the knit/spin connection

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in projects, spinning and fiber, Uncategorized

i’m sorry there was no post yesterday—severe thunderstorms took out our internet access for the evening, and it was very late when we recovered it. due to the unexpected freedom from my desk however, i DID get to spin for about 5 hours last night—it was heaven!

first things first: another update to the knitspot $10 challenge! readers have now donated $172++++ (one ‘+’ for each undisclosed donation), and brought the matching gift up to $120!! let’s have a BIG friday and saturday and make those numbers even higher! the knitspot challenge was going to end saturday night, but then i realized tht i did not count in the second day of the ride, so i am now extending it to sunday, june 25th, midnight PST. you now have one more day to make me a poor woman, and to win yourself some beautiful yarn!

    here is a simple rundown of the $10 challenge (which you can read more about here):

  • go to claudia’s blog and give any amount to her ride for MS by sunday, june 25th
  • write and tell me that you gave (i do NOT need to know the amount, but if you do tell me, i’ll keep a total tally and show it off). if you gave before this week, write and tell me—you are also eligible!
  • i will send claudia $10 for each knitspot reader that gives any amount to her MS ride
  • your name will go into the knitspot hat to win some Briar Rose “Grandma’s Blessing sock” yarn, and, if you give $10 or more, into the hat for claudia’s prize patrol

how cool is that??

all right, who wants to talk about knitting and spinning?? i thought so!
last night (actually, all day yesterday) i got so much knitting done, that it felt a liitle weird. that’s when you know you need to re-evaluate things . . .
i got up early and knit on my skirt before work, while the coffee brewed, and then while i drank my first cup!

i had ripped back the bottom tier the night before, and restarted that in solid green with a black zig-zag just above. now i like it a lot better. this morning i added another bit to it; i think i could finish this by tonite or tomorrow if i don’t get distracted by something else, but i love getting distracted, so, we’ll see! (BTW, i DID try it on and it fits great, but because it did not have a drawstring yet, and i was trying to hold the camera AND hold the skirt up, i could not get a good shot. and then, that just sounded so funny, i thought i’d leave you the mental picture instead . . .)

i also worked on the shawl some more, but it looks about the same to me. i am not deliberately withholding pictures or information about it, but since it is a gift, i just want to keep a low profile with it (yeah right—i’m keeping a secret on the internet . . .)

and then there is the spinning! when the power went off, and the internet went out at 6:02 pm, i took the opportunity to get away from my desk as fast as i could. i went right upstairs to my spinning wheel—no electricity needed! well, the poweer did go back on, but not the internet, which was perfect, because i turned on the book i am reading and relaxed into my work, which at the moment is making sock yarn with this coopworth.

now, spinning is not really an activity that offers much in the way of progress shots—“oh, here is my bobbin empy” . . . then later, “now, here is my bobbin half empty”. right. and that’s about it.
spinning offers a lot of time for thinking, even while listening to a book (have i mentioned that i am a bit of a multi-tasker?? yes, well. there is just so much urgency, y’know, to do everything . . .)

so, because our dear friend debbie j, and our new friend leah, BOTH are anxious to read more about spinning, i thought about what i could write.
“ooh-ooh, i know,” squealed debbie excitedly (nearly knocking over her pepsi to type faster), “puh-leeez talk about knitting with handspun! you could totally tell EVERYBODY how great it is and that you actually CAN knit with it and not just look at it, cuz, y’know, some people show their spinning all the time, but they are NOT making anything with it. a lot of people don’t seem to do that!

O-K, debbie. will do. (hahahaha! doncha just love her??! wait til you read her yarn reviews . . .). i’m sure she is wrong about the knitting with handspun, but she has a point about not
seeing a lot of it.

(please excuse all the wrinkles; apparently intense love does not raise the conscioussness for neatness inside the closet of one’s “other half” . . . and he is SO neat everywhere else . . .).

debbie recently acquired some of my sock yarn and made steve a pair of socks, which he apparently loves.

this seems to have incited a riot of pro-handspun knitting and spinning activities in their household. my favorite was when debbie was having trouble last week handling some dyed roving, and steve patiently pre-drafted it for her, so it would spin more smoothly.

(smile) like i keep sayin’—knit socks for your man, and he will be your love slave!
and handspun socks?? well, can you purr “honey, i’d rather spin than cook tonight”?

anyway, knitting with handspun is what got me rooked into the whole spinning thing in the first place! once you go down that primrose path, there is no turning back. knitting with handspun is like eating food that you just picked fresh from your garden.

handspun yarn is alive with spring, with light, and with depth. and those qualities show through in the finished garments as well. it handles quite differently than commercial yarn, which in comparison, can seem dull, limp, and lifeless.
and don’t even get me started on the joys of exploring the variety of fibers, and breeds of fibers, and how that changed my view of yarn forever. seriously—we will be here all day if i get going on that stuff . . .

don’t get me wrong—i still love ALL yarn! and i recently rediscovered commercial* sock yarns in a big way (they are SO much better now than they were 10 yers ago!).
*when i say commercial here, i am strictly speaking of all mill-spun yarn; i am not referring to dyeing.

it’s just that, well, with handspun, you can really feel the the good karma—when you knit with it, you can actually feel more love in it! so it’s perfect for those special gifts, the ones when you are trying to say “i love you” with each stitch, whether it is a sweater

or a really cozy hat, or a humble pair of sox

of course knitting with handspun might require you to spin specifically for a project, but not necessarily. sometimes i just start spinning and make whatever yarn seems to want to come out of the wool. then i put it in the yarn closet and wait for an inspiring design to use it in. other times, i see the fiber, and the finished product, and i have to tame my spinning to fit within those parameters. it all usually balances out to feel right!
here’s an example of a yarn which i had spun too finely for the sox i had intended for it—it was not going to make sturdy socks at all, and i didn’t want to waste it

it sat and sat for months, maybe a year. then i got onto a lace kick this winter, and the ostrich plumes stole was born! suddenly that yarn was just right for something! more than just right!

of course, if it is sweaters that you want to make with handspun, you may have trouble fitting the yarns to published patterns which are formulated for commercial yarns. handspun often has a stitch-to-row ratio that is lightly off, probably due to it’s plumper nature. of course it IS possible to spin to a certain consistency, but getting exactly the yarn you need to obtain a certain gauge can be tricky.

it is well worth it then, to explore and begin using some of the many calculating tools available to knitters—everything from sock calculators to sweater design software is available to help one build a pattern from a unique gauge swatch.

now if they could only come up with software that would calculate a way to make my job disappear and still keep my salary . . .
and my work day is calling now, so i better go. but before i do, let me show you the coopworth, which i finished last night (hooray!).

the twist is setting now (i like to leave it on the bobbin for that). once that happens (anywhere from overnight to a few days time), i will roll it into skeins. i don’t know how many yards yet, since i haven’t skeined it, but i would say somewhere around 450-550 yds. maybe enough for two pair!

more later, and thank you all again for your generosity in the knitspot challenge!!

not good enough for beth

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Uncategorized

first a quickie update on our progress toward funds for claudia’s MS ride
knitspot readers have sent claudia over $102+++ since sunday, and my matching donation is up to $100!! YAY! the plusses are the people who gave but did not disclose the amount, so use your imagination!
deb kessler expressed a concern about you all breaking my bank with this challenge, but don’t worry about that; i’m willing to use my earnings from teaching classes this month toward the $10 challenge. (i mean ok, i can’t afford to give million, but i’m pretty sure i don’t have that many readers, either . . .).

    here is a simple rundown of the $10 challenge (which you can read more about here):

  • go to claudia’s blog and give any amount to her ride for MS by next saturday, june 24th
  • write and tell me that you gave (i do NOT need to know the amount, but if you do tell me, i’ll keep a total tally and show it off). if you gave before this week, write and tell me—you are also eligible!
  • i will send claudia $10 for each knitspot reader that gives any amount to her MS ride
  • your name will go into the knitspot hat to win some Briar Rose “Grandma’s Blessing” sock yarn, and, if you give $10 or more, into the hat for claudia’s prize patrol

how cool is that??


please excuse that public service announcement . . . now, back to our daily post

okay, so individual sock progress was not what beth had in mind—she’s looking out for mr. #1, and wants to know how his sock pile is stacking up. sigh.
as if i would neglect my main squeeze (ok, ok—so he’s my only squeeze). right. like i WANT him to go back to the sock mending

. . . oh, and nice going anne! having david read all the contest entries. the other night, when beckie and mark were over for dinner, david AND mark get talking about sock mending (i know, don’t ask; must be some weird social side effect of living with all those wool fumes . . . somehow sock mending falls into the general category of “fix it, don’t throw it out”).
anyway, david starts bandying about phrases such as afterthought heel, and did any of us know anything about that? because he just KNOWS there is a way to make replacement heels and soles for the socks. now remember, these are the socks of which he speaks:

sorry, but ain’t no afterthought heel gonna fix that! i mean. if socks just wore out in the heel— hello!—we’d be all over that afterthought jobby like white on rice. but what about the edge of the heel?? where does it end? and wool is biodegradeable—hell, even birds know how to recycle it!

i know just where all that mending is leading to, and i’m NOT having any of it. if i wanted to knit new heels onto nasty, joyless, half-felted/half-worn-out socks, i’d wear out the yarn first and THEN knit whole socks with it to get the full effect of the scratchy, hair shirt experience.

no, sorry—give me brand-new, springy, happy, fresh-colored yarn any day and i will happily knit up a new sock before you can unpick that old heel properly. david can do whatever he wants to his socks, but i don’t want any part of them once they’ve been worn and washed 50 or 60 times.

so, it is with much gladness therefore, that i turn our attention to the progress of the sweet little baby dress pattern. it is written, and i am almost done testing it with this watermelon red (you can’t tell from any of the pictures, but it is watermelon, trust me) silk classic yarn. after coffee and a little knit-time before work this morning, it looked like this

i’d gotten all the way through the lace portion and was ready to begin the long stretch of stockinette in the skirt. the perfect thing to bring to class. which i did, and i knit and knit, and by the end of my classes, i was up to the waist

woo-woo!! just that little lacy bodice to go, and i’m all set! then i can hang it in the shop, print the patterns, and move on! i know already i am not done with the fun i’ve been having doing these dresses. next, i think i’ll tackle a different motif using the apple green yarn—something larger that forms a shape on the front of the skirt, with one large motif spread across the chest. we’ll see . . .

i also worked quite a bit on the wedding shawl for my knitting world cup challenge, adding another couple of inches. soon it will be time to begin the next stitch pattern, which will form the second band; the deep edging.
and if i’m going to do any of that before bed, i really should go up and start now!

ooops, beth is SO right!

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

i totally forgot to put the latest sock picture up—sorry beth! here you go

now that the hollySox are done, the camoSox are my new desk accessory; i should make more progress this week as i expect to be doing a lot of printing and uploading (two projects going to print this week).

i haven’t started any new socks, but still have the green stripey ones and the briar rose ones in progress (er, or NOT progress . . .). i guess i’m just torn between two projects and feelin’ like a fool.

which gives me a reason to update the $10 challenge!

knitspot readers are rockin’ that MS ride! we are up to $102++ which brings my own matching donation to $80 and counting!!
PLUS, deb kessler of Fearless Fibers Handpainted Yarns has added to claudia’s prize patrol from her stock of hand-dyed yarns! GO deb!

knitspot readers ROCK!

Posted on 5 CommentsPosted in book reviews/events, projects, Uncategorized

well, but you knew that already.
WOW, you guys, even though it was Father’s Day, and gorgeous outside, six readers already responded to my $10 challenge with a total of $92+ (the ‘+’ stands for undisclosed amounts) donated to claudia’s MS ride. that means that in addition to their $92+, i will send her $60 more ($10 for each donor), and we have til saturday, june 24th to raise the ante as high as you dare me!! THANKS!!

here’s how you can participate:

    here is a simple rundown of the $10 challenge (which you can read more about here):

  • go to claudia’s blog and give any amount to her ride for MS by next saturday, june 24th
  • write and tell me that you gave (i do NOT need to know the amount, but if you do tell me, i’ll keep a total tally and show it off). if you gave before this week, write and tell me—you are also eligible!
  • i will send claudia $10 for each knitspot reader that gives any amount to her MS ride
  • your name will go into the knitspot hat to win some Briar Rose sock yarn, and, if you give $10 or more, into the hat for claudia’s prize patrol

how cool is that??

in other news, i am closing in on the skirt! i am trying to decide how long it should be. i think around 20 to 21 inches is going to be fine, especially as it might stretch some (though i know already that washing and drying it in the machine will shrink it back). that will make it about mid-knee length.

however, i’m not sure i love the bottom 4 or 5 inches right now; it’s starting to look too busy. i am thinking of riping it back and making the last part (the part that is more open) all in ecru, maybe with just a black edge. yeah, i think i’m gonna have to do that. this is where the design-on-the-fly method can bite you in the butt. if i could think of another good way to know ahead of time, i would use it, but i don’t!
oh well, it won’t get finished tonight then, but at least while i have it off the needle, i can try it on!! and if that goes well, i’ll take pictures.

i know this is pretty stupid, but i have NOT been trying the skirt on as i go. i know, i know—
who would do that!. but i’ve been feeling good about it—no gut reaction so far, that has told me to go try it on. my inner radar is usually pretty good . . . hmm, famous last words.
but, oh hell, this whole project falls under THAT category! if you do any research at all, you’ll find that all knitting wisdom goes against the handknit skirt.

but who am i to suddenly start taking everyone’s advice and follow the path of wisdom?? i wouldn’t be me if i didn’t do things that fly in the face of reason. do i have to do those kinds of things EVERY time?
probably not, but . . . oh well—oops i did it again.
it’s getting hot here, so i need to finish this up and get on with the second stage of the grand experiment; whether it will hold up to being worn.

i started the baby dress sample in the red—thank-you to everyone who voted. hahahaha! it wasn’t very helpful, though; you pretty much all said what i said: “well the red is nice, that’s my fave—and i love the green, too!!”

(everything that people say about photographing red is true—and this is AFTER photoshop . . . of course it was also indoors on a rainy morning) so this is what i decided: i am making the sample in the red, and then i will make one in green using a different motif. maybe something larger that i can just fit one big motif on the chest area.
i started this one last wednesday and haven’t touched it since; too much skirt action! but i took it to class today and i might work on it tonite to take a break from the skirt.

OR, i might work some more on this piece of deliciousness:

mmm. it is scrumptious! it’s kind of slow knitting for me, because it’s so fine, that i can’t feel the yarn very well with my big fingers. i have to constantly check and make sure i am really holding the yarn! also, it’s easy for me to be too tight with this yarn. anyone who has knit lace too tightly knows what torture that can be. so i have to concentrate on being loose enough, especially on the knit rows, where all the action is. purl rows are naturally looser.
now, i know through my unerring prescience, that there will be someone or other who will want to see a close-up of the stitch pattern, which is fir cone (BW1), and i am happy to oblige!

of course it will be much more open when it’s blocked, but that is down the road a stretch . . . which reminds me, does anyone else have knitting world cup projects they’d like to share?? email me, or leave comments, so i can go see!
well, i am done with classes today and it’s only 4 pm, so i am setting myself to writing the shrug pattern for the rest of the day. i am also going to work on some other writing; i’ve been submitting audio essays to some of the podcasts, in an effort to overcome my shyness (stop that laughing—i’m serious—you can ask david if you don’t believe me!)

listen in this week on Insubordiknit Podcast for my story!

and definitely a bike ride this evening; what began as a rainy, miserable day is turning into perfection before my eyes!