it isn't really a problem in the Grand Scheme of Things... but my desire for a do-over was irresistible. On Tuesday I ripped out ten inches of the body. It's now just yarn again:

What is (relatively) easy in knitting is so so much harder in life-- at what point do you decide to stop making small adjustments? At what point do you just roll the dice and move to Argentina (for example)? I don't think I'm there yet, but how will I know when I am?

Do they raise sheep in Argentina?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Oh Hello

I seem to have forgotten to check in here-- maybe my knitting break made me relax too much? In any case, the break is over, and has been for a week now. My wrists feel better, but I seem to have lost some of my knitting mojo. I knit just 10 rows on White Pine between last Tuesday and yesterday-- among other things, I've been spinning like a fiend. The evidence is hard to ignore:

I finished spinning my first batch of singles a week ago Friday, and I couldn't wait to start plying. It actually took longer to make my plying ball than it did to ply the singles. Not to go into great detail, but if you ever want to test the strength of your marriage, sometime try winding a three-stranded plying ball of super high-twist singles with the assistance of your husband/wife. Bonus points if you're both perfectionists and eldest children.

Somewhere around the end of February, I seem to have picked up speed with my spinning. I started in on my second batch of singles Friday-- it's taken me about two and a half hours* to spin as much as I spun in the whole month of February:

At this rate, I think I'm going to finish my sock yarn by the end of April! Huzzah! Meanwhile, I'll have roughly 1/3 of a sweater...

*And I know I'm a huge nerd for keeping track.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Last Saturday I finished my Shadow-- I ripped out and re-did the collar facing, wove in all the ends, and steamed the seams. I can hardly believe that I now have a hand-made garment. It seems wrong to fold it up and put it in the same drawer as my store-bought clothes, so it has been sitting on top of my dresser.

I wore it on Tuesday. I take so much care taking it on and off-- I have to remind myself that this is a solid garment that will probably last for years.

I do love it-- it's warm and comfortable and the fit is perfect. Maybe if I take some pictures of myself wearing it, it will start to seem more real. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


My wrists have been giving me trouble-- both of them, so I'm pretty sure it's not knitting that has done it. I'm provisionally blaming physical therapy, which has recently done wonders for my back. But knitting definitely bothers the left wrist, so I'm forcing myself to pause for a few days, and I'm going to take this opportunity to show you what I've been up to.

I started these at the end of January:

As I have mentioned before, I have been putting off sock knitting for a while for fear it would become an all-consuming obsession-- as it turns out, I'm not finding it all that compelling. The self-striping yarn does make me very happy, though. As always.

I can't locate the bag that contains my other project-- White Pine-- but here's my swatch:

This pattern has been in my queue for a while, waiting for me to choose a color. The yarn is Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Flannery Red... I'm madly in love with the color, which is-- sadly-- discontinued. I managed to track down enough for the sweater. Lucky me!

With rest, ice, and NSAIDs-- and maybe some sewing to keep my hands busy-- I hope to be in fighting trim again soon. Still, it annoys me that I can no longer afford to ignore my body's little complaints as blithely as I used to do. My patients have often warned me not to get old...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

One step closer

Last night I finished sewing the seams of my Shadow-- a task which took most of the weekend. I actually found it to be an enjoyable process, and it was exciting to see the sweater finally-- slowly-- come together. It almost looks finished but there's still a lot of work to do!

ends to weave in, seams to be steamed...

With any luck, it'll be ready for me to model for you by the weekend. Fortunately for Mainers weary of winter, the weather has been quite warm-- this means, unfortunately, that Shadow will not likely see much wear until fall. At least I will be ready!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Blocking Board

I haven't yet had much to say for myself in March for the simple reason that life is complicated. I did manage to finish knitting my Shadow and on Wednesday I got my block on-- thought you might like to see the results.

Here's the back, all pinned out:

You may or may not be able to tell, but I started a new ball of yarn around the region of the armhole, and there is a shift in the color. I went back and checked all of my ball bands, and the dye lots were all the same, so I'm not sure how to explain it... at any rate, it's barely noticeable and I've decided that I refuse to be self-conscious about it.

I can't help but continue to marvel at the transformation that blocking works on Shelter-- for comparison, here is a bit of the front before its bath:

Here's a closeup of the back:

And finally, the sleeve, unpinned:

All those hundreds of stitches have relaxed and cozied up to their neighbors. The material is cohesive, fuzzy, and about twenty times softer. Mind you, it isn't the kind of kitten's ear softness of cashmere or fine merino-- more like the inside of a well-loved sweatshirt.

Now all that remains is seaming...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Progress Report

Since my sleeve misadventure earlier this month, Shadow has been flying off my needles. In fact, I haven't paused long enough to give an update! I'm down to the last piece, and I've been trying to keep track of my progress, starting last Wednesday:

Friday afternoon:

Yesterday morning:

And moments ago:

I was hoping to finish knitting by the end of February. Even with the extra day, it doesn't look like it's going to happen, but I think I can get to the shoulder bind-off this afternoon. I'm really looking forward to having a new garment in my wardrobe soon! I'm also looking forward to the end of February... it may be the shortest month, but it's taking forever this year.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby Things

Is there anything more heartwarming and tear-inducing than little baby things? Or more likely to raise feminine voices by at least two octaves? It's like a kick in the ovaries from Mother Nature. These went in the mail last week to my friend Sarah-- via her yarn-obsessed sister Rebecca:

The sweater is painful enough, but the booties... the booties kill me:

I made quite a bit of fuss over knitting these things-- one must make a fuss over babies. Since this baby will be born approximately 800 miles away, I won't be able to make much of a fuss over her in person, though I'm going to try...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In the mail

I finished up a long-standing project a couple of weeks ago, and on Monday it finally went in the mail:

Mohair Bias Loop was my mindless distraction project during the year-long hat binge. The yarn is Artfibers Tsuki, which is every bit as lovely as Kidsilk Haze, but is available in giant cones! I had just enough left over from a Muir shawl to make this little number.

This is a meaningful yarn in my knitting history-- Muir was the first challenging project I attempted, and I think it marked my transition from "someone who knits" to full-blown "knitter". I think it's appropriate that the remains of this yarn are going to my friend Nicole-- freshman year of college (this would be January of 1999) we took our first knitting class together. I remember her knitting a scarf from Kidsilk Haze that winter-- I wonder if she still has it? She's always been a big fan of mohair, so I have a feeling this will be right up her alley.

Also in the mail, to me this time: a set of Hiya Hiya interchangeable needles! I'm not sure how I feel about them yet, but I really like the idea of them... though given my recent interchangeable fail, I should probably be wary.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Maybe I should stick to hats*

*or, perhaps I should not be allowed to use interchangeable needles...

In between bouts of coughing and moaning piteously in bed, I managed to get a heck of a lot of knitting done this weekend-- and I was really excited to show you the completed first sleeve of my Shadow... until, switching out the needle tips to start the ribbing on sleeve two, I found attached to my cables one size 9 tip... and one size 7 tip!

I'm not entirely sure how it happened, though I have a pretty good idea.** I'm mostly amazed that I knitted the entire sleeve without noticing the very... noticeable difference in the diameter of the two needles. The stitch gauge seemed to be correct while I was knitting... if I stretched out the fabric a teensy bit. Easily block-able to the pattern dimensions, at any rate. Since I was more worried at the outset of the sleeve that it would turn out too large, I was thrilled to be proving myself wrong...

Now that I have started the second sleeve-- on TWO size 9 tips, I checked three times and had Eric check twice to be sure-- it's pretty clear how deluded I have been. I have to stretch sleeve #1 out to a ridiculous degree to get the correct width. And the row gauge... not the same.

Not even close.

I did briefly consider repeating my error, but once I cast off the first sleeve, there was no telling which tip I used for the right side and which I used for the wrong side!

This is not the end of the world-- I will now be able to make some changes to the shaping that will make seaming much easier, and I'm spared the indignity of wearing an unintentionally asymmetrical sweater. I'm not sure if I can reuse the yarn I have already knitted without creating more gauge headaches, so that's a bummer. And I will no doubt be the laughingstock of knitting night. Fair enough-- it actually is pretty funny.

See, this is why I spent a year knitting hats!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Second Handspun

This has been finished for a while, but I was waiting for my husband's photo-editing expertise:

I experimented with woolen drafting on my first handspun, and my second outing was entirely woolen-spun. It seemed to suit the preparation of the fiber-- though I have not a clue what kind of wool it is! I finished spinning the singles on New Year's Eve, and the plying about a week later. It was slightly over-plied-- I now know to add a bit more twist to my singles before plying-- so I washed the skein and let it hang in my shower to dry. That seems to have been just enough-- the skein is now perfectly balanced!

I hope you will forgive my nerdiness-- it's just that I'm quite pleased with the result. It's so fluffy and lively! Now I just need to figure out what it wants to become. My first thought is a hat, but that's usually my first thought...

I've been laid up with a cold the past few days, so I've been knitting like a fiend-- so many things to show you, I can't wait!

Monday, January 30, 2012


Eric's birthday was Friday, and I whisked him away for a little adventure-- our home for the weekend:

No electricity, no running water, an outdoor privy-- believe it or not, friends, deprivation of modern conveniences is our idea of a good time.

Some things we did have:

A roaring woodstove-- expertly tended by yours truly

Miles of snowshoe trails

Wintry vistas

Endless cups of tea

Not pictured: fondue. It didn't last long enough for a photo op.

Also, a yurt happens to be the perfect setting for a bit of knitting (and spinning):

I finally whipped the hat sample into shape:

Glacier Bay, meet your new friend, Aurora

AND I taught Eric to knit:

Code name: Cheese Doodle

I'm not allowing myself to get too excited about it yet-- four rounds of stockinette do not a knitter make. But he did sit down and work on it last night without any prompting from me...

Such fun-- though I did rather enjoy the hot shower I took moments after getting home!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In Progress

For the past two weeks, I've been distracted by some unexpected developments in my professional life which may lead to very big changes for me-- good changes, I assure you, but I've been walking a fine line between excitement and panic. So, knitting is somewhat neglected at the moment, though I have made progress on a couple of things.

My Shadow has most of a sleeve:

Gauge worries have evaporated-- the stitch pattern is plenty forgiving, after all-- but now I'm reluctant to progress to the actual sleeve cap... I really love how it's coming out so far, though. Here's a closeup:

I'm also knitting a sample for a pattern I'm writing, which is causing a bit more frustration:

The colors keep trying to blend into each other-- I had to surgically remove a whole section of muddy green from one skein-- and worse, this has distracted me from the fact that my gauge is way off. Maybe I knit my original sample on larger needles? At any rate, I'm going to have to start over... possibly with new colors. It's enjoyable knitting, at least-- I still haven't gotten over self-striping yarn.

By this time next week, some of the work-related excitement may have calmed down a bit-- in the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gears (and spindles) turning

I got an unexpected and entirely welcome gift of fiber from Eric for Christmas-- it's Corriedale top, it's the bees knees, and I have ten ounces of it:

As soon as I opened it and stopped grinning like an idiot the gears started turning... according to the wonderful Knitter's Book of Wool by Clara Parkes, "Corriedale makes a smooth and extremely durable worsted yarn."* I started imagining a strong, dense, fine, tightly plied, worsted-spun yarn-- perfect for... SOCKS! I have thus far been immune to the sock-knitting virus, but this stuff really wants to become socks... I'm helpless to resist!

I had no idea if I could actually spin this imaginary yarn, but my sample looks convincing enough:

I'm going to be way too cool wearing socks knitted from my own hand-spun yarn. Just putting that out there.

*Also: "Beginning handspinners love Corriedale because of its pronounced crimp, generous staple length, and ease of handling." So that explains it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Finish Line

I'm finishing some things today-- now that I'm no longer in hat assembly-line mode, it's harder to muster the necessary energy. Two things I'm finishing are gifts, so motivating deadlines are involved. Though I tend to think of birthdays as more of a suggestion than an absolute deadline...

There's hand-spun yarn dripping in the shower:

A cowlish item pinned for blocking:

And a pastel object laid out to dry-- it still needs buttons and a drawstring:

Can you guess what it might be? I'm not telling.

Now I can start approximately ten more things without a speck of guilt!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I realize that there hasn't been (so far) much knitting content in this so-called knitting blog, and there's a couple of reasons for that. I have a nearly-completed project that is supposed to be a surprise... and the other projects I've been planning haven't quite launched onto the needles yet. I'm kind of in a pickle of indecision at the moment.

First off, some swatches that are giving me trouble:

My love for SHELTER has become even deeper, if that is possible-- one swatch is clearly much larger than the other, yet there is little difference in the density of the fabric. After washing, the stitches just fluff themselves into perfect cohesiveness. Magical. The problem is, every way I measure gauge, I get a different result. The larger one seems by some measures to be the appropriate gauge for the pattern, but there's enough uncertainty that I remain unconvinced-- add to that the uncertainty of a sweater knit in pieces, multiply by my perfectionism and general indecisiveness, and you get a perfect storm of dithering. Maybe I can convince myself to try knitting a sleeve.


This is meant to become a sample for a pattern I'm writing-- I'm going to be my own test-knitter-- but it looks so lovely in the skein that I can't bear to disturb it at the moment.

My hands are getting itchy, so something's got to give.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Things with snow on them

When I left work Friday it was snowing, the first real snow of winter. It was only an inch and it was gone by Saturday afternoon, but I made hay while it lasted-- things with snow on them are instantly more photogenic, don't you think?

Maybe it's that unearthly snow-light that does it... I can't tell you how much I have been longing for snow. Something must be really wrong with me!