Sunday, April 29, 2012

Every knitter's nightmare

I am sure every one of you knitters has experienced butterflies in the stomach when looking at this little bit of yarn. I am no different. I am close to finishing the Vernal Equinox shawl but not that close. sigh

Here is the shawl, with all the yarn used up. I have 10 more rows to do. No more yarn! However, since I dyed the yarn myself, I can dye more! That is the beauty of hand-dyed yarn. This is straight Wilton's Violet food coloring. It split but that is not a requirement. Even if it comes out slightly different, it won't be a problem. 

I also did a bit of spinning this week. I spun the first single from my hand processed fleece. It wasn't the best prep and I had a lot of neps. Some I removed and some I left in to add some texture to the yarn. It is spun semi-worsted, lock by lock. Where I could identify a tip, I spun from the tip. But there were a lot of short cuts where I couldn't identify a tip so I just spun from one end. I will start spinning the other single today.

It is a pretty fine single. I think I will be able to get a fingering weight yarn out of this. It will be a 2-ply. Once I know the approximate yardage, I will plan a project.

That is it for this week fiber wise. My plans for the upcoming week are to finish the other single, dye the yarn for the shawl and maybe finish it. Let's see how the week progresses.

I changed the slideshow on the page. It is now a preview of a Dale Chihuly exhibit at the Dallas Arboretum. I was there last weekend and was privileged to see the exhibit in the process of being set up. It starts May 5. If you are in the area, I recommend you go see it because it is lovely. All the brightly colored objects are glass but they look as if they are growing right out of the ground.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I knew there was something about the colors I dyed that I was missing. There was a reason I liked them together and yet I couldn't put my finger on it. Until I was walking out of the farmer's market yesterday. There were flats of pansies for sale at the entrance and then it hit me! Remember the light bulb that goes off above the character's head in cartoons? That was what it was like. The reason I love these colors and associate them with spring is because pansies bring these together in the spring!

So my new shawl is now named Pansies.
You can see all four colors above.  Don't they remind you of pansies?
This one shows the shawl a little better. It is the Vernal Equinox shawl by Lankakomero. I am going to skip Clue 5, I think because I ran out of the green earlier than I expected. I know I can dye more violet so I may decide to do all of it. Clue 5 is the third pattern from the bottom in the link to the pattern above.

I also blocked the Color Affection shawl. It is looking really lovely. I love the colors.

It is longer than I expected because trying to make it deeper also made it longer. That is OK. It will wrap around my shoulders without falling off. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tweaked the colors a little

I played with the colors on the chartreuse and the magenta a little but I think you are going to have trouble seeing the difference. It seems so obvious to me as I look at the yarn but the before and after photos look almost the same.

After: I glazed the green with a bit more yellow to make it more chartreuse. Glazing is a process where you overdye with a weak dye solution. I glazed the magenta with a some more pink and red and then again with a brighter orange-red.
You can see that it is now right between the two options I gave you weeks ago. The glazing process is not very even so there is a lot more depth of color. I am a bit disappointed that I didn't get a brighter magenta but I am pleased with the way the skein looks.
Color Affection is off the needles. It isn't finished or blocked. I have to weave in the ends and block it. I wore it this morning because the room was a bit chilly. I like the way the colors have come together.

I will be winding up the yellow and the chartreuse tonight for the next shawl adventure!

Also, I dressed up the blog in new spring clothes. I hope it works for you. I had to tweak it a little also to make it easier to read both on computer monitors and mobile devices.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A little of this, a little of that

I am making progress slowly on the Color Affection shawl. I decided to make the short row section a bit bigger so I am still working on it. But it is almost done.
I am also slowly spinning some Briar Rose Polwarth on my spindle. I love Chris's color sense. Don't you love this section? The colors keep changing and I love watching them change. I can't wait to see it all plied up.
I wrap the cop on the spindle in a figure 8 as it keeps it from sliding off. If I just do straight wraps, as the cop gets bigger, it starts sliding down the shaft and I have to stop and wind it off. This way I can pack a lot more yarn onto the spindle.I am in love with row counter bracelets right now. I bought a couple from Hide and Sheep on Etsy and am using them on my Color Affection to keep track of the rows where I need the double increases. But I also bought these the other day from another Etsy shop the other day. These are more expensive but you can move the beads back and forth more easily. I haven't used them yet.

Here they are with all the beads at one end.

Here I have moved a couple of beads to the other end to count. They stay there.

Finally, I thought I would put in a plug for this power cord organizer from Quirky. Quirky is like Kickstarter, a way to get funding from a lot of people to get started. This is for my Macbook Pro and I saw it on a colleague's desk on Thurs. I ordered it and received it on Friday!

You can see the wider section for the thicker cord on the top.

Looking down on it from the top.

Finally, a look at the size of it. It is made of soft pliable silicone-type material that has a bit of body so it holds everything neatly. I found the heavier cord very difficult to manage so this is going to be helpful there.That is all for now.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A variation on the Russian Join

The Russian join is my favorite way to join yarn when I can't wet splice it. I love the fact that I don't have ends to weave in. Recently, I started using half a Russian join when I wanted to join in a new color. It is easier to show you than to explain it.I was joining in the purple yarn. I took the yarn, folded it over the blue yarn and wove it into itself. It is now just a loop around the blue yarn and slides up and down the length of the blue yarn. I just slide the loop up to the correct spot and start knitting with it.

Of course, you need a tapestry needle to do the Russian join but I usually have one with me. If I don't, I can just fold the purple yarn over the blue one and knit with both strands of the purple to get the same effect. This takes a bit more effort while knitting but it saves the time in weaving in the end into itself.

I ripped out the 3-color section of the Color Affection shawl so I don't have any knitting to show you. But there will be a great update next week when I hope it have finished it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

How not to snack, or overstuffing one's bobbin

I plied my first spindle-spun singles yesterday. I made a plying ball and spun from that. I thought I would spindle-ply it but I didn't like doing that. So I plied it on the Tina. It is very under-plied as you can see from the photo. My concern was that I wasn't going to be able to fit it all on the bobbin. So I was looking more at the bobbin and my plying ball than on the yarn I was plying. I will run it through again to add more plying twist. But I am going to do it on the Hansen, which has larger bobbins.

As you can see, the diameter of the yarn varies from worsted/bulky to laceweight. There is also a lot of yardage. I have to find the right pattern for this. All of this was spun on my Bosworth spindle and this is the fiber I learned to draft and spin. Hence the thick and thin nature of it. You've seen this fiber before. If you look at the posts with the spindle label, the Tour de Fleece Week 1 one from last year and the Mixed bag of goodies post have pictures of the fiber and the spindle.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Purls and pearls

I was traveling last week and got quite a bit of knitting done. Not as much as I would have liked due to bad planning on my part. I slept all the way on the plane. I forgot to take the paper copy of the pattern I had printed. Therefore, when I went out for lunch and a beer after I landed, I had my knitting but no pattern. I was able to complete the first, single color area but couldn't move on to the striped area as I wanted to make sure I was following the pattern. Oh well. I squandered the whole afternoon and evening due to that miss.

But I did make a lot of progress on the way back. Here it is, at the beginning of the third section - with all 3 colors.
I love the way the purple makes the whole thing so bright! The green is actually chartreuse, which doesn't show up in the picture or in the knitted piece.

The pattern is Color Affection and the yarns are Douglas fir by Lorna's Laces (the blue), and two colors in Ella Rae Lace Merino - Mustard and Purple. Look how gorgeous it looks from the wrong side! I love the way purl stitches blend colors. In fact, I prefer reverse stockinette to stockinette and in this shawl, I prefer the wrong side of the garter to the right side.When I got back, the pearls I had ordered from Pearlstory had arrived. These were purple dyed freshwater pearls that looked like some South Sea pearls a colleague was wearing at work. I couldn't justify the expense of the real South Sea pearls so I bought something similar.

First the bags they came in. Pretty, right?There are the pearls on my bed sheet.
And then on the purple felt bag. The purple in the bag brings out the purple in the pearls. You can see ho much greener they look on the sheet. Wearing green brings out the green. I also ordered a pair of earrings to match. You can see those in the center of the pearl necklace. Much less expense and therefore, something I will wear more often than the real thing.

I am glad to be back home. Onward, with the knitting...