Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Giving away Yarn for Good.

Several weeks ago, I took the parts of my Stash(TM) that I was no longer going to use (left over acrylic/wool blends -- used to make amigurumi toys for kids-- boucle, ribbon yarn, and other big-box-store yarns) and handed it to my friend who works as a nurse as a childrens' home.

She had told me that one of the 'houses' has group of kids that have craft night where all of the kids (boys and girls) knit and craft. I thought, what better way to use all this yarn? I'm not going to be using them any time soon and the kids could use them.

Over Thanksgiving, she told me how much the kids went WILD over the yarn. I had a multitude of colors (blues, greens, reds, purples, variegated, etc). Apparently, the kids normally get stuck with "old lady colors" that the volunteers find at various thrift stores or that get donated. They didn't know that yarn came in so many different colors. (Apparently a lot of the boys just end up knitting pink yarn.)

I think I will ask my friends for their non-used yarns that they might want to donate to give to these kids. It makes me feel good to know that a small thing on my part has had a big impact. It's nice to hear that it made people smile.

Monday, November 22, 2010

War between the brains...

Until this weekend, I had been knitting consistently on my Cerisara with absolutely no deadline for it to finish.

Silver Cera

However, at one point, I got the idea in my head that I would finish it and wear it to Thanksgiving dinner. Of course! What an idea! I could do it.

Then the logical part of my brain kicked in, and is currently warring with my creative side.

Logical Brain: I don't think this will happen. You need to do 10 inches on BOTH sleeves that has an 8-lace pattern. It takes you nearly an HOUR to do one repeat of the pattern.

Creative Idea Brain: Yeah? So? One repeat = one inch

Logical Brain: Which equals 20 hours worth of work! AND you still have to knit another 8 inches of stockinette stitch for the body AND finish the bind off.

Creative Idea Brain: I can do it.

Logical Brain: That's 28 inches of knitting you need to do BEFORE Thursday. When are you going to sleep?

Creative Idea Brain: *flexes knitting muscles* I'm up for the challenge.

Logical Brain: AND you need to block. It's been wet outside. It'll take long to dry

Creative Idea Brain: Blocking? Who needs blocking. We can do this.

Logical Brain: OY....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sweater Forecast Checklist

Done List:
  • Overcast and slightly cold weather?
  • Comfy alpaca pullover?
  • Cup of tea?

Still To Do:
  • Go home
  • Get under blanket on the couch
  • Find purring cat to snuggle
  • Pull out knitting project
  • Enjoy nice relaxing evening at home.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cerisara: Progress

My Cerisara is coming along nicely.

Currently, I worked down the body to the reverse stockinette stitch, then finished THAT ball of yarn. So, I picked up the stitches on the sleeves and started working on each one.

I *was* hoping to maybe do two-at-a-time on magic loop, but that's not going to happen because of the 8-row lace pattern, which isn't too difficult, but it does require paying attention, lest I miss a YO on occasion (which I have multiple times).

Silver Cera

So, in order to ensure both sleeves have the same length & number of rows, I'm doing one lace pattern on one sleeve, then switching to the other sleeve. AND I'm using one cake of yarn for both so that I'm not juggling the sweater AND two balls of yarn. However, I am using one set of circular needles for each sleeve.

In order to ensure that the cake doesn't get too tangled, I am employing a used nylon stocking (toe cut off). The stocking keeps the cake from getting tangled because each yarn end comes out of either end of the stocking.

Overall, I LOVE the yarn, Cascade Venezia. I hadn't intended on making it "silver" like the sample, but I loved the yarn and it was the color that I liked well enough while perusing at Purlescence.

I also really like this pattern. However, it's not your 'mindless knitting' and does require a bit of attention. I'm not wholly sure I will make this cardigan again, just because of that fact, but I might.....given enough time away from the project.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


I like to do things in small increments or "chunks" so that a big project isn't too daunting, whether it be household chores or any crafty/sewing project. It gives me a goal to achieve as well as feeling good about doing it. AND it gives me permission to put a project down once I accomplish that goal.

For instance, in cleaning up the kitchen: I try to take 5 minutes every day to do one thing in the kitchen -- put away the dishes or put dishes into the dishwasher or to wipe down the counter/stove.

After all, five minutes isn't a lot of time, and can easily be accomodated into my day. Then I feel accomplished and not so frazzled thinking about cleaning up a whole room.

When sewing, I break out a project into manageable chunks. For example:
1) get a pattern drafted (or cut out the pattern pieces)
2) getting just the fabric cut,
3) sewing just 1-2 logical pieces together
etc.. Then I work on just that single chunk so that a big project can be made more manageable.

When knitting, I'll try to do things in increments, like 1-2 lace rows or 1-2 inches of a given sock.

When spinning, I've been following Jasmin's example, and only spinning one ounce at a time. While this might have a few disadvantages (like never having enough quills for large amounts of fiber), it does break amounts down to sizeable and MANAGEABLE one ounce chunks that I can easily deal with, instead of frustrating myself thinking about the number of "pounds".

After all, you should eat pie in slices. Trying to fit the whole thing in your mouth is not only messy, but very impractical.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chic Knits

I'm very much in love with Chic Knits' patterns. I've already made two of her patterns

AND, I'm currently working on Cerisara. (I'm about to get to the reverse stockinette stitch portion).

I'm also spinning up of Frankto work on the Mondo Cable Cardigan! And I'm itching to actually start knitting it up...nevermind that I haven't finished Cerisara yet AND I haven't plied ANY of my singles yet... :-)

Bonne Marie...you are my bane. :-)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sewing &. Knitting

I've been sewing & crocheting since I was a little girl. My grandmother taught me how to do both.

Usually, when I sew, I make costumes -- simple costumes for Ren Faire or historical costumes for balls. For example, for Dickens Fair last Christmas, I made a complete Victorian outfit which involved a 5-gore skirt, blouse, waist belt, Spanish bolero jacket, and a faux-fur muff.

Spanish Jacket & Waist Blet
Spanish Bolero with Matching Waist Cincher Belt

Luckily, I already had all of the underpinnings for this outfit, or I would have made them too. Consequently, this was a "simple" project that only took about one month to complete, which including drafting a pattern, making several mockups, and then sewing.

My most complicated project took over 6 months of consistent sewing & fittings 3-4 nights a week (which was for an 18th century gown, complete with panniers, multiple skirts, underpinnings (18thc corset, bloomers, and chemise), and accessories (including building a wig)

Is it any reason why I really enjoy knitting? Most of my knitting projects can be finished in under two weeks and is *easily* portable. Bringing an 8 yard cartridge pleated skirt to hem on your lunch break isn't exactly feasible.

Not that all of my sewing projects are complicated. I can easily make small singular things, like a Ditty Bag in under 20 minutes or catnip mice in about 5 minutes, which is why I mostly don't knit "bags" or purses -- mostly because it's "sew" much easier to make them out of fabric. Heh

This is also the reason why I tend not to sew my own clothing (i.e every day clothing). It's usually faster & cheaper for me to purchase commercial clothing than it is to make it .....unless it's a super unique piece or costs WAAAY too much money to justify buying it (i.e. $300 for a dress).

Just like knitting, I much prefer to use my time to make something 'special' and unique that is going to show off my talents & hardwork, and that is fun & enjoyable for me to make.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Occasionally, I make jewelry...pretty costume jewelry with Czech or Swarovski beads, or formed glass beads, and semi-precious stuff. It's fun, and usually, I can churn out a single piece in 15 minutes....which totally appeals to my need to have to finish projects quickly. It's the reason why I like knitting -- I can finish a project faster than I can sewing a historical costume (which sometimes needs its own project plan as it's very involved and involves not only the clothing, but all accrutements.)

So, I took some pendants & beads I had laying around to make some simple stuff I can easily wear out & about. (All about 16-18")

Silver Mountain Lion Pendant with 6mm Tiger Eye &
Silver beads and green Czech glass beads

Ancient Egyptian Goddess Sekhmet Gold pendant,
6mm Garnet & gold beads, with red czech glass beads

Brass Eye of Horus pendant with 6mm Tiger eye bead, gold beads, and gold/brass czech glass beads

Lotus-shaped glass beads with gold overlay; gold spacer beads

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Frank, A hiccup in our Relationship

Frank and I had a small hiccup in our relationship this past weekend. I was spinning him on Nona, at a ratio of 11:1. After spinning 1 ounce, I decided that I would put together a plyback test for 2ply, 3ply, and 4ply and then put them into my spinner study book.

This I dutifully did, and stapled them to a 4x6 card and labeled them. Then I decided to double check the weight of the yarn, using the double-over method.

It works thusly: You take your yarn, double it over, and then slide it through the hole of your knitting needle measuring guide, and that gives you a GUESTIMMATE on the actual weight of the yarn without needing a WPI tool. (Now, a WPI tool is more accurate, but you need a lot of plied yarn to test)

So, I slipped in the double strand of yarn, which gave me an approximate needle size to use. Then correlated that information to my handy-dandy chart of WPI that lists the weights and the approximate needle sizes to use different weights.

(TANGENT:I learned this nifty trick via Spin Control: Techniques for Spinning the Yarns You Wantby Amy King.)

I discovered the following about my handspun:
2plies - heavy fingering
3plies - Sport
4plies - DK weight

Of course, this totally made sense, because I had just finished plying up a 4ply cable which ended up being a sport weight yarn, and nearly everything I've 3plied on 11:1 is primarily a sport weight yarn.

HOWEVER, what I wanted was to spin Frank for an Aran weight @ 3plies so this was problematic. I didn't want to do a 5ply. However, as it was late in the evening, I decided that I would leave it, and tackle the problem in the morning.

They say that a problem can be best dealt with by sleeping on it, and letting the idea come to you. And, boy did it ever come to me. Somewhere in the land between sleep and awake, I realized that if I just changed the wheel ratio, I will be okay. After all, Judith Mackenzie teaches that if you make adjustments to the wheel (like your ratio, tension, drive band), you will be able to adjust the fiber diameter without changing anything you're doing. And who am I to argue with Judith?!

Of course, this idea wouldn't leave me alone, and it woke me up completely. (Luckily, I had a good 8 hour sleep at this point). So, first thing, I went over to my wheel, changed the ratio out to 7.25:1, and spun up about 1/2 ounce.

I did another plyback test:
2-plies - sport / DK weight
3-plies - aran
4-plies - heavy worseted

And stapled those onto a 4x6 card.

Then I compared the 3-ply with Cascade worseted weight yarn that I used to knit my Ribby Cardi. AND they were nearly identical in diameter and appearance. My handspun was just a smidge thinner, but not by much. I can work with it.

Now, Frank and I are back on track, and I'm still very much in love with him.

I'll still need do a full swatch when I have more handspun on the bobbins to do a true 3ply and a knitted swatch, but this change in ratio puts me on better track for how I want to spin Frank.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Frank: How I love thee

I recently started spinning up Frank, the fleece. it took me a while to get him, because I had to finish a project that was on my wheel (only having one singular wheel).

The old roject was using 8oz Ashland bay merino I had bought at Village Spinning & Weaving last year (around Thanksgiving)

Garnet Top

After spinning 4oz singles, I spun up a two ply, then everything kinda languished on the wheel while I was busy with other things. I thought I might want it for a Citron shawl. But I wasn't overly happy with the 2ply, but wasn't happy with the 3ply sample either. So I decided that I should finish 2ply'ing the rest of the 4oz, AND then cable ply the other 4 oz, which turned into a sport weight 4-cable ply yarn @366 yards

Purple Heather

I still want a purple citron shawl, BUT I think I will use this for something else, like a pair of cabled hand warmers and use some of my art yarn as an accent piece.

Tour de Fleece - Coils2

Now, Frank? Frank's absolutely lovely. I wouldn't say that he's butter, but he's delightful to spin, drafts very well (thank you Morro Fleeceworks), and is an absolute STUNNING rich dark chocolately brown.


He looks like a chocolate cake here, but he turns into a deeper darker brown when spun up. I love the color, and am seriously debating whether or not to dye him into another color....which almost seems a shame to waste that beautiful naturally colored dark chocolate wool.

Friday, November 5, 2010

WIPs: Socks

Isn't it pretty?

Earth, Sky, Water

I love all the blues, greens, and browns. It reminds me of a mountain next to a lake. The blue of the lake & sky, the brown of the mountain, and the green of the trees. I'm calling the sock, Earth, Sea, Sky Socks (say that 3x fast....)

The yarn is Sheeps Feet by the Sheep Shop Yarn Company, and I am loving this yarn. This is the second pair of socks I've made with this yarn, and I do like the colorways and the thickness of the fabric.

The pattern is Cat Bordhi's Upstream Master Sock pattern (which serves as my vanilla sock pattern), as it's one of the better fitting sock patterns for my feet. (My feet are on the flatter side, so having the gusset on the instep versus the sole works well for me.)

The ribbing of the cuff is a faceted 1x1 rib, where the knit stitches are slipped every other round -- much like a reinforced heel on a toe-up sock. And so far, they fit very well.

This is my 'mindless' knitting project, for those times when I might need to put a project down and not worry about where I am in the pattern.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I started a new sweater (Cerisara by Bonne Marie Burns)  last week, And I finished up the lace portion of the back and started in on the next band, when I realized I was making the HUGE size sweater.

See, Bonne's Marie's patterns are awesome but are slightly smaller than what I would think of as "my size", so I have to go one size up. For her last two sweaters I've made, they fit well, but I would have liked to have more *ease* so I really should have made the next size up.

However, when I was looking at THIS pattern, I didn't see that she steps up her increments by FOUR instead of TWO (like other patterns)

So her other patterns read sizes as: 32, 34, 36....
This one reads her sizes: 34, 38, 42.....

I'm used to just looking at the THIRD sizing in for her patterns instead of, well, you know, actually READING the pattern. So I started making the 42" instead of the 38".......

I had to rip back 10 inches of lace work....*cry*

AND I just realized the silk / merino that I'm using grows a bit when I actually block & wash, which means that I was actually making THREE sizes bigger than I should have....

In a way, I'm glad to have started ripping, because I now realized I should be making the 34, as this yarn "grows" a little bit, which should put me at a 36".

But....10 inches....

I would have really hated to have
a) run out of yarn
b) make something that would fit someone 3x bigger than me....

But....10 inches.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Deb's Gloves

A friend of mine is a terrific beader. She makes really pretty jewelry, and she offered me a trade. She wanted handwarmers and she'd make me jewelry for them. I agreed.

We headed over to Imagiknit in San Francisco, where she picked out some lovely Abstract Fiber laceweight in the Matisse color.

Abstract Fiber Matisse

However, I am incapable of really knitting with lace weight, so because the yardage was extremely generous in the skein (420 yards), I doubled up the yarn as I only needed about 210 yards per handwarmer.

I showed her some patterns on Ravelry, and she picked out the design elements she liked from a few photos. Luckily, these design elements were easy (ribbing, vertical ribbing, and some YO/k2tog lace). She wanted longer handwarmers (mid way to her elbow) with a little bit of lace at the palm.

So, I took her measurements for her arms, and sketched out the design she had requested. I made some test swatches so I could get a feel for what gauge the double strand of the yarn was going to be happy (10 stitches per 1"; 15 rows / 1.75" -- US Size 2 needles).

After I found the yarn's happy place, I cast-on. There was some re-designing on the fly to take into account my gauge, actual measurements, and where I thought elements might look good versus my initial sketched ideas.

I took copious notes for each change. There were several "fittings" along the way as she tried on fit. There were also numerous camera phone images via text message as I sent her "progress reports".


At one point when the initial 15 rows of ribbing were done, I cast on the 2nd pair of arm warmers on another set of circular US2 needles using the other end of the yarn cake. I then knit up to the 15 rows of ribbing, and then put both on 2 circular needles so I could make sure that I did all of the decreasing and design elements exactly the same.


A rough guideline for this pattern

1) I cast on 54 stitches in a 3x3 (this allowed me to fit the widest part of her forearm @ 8")

2) Knit for about 15 rounds

3) Began arm decreases (1 decrease every 3 rounds) 6x -- I made the k2tog decreases in the purl part of the 3x3 rib to "hide" the decreases. There was a total of 5.5" of ribbing.

4) Purl 3 rounds, Knit 3 rounds, Purl 3 rounds (for the next design element)

6) Knitted stockinette stitch and started the thumb gusset about 3/4" from where the wrist starts. Increased until the gusset was about 22 stitches.

7) Put the thumb stitches on a scrap yarn
8) Knit for 3 more rounds

Lace bit:
9) Purl 1 round
10) (K2TOG, YO) for the entire round
11) Purl 1 round

12) Knit 2x2 ribbing for 3 rounds
13) cast off the hand

14) Picked up 22 stitches for the thumb,
15) Decreased the thumb by 2 stitches
16) BO with a sewn-off binding.