Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Finishing Vacation

I took about a week and a half off for the Thanksgiving holiday and it was desperately needed. It's good to just disconnect from work like that once in a while. I was very productive with my time off.

I finished the wedding shrug and gave it to my friend. My learning experience from this is that not only do you need to swatch but you should also soak and dry the swatch for the final measurement, especially when working with a new yarn. This yarn grew quite a bit making it go from half sleeves to three-quarters. The end product was still good but I should be washing my swatches from now on. I'll put up some better pictures next month from the wedding since so many people have been asking about it.

Next I finished up a pair of socks for my Mom. This was a kit from my Shakespeare in Lace accessory club subscription. I loved the lace pattern and the heels were fun. I'm not sure on the name for this heel technique but it was surprisingly quick and fit my Mom well. She's getting these for Christmas since we're so close to the holiday.

Then I went on a spinning frenzy. I hadn't spun at all while knitting on the shrug so my hands were just itching to spin. The only way I can describe it like when you go on a diet and say no chocolate. Then when you finally give in you eat a ton of it. That was me and I got so much done.

On the wheel already was the deep purples spinning fibers from Spinner's Hill. It's not my normal color but I loved how saturated it was and how easy it was to spin up. It's no secret that they're my go to fiber at the Yarn Cupboard no matter what the color. This is destined to be a Christmas gift for my Mother-in-Law since she asked for some handspun yarn this year. (I really need to find a way to photograph my yarn better, it's not this hairy looking in person)

I tried to spin it thinker than normal but I still ended up with about 480 yards. It would make a nice scarf or loose cowl since it's so soft and the color variations turned out well.

Next on the wheel were two lots of fiber that my Father-in-Law purchased for me at the NYS Fair. In the future I will remember to direct him to a yarn shop or local festival instead. It's not that the fibers were bad, just not as nice as what I normally spin. First up was an ounce and a half of romney wool that was super scratchy but had nice blues and purples:

I ended up with 145 yarns of light fingering weight yarn. It did soften up a bit after a soak. I'm going to recommend soaking with a little hair conditioner if my Mother-in-Law thinks it's too scratchy for knitting (or she can just weave with it instead). There's some nubs and thick/thin sections in there, more that I would normally like but it does add character to the resulting yarn.

Then there is the natural Romney wool that he bought to be eventually dyed. It's hard to believe that it's from the same farm as the blue/purple fiber since it felt like a cloud. Not a cashmere cloud but a soft wool cloud. The label said 8 ounces but when I weighed it I got 7.35. I spun it up as thick as possible into 2 sport weight skeins. This is beautiful as it but should look even better when dyed:

I struggled with the twist on this yarn because it wouldn't wind onto the bobbin even with my little spring fully cranked. I had to really slow down and work at it but I love the resulting yarn. All of these will be going in their Christmas box to be mailed as soon as the last couple skeins are fully dried.

Once this came off the wheel I didn't have the itch to spin anymore. Well, there still is the itch but it's not as pressing as before. I'm fine now to start thinking about knitting projects again, even if I'm not actually starting any. I don't have any knitting on the needles for the first time in a long time. I truly have evolved from a knitter who likes to spin to now a spinner who likes to knit and that's ok with me.

This isn't even all I did on vacation. Next up: spindle spinning progress!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I Will Never Be a Knitwear Designer

I mean this in the best way possible but this shrug project has shown me that I never want to be a knitwear designer, ever. There is so much self doubt involved that every stitch has been wondering if I'm doing the right thing.

So, an update with no pictures after the second wedding dress fitting over the weekend:

Yarn look ok with the wedding dress?
Absolutely. It looks fabulous. What looked bright white in my hands while knitting faded to a soft ivory when held next to the dress. Huge success and sigh of relief there.

Beads: too many? too little? just enough?
The overall verdict was just enough. They will catch the light here and there but not be the focal point of the outfit since the dress is lacy and ornate enough by itself.

Does the re-written pattern fit?
No. The back seems to be ok so that will not be ripped. Both the left and right fronts come too far over the dress so those will be ripped and scaled back (we thought that would be the case from the initial look at the pattern). The sleeve didn't even come close to fitting. My best guess is that since the pattern was written for chunky yarn the sleeve was intended to be knit loose and then tighten up a bit at the upper arm. With using DK weight yarn that is intended to be a tight fit all the way I am improvising and doing the opposite of what the pattern states. I'm starting out small and increasing instead of decreasing. So far all of my measurements and calculations are coming out correct. I should be able to finish the first sleeve tonight & get started on revising the fronts tomorrow. We have another fitting for the shrug only scheduled for this Friday so my hopes are to have the back pinned to one front and one sleeve for final fit approval.

I have so much respect for knitting designers. I did before but after working on this project I no longer have that daydream that I could design someday. This whole knit, rip and re-knit thing is not what I like to do. I like to sit down with a well written pattern and just knit without having to figure out if something is going to work out or not. That's why I don't mind paying for a pattern, they've done all that work for me and deserve the few dollars that I paid to just knit it up.

This shrug is for a wedding so I'm being a perfectionist. I understand that not every project is this way but this is special. I'm willing to work on it right up until the day of the wedding if I have to just to get it right. BUT if things go well I could be done by Thanksgiving. Fingers crossed for good knitting karma until then.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Knit, Knit Like the Wind

(yes I stole that title from Brenda Dayne but I thought it was appropriate)

My best friend is getting married next month and she asked me to knit her a shrug to wear with her wedding dress. So after all that spinning obsession talk I haven't touched my spindle or wheels for over a week now. My local yarn shop ordered the yarn we picked out, Lana Grotto VIP:

It's a merino/cashmere blend and so luxuriously soft. I'm stressing out about the shade of white but we have a fitting on Saturday that should ease my concerns.

Since the pattern itself was a bit on the plain side (which we wanted) I still wanted to dress it up a bit with some beads. There's a great bead shop just across the street from my yarn shop and we picked out white pearl seed beads to go with the yarn. Once I got the yarn and the right size beads it was the pattern next. We picked out one that was knit up in chunky weight yarn so the pattern had to be rewritten for the lighter weight yarn. Thankfully my friend Shannon who teaches at the shop offered to help out.

I've got the back all knit up and plan to start the fronts tonight. Overall it will be a quick project which is wonderful just in case I need to rip back and re-size anything. To say this needs to come out perfect is an understatement - my best friend would probably be fine but I know that this is going to be a hand knit item that will last forever through pictures.

I'm not normally monogamous with my projects but there will be no spinning or knitting on other items until this shrug is done and perfect :)