Friday, September 29, 2006

Which one should I get?

Okay. Here's my dilemma. The other day, when I was trying the wheel at Make One, I made a deal with myself. I decided that if my quarterly commission/bonus was over X amount, I would get a wheel.

I never know what the commission/bonus will be because the structure for deciding the commission/bonus is never the same twice. Also, what other employees who share in the commission/bonus were told is distinctly different from what I was told. (this is rapidly turning into a story about my work. sorry. Let's just say: this is a pretty good example of the communication at my office)

I just got my pay stub and my commission/bonus is significantly higher than it was last time ("last time" was the X amount mentioned above). So...

Anyone out there with any opinions, reviews, recommendations? I want to go to Shuttleworks on Saturday and test a few out.

What I'm looking for (in rambling, uncohesive format):
I don't want one that is super fancy. I tried both single and double treadle briefly and I could see myself being happy with either. Generally speaking, if I were to buy the first one I tried and that was all I knew, I would be totally happy with it. (Which would mean I should just go back and buy the Louet S17 I tried the other day) I don't have any interest in spinning novelty yarns, I would probably find spinning chunky/bulky yarns interesting once in a while but not all the time.

Thanks for any input you may have!!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Progress. Slow, steady progress

The past two evenings, this is what I planned to be working on:

For some reason this is taking me a long time. Maybe because I haven't been working on it as much as I should be. Also, it's a bit tougher to knit than I realized it was. A bit hard on the hands/wrists. But mostly it's because I haven't been working on it.

On the left is one of 3 afghan squares that I have crocheted for my stash-reduction plan. However, the fabric is kind of more dense than I had planned it to be. So, plan B (or actually more like plan J or K). I'm using the same log cabin idea with the same colors but substituting an hdc for the sc in the squares I started with. I'll frog them and re-use the yarn for the new one. I might actually just do one big log cabin piece instead of doing squares.

The past two evenings this is what I have been doing:

From the Merino blended colors top (is that the right terminology?) I got the same day I took the spinning class.

I also did this:

Yes, somehow I managed to snap my starter spindle in half. Awesome.

So, on my way home from work yesterday I stopped at Make One Yarn Studio and picked this up:

Also, the enablers wonderful staff at Make One let me try out a couple of wheels while I was there. Yeah. That should nip the obsession in the bud. Good idea Lori.

Oy. I know what I want for my birthday.

Tonight: KNIT. or CROCHET. No SPINNING. Well, maybe a little spinning. Not much. NO. KNIT!!!


Sorry. Sometimes we have to be firm with ourselves.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I still knit. Honest.

I did some more spinning last night, from some roving I picked up at my LYS. To be honest, I'm not 100% sure it was meant for spinning, as it was a bit lumpy in places. I split it in 3 and dyed it with some random dye I had around. When I spun it, I pre-drafted (I'm trying to learn my terminology. I think that's right) small sections and alternated colors. This is half of what I have dyed:

I'm pretty happy with it, although I haven't tried knitting with it. It's fairly even, but obviously not completely so... I think I'll use if for some fingerless mittens or something. The skein above there is 1oz and approximately 63 yards. I'll have to see what kind of gauge I get.

I'm already thinking about trying to find a place to learn on a wheel. Then I'll end up needing to find a wheel!

Yes. Let the obsession begin.

It's sunny today! And warm(ish)!! And so I started on my sister-in-law's heavy wool sweater/jacket!!

The pattern is from another aunt who was cleaning out some stuff from years ago. It was published in the late 60s (I think) and shaped much like the Siwash or Cowichan sweaters (and uses the same yarn) but has this zig-zag pattern rather than the traditional Native patterns. After trying to find a pattern for a year or so (okay, fine... I didn't look THAT hard, I just thought about it now and then...) suddenly I find myself with 4 vintage patterns from my family!

I plan to make one for myself from one of the other patterns, but that will wait until I'm allowed to buy yarn for myself.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Because I can, apparently

I have a finished object to show you. A finished object none of you knew I was knitting. I haven't said a word about it. The whole time I was knitting it I kept thinking "Why am I knitting this?".

Apparently, I have a section of my brain wired to do things just to see if I am able to do them. Who knew?

So, here then, a knit item I will (probably) never use:

Pattern: Swallowtail Shawl from Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Yarn: (you may want to sit down for this one. trust me) Red Heart (see, I told you to sit down) Lustersheen in Ocean

How this came to be: I bought the yarn once upon a time with no project in mind. I don't remember why I bought it, or what I was thinking at the time. I decided earlier in the summer to try my hand at a shawl, but didn't want to spend money on nice yarn for it, just in case. Ta Dah!

Now, here's the amazing thing: We always are told that Acrylic WILL NOT BLOCK. However, (can you spot the knitter with the "I'm gonna try it anyway because you can't tell me what to do" attitude?) I'm here to tell you, you can block acrylic with steam.



Who knew?!

I finished a project so now I can spin! (Apparently I have very strict rules for myself. Also, I'm a bit of a loon) I was at the dentist this morning and to entertain myself (and also to calm myself for the needle) I was mentally spinning, mentally dying fiber, mentally plying, mentally basking in the admiration of fiber enthusiasts from far and wide ... okay, not that last one. (see, bit of a loon)

Also, I had taken the morning off to go to the dentist (yay! aching jaw and freezing wearing off!) so I stopped at my usual LYS on my way to work, since I'm rarely able to get away from work in time to go there on a weekday. I picked up yarn to make a sweater jacket for my sister-in-law (she requested knits! she loves anything I've made for her and her boys!) so now I'm just thinking about that. I'll post progress pics as I go.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New obsession taking hold

I spun the rest of my "practice" fiber on Monday night. I thought about it most of the day (you understand, right?) and suddenly I realized what might have been going on with the pink fiber that caused it to lose a lot of the twist when I plied it. I hadn't really got what was supposed to happen with drafting, and as a result, I had some really dense, tightly spun singles out of the pink stuff. This latest attempt is almost exactly what I had been going for. It's about 17 wpi, but it's not completely even, and it's approximately 31 yards. It's not heavy enough to tip my kitchen scale so I'm not sure what the weight is. Obviously not that much.

I can't wait to spin more. Must finish something else first. Must knit.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

It was inevitable

Main Entry: spin·ster
Pronunciation: 'spin(t)-st&r
Function: noun
1 : a woman whose occupation is to spin
2 a archaic : an unmarried woman of gentle family b : an unmarried woman and especially one past the common age for marrying
3 : a woman who seems unlikely to marry
via Merriam-Webster OnLine

Now, I'm finally on my way to fulfilling definition #1 rather than #2 or 3. Whew.

On Saturday, my friend Julie (the one with the birthday!) and I took a Learn to Spin class at Make One Yarn Studio (which, by the way, is a beautiful shop! Must. Go. Back.)(after I've lived up to my self-imposed commitment)(honest)

It was so much fun. We learned on top-whorl drop spindles. We spun silk hankies (SO. MUCH. FUN!!) and some wool (possibly merino??). This is from the fibre we were provided, so the color combinations are a bit, well, Yikes.

Julie's first plied yarn!!!

My first plied yarn!!!!

Julie's beautiful silk singles!!!

My silk singles!!! (I think they're pretty too...)

Julie's wool singles!!! (I'm not a pink person at all, but I think this is really beautiful!)

My wool singles!!

My wool plied! (I can NOT believe I made yarn! Me!)

I have a little bit more "practice" wool from the class to play with:

and I bought* some merino roving (I'm not totally clear on the terminology yet)(I think I have that right)

and some silk hankies to dye

but I want to practice a bit more first.

And, living up to my self-imposed commitment:

I decided to crochet an afghan. I was going to knit one but I haven't crocheted in a long time and I'm much faster at crochet than knitting, so... The square above there needs 2 more sections and is currently about 11 inches square. I'm toying with the idea of just making a really big log cabin square instead of making a whole bunch of them to sew together. Either way, this is a pretty good no-look project that I can work on while watching TV. I dont' have a pattern, I'm just winging it based on a knit log cabin square I saw online somewhere. (which is another reason why I may just make one big one, since I may or may not have made a couple of sections bigger or smaller and did not take notes.)

On the spinning front, I need to figure out how to make sure I don't lose the twist on the singles before I'm able to ply them. (or while I'm plying them). Ideas? Advice?

*the purchase of fibre was planned as an exception to my no-new-yarn rule (honest)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Stash Reduction Challenge

It's cold in Calgary today. It was snowing during the football game this evening. It was about 2C (about 35F) this morning when I got up. It's been raining. Add that early cold snap to the fact that Calgary has experienced something of a boom in population this year, and also a shortage of affordable housing as a result and you get the kind of news stories that have stuck in my head for the last couple of days. Drop-in shelters have had to turn people away by 9:30pm. All summer long we've been hearing about families living in campers and tents while working and trying to find housing. Those families are still there.

When I woke up this morning I seemed to have come to a decision I didn't even really know I was making. My decision has to do with this:

sorry for the rather fuzzy out of focus picture

I'm rather embarrassed by that pile. That, my dear friends, is a big pile o'acrylic. Mostly worsted weight. Leftovers from various afghans and other projects for kids and for other projects that need to be tough and long lasting. That's a big pile of stashed acrylic leftovers.

Here's the thing: I have all this yarn. It's taking up space in a small apartment. I have the ability to turn that yarn into something warm. I live in a city that experiences cold winters. I live in a city where there is a housing shortage and hundreds of people might not have enough warm things. Pretty simple math, really.

I decided the following:
I, Lori (last name withheld), a Knitter (with a capital K :) ) do hereby promise that I will not purchase any yarn for a project for myself* until I have completed at least** one of the following for donation to a shelter in Calgary:
-a knit or crocheted afghan
-3 toque/mitten/scarf sets
-a sweater

I will allow myself to continue to work on other projects, cause let's face it, there is no way I can only work on one thing at a time.

I'm putting this here, not to pat myself on the back, but to be held accountable. If you all know that I'm planning this then you can call me on it if I slip and walk out of my LYS with yarn for me.

*There are a couple of projects that I have in the planning stages for other people and I will allow myself to get the yarn for those, especially since one of those recipients knows that it's coming. Also, I'll allow one purchase (possibly) to do with what I'm doing tomorrow***
**My goal is to do more than just one of the items on the list, but I know myself better than to promise more than I can deliver
***I'll tell you about what I'm doing tomorrow tomorrow evening or Sunday****
****OOOO.... secret*****
*****(I'm losing track of how many of those asterisks I need) Not sure why I'm keeping it a secret. I just haven't mentioned it. I'll tell you tomorrow and you'll wonder why I didn't mention it. You want to know what it is, right? This is annoying, right?

I was telling my friend Julie about this today and (and this is one of the many reasons why she is such a good friend) she was very enthusiastic and (and this is another big reason) she suggested that we should work on this idea Saturday. We had planned to go to the zoo for her birthday, but, what with it being stupid cold chilly with a chance of snow, Julie suggested getting together (after the secret thing) and she would help me get a start. So, tomorrow looks to be a good day (in spite of the stupid cold chilly rainy weather).

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Surprise Project!

I gave my friend Julie her birthday gift today, so I can finally post it here. (She loved it)(yay!)

Pattern: None. Made it up. Forgot to write down things like gauge, cast on amount etc. Oops. I got the chart for the colorwork on the front from here (tons of norwegian type color work charts and assorted free patterns)
Yarn: Recycled, dyed in my kitchen, from stash... 100% wool is about the only thing I know about it.

I woke up one morning with the idea of making a cushion that looks like a sweater. I wish I took more notes on it. As I knit it, I kept alternating between thinking it was a good idea and thinking it was a stupid idea. I think, all in all, it was a good idea and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ribby Cardi Update: BUTTONS!

Wow! Thanks for all the comments and input on the button choice.

Before I go on, I feel that I need to come clean about the extent of my dorkiness and confess that when I realized that Ms. ChicKnits herself commented I squealed a little. Am I the only one who would do that? Do you feel less respect for me now that you know about the extreme dorkiness? Or, (as I hope) does my dorkiness endear me to you like that quirky friend you find amusing?

Okay. Buttons. I was still pretty undecided about the buttons, but the vast majority of opinions voiced were for the pewter-ish. In the end, I decided I liked them too.

I like the way it looks un-buttoned, but I know myself and it would drive me crazy to not have a way to close the cardigan.

(Oh, I forgot, the pattern calls for a 2 row zipper facing, but I decided I wanted to try button bands for this one. The ribbed button band goes all the way up the collar.)

For those who asked, a close up of the lace panel:

Thanks again for all the great input! I'll test-wear this later this week (it's supposed to be chilly by Thursday) but I know already that it will be a staple. Tomorrow I'll show you what I decided to do with the off-white wool I got from Walmart (I changed my mind yet again)...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Lace Sleeved Ribby Cardi... FINALLY

Pattern: Modified from ChicKnits' Ribby Cardi
Yarn: TLC Cotton Plus

I kind of stalled out in the middle on this one. I really like how it turned out though. The lace panel on the sleeves is "Cascading Leaves" from my Reader's Digest (really long name I don't feel like looking up or typing out right now) Stitch Book.

The whole sweater was pretty straight forward (this is the 5th one I've made...). I knit it in one piece (the pattern is in pieces) but other than that, (and the lace) I followed the pattern. Well, except for the fact that I messed up the decreases on the sleeves (caught it in time to make it work) and the fact that I did this:

when I started the collar. Not sure what was going on in my brain when I did that. For a while I thought I would just leave it, but it was driving me crazy. So, I did this:

Using a crochet hook I went down to the flubbed row and re-set the stitches up to the needles. For each one. Yes. I may be a little obsessed.

Truth be told, the sweater isn't really totally complete. I need to sew on the buttons. But first, I need to decide which buttons to use. I need your help. Which button? At this point, I have no strong preference either way. Opinions?

(The color of this yarn is really hard to photograph for some reason. It's closer to the pictures of the messed up stitches.)

Option 1 - "Pewter-ish" (I have no idea what to call it.)

Option 2 - "Clear-ish Blue"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

in which our Knitter goes on for several minutes about not much of anything...

This morning, as I sit waiting for the Service Shop to call and let me know that my car is ready and that I can bring over either an arm or a leg in payment, (story/rambling-rant about that and the good times I had Tuesday here) I figured I would show you my haul what I'm going to be working on next.

But first, a success! A (half) FO!!

A SOCK! But not just a sock, a LACE sock, which is a new thing for me. Pattern by Steph at Craftoholic. I really like this sock. The variegated yarn sort of obscures the lace (in the picture anyway) but I like the way it makes the color changes sort of dance around.

As I was working on these socks, I needed to come up with a way to keep my needles together while I wasn't knitting and to keep the stitches on the needles when I was travelling. Maybe I'm the last knitter in the world to come up with something like this, but I thought I'd show you in case you, too, were looking for a way to keep your dpns and sock connected to one another while travelling:

I took a hair elastic and just knotted it at each end. It holds the needles securely and keeps the knitting in one place.

Now, for the next project:
Last week I needed buttons for the baby sweater for my friend Heidi. I went to Walmart because I needed other stuff as well. I was NOT going to look at yarn, assuring myself it wasn't necessary because they don't have a very good stock at that Walmart. However, that particular day, they had just put out new stock! So, I spent some time looking in wonder at the fact that Walmart had some (slightly) nicer yarns. BUT... I was good. I didn't buy any of the new stock.

("Lori" you are demanding at this point, "Where are you going with this?" Well, dear reader, I'll tell you)

I was walking out of the craft section when I saw 2 bags of an off-white/beige mill-end yarn ($4.95 for a pound of unknown fiber content). The Walmarts here (I don't know if this is company wide) often have 1 pound bags of mill-ends for really cheap prices. Occasionally I have recognized the millends as Patons yarns but it hasn't usually been anything I was interested in (the ones I recognized were novelty yarns). There was an end sticking out of one of the bags so I went to feel it. It felt like wool, but I wasn't sure. So I smelled the yarn in the bag (I know. I'm a freak) and it smelled like wool. There was only one thing left to do, for I knew that if this was wool, it was calling my name. I did a spit-felt test on the end of the wool. In Walmart. Yes I did. (Yes, it felted to itself)(Yay)

So, for just under $10 (CDN) I came home with this:

It's somewhere between a DK and a light worsted (I'm never very good at estimating yarn weights). Initially I had thought I might dye it, but on the way home I started thinking about a cabled cardigan with a shawl-type collar and either wooden or tortoise-shell type buttons. (Just now, it took me 3 attempts to spell "collar"... ???)

So, I swatched (I know!!! Me!!! Swatching!!!)

And then I cast on for the sweater. However, the sweater I cast on for is not the same one that I swatched for (the gauges were the same though, so the swatch counts)(right?). I changed my mind between swatching and casting on. And, now that I've knit the ribbing and about 13 rows of the back cable pattern, I don't really like the cable pattern.

So, I plan to frog back to where the ribbing ended and figure out a new cable pattern for myself. I'll use the "template" of the pattern I had chosen (I like the shaping and style) and just put together a couple of cables that I like better. Or, maybe I'll do something else altogether.

Any suggestions for a nice Shawl-collared cabled cardigan? The initial swatch is for the one in the latest Vogue Knitting. I may end up going back to that one, I'm not sure. I don't want it belted (not a good look for me) so I would adapt the overall sweater if I was to make that one. (also, my yarn is a lighter weight than what is called for in that pattern but I did get gauge, so who knows)

Wow, this is disjointed and rambling. Sorry!

I need to make myself finish something else before I work more seriously on the cabled cardigan. I finally made myself finish the interminable body section for my lace sleeved Ribby Cardi. Not sure why that one has been a WIP/UFO for so long, but ... I hope to have a finished sweater by the end of the weekend. I'll show you then. WIP pictures of the body section are not so interesting. You know, as compared with the rest of this SUPER interesting post.


Monday, September 04, 2006

crisis/crisis averted

Yesterday evening, I was cruising along on my friend Julie's birthday present. I had about 7 1/2 rounds left to do in the colorwork. Then, I realized:

If I had kids in the house I would have told them "Earmuffs" (a la Vince Vaughn in Old School) because there were some words I wanted to say. But, I don't have kids so I just went ahead and said them.

You see, the background yarn for this project for Julie is yarn I dyed once when I was experimenting and, of course, I don't have any more of this yarn. At all. Anywhere.

So, after a few minutes of self-indulgent cussing, I realized that I could come up with a solution. This item (still a secret, her birthday is next week) is not clothing, so I had options that I may not have had if it was clothing. So, I decided to unknit the bottom 8 rounds and salvage the background color from them. Then, I would knit only 2 more rounds of the colorwork and knit the rest of the top plain with the foreground color (which I have plenty of). I would then, knit 8 rounds plain on the bottom and it would be done.

I'm not going to lie to you: this was a pain in the butt to do. Somehow, when you anchor your color strands it makes it a bit tough to unknit (har). It's done though and I'm relieved because it worked.

This is all that remains of the background color yarn. whew.

Now, the project is blocking and I can't wait for Julie's birthday. I'm always like that with presents. I'll probably end up giving her her gift early.

I definately improved on my fair isle abilities with this project (you'll understand how that could be when you see the whole thing)(sorry for the tease). I also realized that I can definately solve a lot of my fair isle tension issues with blocking.
I test-blocked (steam from the iron) part of the project while I was working on it:

You can see the contrast in this section, unblocked:

I will show the whole project once it is gifted. I just never know if my friends will happen by when I have something for them to show. Until then, another tease: