Monday, June 25, 2007

hellfire and butter

A little alarm inside of me has been going off recently, telling me that it's time to blog. This has been particularly annoying, as I don't feel I have a lot I'm prepared to blog about. But I suppose it's time to give in, instead of thwacking that virtual snooze button too many times.

I finished the first scroll lace sock. I've been test knitting some Hellfire and Brimstone for Brenda, which I'm ashamed to say, has been kicking my butt. (I got complacent. I forgot what it was like for knitting to do that to me. It's good to occasionally be reminded that one isn't as smart as they'd like to think.) Don't worry -- the pattern is quite clever, and will be very user friendly. I just have issues with short rows that must date back to some repressed trauma or dark incident from a past life. I pushed through it, though, and came out better on the other side. What is your knitting Achilles Heel? (My Achilles Heel is, in part, heels. Whether that's humorous or a sign that I am part Greek God, I have yet to figure out.)

Oh, you wanted photos. Sorry, none of the socks. But I have been spinning. This weekend I plied up what I think will be 80 yards of a sportish weight 2-ply, which I'm quite pleased with. I still need to set it, to see if it's actually balanced, but I have a good feeling about it. The big question, however, is, what do I do with 80 yards of sportweight? This is the problem with drop spindles and Andean plying. Low yardage.

I plied up that Romney so I could start on what was really calling to me this weekend -- the pastel Blue Faced Leicester that Brenda sent. Spinning that is a completely different experience. It's so soft and smooth, and seems to draft itself. I thought that I was going to go for another "thicker" (sportweight post-plying) yarn, but this stuff wants to spin thin, so thin it will be. Here's what I had yesterday afternoon:

Blue Faced Leicester, June 24

After this weekend, I never want to spin anything but BFL. Brenda claims that I'll eventually get bored of it, and I hear that there may be even more wonderful fibers out there. For the moment, fiber doesn't get better than this. Blog post done. Time to spin.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

slowly unfurling

This is a quickie post to let you know that I finally got Paypal payments working for the Smoke Signals hat pattern. I'm still trying to figure out how to get rid of the blank space that appears above the button, but am afraid to touch the html, lest I break the poor thing again. Sorry to be a bit spammy about this (if it's possible to be spammy on one's own blog), but I'm excited to get sales going again, even if it's just one or two sales. Go to the original hat post if you want to order.

I feel terrible posting something so lacking in content, so here are a couple of other tidbits to make your day more interesting. Neither of which are directly knitting related (a rarity for me on the blog), but both of which provide me with inspiration. The first is a photo of a fiddlehead fern, taken a few weeks ago on a hike somewhere in this lovely state of New Hampshire:

fiddlehead fern

Between the fuzz and the delicate curves, I feel like that's a lace hat pattern just waiting to be born. Anyone up to the design challenge? I know I'll be keeping the photo in the back of my mind, in case design inspiration hits.

Secondly, have you guys heard about Beethoven's 9th Symphony stretched to last 24 hours? I heard about it a few weeks ago, possibly on Studio 360 (which has a podcast, so you have no excuse for not listening to it every week). When I began the Autumn Color Cardigan, I talked about how the slowly emerging rainbow of the hem reminded me of the teasing opening of the fourth movement of his 1st symphony. Here I am full-circle, with 24 hours of the 9th symphony, which I find to be an even stronger analogy than that previous post. First of all, I desperately want to spend 24 hours listening to the symphony. One of the first CDs I ever owned was of that symphony, I wrote a long paper about the 3rd movement for my Beethoven's Symphonies class in college, and know the symphony better than the back of my hand. I want to spend 24 hours listening to it, distorted over time just as a sock or sweater is distorted over time as it's being knit. The excruciating detail of every stitch, every note, every yarn over, every breath, blending together into one meditative experience.

I know that today is knit in public day, and I have to admit that the idea is not for me, in general. I have nothing against knitting in public, but I prefer to use my blog as my way to share my knitting with any section of the general public who cares to look. However, if there were a 24 hours of Beethoven knitting gathering somewhere nearby, I'd be there in a heartbeat. As long as someone brought a lot of coffee, and I was assured that I'd be able to shush people whenever I needed, to pay attention to particular favorite bits of the symphony.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

scrolling and chewing

Thing One
Thank you so much for all of the wonderful comments on my Kilt Hose. Special thanks for the fashion suggestions. Brown corduroy. Inspired idea! I was born with this inability to dress myself in a flattering manner, which is a bit ironic given that my main hobby involves creating clothing. Any help I can get is welcomed.

Thing Two
I think I have things set up to do hat sales straight through Paypal. This means that I will email you the PDF of the pattern by (virtual) hand. So delivery won't necessarily be immediate. Right now I'm guaranteeing 24 hours, unless I'm out of town, in which case I will make a note on the pattern page so buyers are warned. Here is the button that will hopefully make sales work again. Please let me know if it doesn't work for some reason. Please go to the original hat post if you want to buy the pattern.

I'll be updating the hat post itself shortly after I post this. Back in business!

Thing Three
I've been working on a sock in the Schaefer Anne I bought with my gift certificate from last summer's Amazing Lace knitalong. It's about time! I got a fabric I liked with a size 00 needle (1.75mm), at 11 stitches per inch. The yarn is really thin for a fingering weight, but now that I've found a gauge I like for it, knitting with it is a pure pleasure. This is one of the most pleasurable pure knitting experiences I've had in a while. I was a bit wary of the mohair content, but I think my aversion to mohair is really just an aversion to Lambs' Pride. Now I know better.

I'm using the Scroll Lace pattern from Barbara Walker's first treasury of knitting patterns. It's very similar to the Scroll Lace pattern in the second Sensational Knitted Socks book by Charlene Schurch. I haven't seen that pattern in person, but I suspect it's the very same thing, with the exception that the Walker pattern repeat size is a little bigger. It's one of those patterns that is incredibly easy to adjust for a variety of repeat sizes, though, so I'm getting the same effect as I've seen from people using the Schurch book. I chose to go with the larger repeat size because of my tight gauge with this yarn. Here are a few photos:

Scroll lace sock closeup

scroll sock

scroll sock inside

Isn't it just enthralling? It looks a little like entrelac, but isn't. It's a really easy pattern to knit and memorize, and knits up incredibly quickly. I can't believe how much progress I made in just a few days, given that I have 80 stitches per round. I think I'll write up a little free pattern for the socks when I finish them. I charted out the Walker version of the pattern, and you'll be surprised to see what the chart looks like, in comparison to what the knitted fabric looks like.

Thing Four
When I haven't been knitting, I've been plying. My plying technique still isn't really a technique as much as it is me flailing around, and trying to get things to work. I'm working on it, though. I have great advice to try to put into practice from one friend, but if any of you have more advice on plying from a center pull ball on a drop spindle, give it up! I need an advice library that's as large as possible to sample from, as I try to create a technique that melds with my natural spazzy ways. Here's a photo of the 2-ply I created from the singles I showed you a couple of weeks ago:

First Handspun

As you can see, the yarn is incredibly hairy, which I think only hindered me. The bit I measured is 24 wraps per inch, but I only sampled one section, and I think that section is a bit thinner than the average for the skein. I know that I slightly overplied it, based on how it hung when I first took it off the niddy noddy. But after setting it, it hung in a nice balanced loop, which makes me proud.

Brenda is being my spinning enabler, and sent me a package of new fibers to sample, from the Wonder Wool festival in Wales. It just arrived yesterday, and I immediately started spinning again, trying to improve my drafting technique (visible success already) and plying technique (possible slight success already). I'm just playing around with some mystery roving (possibly Romney) right now, but have dyed Blue Faced Leicester and 4 different natural colors of Shetland, just waiting to be turned into a real project. The BFL will be my first dyed wool, and the Shetland is of course just begging to be colorwork of some sort.

I think that the fleece deal has fallen through, which is a bit ironic, as it was what got me spinning in the first place. But I'm happy with the materials I have to work with right now, and still plan to buy a fleece (or three) at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool next Spring. My eventual goal is to create items from wool I've processed, spun, (dyed?), and knit up all by hand. Even better, to create items that I'd be proud to give away as gifts. I owe several people a lot already, for their generous sharing of time, advice, and of course wool. Nothing says thank you like socks and shawls knit from handspun yarn. I'm biting off a lot, but I'll eventually finish chewing it all. (yum. handspun, hand knit, hand chewed socks!)

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Saturday, June 02, 2007


Schottische Kilt Hose

Scottische Kilt Hose, from Folk Socks by Nancy Bush
Brown Sheep Naturespun Sport
2.25 mm needles
calf shaping adjusted for the shape of my own calves
toes less pointy than the pattern says

Schottische Kilt Hose - calf shaping

I'm still not sure when I'll wear them, but I'm very pleased with them. Today's late morning photoshoot fashion statement was denim shorts, a yellow tank top, and kilt hose. I don't think that will do for anything but private, in-house photoshoots. I guess I'll have to find a plaid skirt somewhere that complements the socks without making me look like I'm trying to relive the Catholic school girl days I never had.

These socks are finished because I realized that working on the Autumn Color Cardigan was not fun anymore. It will be fun again, but there was no way I was going to have it completed for the county fair and enjoy the process. It's on a short hiatus right now, while I work on other things.

One of those other things is making yarn. I had some problems plying the singles I posted about a couple of weeks ago, and have bought a nostepinne, which might help with the process. I was assured by friends that trying to ply singles from the inside and outside of a center pull ball is not a beginner skill, and that I shouldn't be upset that I had so much trouble with it. A nostepinne might help me tension the yarn better as I pull from the inside and outside of the ball of singles, and I think I'll give it a try this weekend, after I cut off the tangle of frustration I have sitting between my ball of yarn and few yards of ugly 2-ply on the spindle. Right now my goal is to at least know that I know how to ply reasonably well, even if it takes me the rest of my singles to get to that point. It would be nice to have some reasonably okay 2-ply yarn to knit up from that first spindleful, but it will be even nicer to know that I'll be able to create that decent 2-ply on future spinning endeavors. And there's an exciting package on my way from overseas with fibers for me to try out, so I have a lot of motivation to learn how to ply. I don't want to waste that roving, which is a generous gift from a friend.

On the hat pattern... I ran into some trouble with Payloadz, and was so astounded at their terrible and rude customer service that I refuse to use them any longer. Right now this leaves me with 2 options: to use another service that charges $5 a month, or to email each purchaser individually. I think I'm going to do the latter for now, just because I am making so few sales that $5 a month might be all I make. That would leave me with nothing, or very little if I happen to make 2 or 3 sales in a month. I am working on another pattern, and once that is up, I'll rethink things again. Right now sales are still down because I just haven't had the energy to figure out how to set up my Paypal account to do these sales directly. I know there is at least one person who emailed me about buying the pattern. I have not forgotten you, and hope to get things working in a week or so. Thanks so much for your patience.

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