Monday, December 17, 2012

2013 Planning

I didn't have any big goals ready to go for next year so I had to sit down and brainstorm.  I came up with all projects and no techniques to learn.  I believe this means I have evolved from a process person to a project person.  I'm ok with that.  

Events - I'm really looking forward to all of the retreats and festivals next year.  Here's my short list of definite ones:

Roc Day, Ithaca, January 12, 2013
Vogue Knitting Live, NYC, January 18-20, 2013
CNY Fiber Frolic, Baldwinsville, April 13, 2013
Yarn Cupboard Retreat, Jamesville, April 19-21, 2013
CNY Fiber Festival, Bouckville, June 8-9, 2013
Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival, Hemlock, September 21-22, 2013
Knitter’s Review Retreat, Canandaigua, November 7-10, 2013

That's a great list but there are still several on the bubble that I'm still considering:

Stringtopia, April 2013
Squam (NH), June 2013?
Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival, Greenwich, October 5 & 6, 2013
NYS Sheep & Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, October 19-20, 2013
SOAR, 2013, St. Charles, Illinois, October 20-26, 2013
Northeast Handspinners Association Open House, New Hampshire, November 2, 2013
Stitches East, Hartford, CT, November 7-10, 2013

 Weaving - I finished up my first weaving project of the weekend and have my second one all warped and ready for weaving.  I'd like to finish up that second scarf and then make 8 place mats (2 separate warps for 4 place mats each).  I have the yarn already and just need to have this finished up before my mother-in-law comes back up north in the spring.  Should be fairly easy to do if I work a little each weekend on the loom.

Spinning - I finally have my groove back so these goals were very easy for me to come up with:

  1. Spin at least 1 project each month for the CNY spin-along challenges.
  2. Spin up the 2 different fibers (Jagger & Hello Yarn) that I received from the Knitter's Review Retreat stash lounge.
  3. Get started on the mystery/Finn blend of roving that I got back from Salt City Fiber Mill
  4. Get started on the corriedale fiber that I asked Dana at Unwind Yarn Company to dye up for me.
Those last two are large quantities of fibers so I don't expect to finish them but it would be nice to do some sampling and at least get started.  I'd like to figure out some projects once I get a skein or two done from each.

Knitting -  This was the hardest for me to come up with.  I know I definitely want to do these:

  1. Knit along with the Heroines shawl & accessories clubs.  Anne is doing a knit-along and a read-along in her Ravelry group.  If you finish a project within 3 months of the shipment & post pictures then you're entered to win a gift card.  I just love prizes.
  2. It took about 2 minutes for me to sign up for Clara Parkes' The Great White Bale project.  I have no idea what the yarn will be like or when it will be shipped so it's just crazy.  I would like to knit up the yarn when it arrives so that I can provide feedback and participate in the chat area she's got set up.  Other than that it's just one big unknown for me next year.
  3. I have 2 small lace projects (Levada & Swallowtail) that I promised my mother-in-law I'd knit up for her.  She purchased them and decided that lace isn't her thing.  I'd like to get these done by February when I see her again but April/May would work too if I get swamped.
After those top 3 items I am very scattered.  I will probably just pick projects based on time and complexity involved and how I'm feeling at the moment.  I have a few categories that I'll look at first (in no particular order):
  • Gift yarn projects.  I have been given gorgeous yarn and I'd like to finally get some on the needles.
  • Yarn Cupboard KALs.  These are just fun.
  • Stash lounge yarn.  If I haven't used it by the time the next retreat arrives it will go back to the stash lounge.
  • Color work hat kit for my son
  • Lace shawls for my female family members that specified what they would like (mainly kits)
  • Baby projects for my BFFs baby-to-be.  We should know the baby's sex by the end of this month!
While all that crafting is going on I need to find time to knit up charity mittens as well for the kids up north at NNCS.  My goal for 2013 is to get as many pairs as I can from the stash lounge yarn that I scored.

Oh - and I have a family and a full time job.  Piece of cake, right?  I'm fine with not accomplishing everything.  I just need goals in mind so I can easily pick the next project when it's time and not feel overwhelmed.  It's going to be a good year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012 Wrap Up

I'm working on my goals for 2013 so I thought it might be best to review the goals I set for this year and see how I did.  For 2012 I divided everything up into 3 categories: Buy, Make & Learn.

Buy - This was an easy one.  The kits came and I mainly focused on buying spinning fiber and tools.  No problem there at all.  I shop like a champ!

Make - I didn't do so well with this one.  I made the cardigan for my mom and a few Knitspot kits but I didn't make a cardigan for myself.  I have been trying to lose weight so I'm waiting until my measurements are stable before attempting a fitted project for myself.  I did knit lots and lots of projects this year with almost 14,000 yards according to my knit meter stats.  I still have a large wrap on the needles which should be done before the end of the month so that's even more yardage.  My best friend is pregnant so I was willingly sidetracked for several baby projects.

Learn - I had quite the list:
  • Steeking - nope but I have a class at Vogue Live in NYC next month to learn this
  • Navajo plying - by far the coolest and most satisfying thing I learned to do this year
  • Gradient spinning - nope, not sure I want to do this now
  • Alpaca fiber spinning - yes! 
  • Using a drum carder - nope, don't have the time for this so it will stay in storage
  • Woolen spinning - nope but it's still something I want to learn
  • Long Draw - Abby Franquemont tried to teach me this quickly and I did practice a little but I need lots more practice.
Some big accomplishments for me this year was purchasing a storage solution that lets my stash stay organized and continue to grow.  I also joined the Golden Fleece Spinner's Society and have made some great spinning friends there.  

I think I almost have a good handle on what my goals will be for next year so stay tuned. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Finishing Vacation

I normally take the week off for Thanksgiving with my excuse being that I can have time to gear up for the holidays, get the house together for company and get some projects done.  What I actually do is knit or spin like crazy and catch up on my TV shows that started up in the fall. It's one of my favorite vacations of the year.

First up was finishing my shawl from Sivia Harding's class at the Knitter's Review Retreat.  It turned out much better than I expected.  I second guessed every decision I made but overall I think it will be my most versatile item to wear.  It can be a shawl or a scarf or a cowl type thing based on how I feel like wearing it.  Here's a couple horrible pictures of me trying to model it:

A close up of the edging body and top border:

Not bad overall.  I can see how designers end up spending a ton of time swatching.  I could have kept trying ideas over and over again.

Next up was my first hand spun project.  Other people have used my hand spun in knitting or weaving projects but I hadn't tried it out yet.  Probably my inner perfectionist trying to tell me it wasn't good enough.  I grabbed some yarn that I loved and was far from perfect and figured it was time to dive in. 

A close up of the bottom edge:
I used a pattern from Ennea Collective called Posies Shawl that is meant to be knit in hand spun.  I love that.

Overall I'm extremely happy with what I was able to accomplish.  I'm working on a set of color work mittens from my other class at the retreat and they are coming along nicely.  With all of this finishing going I might actually have some time to spin although I am getting another weaving lesson tonight so who knows!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2013 Subscription Clubs

Life has calmed down a bit so I'm going to try to blog more.  Let's see how long that lasts!

I have 2 clubs that I love and I wanted to share.  First up is from Wooly Wonka Fibers.  I have loved her Shakespeare in Lace themed clubs for the past 3 or 4 years.  Her yarns are outstanding and have so much depth.  The patterns introduce me to new designers and I like the different styles.  For 2013 the theme is switching to Heroines and I'm all in.  There's an accessory club with 2 shipments being socks and the other 2 being shawlettes.  The shawl club will have 4 shipments as well.  All the details for the club is in a group thread and she has information on the inspiration for each shipment.  I signed up for both clubs and hope to participate in the knit alongs and read alongs throughout the year.  I am really looking forward to the first shipment and reading the first book!

The second club that I just renewed this morning is from Anne Hanson of KnitSpot.  She has 2 clubs that run for 6 months at a time.  Fall in Full Color is exactly how it sounds with mainly accessory patterns and gorgeous colors.  It runs from August to January.  Bare Naked runs from February to July and has a range of patterns with undyed yarns.  I did a single dose for the first FIFC then double dose for BNK and back to single again for FIFC 2012.  This morning were the early bird sign ups for BNK 2013 and I decided to go pattern only.  Overall I enjoyed the colors more than the undyed and I want the chance to use yarn from my stash.  I'd also love to spin the yarn for a specific pattern so I'm hoping this will prompt me to do so.  I'm going to see how this goes before deciding what to do for FIFC 2013. 

I am not planning to sign up for any more yarn or fiber clubs for next year since I have a lot on my To Do list but I will be open to the idea if something wonderful comes around.  I wanted to share my favorites because these are the one I will continue to sign up probably for years to come!

Friday, November 16, 2012


I have been slowly running out of room for my yarn stash over the last year.  My knitting and purchasing frequency hasn't changed but I'm spinning now and that handspun quickly makes my stash grow.  A while back I tried to shop for a larger cabinet or a companion cabinet for the one I already had with no luck.  Everything was either too expensive or not appropriate for yarn.  I got some suggestions from Ravelry and then waited until I felt I could make a good decision. 

I finally ended up buying some storage cubes from Target and cloth drawers.  My husband convinced me to get 2 so that I'd have room to grow.  I'm very happy that I did.

That middle cabinet is what my original yarn storage consisted of.  It was packed full and finding anything was a challenge.  The two side units are a total of 24 drawers that are wide enough and deep enough to make storing yarn easy.  I spent most of the morning organizing and labeling but the good news is that there are several drawers that are empty!  I was even able to use 3 of them for fiber braids and that allowed me to actually put the lids on my 3 bins storing my fiber stash. 

I still have some work to do but already I'm feeling better.  I was worried that I would forget what was in each bag but I picked up some dry erase board labels that slide on the handles.  This one is my favorite:

Any yarn that I've received as a gift goes in this one so I can prioritize actually using it so that eventually I won't be an ingrate :)

I'm doing the same for subscription clubs, KR Retreat yarn, charity yarns, sweaters, afghans, handspun categories and random sock yarns that don't have projects assigned.  This has freed up the center cabinet shelves but I haven't completely figured out those yet.   I may use these labels at tags in my Ravelry stash eventually.

 Overall I am very happy now that I can organize easily anytime the mood strikes me and I'm grateful to have such gorgeous yarn in my stash.  Now I just need to win the lottery so I can quit my job and just knit & spin all day!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

2012 Knitter's Review Retreat Recap

I had an amazing time at the 2012 Knitter's Review Retreat this past weekend.  It was such a great time that I'm really struggling to get back to normal life and work each day.  I didn't take too many pictures but I did just finish uploading my haul into my Ravelry stash.

I checked in and received my goodie bag:

Very cool stuff here and I loved that there were a couple patterns that went with the yarn included.  That bag has a zipper top too which I love.  I gave the book "Extra Yarn" to my son last night and he actually cheered!  We had read it a while back thanks to our library and he loved it - such a nice touch.  I did gift the hot pink Lopi lace weight yarn to another attendee because I didn't think I would actually knit it up knowing how much I dislike Lopi yarns in general.  Everything else I kept. 

For my first class, I took Mary Scott Huff's Sassy Selbu Mittens and not only do I love the project but I love her too. She is a bundle of energy and good vibes crossed with caffeine and crazy fun!  I ended up ripping out what I did in class but I'm so much happier with what I have knit now since it doesn't have my previous mistakes.  Plus, my picot edge kicks ass!

On Saturday, I was in Sivia Harding's Design Your Own Lace Shawlette.  Sivia is so nice and her designs are now some of my favorites.  I'm seriously thinking about her pattern only Mezzaluna Club for lace shawls, really beautiful patterns.  While I know I will never be comfortable designing my own projects I do feel that I have the knowledge to change patterns when needed.  I left her class inspired to make my own shawlette - I'm just not 100% happy with my choices so far.  I'm very close to figuring it out though. 

Saturday afternoon the market place opened and I got 3 braids of Spirit Trail roving and then debated on a knitting bag from Three Bags Full (I ended up buying it on Sunday).  Sunday morning was "yarn church" and I cast on for my "new beginnings" project. 

Every year they have a stash lounge where people bring in items that they no longer want and take items out.  No money is exchanged and anything left over is donated.  My stash lounge haul included some spinning fiber, a silk lace kit and then some yarn for the NNCS mitten campaign.  I hope the items I brought found a nice new home as well!  I ended up using 4 Wegmans bags to bring everything out to my car.  You can see just about everything I brought home with me here.

I don't think I've ever knit so much in a 4 day span before.  Pretty much from 8 am to 10 or 11 pm at night I was knitting or chatting with new friends.  I was in heaven and I hope that I'm able to attend next year.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Last Shot

Last week I took some time to air my fiber stash and took the chance to organize.  I have 3 bins and ended up using 1 for coiled braids, 1 for straight braids and the last for balls and batts.  It's working so far and makes it easy for me to know which bin to look in based on the picture in my Ravelry stash. 

Anyway, the purpose was to find some lovely pieces to bring to the stash lounge for the 2012 Knitter's Review Retreat.  From what I gather, you bring in your lovelies and take someones lovelies home with you without money exchanging hands.  Sounds like fun and I filled a bag with odds and ends that should make someone happy.  Overall I made progress but I came across some shame fiber:

This is otherwise known as Mystery Fiber #5 and has the claim to fame as not only being the oldest fiber in my stash but the one that I got ripped off on.  When I was a new spinner I paid $100 for this without having the slightest clue what it was.  Also, the LYS I bought it from was brand new and probably didn't think to ask me if I knew what it was.  The receipt just says "unspun" - so helpful, right?

I did a burn test and believe it's either nylon or polyester.  The ladies at the Ithaca ROC day last year confirmed that it's synthetic and most likely nylon.  I even tried to spin it by itself and disaster followed because of the extremely short fibers. 

After cleaning out my stash last year I decided to throw it away.  One nagging thing kept me from doing that.  I had met the lady who owns the Salt City Fiber Works and she gave me a tour of her operations this past summer.  If anyone could save this fiber it would be her.  I called and brought it down to see what she thought.  She didn't know what it was either other than it's definitely synthetic (it doesn't behave like typical nylon and the blue color is odd) but suggested blending it with some Finn wool in a gorgeous dark charcoal grey/black color.  We decided on a blend of about 20% mystery fiber and 80% Finn and it should be done in about a week.

I'll have just under 4 pounds of fiber coming my way soon.  Let's just hope it turns out to be awesome fiber and I can eventually find room to store it until it can be spun up!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Today I'm working on list making and preparations for this fall.  First up is the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival in Hemlock, NY.  This is by far my favorite festival of the year.  It's big enough to attract some of my favorite vendors and worth several hours of time walking around but small enough where the crowds aren't a factor like with Rhinebeck. 

On my list I have directions just in case my GPS has problems, I made a note to visit the used equipment sale that I've missed in previous years and made notes on yardage requirements for a few projects I have in mind.  I plan to pack a lunch this year (stupid Weight Watchers . . .), bring a small cooler for drinks for the ride and bring plenty of cash for shopping. 

For my own personal benefit I have to have a shopping focus.  If I don't have that I will either buy nothing or buy everything - having done both before it really sucks.  Last year my focus was on spinning fibers.  This year I don't have a driving need for yarn or spinning fibers so I will be on the hunt for unique items like stitch markers, tools, patterns, gift ideas, little spinning wheels, etc.  I will say that if I find something that I love I will buy it on the spot because nothing is worse than riding home in the car wishing that skein of yarn or braid of roving came home with me.  I still think about that skein of yarn at Rhinebeck that was $32 to make a pair of socks and I didn't buy it because I thought it was too expensive.   That kind of regret no longer happens because now I just buy it and if years later I don't want to use it someone else will kindly take it in a destash.

I haven't gotten to what hand knits I'm going to wear but that is the best part.  Depending on the weather I may bring a shawl to wear with a t-shirt.  Festivals are the best places to watch for hand knits and it's completely acceptable to walk up to someone and ask them all about what they have on.  Can't wait!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Knitting 24x7

I can finally admit that the Tour de Fleece was fun but totally sucked away all of my spinning mojo.  I feel a bit guilty every time I look at the half filled bobbin of alpaca sitting on my wheel but I don't care.  I knit and spin to feel good and eventually my spinning mojo will come back.

It actually feels good to knit every night.  I started the Spiral Blanket of Awesomeness and made a ton of progress. 

 The center spiral:

 The transition from Bryn to Donagan in Three Irish Girls Kells Sport (looks better in person):

I had to order some longer cables and they won't be here until Tuesday at the earliest (don't get me started on how slow it took Knit Picks to process and ship my order) so I cast on a new project.  I have a new knitting To Do list called "ingrate" and it includes all of the yarn I have been gifted over the years.  I picked some charcoal alpaca that my Dad bought for me from the 2005 Finger Lakes Fiber Festival but the problem was it didn't have the yardage listed.  I did some math, asked from Ravelry friends for help and then was reminded that I have a yardage counter.  Doh!  Last night I was able to get started on it.

Rhea, a crescent shaped scarf:

That is just the border.  You knit the border first, pick up stitches for the body and then knit short rows to make it curve.  The alpaca really hides the lace but this is going to look amazing once it's blocked, trust me!

I'm going to keep going with this knitting theme until the spinning bug bites me.  Hopefully I can put a dent in my stash before the fall festivals arrive :)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Results Are In!

Just a quick recap before my house wakes up and gets crazy:

1. Notifications are mailed out on whether or not my items entered in the NYS Fair placed.

Boo-Yaa!  All 5 entries were accepted and I received 2nd place for lace, 4th for afghan and honorable mentions for knitted accessory and my 2 handspun submissions!  I am so pleased.

2. Notifications are emailed out on whether or not I got in to the 2012 Knitter's Review Retreat

Boo-Yaa (#2)!  At 9:27 pm last night I got word that I have a confirmed spot at this year's retreat!  I will be taking Mary Scott Huff's Sassy Selbu Mittens workshop and Sivia Harding's Design Your Own Sideways-Knit Shawlette workshop. I'm very excited for this but a little nervous too because I've never been to this retreat before.

3. The August pattern for the Fall in Full Color knitspot subscription club is released

Without spoiling too much this month's release is pretty damn cool.  The pattern will eventually be shared here and the yarn is perfect for someone in my family.  I've already got it set aside as future gift knitting.

4. My husband flies home after a week long business trip in Texas

He got in about 10 minutes late but no complaints here.  It's great to have him back and no work trips for a while.

5. Family that I haven't seen in forever are getting in late Friday night

They made it here with no issues other than running into a butt-load (yes, that's a technical term) of construction traffic.  So glad to be able to spend time with them this week.

6. It's my last day of work before a week long vacation

Ahhh.  9 days of no work.  I am so loving this already!

 Last night I went to bed thinking about everything that happened in one day.  It was just an amazing day and I am so thankful.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Day To Go

There is so much happening tomorrow, August 17th:
  1. Notifications are mailed out on whether or not my items entered in the NYS Fair placed.
  2. Notifications are emailed out on whether or not I got in to the 2012 Knitter's Review Retreat
  3. The August pattern for the Fall in Full Color knitspot subscription club is released
  4. My husband flies home after a week long business trip in Texas
  5. Family that I haven't seen in forever are getting in late Friday night
  6. It's my last day of work before a week long vacation
I am going to distract myself by diving into work during the day and getting back to work on the final parts of the cardigan tonight.  The problem is I keep getting further distracted by gorgeous yarn that came home with me yesterday:

That amazing yarn is going to eventually become a Spiral Blanket of Awesomeness and I'm just itching to get started!  I can understand why people come down with cases of start-itus.  I am so there.  Thankfully my To Do list is shouting at me louder with due dates so . . . first finish the cardigan, knit up some mitts, then I can dive into spiral blanket of awesomeness.  It's so hard being responsible.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Deadlines Force Progress

Will all of the event based crafting behind me I'm now able to focus on some of my deadline projects.  I loved how Tour de Fleece and Ravellenics are so goal orientated and let me focus solely on what I want to do because for most of the year I'm working on my To Do list.  My list is completely organic and as soon as I cross a few items off I usually re-write the list again.  It's not a looming thing, it's an organizational thing.  There is just so much I want to knit and spin that if I didn't have a list to refer to I would become very overwhelmed.  The best part is that I already have all of my Christmas knitting projects done.  Boo-yaa!

After taking Sandi Wiseheart's class on knitting sweaters that fit at the retreat in March my big goal for this year was to do exactly that.  My Mom was a willing participant and has allowed me to measure her several times throughout this process.  We picked out the cardigan pattern together and shopped for the yarn during the Yarn Cupboard's Black Friday sale last year.  Here birthday is September 3rd and I should have plenty of time to get it done by then.  I've got all the pieces done and they're blocking/drying on my spare bed right now:

It's taking a while to dry and while I could have probably just thrown it in the dryer for a few minutes I decided to let it lay so I could knit another small project:

While I was waiting for my Ravellenics medals I read the description for the "single skein sprint" and realized that I had too much yarn leftover to really qualify for it.  I weighed the first hat and then my leftover yarn so I could make sure I had enough for a second hat.  I had more than enough so I made a matching hat for my husband by adding 2 stitches to each DPN and an extra pattern repeat.  I had only a yard or two of yarn left so I feel much better now about the whole thing.

Tonight while my cardigan pieces are still drying I'm planning to spin some alpaca on my wheel.  I haven't had a whole lot of luck with alpaca in the past so this is definitely going to be a learning experience for me and an exercise in patience!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ravellenics Gold

I still can't believe I finished but here's a wrap up on my 2 projects for Ravellenics.

Will's Orange Hat

This is yarn that my son picked out in person at the Yarn Cupboard.  He said he wanted a hat with "swirlies" so I tried to find the best pattern possible.  None were perfect so I picked one for inspiration and just made up my own.  He loved it and now my husband wants one for himself using the leftover yarn:

For this project I received gold medals for the following events:


This was the January 2012 shipment for the Fall in Full Color Knitspot subscription club and it's been sitting in my stash/queue for a while on purpose.  I couldn't decide if I wanted to trade a different month's yarn for another skein to make the larger size or just knit the shawlette with just the one skein I already had.  Finally it came down to what was easiest: knit it up as is and mark it as done!

The cast on was rough and the first chart took forever to get through but after that I was flying.  I finished up my knitting at 10:30 pm and decided to wait until the next day to do the cast off.  It was tricky so I needed good lighting and full concentration to make sure it looked right.  Super happy that I did that because the final piece is just right.

For this project I received gold medals for the following events:

That's it for challenge knitting for me for this year.  I'm pleased with my efforts but I'm looking forward to regular knitting and spinning for a while.  I have a few deadlines to work with but I should be just fine.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finish Line In Sight

As of last night, I have 60 rows left until I'm finished knitting my squall for Ravellenics.  That makes 10 rows per day, blocking on Saturday then final pictures on Sunday.  I can do this!

That's my progress as of Friday morning.  I knit for on and off throughout the day on Saturday and I'm now in the middle of the first body chart.  I've passed the point where each row felt like it took 30 minutes and now I'm flying!  I can't even imagine knitting an adult sweater for Ravellenics unless I took the entire time off from work and knit 10 hours a day.  That's just crazy-pants!

Today we're supposed to get rain for most the day so my plan is to finish my son's hat and then work on squall some more.  Here's 4 rows of his hat:

This is also a Ravellenics project but it's super quick so I'm in no rush here.  I'm not even sure if it will fit yet.  I could probably knit the hat, have him try it on, rip it out and knit it again within an hour or two.  That's the beauty of crazy thick yarn!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ravellenics Project

This is the first year that I'm participating in Ravellenics and I am not sure if I'm going to medal.  I gave myself a good challenge with knitting Squall out of New Hue Handspuns yarn that I received for the January 2012 shipment for the Fall in Full Color Knitspot subscription club:

In 4 nights of knitting I've got about 20 rows done.  The good news is that it's all decreasing from here after the 305 stitch cast on but I'm not sure if I have enough time to finish.  It's definitely not mindless knitting. 

As a side note, I got the single yarn option for the FIFC 2011 club, the double yarn option for her Bare Naked Club and the single yarn option for the FIFC 2012 club.  That means I'll be getting shipments each month until January of next year.  My plan for next year is to still do the clubs but just as pattern only so that I can use stash yarn and my handspun each month.

While shopping at the Yarn Cupboard this past Saturday my son fell in love with some bright orange Burly Spun yarn from Brown Sheep.  The gauge is about 2 stitches to the inch so I had some difficulty finding a pattern that would work.  I ended up using a basic cabled hat for inspiration and I'm making it up as I go.  My son has a large head so the adult small size should be perfect for him.  I'll post pictures as soon as it's done.  This was a last minute addition to my Ravellenics projects but I should be able to finish it very quickly.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Getting Back Into It

Thanks to Nicole I'm going to try to get back into blogging.  My husband would probably benefit the most from this because if I'm blogging about knitting & spinning then I'm not rambling on and on to him about it.

First off, my Tour de Fleece was successful!  In fact I got through my 42 ounces of fiber about 1 week early so I was very pleased.  

That's 9 skeins of DK weight yarn.  I was going for quantity and consistency.  Some of these might even make it to the NYS Fair as my handspun entries for this year.

Lesson's learned:

1. I really like to spin so I should really start knitting with my handspun.
2. I don't like spinning every day because it's tedious and rough on my body
3. Spinning every day really improves the quality of my handspun
4. Someday when I retire, I should spin for an hour or so each morning then knit in the evenings
5. Next year I'd like to focus on a specific technique for TdF like spin lace weight or worsted weight instead of quantity.

Next up, Nicole gave me this:

Part of accepting this award is to tell everyone 7 as-yet-unknown things about oneself:

1. If money and housing weren't a factor I'd have more kids than the Duggars
2. I spent 2 weeks traveling through Vietnam and can't wait to take my family there
3. I was voted Most Athletic in high school
4. I was injured in college playing rugby and had TMJ surgery on my jaw
5. I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy fan including books, tv shows & movies
6. My husband & I plan to see the NY Giants play in every stadium
7. My yarn & fiber stash is so big that I could probably knit for at least 10 years without buying more

Also, part of this deal is to pass on this award to 7 other bloggers.  Unfortunately I'm not sure who still reads this blog since I post so infrequently.  So, if you're reading this and have a blog, drop me a comment, I'll make sure your blog is in my reading list then feel free to participate!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Tour de Fleece Prep - Part 2

It took me a little while to come to a decision but finally I have my goal set for this year's Tour de Fleece: spin over 2 pounds of fiber.  I think I can do it as long as I spin each day.  This afternoon I set aside the fiber that I'd like to spin:

I've started a monthly spin-along challenge in the CNY Ravelry group and for July my plan is to pick Corriedale/Colonial fiber.  That picture is 42.1 ounces of fiber all within those specifics.  From left to right:

Red - 18.1 ounces of Spinner's Hill Corriedale, Finn, Rambouillet Cross Sheep fiber
Light and dark blue balls - 4 and 8 ounces of Ashland Bay Colonial fiber
3 braids in green, blue & purple - 4 ounces each of Stone Edge Fibers Colonial Wool Top

It is a challenge for me and I might not be able to get it all done.  I'm leaving the braids for last because they were most recently purchased.  I thought this would be a great chance for me to spin up some of my older fiber that's been in my stash for a while now.  I may be taking a day or two off from work just to make some progress on my spinning . . . I'm due for a day off anyway so it's perfect timing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


"If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans."

I have no idea where I heard that from but it's so true.  While I was getting ready to split up the 2 pounds of fiber for TdF I happened to see the original tags & sales slips.  One ball is "Corriedale, Finn, Rambouillet Cross roving" and the other is "Merino Top".

There goes my grand plans of using it all for a sweater . . .

I may still spin these up but I'm seriously rethinking my TdF plans.  Spin 2 pounds of 2 different fibers as a big challenge or spin up 8 four ounce braids as a stash buster?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tour de Fleece Preparation

Within the past year I've gotten more serious about my spinning.  I really enjoy the process and someday hope to actually knit with all of this handspun I've created.  I decided to give myself a good challenge for this year's Tour de Fleece (June 30th to July 22nd): to spin up the 2 pounds of Spinner's Hill roving that I purchased in my favorite color red.  I have 2 of these:

I finally weighed them today and one ball is 15.65 ounces and the other is 18.10 ounces for a total of 33.75 ounces or 2.1 pounds. 

I had no idea of this was an unrealistic goal because I've never really kept track as to how much fiber I can spin in a night.  In my planning I decided to do a little preparation/training and spin up this:

It's 12.3 ounces of Twisted Wool BFL roving.  I divided it in half and spun up the first half in 2 nights of about 2 hours each of spinning.  So my math came out to:

2 nights = 1 skein of 6 ounces
33.75 ounces (5 skeins) = 10 nights plus
5 additional nights of plying (1 night per skein)
15 total nights of spinning & plying for this fiber

The tour is 23 days long with 8 of them being weekends days for bonus spinning.  One problem I do see is that I have a wedding to go to in Pittsburgh on July 20-22 so realistically I have only 20 days to spin but that gives me some room since I only really needed 15.

Doing this preparation actually makes me feel better because it is an attainable goal.  I am hoping to use the resulting yarn for a garment for myself if I have enough yardage and if not, who cares?  I'll find something great for the yarn on Ravelry eventually!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Woolee Winder Love

One of my birthday presents this year was a Woolee Winder from my husband. I have seen all the cool kids online posting pictures of theirs for years now and I thought it was cool but I was still intimidated. I wasn't able to try one out in person so I relied heavily on the guarantee that if I didn't like it I could send it back.

First I tried a basic 2 ply yarn. It was difficult to get used to initially. I had to really oil it up and play with the tension but by the time I finished up plying it started to feel good. It is a little louder but it's a constant whooshing noise so it's not distracting. I wasn't sold though at this point.

Next up was a skein to Navajo ply and this is the one that sold me. At this point the bobbin was well oiled and I had found the sweet spot for my tension. I initially tried my largest drive but that didn't feel right so I went back to my normal one. Once I got started and found my groove it was amazing. When you're plying with both hands like that it's a pain to have to stop and switch hooks all the time. This was so smooth and easy. Absolutely the best way to go. I do need some more practice though at getting my plied yarn balanced. I tended to really, really under ply but when I tried to fix it I would over ply. That may be because I'm still getting the hand out of Navajo plying in general. By far the Woolee Winder made it so much more enjoyable to spin.

Last for the test was spinning singles. I've read on blogs and Ravelry threads that the Woolee Winder can tend to have a lot more take up than your regular wheel. I adjusted for that with barely having my spring engaged for tension and just dove in. I also wanted to see how much fiber I can pack on one of these bobbins because the Navajo plied fiber was well over 5 ounces and I had lots more room. I decided on Jill Draper's blue/orange (SU colors) fiber since I got about 6.75 ounces on my home scale. This is the original fiber:

After 2 nights of spinning this is what my bobbin looks like:

Isn't it the coolest thing ever? The singles do seem to build up a little on the ends of the bobbin but overall I am just so happy with this. I have to stop myself occasionally to stretch out my hands because it's so easy to just keep spinning and spinning. I plan to Navajo ply this when I'm done and knit up a hat or two for my son since he picked out the fiber at the Yarn Cupboard and demanded that I buy it for him. Just last night we had this conversation:

Me: After you go to bed, do you think I should spin or knit tonight?
Son: I think you should knit my hat.
Me: But I haven't finished spinning up the yarn yet.
Son: Then you need to do that now!

Keep in mind that we bought this fiber back in January and haven't talked about it much since then.

My goal is to have this fiber spun up and drying before I leave for my work trip on Monday. It's not too much pressure but it is more fiber than I normally spin at one time so I'm just going to keep at it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

But I am still Spinning too

I have found a somewhat happy balance between my knitting and spinning time during the week. It's been tough when I want to do both all the time. It's been so long since I've shared spinning pictures that I had to go back to my KnitMeter account to figure out what I've finished!

My first big spinning project on my Strickland spindle was Holiday Yarns Silver:

Horrible picture (it's really much lighter) but I got about 356 yards of DK weight yarn. Amazingly to spin with almost no vm in it.

Then I challenged myself to spin from a batt (Spinner's Hill) for the first time and got two beautiful skeins of sport weight yarn (again, bad picture):

Then I challenged myself again and learned how to Navajo ply on a spindle. It's really not that difficult. I used Jill Draper's goth chick fiber and got 2 small skeins of worsted weight yarn:

I got this Pagewood Farms roving from my husband for Christmas:

Then Navajo plied it on my wheel for the first time to get 266 yards of worsted weight yarn:

Having a "To Learn" list has really helped me with picking projects. I have been having so much fun trying new things.

I thought I'd try spinning the singles on my Strickland spindle and then Navajo plying on my wheel (using my new Woolee Winder). I used Corgi Hill Farms polwarth/tussah silk fiber to get 200 yards of worsted weight yarn:

Also on my list was spinning some merino/yak fiber. I got this beautiful blend from Wooly Wonka Fibers in the color way River's Edge:

As part of the Woolee Winder trial process I did a basic 2 ply and got 238 yards of DK yarn that has very subtle color variations:

This is by far the softest yarn I have ever gotten from hand spinning. It took a bit to get used to spinning but it's well worth it.

I have projects on the wheel and spindle now but I'll save that for a future post. Someday I do need to figure out what I'm going to do with all of this hand spun yarn. For now, it just sits in my yarn cabinet and I pet it every now and then. It's going to be hard deciding on patterns - it's all so precious to me!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Knitting Mojo is Back!

It took me some time to work everything out but my knitting mojo has finally returned. I've settled into a nice balance of one large project for the evenings and many small social knitting projects during the day (one at a time).

First up, I finished my Bernhardt Cardigan in time for the retreat:

It was tough but I let Sandi Wiseheart give me all the critiques on fitting it better and I'm now armed with the knowledge to fix this and knit my next one better. I learned that sweater knitting isn't something that you can just jump into. You need to measure and swatch like crazy if you want it to eventually fit correctly. Oh and one tiny detail I like to forget: WASH THE DAMN SWATCH! I really, really, really need to start doing that.

My current large project for the evenings is a secret. Well, not really a secret because my friends know that I'm knitting them a massive baby blanket that is absolutely gorgeous. They just don't know what the yarn or pattern looks like. If you're curious, hop on over to my Ravelry projects and it's my current WIP. There's no rush to finish this since they haven't even started trying to conceive yet and I love not having a deadline looming over me. Plus, it's very enjoyable to knit.

For my small, social knitting projects first up is a new pair of socks for my son in the next size up:

Yes, he picked out the yarn and he still loves it. I think I have enough left to make him one more pair next year.

For our week of vacation in Florida I knit up 2 projects from my KnitSpot Fall in Full Color subscription club:

Echo of Bells scarf in mink/cashmere yarn

Woodstacking cowl

Then came a series of epic social knitting to knit up 4 hats in the same pattern for my husband's friends:

Bored yet? Yeah, me too.

So while I have a great evening project that will take a long time to finish my social knitting projects have stalled. It's the perfect opportunity to start working on mittens for the NNCS Mitten Campaign this fall. I'm going to use my leftovers from these hats to make my first pair. Not really sure how all these colors will work together but I'm going to experiment and have a little fun with it.