Tag: yarn

Funtimes in Babylon 10

Life has been especially lifey lately. As a consequence I’ve found it necessary to cast on many things. Well, just three things, but that’s two beyond my comfort zone, especially since I still have a couple of UFOs in the wings.

The first cast on is something I actually mentioned a couple of posts ago but haven’t really talked about. It’s Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from the book Victorian Lace Today. Here is a picture, but you can’t tell much. It’s destined to look like a blob as long as it’s on the needles.

This is the most challenging lace project I’ve ever attempted. A couple of years ago, I knit Hilary Latimer’s Mystery Knit Along Shawl and loved the way the painstaking, careful work of knitting it actually turned out to be very relaxing. I had to pay attention so absolutely that when I’d come up for air it was almost like I’d spent the time taking a rejuvenating nap. My mind would be clear, and I’d be refreshed and ready for whatever was next.

I’m hoping the Spider’s Web Shawl will give me a similar experience, but I’m not quite far along enough to tell. The thing that motivated me to attempt this pattern was actually the yarn. The yarn I’m using is an airy, soft, almost luminescent, lace-weight, mostly mohair blend that came from a couple of very special goats we know.

We met Gracie and her brother Reuben when they were babies. They belonged to our dear friend Marcia who runs Good Fibrations. Somewhere I have a picture of Paul holding Gracie the day we me her. I think she was only a week or so old at that point. It’s insanely sweet, and if I ever find it, I’ll show it to you.

Anyway, Gracie and Reuben now live with our friends, Ann and Trish, over at Out in Jupiter Farm. Here’s Paul with Gracie at their place last year.

Ann and Trish took the fiber from Gracie and Reuben’s first shearing and turned it into an out-of-this-world laceweight yarn, and that is the yarn I’m using for my Spider’s Web Shawl. I’m hoping to do it justice. I’ll keep you posted.

So that was the first wild-hair cast on. Remember the Inlet cardigan? It still has no sleeves. I just wasn’t in a sleeve knitting mood, ya know? The Spider’s Web Shawl requires concentration, and it’s gotten too warm to work on the Zigzag Blanket, so there were some knitting opportunities cropping up when I didn’t have anything to knit!

And there was stress. It’s the absolute craziest time of the year for me workwise. So one night when it was very very late and I was still sitting at my desk, I decided the only sane thing to do was cast on a project I knew I’d love because I’ve knit the exact same thing in the exact same yarn once before. Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker scarf. In Malabrigo “Archangel.”

I know you understand.

Cast On #3. This one isn’t actually on the needles yet, but that could happen any second. I’ve got the yarn.

Look:

I’ve been dying to knit with some of the wonderful, speckledy Hedgehog Fibers yarn I’ve been seeing everywhere, and after I knit The Rain Outside for Cari, I knew the next one had to be for me and that I had to get myself some of that yarn. I chose “Poison” and “Ruin.” What do you think?

And just in case the cast-on frenzy isn’t over, I ordered the two skeins of “Sangria” at the top of the post. I’m so not sorry.

 

*Father John Misty’s Funtimes in Babylon has felt relevant lately.

Junebug Farms Yarn 18

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If you’ve read even a little bit of my blog, you know about my friend Cari. We met online back when Paul and I were planning our move to Tennessee. I had questions about chickens, so of course I turned to Ravelry. I searched for someone in NE Tennessee who’d posted about chickens, found Cari’s blog, and the rest is some of my happiest history ever.

Over the years that Cari and I have been friends, Cari’s fiber genius has exploded. She knits, spins, crochets, dyes like a crazy color savant, and along with her hubby, Jay, has started a small fiber farm. With goats!

Here’s a picture of Cari and Jay that ran in the local paper.

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They started out with two female angora goats and early this year added two boys. This is when they were bringing the boys home in their car!

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It’s all been big fun to be part of and watch develop. And now! Oh, my gosh! The yarn!!!

This Spring, Junebug Farms got their first batch of processed fiber back from the mill. It is crazy gorgeous. Cari gave me a skein of the natural color that I’ve been saving instead of knitting with (I know, I know), and then she started turning out these glorious colors. I had to jump in.

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I’ve had the Fetching pattern in my queue for ages. It seemed good for trying out a new yarn since, with a little cabling, some stockinette, and a picot edge, I’d get to see how it behaved with a number of different techniques.

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So I can’t figure out how to photograph the squish (which is OUTRAGEOUS), but hopefully the photos at least show how beautifully the yarn knits up. The stitch definition in the cabled areas is nice and crisp, yet there’s still this lovely bit of mohair haze that just kills me.

I couldn’t stop with the mitts. I mean it. I just had to keep going. So I came up with a matching hat.

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This hat and these mitts make me so happy! I’d love them even if the yarn weren’t from Cari and Jay’s precious goats and dyed by Cari herself, but those things make them extra super special.

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I knit the first mitt the night the Cubs won the World Series (!!!!), and I’ve been wearing them ever since,  even though this is the most un-winterlike November I can remember. Now, all I can think about is what I want to make next with Junebug Farms yarn!

Checks & Balances 13

Talking sweaters today, not government.*

Paul’s Checks & Balances sweater is off the needles!

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I wrote about the Good Fibrations yarn I used for this in an earlier post, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Knitting with it made me think back to one of the first sweaters I ever made.

That sweater was a cardigan, and the yarn I was using was a worsted tweed of some sort. The feel of it was full and soft and sturdy, all at the same time. It was like a lullaby in my hands, and it carried me off to a sweet, sweet place whenever I picked it up. Honestly, I think knitting with that yarn, all those years ago, is one of the reasons I became A Knitter. And this yarn is like that. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The colorway is called “Soft Suede,” and it goes with just about every pair of pants Paul has.

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One consideration when I was choosing a pattern was that the sweater needed to be sturdy and not prone to losing its shape. Paul is pretty hard on his clothes, and I wanted this to be something he could wear without having to worry about stretching it out or messing it up. I decided to go with a design knit in pieces and then seamed, hoping that the seaming would add a little more structure to the sweater than it might have otherwise, and that definitely turned out to be the case. He should be able to knock around in this day in and day out without any worries.

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It makes my heart swell to think of my honey wearing the sweater I knit for him, with all the love and care that went into it holding him close. I don’t do a ton of knitting for other people, but every time I do, I’m reminded what a special gift a knitted thing is. The person who gets it and the knitter who knitted it both come away with so much.

I have one other random picture I’ve been meaning to show you–the Mystery KAL Shawl in the wild! A friend took this snapshot of us at a wedding recently. The shawl was perfect because the wedding was in the evening, and it was held outside. The temperature was in the seventies when we got there, but by the time dinner and dancing wrapped up, it was in the mid-fifties. I started out with the shawl over my arm, but by the end of the night, I was using it to keep me warm. Hooray for handknits in action!

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*Just one thought–I loved this article on npr.org about working toward a fuller understanding of where others might be coming from by reading “the book that’s not for you.”

 

 

Yarn: The Movie 6

I am so psyched!

 

 

There’s an interesting article about Yarn: The Movie here.

Rabbit Holes 16

Since things are feeling a bit insane around here workwise, I will make no mention of my own knitting projects today. Instead, I want to tell you about the explosion of blog serendipity that happened yesterday.

I was catching up on recent posts from my favorite blogs and intending to keep a tight rein on my habit of following links down rabbit holes, but darn it if Fiber and Sustenance didn’t draw me in with a picture of stripey socks and desert boots. I accidentally kept reading and was reminded that she and a friend were doing a hap KAL and that I’d wanted to check out said friend’s blog over at Rosalind Craft Supplies.

Well . . . Kate of Rosalind Craft Supplies posts lots of pictures of books and knitting against which, it just so happens, I am powerless. Ten or fifteen happy minutes later, I got ahold of myself but fortunately not before I’d discovered this awesome video that Kate shared in a post about her pick for the Top Nine Television Knitters.

I LOVE this guy. And it turns out he actually did finish the bow tie!

So anyway, determined to avoid future detours and stick to the essentials, I stopped by alexand knits. I had several posts worth of catching up to do, and wouldn’t you know it? There’s this post about how Alex’s friend Carol of knit equals joy gifted her a sock pattern. That led to my checking out both Carol’s terrific blog (awesome, awesome photos!) and the sock pattern, Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks.

Well . . . it just so happens that there is a KAL starting for the Smooth Operator Socks in Susan B. Anderson’s Ravelry group, itty bitty knits. You know what that led to, right?

Moving on . . .

But not really. See, in the same post where Alex mentioned the Smooth Operator Socks, she talked about a Wolfberryknits post and said it was really worth checking out. Oh. My. Heavens. Check THIS POST out! It’s the best thing I’ve seen on a blog in ages. It’s about taking local fleece and dyeing it with dyes made from local plants, and spinning it, and knitting it into a glorious pair of 100% Australian socks. There are tons of pictures, and the socks are insane.

Should I mention that as I was reading the comments on the Wolfberryknits post (I told you it was bad) I came across this sentence: “I have always been attracted to shiny things. I am a life experience magpie who wants to know how things work and who collects processes like other people collect random paraphernalia.”  You know I had to find that person.

Turns out, that’s narf7, and her blog is Serendipity Revisited. And yes. It’s an extremely cool blog.

That’s it. Back to work. But first, the final stop on yesterday’s out-of-control coffee break: Woman Sentenced to Five Months of Knitting for Road Rage Punch. Yes–she did, and she was. Here’s the scene of the crime:

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(Picture: Cascade)

 

Knitting Love 4

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The Ribbed Watchman’s Hat has got to be the most basic hat ever conceived, but I love it, especially when I’m knitting for someone whose head size I don’t exactly know. Between the fold-over brim and the ribbing, it fits just about everyone.

Someone who is very important in my life is going through chemotherapy right now and has just begun to lose his hair. I don’t get to spend as much time with him as I’d like, so I knit him this hat hoping it would carry my love and concern for him and give him a way to keep those feelings close even when I can’t be there myself.

IDF Hat in progress 2

The yarn I chose was Berroco Comfort in the Finnian’s Rainbow colorway.

In the past when I’ve needed something super soft and washable, I’ve used Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo. I also really like Tahki Yarns Calypso for softness, but it’s not machine washable, plus it’s been discontinued (it’s on sale at Webs right now if you want to grab a skein or two for half price).

Do you have a go-to soft, washable yarn that has enough spring to let whatever you’re making hold its shape? It seems like I’m forever looking for something like this, so I’d love to hear about anything you’ve tried and liked.

Back to the Berroco Comfort . . .

IDF-Hat-2-webThis yarn is super soft. I can’t imagine its causing irritation to even the most sensitive skin. And it does have a bit of elasticity. The thing I’ve been wondering is how it will wear, but guess what! Dana over at Yards of Happiness just posted about using it for a sweater, so I’m encouraged!

In other news I’m sorry for the lack of posts over the past week. It’s just been hard, ya know? The world is too much with us. . .

Sanity

Casting On 5

What better way to kick off the 4th of July weekend than by casting on for a heavy wool sweater?! Woohoo! Seriously, I’m pretty excited. I started Checks and Balances for Paul.

Checks-and-Balances-Yarn

I’m using one of my absolute favorite yarns. It’s a mohair/merino blend from Good Fibrations. The mohair is the magic ingredient. It gives the yarn this incredible loft that makes it wonderful to handle, and it knits up into garments that are exactly what you want from wool–light but sturdy, comfy, cozy, hard wearing . . . It’s the perfect sweater yarn.

And the color! The artist who raises the angora goats who contribute the mohair is a genius with the dye pot! I posted a picture of a mind blowing red she dyed back in October. The colorway I’m using for Paul’s sweater is called “Soft Suede.” I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture, but in its way, it has as much depth as that glorious red.

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The best part about Good Fibrations yarn and the very special woman behind it is the goats themselves. My friends, these are happy, happy goats.

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These pictures are from a visit to the Good Fibrations farm during kidding season. I think that’s what it’s called. It’s the time when there are goat babies everywhere!

Goats

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The cute is unreal.

I cast on for the sweater last night and knit a bit here and there as we ran errands today. I found a shady spot behind the library while Paul ran into the bank.

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This is going to be a busy weekend, and the Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow, so there will be lots of spinning for the next few weeks. That probably mean progress on Checks and Balances will be slow for awhile. That’s okay. I’m happy to have gotten started.

Happy 4th of July weekend, everyone! I hope you get to spend it doing the things you love.

Say It Ain’t So 6

Guess what happened. I was knitting the very last of the shawl collar short rows on Gramps on Friday night, and I ran out of yarn. During a break in our ongoing Lost marathon, I jumped up to grab another skein, but crappity crap crap crap, there was no more Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in “Echo” . . . anywhere. I always always always order more yarn than I think I’ll need, so I was sure there had to be some somewhere. Stop the Lost marathon, stop everything while I spend the next half hour searching for the missing yarn until I come across the original receipt that shows I only purchased—yep, ONE skein of “Echo.” Damn.

Oh, well. . . 

Remember how I was thinking of doing a quick sweater with seamed sleeves as a test for Paul’s sweater? Well, it’s underway. I’d ordered some bulky yarn already in anticipation of doing this. I got it for $4 a skein on sale at Jimmy Beans a few weeks ago!

Yarn

It’s Crystal Palace Danube Bulky in “Robin Hood.” It’s a nylon/wool/rayon blend. That’s not something I’d normally choose, but the $4 price tag got me. And you know what? I’m really enjoying knitting with it! I think it’s going to make a great lightweight sweater that will transition through all but the warmest weather.

I found a pattern in this book. It’s a plain old straightforward pullover which has the construction I wanted, so it’s perfect for my purposes.

Book

It’s been just the thing for Lost watching, super-busy-week-managing knitting.

Lola Foot

I should finish up the back and be on to the front today. Woohooo!!

Sweater

Counting My Blessings 2

Signatures

My back hurts. A lot. It feels like someone ripped the muscle away from the spine and back-of-the-ribs on the right side. I mention this because it’s pretty much all I can think about at the moment, but I want to do a blog post anyway . . . so we don’t get behind. Please forgive any wandering thoughts. Because pain killers.

Here’s the news from my corner of the world.

Pictured above is the first 100% unexpected, mouth agape, knock-me-over-with-a-feather, surprise birthday present I’ve gotten in a long, long time. This is such a nice gift I felt badly about accepting it for about one nanosecond. Then the needle lust took over.

Do you know about Signature needles? They are like little knitting magic wands. The tips are exactly the right amount of pointiness, the needle surface produces exactly the right amount of friction against the yarn, the cables on these circulars (which rotate freely at the needle!) are so flexible it’s like they aren’t even there, and the join . . . what join? Close your eyes. You can’t even feel it.

I’ve wanted a pair of Signature needles for a very long time, but I would never get them for myself, and none of the big time gift givers in my life understand knitting well enough to know that these needles are THE GIFT. Last weekend, though, I saw my dear friend P—(she appears here pretty regularly—I need to ask her if it’s okay for me to use her actual name)—and P handed me a birthday present that turned out to be these needles.

To say I love them is putting it mildly.

I spent a day picking a pattern worthy of them. Sunday, I cast on Veronik Avery’s Travel Shawl.

Travel Shawl CO

K3tog? Hah! These needles scoff at your k3tog. I keep expected to find myself knitting 17 together by accident. Magic, I tell you. Pure magic.

For my Travel Shawl, I’m using the same Peace Fleece DK sport I used for the Calligraphy cardigan. My original plan was to rip back the cardigan and use that yarn since my gauge issues gave Calligraphy a less-than-ideal fit. I’ve started with fresh yarn, though, and I’m enjoying it, so I just might continue with it.

Travel Shawl CO 2

This is a great pattern, and these needles make it such a pleasure to knit. If I were to just knit this pattern with these needles until the end of time, that might actually be okay.

Other news . . .

At the Knotty Ladies Retreat last weekend, in addition to the wonderful camaraderie, there were these mitts from Spinfoolish. Actually, Spinfooish had a whole basketful of drool worthy mitts, but these jumped onto my hands and refused to leave.

Mitts

I have worn them every day this week until today when it was finally warmish. Besides being a great pattern that fits well and looks even better, these are hand knit from my friend Dorothea’s handspun yarn. I think Dorothea herself knit (knitted?) them although it might have been her incomparable mother, “Mummy” to Dorothea and wannabe-Mummy’s-children like myself.

These mitts are instant happiness. From the moment I put them on, I’m warm—inside, outside, all the sides are warm.

The other thing that I absolutely could not leave without on Saturday was this red yarn from Good Fibrations. This red. Oh dear angels of color inspiration, you have outdone yourselves with this red. As I’m looking at it now, the gloriousness of this red is *almost* enough to take my mind off the pain in my back. I swear—it resonates beyond the reach of normal color. I want to gently part the strands and sink into the center of this luscious hank of red. Seriously, there are no words for this red.

Burning Embers

And finally, guess what! After waiting for nearly two years, I’ve made it into the Hello Yarn Fiber Club. I got the invitation yesterday! I’m beginning to  think my sore back might be a blessing. Without it, I’d probably explode from all the fibery good fortune.

So that’s it for now. I’ll be back in a couple of days with more Travel Shawl. In the meantime be well, my knitters!

Chickens and Eggs 2

Yesterday, I finished the left arm of the 28thirty cardigan. One arm to go. No pictures, but I should have lots of pics of the finished sweater to show you soon. The day was so beautiful that when I got through with work I went outside to catch up on a little reading. As often happens, I spent most of the time watching chickens.

Chicken Watching

Then, for dinner I made Shakshouka. Can you believe I learned about this dish on Ravelry? In the chicken forum. It’s a dish that’s popular in North Africa and all over the Middle East, apparently, and it features eggs poached in a tomatoey, oniony, exotically spiced sauce. We love it!

Shakshouka

Most of my knitting time yesterday was devoted to the 28thirty, but I spent a little while trying to figure out what to do about a pair of socks I started a week or so ago. The yarn is from String Theory Colorworks. I love this yarn. This particular base is called Continuum. It’s a merino, cashmere, nylon blend, and it’s absolute perfection for socks. It’s so perfect that I joined the String Theory monthly sock club (shhh! I’m still not ready to admit I did this), so I’m going to be getting a skein of their fabulous, self-striping sock goodness each month.

Ribbed Socks

The issue with this particular pair of socks is the ribbing. I thought a two-by-two rib might make for a comfy fit, and I’m pretty sure it will, but the rib produces a very stretchy material, too stretchy for my normal 60 stitches it appears. I’m thinking I might need to restart these. Hmmmm . . . .

For now, it’s back to work. I wish everyone a wonderful spring day with at least a little time for knitting.

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