gray areas

Posted on Posted in designing, lace/shawls, projects, spinning and fiber

well toto, we’re not in in the garden of eden any more—all we have of it is the fruit.
i was going to start out with a compare/contrast photo to describe what we came back to on friday, but i just couldn’t do it. a little slice of california orange seemed so much more generous (and YUMMY).

but just so you know—once i found my way across the bedroom on friday morning in the deep, dark chill of 8 am, i pulled aside the curtain to reveal something akin to this:

“oh”, i thought (as if i haven’t lived through seven ohio winters), “surely it will brighten up later”. but by late afternoon, the best the sky could produce was this:

not exactly the brilliant display i was hoping for—let’s just take a peek at what the sky looked like to us one week (and 3000 miles) earlier

the contrast is shocking, right? thank goodness for friends who live in warm places. i’ve had a hard time getting back to reality, heh.

so yes, the last few days have been tied up in adjusting back to real life and getting my email box squared away. almost done with that; just a couple of the more complicated emails left to answer.

i’ve also been sorting through the knitting i finished and the knitting i made progress on, as well as the knitting i didn’t touch while i was away.

i’m still working on secret projects, but i’m happy to say i got a lot done on those in between trips to the beach and visiting friends. they won’t be hanging around much longer.

by the time i got home on thursday evening, i had half of the front for my henley finished. i worked on the other half friday evening and by midnight, it was ready for blocking and seaming

i was a little worried about how narrow the finished pieces looked; i know it’s a rib knit, but still—it’s a little scary to think the whole thing might be too tight, especially after the struggles i had to start out with. but you gotta have faith . . .

last night i pinned each piece out for a steam blocking and sure enough, they all stretched easily to the size they are supposed to be. even after unpinning, they sprang back very little

here you can see the blocked front piece next to the unblocked back piece. now you can actually tell that there is a bit of openwork running through those cables, too.

the fabric now feels much lighter and drapier (which will feel more comfortable in warm weather than a tightly-cabled fabric)

and the darts are opened up so the shaping looks more shapely.
the process takes a lot of pinning and measuring to get each piece right, but taking the time to do it makes the seaming go much more smoothly.

i apply just a light shot of steam over all the piece at this point—just enough to relax the fabric and make the edges lay flat. i don’t want a hard finish on anything yet—in fact, with a texture like this, the best final blocking may very well involve washing the whole garment to get an accurate picture of the final fabric.

as with most sweaters, once i pin and steam one sleeve, i lay the second one right on top and pin it out to match, then steam again.

none of that took very long at all— surprisingly, i was all done in about 45 minutes. i then seamed the shoulders and added the neck trim and button bands. i stitched the sleeve caps to the armholes while we watched late night TV.

this afternoon i’ll press the shoulder areas and trims, then sew up the long underarm seams for a fine finish. i am on pins and needles to know how if the fit is what i’m expecting and what i visualized.

the night before i went away, i finished up this cité neckwarmer i knit up in laceweight cashmere. i cast on the small size using a 3.25 mm needle and worked as per the pattern adding another repeat of the body section to the length, so that it would fall into soft folds.

once i was back home on friday, i soaked it and laid it out to dry; now it’s ready to wear.

i love these lighter-weight neckwarmers—with less bulk, i can throw them on under a shawl or jacket to go out, or over a sweater to wear indoors for just a little extra layering warmth, mmm.

i don’t think i showed you this treasure that i received from sylvie at fibre isle while we were talking at TNNA last weekend

it’s spinning top that she creates at the end of a run at the mill, using whatever loose fiber is leftover from making yarn. she knows what fiber is in it, but can’t say what percentages of each one it contains (so every batch is different). this batch has cashmere and bison, along with some soy fiber and bamboo (i think; i didn’t write anything down!).

whatever it is, it’s delectable. it’s not listed on her site, but maybe with a little pressure from us, she’ll start selling it. she wound off a small amount for me to sample and i decided to spin it up in class this morning for a quick, one-session project.

oh my.
can i just go on a bit about how lovely an experience that was? the fiber was a smooth blend that practically spun itself—resulting the most consistent yarn i think i’ve ever produced.

i had approximately .8 ounces of fiber to start and no waste whatsoever from spinning it. i ended up with 90 yards of a heavier laceweight yarn—almost fingering, but not quite. it reminds me a little of her pearl bison in texture, with a nice springy ply twist, yet soft and drapey, too.

i got all the singles spun during class time and plied it after everyone left, then put it on to soak. i just took it out of the water and hung it up to dry—it falls in a straight silky skein that has nice body and beautiful sheen.

i can’t wait to knit with it—i’m feeling another neckwarmer coming on . . . that might make a nice travel project for my trip to denver next weekend.

several packages arrived while we were gone and i have a small heap of goodies to show you that i’ll save for tomorrow. we’ll also be releasing the fishbone gansey sock this week and hopefully, sprössling, once it comes back from its final review with our tech editor, tana.
stay tuned.

ps: dont’ get me wrong—t’s always nice to be home again . . .

20 thoughts on “gray areas

  1. Anne, even though I commiserate with you 100% (living in western NY, where it’s raining before we get more snow tonight), I wanted you to know that I could just jump into the picture at the top of this post. It’s gorgeous, even if you did have to “import” it. 🙂

  2. I imagine you went into shock getting back to snow and grey skies after Southern California. Ouch.

    The Henley is beautiful! I didn’t know it was a lacy rib pattern. It looked like cabeling.

    Can’t wait for Sprossling! I need a lacy cardigan. Badly!

  3. I’m really looking forward to seeing your finished sweater!

    Whenever my mom visits us, she always goes on and on about the sun. I forget how much drearier it can be in Ohio because we only visit in the summer now!

  4. Love the neck warmer. It always take a while to settle back home after being away. I spend 3 days cleaning & washing after I came back from my 3 weeks’ vacation.

  5. I’ve only been reading your blog a short time, but it has become a needed source of eye candy and dream fodder.
    I am all fired up about making a light-weight silky neck warmer now.
    We did have a few days of sun in Michigan while you were gone, but we are into ‘dirty snow’ season. It is best to stay indoors and knit pretty things.

  6. Anne- I know alot of people complain about winter, but it’s such a peaceful time. I like the changing seasons- as long as you’re dressed for it, it’s great.

    Lovely handspun.

  7. Each time I visit so. Cal in the winter, I visually drink in the green. I’m always amazed to see roses blooming.
    All the fiber goodness is too beautiful. I will not take up spinning. I will not take up spinning.
    Received my Dye Dreams package last week. Very excited to get started. Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Lovely neckwarmer and how exciting to have the henley almost done! It’s a great pattern.

    The gray days are a bit gloomy, but I think they’re peaceful too. Very conducive to knitting.

    Can’t wait for the fishbone sock pattern!

  9. I’m gonna say this as a person who lived in California the first 30 years of her life, then moved to Wisconsin: for $100,000, you can buy a decent house here. Back home that money buys you a Sears toolshed IF you can get the building permit. Schools are better here, too.
    On the down side: the weather, like you say. Also, the produce dept. at the grocery store.
    We’re even-steven on the earthquakes v. tornado thing.

    Does that cheer you up, even just a little?
    -Helen

  10. You’ve got me on pins and needles with the gansey, too — I can’t wait to see how it turns out! The spinning looks gorgeous, what a fiber blend; I can’t wait to see what you knit up with it. Welcome home!

  11. if it makes you feel better, the nice weather left town with you. There was a tornado warning for Long Beach yesterday.

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