one big tube
My needles are liberated. I love the moment when you finish binding off, or, as in this case, putting stitches on holders. Free needles! They get to breathe, after days or weeks or months smothered in wool. It's a grand feeling.
The sweater obviously isn't done, but I've reached a real milestone here. I've completed the bottom part of the body, up to the armpits. My next step is to knit 2 sleeves. Then the sleeves will be joined with the body, for some in-the-round set in sleeve shaping, to go along with the yoke.
I was asked about both spit splicing and evenness in the comments on my last post. First of all, my fabric isn't perfectly even. That's what blocking is for. Secondly, I think the only way to become confident in your stranded colorwork skills (and happy with the products) is experience. My skills have certainly improved a whole lot over the past couple of years. As for spit splicing, there is a nice illustrated explanation here. For the record, I use water, not spit. That way I can eat chocolate while knitting. I also found that sucking on the wool (because there's no way I'd have the stomach to spit onto it) resulted in fibers in my mouth. A little cup of water is really the way to go, in my book.
And how about something completely different? Vastly, wildly different. For me, at least. This weekend, I walked down to my local bookstore, and bought a copy of Spinning in the Old Way.
I swear, it's not because it's trendy. It's because a co-worker has a farm, and has offered me a fleece. And even though I don't know how to spin, if someone is going to offer me a fleece, I'm going to accept it. Spinning is one of those things I knew I eventually wanted to learn how to do, because it will bring me one step closer to making things from scratch. And starting from a fleece, as opposed to pre-dyed and processed roving, is the way I envisioned I'd start. I didn't expect it to happen so soon, but now that the opportunity is here, I'm getting quite excited about it. A couple of friends recommended Spinning in the Old Way to me when I mentioned this new potential undertaking, and as they both know my personality and crafting style pretty well, I took that as a sign that this was the book for me. I've skimmed through the entire book and closely read the first half, and am about ready to declare my devotion to top-whorl spindling, though I have yet to lay my hands on a spindle. Or fiber.
While I wait for my fleece and read up on spinning, I have some planning and preparation to do. I've already received excellent instructions on how to wash the fleece, and am in the process of deciding between using a drum carder (which I'll probably be able to borrow from another co-worker, as I obviously work for the best employer in the nation), or trying to track down (or *gulp* buy) cards for hand carding. I'm leaning towards hand carding, and would commit to it full force if it weren't for the necessary expense of buying the equipment. (If you really want to alleviate my anxiety over this, feel free to buy 10 or 15 copies of the hat pattern. That should cover it. She says with a wry smile.)
Despite my desire to do things from scratch, with a raw fleece, I expect to buy a drop spindle and some prepared fiber to start out with. I don't expect to become an expert spinner right away, but I'd prefer that my first spinning experience isn't with the fiber that I slaved over to prepare. Plus, if the fleece thing doesn't work out, Gibson-Roberts' book has gotten me so excited about all of the geeky, scientific aspects of spinning that there is no turning back now. The mere prospect of a fleece has bootstrapped me into a spinner. So this is going to happen, one way or another. And now I have a really good reason to try to make it to the New Hampshire Sheep & Wool Festival next month. I'm hoping there will be some good deals on locally made spindles, cards, and fiber. I'm just bursting to learn these new skills.