Monday, March 31, 2008

Here it comes...

The Kromski wheel has been ordered! The prepwork is almost complete, too:

The fiber stash has been enhanced.

My daughter's computer table was cleared off and set up as a dyeing station.

Now, all I need to do is clear enough floorspace near a comfortable seat.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

So cute!

My last order of roving from Twisted Fiber Studio had a tiny sample of Batty roving. I spun that on my spindle today, and it turned out so tiny and cute I just have to show it off.

Is that not the most adorable tiny skein you've ever seen? No clue what to do with it, but it's adorable.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Your math-fu is better than my math-fu

I'm about ten rows into a pair of Jaywalker socks with the Heartsick yarn, and I can already tell the length of the stripes is too short. Poor hubby is going to have witchy superman socks. It's practically a pinstripe... the stripes are only coming out two rows wide.

For some reason I thought it was (π*sock circumference)*rows of color but I guess Scout and millions of other knitters are right and I'm wrong. Flarbersnout! I had enough trouble trying to get a 20' loop, 30 or more is impossible till I build a warping board. Le sigh.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Heartsick or Superman?

I'm beginning to think every beginning yarn dyer makes a skein of red and blue superman yarn. It's actually a very deep wine color and teal, but these pictures just make it look red and blue. We will see how my first self-striping sock experiment (without any warping boards or pesky common sense used) works out. If nothing else, I can give them to my hubby instead of my precious Batty Monkey socks.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Um, yeah...

So this is what happens when you don't figure-eight tie your skeins before dyeing them, huh? Good to know!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Doctor... to the emergency room.

About ten years ago I played a PC game called Theme Hospital. It was a mostly tongue-in-cheek hospital building sim where you would try to serve all the whacky sick and injured whilst trying to keep the vomiting in the halls to a minimum.

So when I saw the Doctor's Bag in the book Knit2Together
I just knew I had to knit one up. Well, after searching long and hard for the proper closures, I have finished it, finally. It could use another round of fulling in the wash, but I love it.

Now, if only I knit in public more.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

This is why I hate birthdays...

No, it's not the getting older part (although that doesn't help) or being reminded of my own mortality... it's my freakin' stingy husband!

We've been married over ten years now, and we've tried all kinds of scenarios for gift-giving. I've let him surprise me (50/50 success rate), I've given him a list and told him to pick however many items (80 percent success rate), I've picked my own gift and told him to pay for it (100% success rate, but then it's not really a gift).

This year for my birthday, I want a spinning wheel and they're kinda spendy, so I told him what I wanted and that I would save my "mad money" budget for the required number of paydays to pay for half, and he could pick up the other half.

Well, today when I gave him an update on my saving progress and mentioned that I'd have it by next payday, but we could wait two paydays if it would take him that long to come up with his share of $400.

He actually paused his game, set down the wireless 360 controller, looked at me and said, "[expletive deleted], how much does this thing cost?!?" Did he not listen when I told him this six weeks ago? Probably not. Am I hopping mad? You betcha.

At this rate if I saved all my budget from now until the payday before my birthday, I would have the money on my own. Is that the point? No. The point is that he should *want* to buy me a gift, and recognize the spending cuts I have been taking to facilitate the purchase of this extra-expensive gift.

I'm tempted to just buy the thing on my own and treat him to stony silence for at least a week. >:(

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Go speed racer!

Still depressed about my socks (which I finished, but am NOT happy with)I didn't knit at all yesterday until after supper... and then went nuts.

I cast on one of the sleeves for my Kimono Bathrobe and before I knew it it was 2am and I had about eight inches done. Holy cow! The socks seemed so slow in fingering weight yarn, that when I switched back to worsted weight-ish stuff on #6 needles, it was like I could watch it grow.

So I'm very pleased with that, and it's given my attitude about the bathrobe project a much-needed boost of adrenaline.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


So I am casting off my second pair (ever) of socks, and about to pick up the stitches for the afterthought heel when I realize I can't see well enough in the evening light. Black yarn, tiny, tiny stitches. So I put my foot under my behind to scootch over closer to the lamp and as I put all my weight on my foot to shift the rest of me, I hear this sickening *CRUNCH* like chicken bones snapping.

I had put my heel squarely on the middle of the dangling end of my Harmony size 2 and snapped it like a twig.

So I am sitting here, too depressed to knit. Although while writing this I have realized that somewhere in my binder for needles I do have some metal DPNs in the right size. But I don't think I will be buying Harmony needles in sizes smaller than 4s any time soon. :(

Spring Cleaning Already??

So... my husband goes out to go to a meeting last night around 7 and notices that there's a notice stuck to our door. Apparently the apartment people got a wild hair (or possibly a citation related to some building code violation) and decided that NOW was the time to install fire extinguishers in every apartment.

Well, this is appalling news to me, as I am the world's WORST housekeeper. And I live with the world's two biggest slobs. So we're frantically cleaning, and as I straighten the afghans on the back of the couch I manage to notice just HOW much fiber, yarn, and fiberly pursuit related (excuse my french in advance) crap has taken over my end of the couch. For some reason (Ravelry) I pulled out all of my stash and it has now gravitated to the end of the couch where the window and the best lamp is. Granted, I do not have a humongous stash, but it's three boxes worth of stuff. Big enough to trip over, anyway.

So I've decided I'm going to sell off all my jewelry-making inventory and move my stash there. Hah! That's my idea of spring cleaning.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Not enough hours in the day...

Yes, I admit it, I've been fantasizing... about my upcoming spinning wheel purchase. While I enjoy spinning on a spindle (I told hubby it's like my former LoTRO addiction without the trolls) I'm frustrated by the "pause and go" aspect of having to wind the finished yarn onto the spindle. Not to mention that I have to stop and ply it after only a single ounce! Just thinking about a wheel that will not only spin it onto a bobbin for me as I go, but fit a full 4oz on the bobbin at a time, makes me sigh and stare dreamily off towards the horizon.

I believe I've settled on my future paramour... A Kromski Sonata in a beautiful walnut finish. With a tensioned lazy Kate (which makes me think of LOST every time I see it, hah), three niddy noddys in graduated sizes, and a bundle of fiber, I think I'm stretching my husband's tolerance for birthday-gift pricing, but since we're going halvsies on it, he'd better not complain too loudly. Hah.

Funny thing is, my spinning daydreams are inevitably leading me towards weaving too, but there just isn't enough time in the day to feed spinning, weaving, AND knitting. So I'm going to have to choose... for now.

I guess in an ideal world, some fabulous idea would come to me for a garment, I would then plan whether to weave or knit it, and then spin the necessary yarn for it and make it. However, I am one of those people who can't seem to get projects done fast enough.

When I played LoTRO, I used to lament that my characters never seemed to level up fast enough. My husband (and common sense) told me that I'd need to concentrate on one single character to see any real progress. And he's right. Well, it's the same for my fiber crafts... if I want to finish those socks, I have to actually be working on THEM and not spinning on a spindle or starting up yet another hat.

So even though I will still be buying my wheel, and will inevitably play on it for hours when I first get it, once the newness wears off I'm going to make a serious attempt to get all my undone projects finished, and start trying to see one project at a time through to the end. Yes, I will need little side projects for situations where hauling a full-blown knitting bag around won't do, but socks are always on some of my needles somewhere, so they don't count.

But if I'm going to see my yellow Chenille bathrobe to level 40, I'm going to have to start doing some serious grinding on the sleeves.

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Ball finished!

One ball finished of my spindle yarn. It was very addictive! I thought my hands were in shape from knitting so many bulky and multiple stranded items, but after a day the muscles of my left hand were aching... and I still couldn't put it down!

I'm a little disappointed that it appears I can only fit 1oz of yarn on the spindle at a time. I don't know if it's a limitation of my beginner's spindle or my inexperience, but if I tried to fit more on there the yarn would get in the way of getting it to spin. I am guessing this is because the shaft is rather short.

Plying was a little hairy. I clearly put too much twist into my plies, because they kept doing that thing telephone cords do after they have a lot of twist in them. And the skein I wound on my hand to keep the yarn on my wrist while I plied was apparently done incorrectly, because the inside pull tried to cut my wrist off on the first pull. So then I had great fun trying to keep it from winding around the yarn I was plying. Oy.

But all in all, I'm liking spinning and so now the daunting task of choosing a spinning wheel sits before me. I like the price-point of The Hitchhiker and its portability, but what few reviews I could find on the web indicated that people had problems with it when plying because of the direction reversal. I love the idea of a Fairy-tale wheel (or castle wheel) but as I know I'm going to be doing a lot of my spinning in front of the TV (in our tiny, post-Katrina apartment), it's not practical. So I have to stick with portable, low-profile models. The Ladybug seems to fit those criteria, but I'm not too sure I like it's looks. I can understand an inexpensive model like the Hitchhiker being constructed of what looks like primarily plywood, but at twice the price the Ladybug should have a little more hard wood in it, if you ask me.

It probably doesn't help that I'm relying solely on pictures on the internet. If I thought I could talk my husband into driving me forty minutes to a local spinning shop to check out wheels, I would. Perhaps I will at time of purchase, since saving on shipping would appeal to his cheap side. :P

Thursday, March 6, 2008

First Spindle Yarn

I have finally ventured into the world of spinning my own yarn. My spindle arrived late this morning, and I bravely picked the worst (to me) color of roving included with my Louet kit and went to town. Had I not watched the spindling episode of "Knitty Gritty"(not to mention just having read all of Spinning Spider Jenny's blog posts with incredible details on how to drop-spin) the included instructions would have confused the heck out of me. As it is, I don't think I'm doing too badly.

There's a lot of hay-like vegetation in this roving. Okay, I'm so new I'm not sure what "a lot" consists of, but I've had to pick out three or four flecks of hay at least once every six feet of yarn. Well I suppose it's good I'm learning on the cheap stuff and not my Twisted Fiber Works pre-dyed roving in all it's groovy colors.

Playing with the spindle has taught me one thing... I'm not too shabby at spinning. I thought I'd be clumsy and awkward, but I've only broken the yarn once, and that's cause I was being distracted and not paying attention. Considering the first time I tried to play basketball I got a fat lip from the ball bouncing back into my face while trying to dribble, I'm happy my lack of coordination doesn't seem to be affecting me in this case. :D Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to be breaking any speed records... I barely seem to have made a dent in this ball of roving... but I'm encouraged enough that my saving my "play money" budget until my birthday so I can buy a spinning wheel seems like a fantastic idea right now. Not the usual "oh, another fad hobby you spend several hundred dollars on and have now quit doing" kind of idea. No, I think this idea is a keeper.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Double stranding = ultimate customization?

I never buy bulky yarn. It's not that I don't *like* bulky yarn, it's just that I only like to use it for certain things, and even though I may purchase yarns with a specific project in mind, they only get used for the intended project about 25% of the time. The rest of the time I usually just get an itch to cast on something cute I find, and dig through my stash till I find enough yarn for said project. So I mostly buy worsted-weight yarn... it's the most commonly used weight, and as I've discovered, the most versatile.

You see, there was a time in my teens when I thought variegated or "print" yarns were the greatest thing out there. They look so pretty (usually) on the skein, with their blends of color. I bought bunches of them. I cooed over them in my stash and petted them like tribbles. Then I tried to knit with them. Yuck! Color pooling in unexpected ways! Disaster!

So here I am now, several years later and most decidedly not a teenager and not a fan of print yarns. You can't throw it away... it's YARN! What to do?

Well lately I've been running into really cute patterns that all call for bulky yarn... in our "instant gratification" society, I suppose bulky is better because it offers a quick fix for you if you're a product knitter (you enjoy the end garments more than a process knitter who just wants to knit and doesn't care if they ever finish). Me, I'm a product knitter, but also feel that bulky is tacky looking. So every time I see something that needs bulky yarn, I double or triple strand regular worsted. It's possibly the best thing ever!

See here's the thing, you don't have to have two strands of the exact same color, you can mix it up... create unique blends and textures. If that smooth rose-colored worsted is too bland, add a fushia boucle yarn and presto! Lots more interesting! Have a blue-aqua-black print yarn that's just too intense when knitted up? Double strand it with a neutral gray or straight black and tone down the color.

You get the idea. It's like mixing paint, oodles of fun, and perfect for the experimenter in all of us. Plus a good way to use up the lonely, forgotten skeins in our stash.