Monday, December 27, 2010

Foggy Blizzard

Whew!! It's been awhile since I've posted to the blog. Life has begun to spiral into new directions and my focus has shifted a bit. It's all good stuff, and I am really optimistic on 2011. But this is a knitting blog, so for now I'll stick to the knitting. ;)

So. I made a sweater for my husband! My project notes indicate I started this the end of May and finished it up about a month ago. Today, post blizzard snow shoveling we got a few pics and I can finally tell you about it.

Papa Hemingway aka Jose

This is the Fog Sweater, designed by Tiennie and knit up in Cascade Eco Wool. Knitting this last summer was nearly impossible between the wrist pain and the terrible heat, so it was put aside for a couple of months. But once the weather cooled down I got back into it.

There's not much to say about knitting 1x1 rib that hasn't already been said. It gets a bit tedious and knitting something this big, in the round, it gets heavy and bulky once you put a few inches into the project. But it's mindless enough and can be done in a half coma at the end of a long work day.

The sleeves needed some attention as the first version ended up way too bulky - the pattern had me increase to something like 124 stitches around which seemed really huge and long, if following the pattern, increasing every 4th row. I got as far as 120 stitches and attached one sleeve. When Jose tried it on, I could see there was way too much fabric under the arms and it was seriously over bulky. So I ripped it back and settled on 110 stitches, with an 8 row sleeve cap. You can see there's still a good amount of bulk under the arms, but it's acceptable.

Jose with Lola

The next issue was the neck/collar. I tried a folded collar, but that ended up looking silly - like he was wearing a deep sea diver suit but missing the huge bubble helmet. So I ripped that out and started over, with the folded turtleneck, as written in the pattern, more or less. I still think it's a bit too wide, but making any other adjustment would require re-writing the pattern and doing some decreases in the neckline/shoulder area and really I wanted to move on to new projects, so this is it.

Foggy Good Collar

Now, if I were going to make this again, in addition to reworking the pattern for a narrower neck opening, I would also knit in a few short rows across the back. Because it has a tendency to ride up just a bit. Not that Jose notices, but I see it. In fact, I had to tug the sweater down a bit before taking this shot.

Back of Foggy

Cascade Eco Wool is favored by many knitters, but I found it a bit rough to work with, and had to stop frequently to moisturize my hands. Does that happen to you? The nerves in my hands have become ultra sensitive and working with certain yarns can be hard on them. That's not to say I will shun the yarn completely, because it is a wonderful value and does work up nice once it's blocked out.

Now here is the most important thing I can say about this project: the sweater is well worn and loved, and this is immensely pleasing. I had fears he would find excuses to not wear it, but that hasn't happened. This is a sweater guy, no doubt about it. Some guys aren't - they wear button down shirts and jackets but no sweaters. I don't get it but I don't have to worry about it, since that's not my world. He sort of can't get enough of the hand knits. A double edged sword. Because no sooner do I finish a huge project like this, when the pressure starts for the next one! Sweet!

Rockin the inner Hemingway

Friday, November 26, 2010

Corespun Baby Cakes

Loop Baby Cakes 1/2 Doz.

One of my goals when I set out in 2010 was to play with corespun yarn. I finally sat down and made up a few samplers using a Loop Baby Cake pack purchased nearly a year ago. These were fun to make, and somewhat liberating in that I didn't get all hung up on perfection.

Corespun Baby Cakes

The blue/green one, which I named Ocean Reef Party, is probably my favorite. Because I love the colors, and it may be one of the better ones I made.

I'm not a huge fan of the glittery Angelina that many of these types of batts contain. And I prefer their use in moderation, not excess. Some of these had an abundance of the stuff. I am forever picking the individual fibers from the rug in the family room. Despite that one small drawback, I plan on making more corespun yarn. For now I am pondering how to incorporate these bits and bobs into future knitting projects.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful for so many things: health, gainful employment, family near and far, loving and being loved, my hounds, friends and of course all the fibery things.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Break

These last few weeks have been really crazy busy. After much cleaning, reorganizing and housekeeping these last few weeks, I took a break this afternoon to finish a pair of Fingerless Mitts (Ravelry project link). These are headed to the office for a work friend.

Double Dog Dare Mitts

I love knitting with handspun. When I first started spinning, all I wanted to do was make the yarn. Now I often spin with a project in mind. This was the Double Dog Dare Shetland from Southern Cross Fibres. I made a 3 ply yarn knowing I'd be making fingerless mitts with it. It's destiny was set when my friend saw a photo of the un-spun fiber and oohed over it.

SCF Club April 2010 Double Dog Dare

DDD on Deck

The pattern is pretty straightforward and has become sort of a handspun recipe. These were knit on US3 needles, to make a slightly firmer fabric (to keep out the wind). I cast on 36 sts and just winged the first one till I got it right, taking notes along the way, and then using the notes to make the second.

Double Dog Dare Mitts 3

There's always a bit of trial and error when going this route, as I often need to knit something to a certain point, try it on and then make adjustments as necessary. In this case, once I finished both mitts, I realized they were too short at the top. Last night I ripped down the garter edge, inserted a few stockinette rows and then finished off the garter edge again. Much better now. I think mitts should come to the second knuckles otherwise they aren't warm enough.

I'm nearly finished with a sweater, which needed some modifying to get a good fit. Almost there; maybe next weekend will mark the end of this one.

Foggy with good collar and bad sleeve

My spinning group decided to do a little Sock Knit Along, to help a couple of newbies learn sock knitting. So I decided to make a pair for my Mom. I raced through the first one, and of course a week has gone by without casting on for #2. Good thing Christmas is still over a month away.

Not a Child Sock for Mom

Saturday, October 23, 2010


About a month ago Mom expressed interest in the Prospect Park Walkathon. We arose today to a wonderful blue sky and crisp Fall air, perfect for a 5K walk in the Park.

Mom with TShirt

This being her first Walk-a-Thon, I encouraged her to do some stretching before we set out. This may also be the first time Mom has done any calisthenics! Since this is primarily a knitting blog, allow me to point out Mom's hat, a Koolhaas I made for myself about three years ago and which migrated to Mom within months of completion.

Stretch before Walk

The trees are still not at their peak but they are starting to look nice. The sun was nice and warm on our faces.

Trees on Walkathon

As we rounded the East side of the Park, I got a view of my favorite tree, recently cut in half by the Brooklyn Tornado of 2010. Heartbreak. I'm still ripped about this one.

Favorite Tree Destruction

She got a bit tired around 4KM, but I wouldn't let her stop! Mean daughter. I am proud of her, and though she cramped up wicked big time a few hours later, she was delighted to say she finished! Astute blog readers will notice my outfit is eerily similar to last week's. Once I finish a sweater I kind of wear it all the time, you know? Closer observation reveals all these hand knits are also hand spun. Whoa! Now I'm delighted, too!

Finish Line

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sheep and Wool the Rhinebeck way

Wow, four years of Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. And this year it was a mighty social occasion. My virtual world collided quite wonderfully with the real. I met so many of my favorite peeps! What a blast!



Lisa, Tasha and Bob

All these awesome, creative, interesting people in one spot! It was a dazzling display of yarny goodness. Complete with zany antics from knitters and coaches alike.

Matt and Lois

Tweaking the coach

The Spin City group swept several of the competitions this year with ribbons awarded for yarn and hand knits. Our Jayne took 2 blue ribbons. We are so proud of her and all the winners - Dawn (2 ribbons!) , Donna, Jayne, Lynn, Paula and Cat!

Jayne's Blue Ribbon

Cathy rocked the hand spun shawl made entirely from Loop Baby Cakes, thus creating the perfect foil for spinners wandering into the Loop booth. Loop at Rhinebeck and Maryland this year - what a wonderful triumph for Steph who, along with many Spin City members all worked tirelessly to put on a fantastic display and deliver top notch customer service.

Cathy Shawl close up

Marjorie spun and knit that sweater you see on her husband - very beautiful - the saddle shoulders are terrific.

Marjorie, Husband

And by some miracle of good luck I finished Zinnia in time to wear on Saturday. Four years ago the idea of spinning my own yarn to make a sweater was unthinkable.

Zinnia DONE

Most of all, Sheep & Wool is a chance to hang out with friends, revel in the things we love, and celebrate our hard work and creative spirits.

Food for the soul.

The Crew

Saturday, October 9, 2010

New Yarn

Yarns completed in August and September.

Yarn Making August and September 2010

From Left to Right:

1. Hello Yarn Winter Storage. I got lucky and came into another 4 oz. of the lovely Winter Storage fiber so I spun it up and now I've got enough for a sweater. I'll cast on for that sometime in October.
2. Gnomespun Shetland 2 ply in a lovely soft heathered Moss Green. I love this yarn and love the fiber prep. If you haven't tried Gnomespun Fibers, don't wait for a rainy day - go get some now.
3. The little bits on top are a couple of samplers made from fibers in my stash. I bought a second wheel back in July, a used Majacraft Rose. These yarns are my attempt to adjust to the new wheel. I still have lots to learn about it and I think it will be a wonderful journey. The wheel offers a wide range of options for yarn making.
4. The green and purple underneath is Hello Yarn, Grouch, spun from Falkland fiber. I used the Rose to spin the singles and then plied using my Sonata with the Jumbo Flyer and Jumbo bobbins. When Judith MacKenzie* examined the yarn, she proclaimed it perfect for a weaving project. Who am I to argue with this advice?!
5. The black yarn is 2 ply Shetland from Wild Apple Hill Farm, just like the Zinnia I'm using for my sweater. This was one of the fibers I wanted to make during the Tour de Fleece but ran out of time. Well, I made a nice aran weight yarn and really like how this and the Moss Shetland work together. I might try a color work project, though I'd like to collect a few more before I embark.
6. Double Dog Dare Shetland from Southern Cross Fibre Club spun up as a worsted weight 3 ply yarn. This too, was on the Tour de Fleece pile and got done right after I crossed the finish line. I want to make some fingerless mitts for a work colleague with this yarn.

*Judith MacKenzie was one of the teachers leading Fiber Fallout, a wonderful Fiber Retreat I attended with a few of my Spin City pals at the end of September. I had a fantastic time and shot a few pics so I'll save my stories for another time. Meeting Judith was definitely a high point. I also learned a few really neat Estonian knit stitches, and now I have a few ideas for multicolor handspun yarns.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Not Finish, Not an Option

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Crisp air, blue skies, sunny days (well not these last two weeks but you know what I mean) lots of yummy apples and of course, Rhinebeck around the corner. Sheep and Wool! I love October!

I know every knitter planning on being there is feverishly working on their Rhinebeck sweater/hat/scarf/shawl/you name it. It's what we do! Because we are among kindred spirits, people who really get it, you know? And of course, we want to be well-attired.

I too, am working feverishly and am making some progress. With a bit of luck, this sweater will be ready by next weekend.

Zinnia in Progress

I've since completed one sleeve and am about to cast on for the second. The knitting has been easy so far, and I've made a few modifications to the pattern.

But the hard part looms ahead. I always get stalled at the finishing. I lack the confidence to attach sleeves properly and I get hung up wanting them to be perfect. This time I'm gonna have to just suck it up and do it. Because not finishing the sweater is not an option. I really want to honor the shepherd who brought Zinnia's fleece to market last year and wearing the finished sweater is really the only way to do that. Plus, I need something warm and comfortable to wear.

Gawd, I hope I haven't jinxed myself...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

World Wide Spin in Public Day

Really, isn't that what we do at least once a week? Well, yes. But not on this scale! Complete with scenery! We had our share of looky-lous, that's for sure. And I'm pretty certain Donald Trump never imagined this scene would be visible from his cookie cutter condos.

WWSIP Day 005

Spin City came out in force Saturday to represent and make yarn. Boy, did we make yarn.

WWSIP Day 049

We're talking drop dead gorgeous Polwarth from THE Nancy Ortmann of Montana fame. Um...I know what I want for Christmas!

WWSIP Day 033

Kids learned how to separate vegetable matter from gleaned wool. Not just any gleaned wool, but wool gathered by Outward Bound kids in the UK from ancient sheep breeds.

WWSIP Day 011

Jayne, our group historian brought this basket of gleaned wool bits. She finds the most amazing things on EBay, I tell you.

WWSIP Day 010

Christina decided to show us her progress on The Huntress. And as you can see, this is the perfect garment for hunting down tourists who carelessly block sidewalks and dawdle in cross walks. Come on, admit it: you want one too.

The Huntress

This event topped the charts on the fun meter. I got lots more pics over on Flickr if you feel like reliving the experience.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hill Country

Hill Country Hats

Matchy matchy! The pattern is Hill Country Hat from Clara Parke's book, The Knitter's Book of Wool. A wonderful pattern, from a wonderful book. Easy, engaging, and it showcases hand spun yarns really well.

So these hats are both made from yarn spun at different stages of my spinning 'career'. Sort of a study of Jacob Sheep's Wool over time. The gray came from Mass Sheep and Wool Festival and got spun into yarn in Summer '09, one of my first attempts at long draw. Not as successful as the Brown hat, spun Spring '10. Visible improvement!

gssw 005

That's a Jacob sheep, and you can see they have two sets of horns. An ancient and rare breed, I think they are coming into their own with hand spinners. There were lots of them on display at the Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend and I predict there will be many at Rhinebeck this year. I do love Jacob and will spin more. Maybe even a sweater - I bet this stuff would cable nicely, it's so springy!

HIll Country (3)

In both cases I had to double the yarn to approximate the required gauge. And boy, are these hats squishy!! While the Brown fits the Pumpkin Head perfectly, the Gray is a tad big for me. But it will work so I'll leave it be.

That brown yarn was a delightful gift of roving from the Rooster. I made careful note of the shepherd's name because someday I'd like to place an order and then mosey on up to Ithaca to pick it up! I like meeting the sheep in person! Rooster also included some amazing music in that gift package, thank you thank you, for expanding my horizons, Amy!

Hill Country (2)

I love both of the hats, but am really proud of the Brown. It looks great, it fits well, it's from gifted roving and was in turn made into a gift from a decently spun yarn. Pay it forward.

As a set these hats tell the story of a hand spinner learning her craft while using materials sourced from the region, and then knitting very wearable and attractive (and warm) garments for the family. What's not to love?!

PS - photo credit for all but the sheep shot: Fran Janik

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival

gssw 009

Several of us piled into the car and headed down to Lambertville area to pet some sheep at the Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival. We met a few breeders, learned a few things about fleece judging, and pet sheep and alpacas till our hands were lanolin soft from the grease!

gssw 013

Mama alpaca was protective of her 3 day old cria. So cute.

gssw 019

But let's face it, llamas and alpacas are also really funny looking.

gssw 029


We ran into friends and met a few Ravelers, putting faces to names, always a good thing. I did feel bad for the vendors as it was evident not many attendees opened their wallets. Me included, what with that expensive (and rock-solid) deck in mid construction.

gssw 015

With Rhinebeck a month away, and piles of unspun fiber in my stash, I didn't have much of a fiber appetite. There was a farm stand on the way home, where I could not resist buying a 'candy lope' (sic).

Triple S

shelburne shaelyn shawl

Shelburne Shaelyn Shawl
. Shelburne commemorates the Vermont trip; Shaelyn being the pattern, written by Leila Raabe and obviously, Shawl because it is. Triple S.

Knitting on this shawl commenced a week before we left and then got tons of attention during the long trip up and back, along with hotel tv knitting time. I bound off somewhere around Waterbury CT on our way home. Very very pleased with this project.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 5

As I got further into it I couldn't shake the vision of having a large shawl to wrap around my shoulders on those early Sunday mornings when I venture downstairs to make the coffee and the house is still a bit chilly. That vision was so persistent I had to add a full pattern repeat.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 4

This yarn percolated up from the stash (!), having been purchased two years ago at Rhinebeck. Swift River Farm Prescott, a blend of natural color Shetland with 5% Bombyx silk. Yummy stuff and very earthy. It felt like hand spun in many ways. And speaking of hand spun, I pulled out some very early pink 2 ply yarn and used it as trim. Very very pleased with this project.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park

The entire project took about a week. The pattern is well written, versatile and easy to memorize. It lends itself to variation, as you can see here and here. There are also some beautiful ones over on Ravelry using single colors. A perfect pattern to use for hand spun, too. I'd definitely knit this one again.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 2

There's something about the combined colors that is reminiscent of earlier times. Being at the Shelburne and seeing the folk art and craft cemented the idea to use the pink for trim. It was a "maybe" when I threw it in the carry along bag. By the end of the weekend I realized it was a prescient move. Very very pleased with this project.

ETA: Wow, I must be tired or something. I meant to make note when I was writing earlier - the initial germ of idea to add a contrast border came from all the beautiful shawls brokeknits has made. Her wild bright color edgings really resonated with me. Thanks, Katie!