Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What I don't Enjoy..

I finally finished knitting my little neckerchief (Lacy Baktus). It's a bit smaller than the sample photo listed on Ravelry, but it's nice because you can make it any size depending on how much yarn you have. The pattern is relatively easy to memorize which makes for good train knitting.

However, I did have to frog several rows because I was screwing up decreases AND because I was running out of yarn and had to be more aggressive in decreasing rows. But, it's my first FO from spun to knit.

And, because I need for something to work on while on the train, I started knitting up my very first cardigan using Cascade Eco Baby Alpaca. OMG, this stuff is amazingly soft and an absolute pleasure to knit up.

This past weekend, I actually managed to get a bit of spinning done. I had several small samples of non-wool fibers; I thought to give them a try.

The samples ranged from bamboo, mulberry silk, tussah silk, etc, mixed with nylon or alpaca. And because the samples were relatively small in size (anywhere from 1/8 - 3/8 oz) they spun up relatively quickly on the drop spindle.

Mini-Batt Sample

The colors aren't what I would have chosen for myself (pink, a pinky salmon, and a pink/blue combo), but three of the samples from different fiber artists actually meshed reallly well together. So, I did my first 3-ply, which actually came out very nicely. I was rather pleased.

Each of the samples was spun to laceweight (yaay!), and I managed to pull about 15-20 yards out of each one (depending on weight). The 3-ply after the twist had been set came out to a fingering/DK weight (Yaay) @ 20 yards. For now, it'll just act as a sample skein for a 3-ply.

I'm rather pleased with the whole experiment that I can attempt to do a nice sock yarn and knit that up. :-)

I tried two other samples, including one that uses a combination of bamboo, mulberry silk, and sea cel, and I had to put it away because I ended up fighting with it and did *not* enjoy it at all. I think partially because each different fiber was just 'laid' ontop of each other and not blended well.

Note to self:
I did not enjoy a straight mulberry silk, straight bamboo, or straight tussah silk.

AND I do not enjoy roving where different colored fibers are just "laid" ontop of each other ESPECIALLY if each of the colored fibers are actually different fibers. It makes drafting a PITA. However, I did enjoy a really good blended roving (like the alpaca/silk/bamboo combination)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Knitting & Spinning

For the colored BFL, I'm currently making a lacy baktus scar as I have just enough yarn (110 yards) to make it long enough to wrap around my neck with a button for a closure.

However, today, while waiting at the doctor's, I had to frog to the half-way point, because I totally messed up my decrease rows. I was trying to work through the mistakes I had made, but realized that blocking was not going to hide them. Ah well. Luckily, it's a quick knit.

I finished spinning up the Icelandic wool, which was absolutely fun to spin up, but now that it's on the niddy noddy, it's going to be a very scratchy wool to anyone who has the slightest sensitivity. I would like to spin more of it up, but am pretty sure that it's going to be too scratchy for something close to the skin -- it'd have to be a bulky sweater of some sort.

Regardless, I managed to spin up about 132 yards out of 2 ounces @ fingering weight.

Icelandic Wool

This is still a steady improvement of overall yardage from last month. I'm getting the hang of spinning 'thinner'. Right now, my 'fingering' weight STILL plumps up to about a worseted weight or heavier once I set the twist with washing. *sigh* I really want it to remain within the sport/DK weight range. I don't know if I need to add more twist or just draft thinner in order to keep it at that fingering weight so I can ply later.

Also, I am debating what to do with the yarn I dyed this weekend. The skeins plumped up considerably after the dye. I'm thinking I'm going to make a handbag then felt it. One came out a beautiful blood red, and the last skein put in came out a faded red -- like a red shirt left too long out in the hot sun after too many washings. I might overdye it to see what it turns into.

I am finding myself reaching for the spindle a lot more frequently than the knitting needles as of late. I'm still knitting more than I am spinning, but I find myself mediating more with the spindle.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A bit of Sewing & Dye'ing

I had gotten some scrap leather from a very good friend--scrap for him, but *more* than enough to do things with for me. So, I took the strips of leather (gold & red) and started making a waist cincher for myself.

The cincher is an easy project; I've already got a complete and fitted pattern. Plus there was *just* enough leather for the cincher, as the leather came in strips and scraps.

I pieced together the strips of leather to be able to cut out some of the the pattern pieces and used some of the scraps for others. This is the *first* time I've actually worked with leather for anything. the scraps allowed me not to worry about "ruining" a whole hide of leather. I was "winging" the overall look of the cincher with the scraps, but it managed to pull itself together really well. I had enough left over red pieces to even make little decorative buckles.

I had fun putting that together. I went through two leather needles making the whole of the project. It's done, except I still have to do the bindings and the grommets. The leather binding is going to be a pain since I'm going to have to hand-sew the inside of the binding. UGH! THAT might take me a bit of time and effort.

While I was busily sewing the leather, I had a pot of blood red dye on the stove on low heat and dye'ing up some of the handspun I had finished at least 1-2 weeks before that were sitting resting. (I *really* need to get some used thrift-store crockpots for this!)

There was some generic long wool (unknown sheep), one skein of fawn BFL, and one skein of tawny Corriedale. I added the long wool and BFL first, then several hours later added the Corriedale. After about 5 hours, it absorbed all of the dye, and is now hanging drying in the spare bathroom.

Some of my first Handspun

The then-wet colors looked absolutely brilliant although I know that they'll dry a bit lighter, so I'm waiting to see how it looks when finishing the drying process.

In between all of it, I got a bit of spinning done. I started on some dark grey Icelandic wool, which, while feels a little scratchy as the roving, feels really nice spinning. Of course, it'll might knit up a bit itchy.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Bit of Everything Thrown Together

I finished my Purple Smooshy socks on Wednesday night. It's my 2nd cuff-down sock, and I have to say, I am probably going to stick with toe-up socks onward. I *hate* the kitchener's stitch and I can never tell where I am in the foot rounds. Two toe-up socks at the same time is *easier* LOL.

The cuff is very cute as they are just ribbed rings and looked like a scrunched sock. And the Dreams in Color Smooshy yarn is just lovely; it's a kettle-dyed purple.

Purple Smooshy Socks 1

So, now I am sockless in terms of train projects, so I started bringing my hemlock ring blanket (still small) with me on the train. It makes for mindless knitting once I get past the increase lace repeats. I'm on the 5th set of increase repeats on the chart, so I'm not even *close* to finishing (there are a total of 11 increase rounds). I really need to get farther along on this project, since I started it nearly a month ago (7/13). But I realized that this project is very warm (the start of a blanket made out of wool) as it sat on my lap on the train ride home.

Luckily, I have a project that should be relatively light and let me use the the superwash BFL I finished spinning last week. It's a small neck shawl...basically something larger than a neckerchief but not so long as a scarf.

Now that the yarn has been twist set & dry, it's fluffed up nicely (after good thwackings). I checked the gauge of yarn, and it's a worseted weight. There's not much (about 100+ yards) hence the small project. The colors spun up *gorgeously* of different jewel-tones.

BFL from Spincerely

I put away the tussah silk I was practicing with on the drop spindle, because, it's driving me nuts with its spidery-web consistency (as in strands of it get *everywhere*). I can see why it's blended with other things. It spins up very very fine and very very very soft. And it's driving me *crazy* I am going to try and tackle it at a later date when I'm actually *better* at this sort of stuff. Either that or a different spindle.

So, instead, I started spinning up the Coopsworth that I bought from Spunky Eclectic, and this stuff is *awesome* and spins really really well. I bought two types, 2 oz each -- a white & a natural color.

My plans for this batch: spin up the rest, dye both skeins variations of red (one a little more "black" than red), then ply the two together. I suspect that the natural wool will take the red color a little better and be a little darker than the white. If this knits up well and I can wear it without wool issues, I'm going to have to get more.

Of course, I have no idea what I want to knit it *into*, but that's another topic.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Attacking the Needles

Well, last night I attacked my knitting needles. Actually, I was trying to fix a problem on one of them, but ended up buggering up in one of those "Oh, Noes! -- must laugh calamities."

I was trying to gauge some of my handspun with US 11 needles (as the 2ply yarn is a heavy worseted weight), and realized that the wood bit was coming out of the metal bit. So I got my handy-dandy super glue (coz what girl doesn't have 5-6 types of glue for any given occassion) and added a touch of glue, then wiped off the excess.

Except, the needle was still attached to the cable (I have the Knitpicks Options wood needles that can detach from the cables), and when I wiped off the excess, it was down towards the cable. As such, the cable is now glued to the needle! (Luckily, I didn't do this to the OTHER needle)

Unfortunately, I didn't have any acetone or nail polish in the house. So, I will have to purchase some and see if I can't soak that little metal part in the acetone without destroying the wood or the plastic of the cable. *sigh* I'm glad I didn't use another type of glue that needs somethign stronger. However, I wish I had used my special glue for my fencing weapons as that can be removed with alcohol.

Later that night, I went to try and spin about an ounce of tussah silk that I had for practice. Using my super light spindle, I went to work. OMG, this stuff is so soft and is so fine.....and is completely like spider silk. The fine silky strands get EVERYWHERE. However, the strands are amazingly long (not surprisingly) and it's a little hard to gauge how much to draft it. This is one of those projects that's going to take a bit of time, even though it's only 1 oz of silk. And considering how FINE it's spinning, I'm going to end up with probably a bit of yardage than I first expected.

My knitting for the trip is pretty much packed. FIVE hours on the plane, each way. I should be able to get a lot of reading & knitting done. I'm going to actually play with some of my handspun and make little ditty bags that I'll felt when I get back home. Luckily, my handspun is only about 60 yards so they should be relatively quick in the making.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Levels of Insanity

Every so often, I have an insane costume idea (yes -- every so often) that involves a lot of work, but would be REALLY COOL if I could pull it off.

Now, it's nothing as insane as say, the recreated Worth Oak leaf dress that harmanhay recreated (sewing 4 hours a night!), nor as insane as the woman who made a dress from the sheep (as in spun the cotton, wove the fabric, THEN sewed her outfit), but it's on a MUCH MUCH MUCH smaller scale of insanity.

Basically, it started at Costume College at the 18th c. pocket's class, where the teacher passed around a merino/silk hand-embroidered pocket she had made. It was so soft and so pet-able. I was in love. Then in the Embroidery for Stomacher's class (with the same teacher), she was showing off some of the thread that you can use for embroidery, INCLUDING some thinner handspun yarn she had purchased. My mind kinda did a double-take.

After I started taking the crewel yarn apart, my mind kept thinking: What if?

What if I got some delicious merino/silk combo, or maybe just a tussah silk, and spun that to about the right thickness for crewel embroidery? I wouldn't need much, and if i was really insane, I could buy the natural stuff, and dye it myself.

I have plenty of the detailed costume books for the 18th century where I can thereby scan-in a given pattern, make that into a line drawing, etc. Then that just needs to be transferred to linen or a period muslin (lawn) fabric.

Then, I could do a basic embroidery stitches to create said pocket.

That is...if I were insane. I mean, it'd be very very small final project, except, obviously, for the steps along the way. I mean, a pocket's relatively small, right? *ahem*

OR I could be just a sane person, and scan in the pattern, have it digitized, and have the embroidery machine do it for me (although, it might take just as long a time to get the pattern digitized properly!)

Or be even more sane, and take my already existing embroidery patterns, put something 18th century like, and have the machine do all the work. (I plan on doing this one anyways.)

Whether or not I do this from scratch, is dependent on my level of sanity. Currently, I'm trying to judge where that level is currently at.... :-)