Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Long and Short of It.

Recently, I started working with some mixed BFL that I picked up at Village Spinning and Weaving two years ago. It's lovely fiber with still a nice sheepy smell.

Mixed BFL

I started spinning it on my Joy with my typical short draw. However, I kinda got bored, because there's a pound of it, and I had just spent a great deal of time spinning a lot of Frank.

So I decided that since I really have more yarn in my Stash than I know what to do with, I decided that I would play with the lovely lovely BFL using different draws.

By this time, I had already:
* spun & navajo plied 2 skeins of yarn
* spun short draw a 2-ply (intended for a 4ply chain)

So, I thought to practice my long draw, using the same ratios as before (11:1). It took me a bit to get used to the long draw and just "letting" go control over the yarn. The first bobbin of 1oz singles was very thick and thin but eventually I managed to get it relatively even with very little support from my non-fiber hand.

The 2nd bobbin of 1oz went very well with much more even yarn, although I did have lots of thick and thin sections. The 2ply result was quite nice. It's a worsted weight @ 58 yards with 2 ounces, which isn't much.

But I'm comparing the long woolen draw skein and the short-draw skeins and I'm kinda liking the nice halo effect and the soft loftniness of the woolen. Of course, I'll be knitting up sample swatches to get a feel for the resulting fabric.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Getting My Sock Mojo Back

For about 2 months, I kinda lost my sock mojo. Maybe it was because I had a foot injury and couldn't wear my hand-knit socks (they bothered the surgery area too much)....or fact, walking was a bit of a problem too.

Well, that's changing. I'm slowly starting to walk again, and my doctor recommended that I get some clogs to help with the walking part.

Yup. You heard correctly, clogs. So I went to the store, and took a look at Dansko clogs. I was a little bit skeptical on the concept of wearing clogs could help me walk better, but who am I to argue with my surgeon?

Did you know that clogs have a tag on the box that says "American Podiatrist Medical Association Approved?" I didn't know that. I bet my doctor did. :-)


So, I got these lovely red beauties at the store. I had a 20% off coupon AND a gift certificate, so the price was about right.

And wouldn't you know it? They actually DO help me walk better. Of course, I need to wear socks with these shoes.

So, I immediately cast on for a new pair socks....


'Coz new socks should be had with new shoes, right? :-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Immediate Gratification -- Denied

This past weekend, I decided to purchase a pattern via Ravelry instead of the designer's website. Why? Because I wanted designers to know that people LOVE Ravelry (like they already don't know), but to help support Ravelry as well.

I used my PayPal account to purchase the pattern. Now, when I've purchased on this designer's site before using the same exact method, I got my pattern immediately. I *really* wanted to cast-on this pattern ASAP!

However, apparently, Ravelry requires your payment to be "cleared" before you can get the pattern, and it can take up to several days for it to happen. :-(

I wish I had known that before. It's been 4 days since the pattern purchase and I still don't have my pattern.

I guess I'll be buying directly through designer websites instead of Ravelry itself. :-/

Friday, May 6, 2011

Hat Kick

I'm currently in a hat kick currently. It started when I was working on my BIL's trilobyte hat for his birthday.

Trilobyte Too

It turned out lovely and the walnut Cascade Superwash 220 knitted up soft & lovely

Trilobyte Too 3

However, I had some left over from the skein when I finished it, so I decided to cast-on another hat (Turn a Square) and supplementing it with the Yak I had spun up previously


The colors were in approximately the same brown shades/tones, and looked really well together. At first I wasn't sure, but the walnut of the Cascade muted the dark brown of the yak.

I managed to finish the hat in a single day; I couldn't stop knitting.

Yakkity Yak Hat

DH tried it on, and although he's not normally a hat person, it goes really well with his coloring, and he claimed it for himself (esp. as the trilobyte was already claimed).

Yakkity Yak Hat 2

So, guess what I did after I finished this hat? Dove into the Stash, pulled out some more Cascade 220 superwash (along with leftover yarn) and cast on another hat.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Finishing Silk Merino Blend -- Picking the Collective Brain

The internet has really made things easier, especially in terms of collecting general knowledge into a "library" of sorts. There are good & bad sides to this -- there's the trashy novel sections where people mistake fiction for fact, and the huge trivia section where you can drown in a sea of interesting, but non practical knowledge. Then there's the reference section, where you can find EXACTLY the piece of information you need.

Ravelry is a smaller version of that collective knowledge, but highly specialized, and I have made multiple use of it finding nuggets of knowledge.

Earlier this week, I navajo plied half of the the silk merino Bonfire that I had spun previously.


into this:


And it came out gorgeous! Love. Love. Love. I'll have about 230 yards of this wonderful 3-ply sport weight yarn (once I finish the other 2 ounces).

However, I wasn't quite sure how to finish this yarn. Its a 50-50 merino silk blend; and I wasn't sure how the silk would stand up to my normal aggressive finishing (which involves alternatively dunking in hot & cold water, thwacking, whacking, snapping, and fulling). However, there is a grand collection of knowledge on Ravelry that is an amazing resource and should have the answer I need.

A quick perusal on Ravelry found a post by Abby Franquemont on this very problem! It involves only a much less aggressive finishing technique (still involving hot & cold water and simple snapping)

A) Hot water with wool wash
B) Soak skein for 20 minutes until it's saturated (or longer if needed)
C) Dunk in cool water as a rinse
D) Get out excess water
E) Snap all around the skein
F) Dry unweighted.

NOW, if Ravelry would only provide me with the definitive answer of exactly *what* I should knit with it to show off the colors to the best advantage? Unfortunately, it can only offer up potential suggestions and letting me make the final decision. That's the one thing that the collective knowledge can't do for me. :-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Yakkity Yak

Earlier in March, I spun up a Yak bundle that I picked up over at Stitches West this year.

Yak Bundle

It included three 1-oz bumps of:

* brown yak
* yak merino
* tussah silk & yak

I had trouble with Yak before, and I wanted to get some practice in before spinning up my other yak merino bumps from Abstract Fiber.

So, I pulled out my Ashford Kiwi and set it to a ratio of 14:1. Because yak has such a short staple length, I also criss-crossed the fiber across the flyer hooks so I could get more twist into the fiber before it went onto the bobbin. This worked really well. (Tip learned from one of the Ravelry forums)

The simple brown yak proved the most problematic for me, because of the short staple length. The yak-merino was only slightly better, with the merino adding a little bit longer staple.

The tussah silk/yak had its own challenges. The silk added much needed staple length to the yak, but I don't think it was well blended. I would get areas were it was obviously only yak and so had similar problems with the simple brown yak.

After spinning all 3 bumps, I:

1) spun a 3 ply from each bump - 60 yards


2) spun a 2 ply (yak-merino & tussah-yak) with left overs from Step 1) (14 yards)


3) navajo plied the remaining tussah-yak (14 yards)


Of course, with only 87 yards, this doesn't leave me much to work with, so I'm planning on picking up some matching solid yarn to hopefully incorporate making a very very warm hat for someone.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sometimes, It's Not Meant to Be

There are times, when we push forward with something and no matter HOW hard we try, no matter how much effort we put into it, it's just not meant to be, but you try anyways?

Take Noro yarn, for instance:

Noro Yuken

I like it. I love the colorway, and I like the yarn. I've even made myself a scarf with another colorway that's just warm as can be. I looked at projects with Noro yarn and they look great.

However, I'm not sure about the knitting-up part. It's a bit scratchy and eats the moisture from my hands. It's not exactly fun to to knit.

So, it's going to be placed in 'time-out' and hibernate a little bit until I decide what to do with it. I'm not wholly sure I want to frog it (as it does knit up prettily), but I might want to use another yarn to finish up the body.