Saturday, January 16, 2010

tugging at my heartstrings

A year or two ago I got back in touch with an old childhood friend. A few weeks ago I learned that she was in the hospital, because her immune system decided to munch on her heart, and she needed a new one. (There is a more technical term for the auto immune disease that munched on her heart. I don't remember what it is, except that it's rare and very scary.)

After obsessively following her online updates and wringing my hands with worry, I realized that I could direct that nervous energy to something productive. Silly, yes, but also productive. If she needed a new heart, why not just make one? So obvious.


Thank you, Kristin Ledgett, for this beautiful and simple pattern. I made mine larger than life using an aran weight yarn (Harrisville Highland) and size 4 needles. And I stuffed it with leftovers from combing my blue cormo, figuring that that could just be blood that needs to be oxygenated, right?

Joclyn received her new heart yesterday. Not the wool one (though that should also have landed in Brooklyn by now), but the real beating kind. And is doing great. She is a superstar. (As is the person who signed their donor card, and made her continued life possible. Please, if you can, make sure that you are signed up to be an organ donor.)

And for a study of contrasts, I wanted to help spread the word that a lot of knitting designers are pledging to donate a portion of their pattern sales for the next little while to charities that can help out in Haiti. The full list can be found here, on Ravelry.

From today through the end of February of this year, I am donating all of my pattern sales (minus the paypal fees) to Doctors Without Borders. I'll probably donate in a couple of batches, and will post the totals on the pattern descriptions in Ravelry when all is said and done. Specifically, those patterns of mine are the Francie socks, the 1989 hat, and the Smoke Signals hat.

In addition, because I like to see people actually use my patterns, I will donate $1 for every person who sends me a private message on Ravelry to let me know they've completed knitting one of the patterns, between today and the end of February.

There are tons of other designers who are donating part or all of their pattern sales to charities over the next few weeks, so please check them out. If there's a pattern you've been thinking of buying, now is a great time to do it.

Hug your loved ones. Life is precious.

Friday, January 01, 2010

This is not a resolution!

... though it does seem like a good way to start the new year. Happy New Blog Post! I thought I'd do a quick roundup of some of the things I've done over the past few months. I know that the blogs I read haven't been as active, on the whole, as they used to be. For everyone celebrating the newly minted year with a long, lazy weekend, the least I can do is try to provide 3.5 minutes of passive fibery entertainment. Here's some pretty:

This is a 3 ply fingering weight, spun from 80/20 merino/silk, dyed by All Spun Up. It's my first of her fibers, and was one of my favorite sock yarn spinning experiences. This particular blend makes a soft yarn that still has a lot of elasticity, with an added bit of sheen. The darker colors with the occasional brightness and shine was mesmerizing to spin, and has been spectacular to knit up. The sock are actually all but done. Maybe they'll be in the next post. In any case, I highly recommend this blend for spinning.

HY handspun merino
HY handspun merino
These are two slightly different skeins of handspun, made from superfine merino, dyed by the brilliant Adrian at Hello Yarn. This yarn is chain plied, to preserve the color runs. I meant it for socks, and was going to make knee socks, but one skein is thicker. So now I'm just knitting regular socks, and sending one skein to a friend. (Long over-due, alas.) The fineness of the super-fine was slightly noticeable in the fiber, more noticeable in the yarn, and is extremely noticeable in the knitted fabric. Because chain plied yarn isn't ideal for socks, I pulled out some chunks of the fiber, and spun and plied it into a regular 3 ply yarn, for something a little more resistant to wear and tear. The first of these socks is halfway done, and the pair would probably be done by now if I didn't have another time-sensitive project on the needles. It's a joy to knit with this stuff.

Smooshy Brickers
These socks are from Anne Hanson's Brickers sock pattern, knit out of Dream In Color Smooshy. It's a simple but gorgeous stitch pattern, and elastic enough to be ideal for socks. I love what Anne does with textures, and want to knit just about everything she's designed.

super sweet superwash
super sweet superwash
This is a 3 ply handspun out of superwash Bluefaced Leicester fiber, dyed again by Adrian at Hello Yarn. This was my first experience with superwash BFL, and it was weird. It's extremely slippery to spin, but also starts to feel wiry when it gets a lot of twist in it. So I felt like it took a while to get the right balance on my spinning wheel, so that it wasn't yanked out of my hands, but so that it also didn't feel icky as I spun it. I eventually reached that balance, and found that when I plied the wiry feeling singles, they softened right up. I do think I'd use superwash BFL again, now that I know what to expect from it. But most of all, I adore this yarn. Thank you for dyeing so beautifully, Adrian! I'm really itching to start these socks.

BFL singles

I spun this singles laceweight yarn from BFL top, and ended up with this scarf (Rivolo, designed by Anne Hanson):

handspun Rivolo
handspun Rivolo
This was the first time I've been happy with my own handspun singles yarn. I think that part of that is experience, but part of it may also be the longer staple length of BFL, which means less twist is necessary to keep the yarn together than with a short stapled fiber, like merino. I'm pretty proud that I did this, given my previous bad experiences with handspun singles.

Road Not Taken
That Rivolo was my second lace scarf from a singles yarn of the year. Right before that, I knit this Road Not Taken scarf, from Lisa Lloyd's book A Fine Fleece. I used Zauberball yarn. I really wanted to use the yarn for socks, but wasn't convinced that a singles yarn would be ideal for that. I'm happy with the project I chose for it, and adore the colors. It goes well with my Manon sweater, since there's an orange in there that perfectly matches it.

Believe it or not, there's more than that. But I kind of lost track of what I had blogged about, and what I hadn't. So here's to a fresh start to the year, with less blogging debt. I'm not all caught up, but caught up enough to move on, and not worry about it anymore. I've spent the last month or so spinning up my blue cormo fleece, and working on a pattern for publication in the spring. The fleece is done, and the pattern should be within the next week. This is going to be a great year, wool-wise, and otherwise.