Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Time to Spin, Part 7: When spinning and knitting finally collide

Like many before me, I have a huge number of works-in-progress, both knitting and cross-stitch. The evidence is in the albums - if there's a WIP pic and no corresponding "finished" pic, then it's not finished. A couple of the knitting WIPs have been sitting for 2-3 years. Some of the XS has been sitting for nearly a decade, which I suppose puts it firmly into the category of UFO.

Spinning, on the other hand, is constantly in-progress. That's its nature. I don't consider any spinning to be a WIP, which probably helps explain why I find it so easy to start more spinning. Even once I spin a full batch of roving into singles, I don't necessarily have a plan for it. I spin because I like to spin, and I usually worry about what the yarn will become later - I might eventually ply it with something I spin up year from now. I probably won't have a spinning "finish" until I've completed a knitted thing with some of my handspun, and then it will be a knitting finish.

But even I occasionally find myself feeling goal-oriented, and I now have an actual project in mind for some handspun:

Batt of black superwash merino mixed with golden-brown tussah silk by Pat's Colours. Laceweight 15 gr. zebrawood spindle by Hound Designs, both found at The Purple Purl in Toronto.

I'm planning for this to become either a light shawl or another black shrug. I need a dark shrug for my sleeveless black concert dress that is lighter in weight than the Shimmer shrug, which is very dense and warm - great outdoors in the winter and fall, not so great in the spring and summer, and always sweltering under hot stage lights.

As for whether I make a shawl or a shrug (or, dare I suggest, both?), I'll have to wait to see how much yarn I get, how strong it is, if it needs to be plied instead of singles... who knows. I'm not worried about quantity: when I run out of the superwash merino/gold silk mix, I have this black alpaca with another batch of the same silk. I can mix them together to make more of this colourway:

I'll spin them both laceweight, so if I decide to ply, I'll ply each type of single together. I don't even know if it's going to be a crochet or knit project, to be honest. It all depends on how much I end up with in singles.

I made a trip up to Gemini Fibres yesterday, ostensibly to see what they had for weaving thread (for another group project which I don't think is secret anymore, but I should check first). But really, I just wanted to show a friend the marvel that is this little shop. Unsurprisingly, I came home with the Forrester turkish spindle that I've been coveting for months:

2.58 oz., wild cherry whorl and maple shaft

She also had a small batch of local Romni fleece. It's still in the grease, but I think it might have been washed once. It barely smells. At $18/kg, ($8.18/lb) I couldn't pass it up. It's just over a pound, total cost $11.80. And gorgeous. Look at that crimp!

Newer knitting WIPs on the needles:

My first foray into double knit. This will be a toque for Daniel. There is no pattern. But can I just say - double knitting hurts my hands. And it goes so slowly, I feel like I'm making no progress at all. But I can finish a hat, right?

And finally, a mystery project. Well, not too big a mystery, but just in case a particular someone stumbles upon it, I won't give away too much. On the needle is the beginning of yet another afghan square, with its siblings lined up behind it. This is a joint project with three other knitters and a crocheter. Each of the knitters has a colour and a certain number of squares to do, then the crocheter will put it all together (brave woman!).

Obviously, I am doing the orange squares. This is number 10 of 10. The Bernat Satin acrylic has been a nice change from wool, despite the honking bright orangeness of it all. I might do one of the other colours as well, since I'm nearly finished with these. There will be a finished pic when the whole thing is done, or once the cat's out of the bag, whichever comes first.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mother Nature has a full scholarship to F. U.

...but you can't deny, she has style.

From the evening of March 9th, a day or two after the latest bashing (the snow had already melted a little - notice the tree branches are empty). Comparing the bends in the tree trunk, the snow looks to be at least a good eight inches deeper than in the pic posted on Feb. 9.

This one was taken by Daniel on his good Olympus camera. It's three sequential shots of the same scene taken an exposure apart, then re-integrated using a freeware HDR app. This preserved more detail in the final picture, since he was shooting directly into the setting sun. (Shhh, I think he's having fun!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When is a sock not really a sock?

Answer: When it's still in my stash, waiting to become what it wants to be.

I've knit my share of hats and scarves over the years. I've also knit afghan squares, a few bags, a t-shirt, a shrug and crocheted a sweater. I plan to knit some mittens and gloves soon with my handspun DorsetX. But there's one thing that I can't really find within me the excitement to knit, no matter how practical it may be or how many lovely patterns I admire. Try as I might, I cannot bring myself to be interested in knitting socks.

Part of the problem, I suspect, is that I rarely wear socks myself. In the summer, I live in sandals. At home I have cozy slippers, at night my feet need to breathe. Even in the dead of winter, my stinky feet are quite often bare inside my toasty boots. My grandmother would probably think this makes me an uncouth heathen, but there it is. I like the idea of socks, but in practice, they just aren't me.

I recently found, if you can believe it, a pair of kneesocks that I received as a Christmas gift when I was fifteen. And how do I remember getting these socks as a Christmas gift over 20 years ago, you might wonder? Well, they are very very COOL socks, and were from a favourite Great-aunt who always sent the neatest gifts and I really like them. The kicker? (HA! Get it? Kick? HA!) The socks look like I got them a year or two ago. That is how little I wear socks. They also still fit. See?

On the left, one of the 20+ year-old socks from Aunt Ethel, in all its excellentness. On the right, another sock I've had since high school. Weren't the 80s grand? In the background, a hint of my work world: my well-loved English reference grammar.

So, when I was reorganizing the stash the other day, I was surprised to notice that I seem to have accumulated a surprising amount of sock yarn. Not all of it was a surprise: A couple years ago, a friend (thanks, Jenny!) brought me back some self-striping, washable sock yarn from Finland. I've eyed it for a while, never quite taking the plunge into sock-land, but its arrival nearly two years ago seemed to start a trend of accumulating sock stash.

Finnish sock yarn and Cat Foot: A study

The black Paton's Kroy Sock yarn also wasn't a surprise - it was 1/2 of the mix I used for the Shimmer shrug, and I still have 2 balls of it. However, shortly after I received the Finnish yarn, I seem to have been bitten by a sock bug, and I went out and bought several 40" Addi Turbo circs in sizes from 00 - 4 (since my beloved Denise needles only go down to size 5), as well as a book of sock patterns and some exceptionally soft sock-weight Lana Grosso. It's quite yummy, and I swatched up a tube on several sizes of the needles, but never committed to actually making a sock.

The short-lived sock fever faded last winter in favour of spinning, and I recently ripped out the tube swatch when I went through the WIP bag to reclaim needles.

Then a couple weeks ago, on a Mary Maxim run, I found a shelf of not only self-striping sock yarn, but self-patterning sock yarn. Several different brands, mostly imported from Germany (what's up with that? Since when did Germans corner the market on cool, self-patterning sock yarn?). OK, see, now these are just cool. I've been wanting to play with these for a while, so I thought I'd get one ball and try it out - but I couldn't help myself after I saw the brand called "Ja, Woll!" If you know any German, that will hopefully strike you as mildly amusing (and typical for German humour). So I got two balls.

When I go to pack up my new acquisition of the coolest-ever-sock-yarns-that-might-never-become-socks, and what do I find? Oh yes:

Fleece Artist hand-painted sock yarn and another, equally cool, self-striping yarn. OK, now this was a surprise. I had completely forgotten it - I have a vague memory of being in Lettuce Knit last year and asking about Blue Moon Fibre Arts Socks That Rock (they were sold out at the time), so maybe that's when the madness took hold? I don't think I bought them at the same time, either. Wow.

Add to this the three balls of Zephyr that I bought the Pennsic before last, and we reach the inevitable conclusion that I have way too much sock yarn and no desire to knit socks. What's a girl to do? And why do I want to go and buy more now?

It's a sickness, I tell you. I could knit hats with it, or many other things. But no - I'm saving the sock yarn for socks that I can't bring myself to start. Sigh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

For once, a meme worth posting

Haiku2 for barelyathread
this wool is almost
as bad as libraries except
libraries spit you out
Created by Grahame

I loaded it a couple times, and an earlier one started off with "When Pennsic...", and ended with "first in line, baby." It was good, but I'm quite enamoured with this one.

OK, one more, I couldn't resist:

Haiku2 for barelyathread
starbuck's cup is
clearly visible i hope
that feeling passes soon
Created by Grahame

Now to work. I mean, really.