Saturday, March 31, 2007

First (useable) lace-weight spinning

I'm quite happy with my first lace-weight yarn.

It's from roving I got from one of my Mom's friends via eBay (Brown Sheep roving that she dyed) and I had a great time with it.

That's what it looked like on the bobbin, although the bobbin was much more full when I was finished spinning. (The color isn't quite right--it's better in the pics below.)

Here it is in natural light, and you can get a better idea of the color.
I used white Simply Soft yarn to tie the skein, so it's a bit thicker than the crochet cotton I usually use and sticks out more.

And a gratuitous close-up shot:

I'm pretty happy with this yarn, although we'll see how it really is once I start knitting with it. I ended up putting the yarn back on a bobbin and replying part of it as I just wasn't happy with the first 30 yards or so. I hadn't checked my plying and it was waaaay too loose--the two plies were just barely twisted together and the rest of it was pretty good, so I just couldn't stand to leave it that way. It's still not perfect, but it's HAND spun and I've only been spinning since January. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I'm learning a new skill and it's all right to not be perfect. I'm still trying to find my comfort level as far as "good enough" and my litmus test is "will that bother me down the road?" I would definitely have been bothered by my new yarn before, but I think it'll be all right now.

I'm still debating about what pattern to use. I got 570 yards from four ounces of roving, and while it's a bit thick and thin in spots, overall I think it's pretty good. I might just pick some stitch patterns and come up with my own shoulder shawl pattern, but we'll see. I really have to finish up some projects before I start new ones!

Speaking of all the projects I've got going, here's a list:

1. Greg's sweater (yes, STILL not finished. I have been working on it though...)

2. Hanging Garden Stole, about 80% complete.

3. Rose of England Shawl, maybe 20% complete. It depends on how big I decide to make it....

4. Shetland Tea Shawl, about 1/3 of the way through the Diamond Madeira section. I'd be farther along if I hadn't ripped back to the beginning of that section....

5. German doily from a Lea magazine. Not exactly sure why I haven't finished this one already, but I've not been working on it a whole bunch. I was excited about starting it and for some reason I just haven't been picking it up and working on it! I think I've got too many projects OTN at the moment.

6. A pair of socks. Well, I'm still swatching for them, but once I figure out what pattern I'm going to use, I'll be starting them. Actually that's not true--I had started them, but I wasn't happy with how loose they were so I ripped them out. I was doing them both at the same time with the magic loop method, but I just couldn't stand how loose they were. I'll be starting again once I figure out a better number of stitches to cast on.

While that may not seem like a lot of projects, all but the doily are long-term things.

I seem to have a serious problem with project monogamy. I like the idea of having only two or three things on the needles, but I just can't seem to DO that. It must be my total lack of self-discipline or something.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Flowers, lots of rain, and not much knitting

The first weekend of spring break, around the 17th, we got a lot of flowers and put them in our front beds and in two whiskey barrel halves. Here's a picture of the newly-planted front bed:

Aren't these mini dahlias just gorgeous?

These tulips are in the bed by the mailbox:

And there's no doubt about it being spring here.

This tree is in the next-door neighbors' yard, but since our houses are at 90 degree angles we get to enjoy looking at it.

Of course you have to have lots of rain to support all this verdant stuff.
This was yesterday evening.

Doesn't look too bad, does it?
Notice that the street light is on. It was 4:15 in the afternoon.

In this next picture, keep in mind that we *do* have gutters--there was so much rain that it was pouring over them.

And here's what the flower bed looked like:

I was very impressed as the ground usually just soaks up any rain we have. I don't usually see a lot of puddles around here, and all of the sudden we had a mini lake.

This beautiful necklace and beads arrived in the mail the other day from my Aunt Louise in Germany. She took a trip to Italy and picked these up in Murano. Aren't they gorgeous?

I also finished spinning and plying that blue roving, so I'll have to get some pics. Hopefully tomorrow. I managed to get 570 yards out of a little under 4 ounces so I'm pretty happy. It's even somewhat regular. Kinda. I'll let the pictures do the talking (once I've taken them!).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good intentions and strep throat

It's been a wild two weeks since I last posted.

My grandpa passed away somewhat suddenly, which prompted a last-minute trip to Idaho last week. Nothing like travelling with two young kids at the last minute to throw me into a panic! It went really well and the funeral was...nice? pleasant? how does one say that and not sound morbid?? My grandpa was a wonderful man and I'll miss him very much, but he had undiagnosed kidney failure for the last six months or so and towards the end it became obvious that it was his time to go. I'll probably write more later.

So we got home on Tuesday, and I'd had a terrible sore throat from Thursday (I think) on. It was bad BAD to swallow, to the extent that I'd wake up during the night because I was swallowing convulsively and it HURT. So I didn't get much sleep, but blamed it on the low humidity in Idaho (like 15%, I think, vs. the current 65% here in Oklahoma). I finally made it to the doctor today and it turns out I have strep throat. ACK!! DH has it also, although his symptoms are more severe than mine. His started a few days after mine, so hopefully we can get him taken care of a little sooner in the illness than mine. Thankfully both kids seem to have avoided it. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way!!

Anyway, I have lots of pictures to post once I get them off the camera and play with them a bit, so hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to do that.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Not Much Going On

It's the first day of Spring Break, and I've enjoyed having DD home on a weekday. Well, it's not really break yet--kids were off school today for parent-teacher conferences, but it might as well be the first day of spring break for us. I'm not sure what we're going to do all next week, but I'm sure the time will fly by.

I've been spinning up that blue hand-dyed roving I got from Barbara, who it turns out lives close to my Mom and knows her. I'm going for lace weight, although I think it's going to be closer to fingering. I think it's underspun in spots for how thin it is, as sometimes it pulls apart when I pull it from the bobbin. Could be really interesting to ply it.

The color is just luscious! I'm going to have to play with a lot more dyed roving, I can tell.

I've got a little bit of unexpected "mad money" (as my husband calls it--for hobbies and such) and I'm having a terrible time deciding what to buy.

Here are my choices:

  1. A book I'm coveting, Knitting in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts & Deborah Robson. I keep checking it out from the library, again and again. It's about time I got my own copy. Of course I haven't knitted anything using it, I just read it over and over again.

  2. Then there's this corriedale fiber.

    Two pounds of it, I'm thinking. I'd love to spin enough yarn to make a sweater for me, but that's probably a bit ambitious at this point. Still, I'm down to just 8 oz of fiber after I finish the blue hand-dyed roving. If I go for sport-weight or heavier, that'll last about a day. Of course I could actually use the yarn I'm making instead of making more. Nah! I'm having so much fun spinning!

  3. And here's something that's been tempting me for a long time, and is actually one of the big reasons I wanted to learn to spin in the first place:

    That's also from Copper Moose, one pound for $27.50 (with shipping). It's from Ashland Bay and I love that stuff. Not that I've ever spun it myself, mind you--I've just admired it from afar. I do wonder if I should wait, though, until my spinning is at a higher level. I think I'm doing pretty well for having gotten my wheel in late January, but I'm not sure my spinning talents are worthy of this yet. Would I be mad at myself later for spinning this up at my current skill level?

So there you have it. I just can't decide!

In other knitting news, I'm about 2/3 of the way finished with Greg's sleeves, and I have to finish the other half of the placket. I'm so close to finishing! I might actually manage to get it done in time for him to wear it for a day or two before the weather gets really warm. Dang, I've probably just cursed myself.

I'm about 3/4 of the way through the Diamond Madeira chart on my Shetland Tea Shawl, and I think I'm getting a handle on those funky yo-decrease combinations. We'll see.... I'm going to repeat the first half of that chart again to make that section a little longer, so I'll go through that tree-ish section three times total. Lots of opportunity to mess it up get it right.

My Hanging Garden Stole and Rose of England have been languishing in their project bags, woefully untouched. I'm not feeling too guilty though, since I'm so close to finishing Greg's sweater.

Thanks to all who helped me identify my mystery "weed," which consensus says is Henbit. It grows so fast, the lawn looks really unkempt, and I'm sure my neighbors don't like it. I was looking around the culdesac this afternoon and ours is the only lawn with weeds like that. Ack! Even the sadly neglected house next door has a weed-free (but totally overgrown) lawn. I see a weekend of yardwork in my very near future.

I'm going to go sit and spin (ha ha!) for a few minutes while the house is quiet, then I'm going to bed. Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Egeblad Doily and Spring

It's definitely spring here!

This is a miniature Iris, I think, and the top of the flower part is about 4" above the ground.

Here are some daffodils. They do really well here, apparently.

I'm not exactly the world's best gardner, as evidenced by this weed:

Pretty, but they're all over the lawn. I tend to rip them out when I see them, although so far they're definitely winning.

Now for the doily...

It's roughly 22" across, although I haven't measured it since I made my blocking circle and pinned it down. I took a series of pictures that I'm planning to put together on how to block a lace doily. I can't stand an improperly blocked doily, as my eye goes right to any wonkyness. (Not a real word, but I like it anyway). Bad knitting on my part doesn't help, either.

And a gratuitous lace shot:

The yarn is Baroque crochet cotton. I used size 1s (I think) which were waaaay too small for my recently-changed tension. I don't think this is going to be a doily I'm going to keep, despite how pretty is it.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Liz Snella's Doily finished

I still haven't blocked my Egeblad Doily, but that's next... hopefully tonight.

I did, however, manage to get the Liz Snella's Heirloom Doily finished AND blocked last night! I started it Tuesday and finished it Wednesday, so it was a good fast knit. If I did it again I'd eliminate some of the plain rounds in between the first group of petals and the second, but I kind of doubt I'll make it again.

I could have sworn that I took a picture of this doily before I blocked it, but I can't find it on my computer so I guess I didn't.

The stats on this one:
Pattern: Liz Snella's Heirloom Doily from
Yarn: Baroque cotton, size 10
Needles: KnitPicks Clasic Circulars, size 3 (US)
Finished size: 14½"
Time to complete: 1 day (roughly--Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon)

We've also had some daffodils and iris pop up, but I'll have to post pics later. I had the second of five crowns done today and I'm going to go take a pain pill.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Egeblad finished

I finished casting off my Egeblad Doily this evening! It's not blocked yet, bu here it is fresh off the needles:

I still need to weave in the ends, then I'll block it.

In spinning news, I've been working on some hand-dyed roving I got from eBay, and I'm having a great time with it. I'm spinning lace-weight and hopefully I'll be able to ply it--I get going a little too fast and don't put enough spin on it, so it's pulling apart a little bit. Could be really interesting! No pics at the moment, but maybe tomorrow (during daylight).

I'm tired so I'm going to bed--hopefully I'll do more tomorrow, including pictures of DD's newly-cleaned room (and it's quite a change from the usual state!).

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Finger Puppets, Moon, Spinning

This evening was a total eclipse of the moon, which was SO cool! We didn't get to see the whole thing, but I did manage to get a picture when it was about 3/4 finished:

Gorgeous, isn't it? Whenever I see things like this, I wonder what it must have been like for people in the very-distant past (and the non-modern cultures of today) to not know about how, when, and why things like eclipses happen. I feel so fortune to live when and where we do.

On to other things, my Mom sent a package and included these finger puppets for the kids (shown by Ryan):

The second one has a blanket on its back with some additional colorful stitching.

Aren't they cute? I'm just amazed at how intricate they are. All those little bumps! They're little bobbles, and the heads and necks are stuffed to keep them upright. So cute!! I have no idea where they came from, but they sure are being enjoyed. Thanks, Mom!

And now for the lace knitting, I'm having some trouble with my stitches in the Diamond Madeira section of my Shetland Tea Shawl. I'm hoping someone with more experience can help me out!

The actual making of the stitches is no big deal, it's the way they're not sitting symmetrically that's driving me batty.
And here's how it looks without all the scribbling:

So is this just the way it is, or am I doing something weird? My decreases on the right side are ssks, and the left ones are k2togs (right and left as knitted, as in where the arrows are pointing--NOT as in right-leaning and left-leaning).

And here's a little beaded pendant I made in January:

I put the pin cushion in there for scale--this piece is an inch across. I'll probably put a jump ring on there and put it on some ribbon for a necklace or something.

I bought the pattern and kit from the Beadles, the newly-enlarged bead store in Broken Arrow. I had a horrible time choosing which kit to buy--they had a bunch of really lovely ones! On another note, I'll be teaching how to make Abacus bracelets (also known as row-counting bracelets) there in April.

Now for the spinning portion of our program, here's my latest effort:

The color isn't quite right, but I'm using a daylight lamp 'cause it's 9:45 P.M. and dark outside.

The fiber is a Cotswold cross and I'm was shooting for a lace-weight to fingering-weight yarn, and I think it came pretty close! It's not terribly even, but I'm definitely getting better. I'm trying to figure out what to make with it. I got 310 yards out of the 4 ounces I started with so I'm pretty happy.