Nothing To See Here…(NaBloPoMo Day 16)

So I’ve gone and done it. Started another Harlequin Hoodie, this time for me. I chose more ‘mature’ colors, like brown, black ,tan and off-white. I did start with yellow in the mix but ultimately the yellow got taken out of the options. I can always use it for something. Hmm.

 

In spinning, I’ve gone back to the Fessler spindle again. I just decided to suck it up and accept the smaller output. Since I spin  predominantly feltable fibers I can just spit-splice ends together whenever I run out of singles. Not exactly my favorite way to handle that, but it’ll do.

 

Still plugging away at kid sweaters, little by little. At this rate it’ll be Summer again before they have them in hand. ;) Then I’ll have an excuse to put them aside for later work *evil grin*. Nah, I’ll get it done. Soon.

 

I’ve also managed to finish 1 of the recent e-book purchases, “Hilda Hopkins, Murder She Knit”, by Vivienne Fagan.  It was an enjoyable read, though I wish it didn’t end so abruptly. Well, you get what you pay for, right?  This afternoon, I started “White Heat“, by Paul D. Marks. Another enjoyable read, though the dialog can be a bit… slow. I hope this one resolves more completely. In fact, I’m going to end this post now, and find out!

 

 

TTFN!

No Snark Today, Just Spinning (NaBloPoMo day 3)

So. I thought about ranting about all the crazy surrounding Hurricane Sandy and a lot of people’s ^%$%#’d up comments surrounding it, but  I’m certain that conversation will have been beaten like a dead horse by countless others, and I really don’t have anything new to add to it. So, spinning.

I got my first Turkish spindle back in 2008 at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. Though I do prefer using a wheel I do from time to time just want to spindle. When I learned that Turkish spindles produce an automatic center-pull ball I just had to have one. I got that first one from Fessler Spinning and Weaving and have spindled almost exclusively with it.

Earlier this year, however, I noted how small the spokes were and how I couldn’t really get a whole 4 oz. of fiber onto it. Having seen other Turkish spindles with much longer spokes, I set my mind on getting a new one. One of my awesome VKC ladies told me about a wood worker who she convinced to make spindles, and before I knew it, I’d received one. I’ve been spinning with it the last couple days and I’m really enjoying it. It’s very lightweight, spins real fast, and with 5.5 inch spokes I’m sure I could about 4-5 oz. of fiber on it in one go.

Right now, I’m testing it with some merino dyed by yet another VKC chat buddy. You can’t really see it(perhaps I should have photographed the thing before I put fiber on it?) but one of the spokes has a deep pocket where the other spoke slides through it. I was told I might have a bit of trouble getting the singles/yarn off the thicker spoke, and with a tiny sample I did. I’m thinking now, though I might not have any issues with it.

With tons of fiber to spin, especially for larger quantities, the wheel is my go-to method. But after not having spun it for a while, I spent a few hours treadling like mad and wound up sore in the glutes like you wouldn’t believe. So, spindling is the order of the weekend for BeanKnits.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend. What crafts are you up to?

TTFN!

Knit-Chat Alphabet Knits 2012

Aran Twist Socks

The lovely ladies of the G+ Knit Chat and I have begun a year-long project whereby we are going to start/work on/complete a project based on a corresponding letter of the English-language alphabet, every two weeks. Started on New Year’s day, which was conveniently on a Sunday, and I’m now working on “D”. The rules are somewhat up to interpretation, such that we can alter project names to suit.

The socks above are my “A” project. The Aran Twist Socks were a heck of a project, mostly because I kept messing up and having to restart. Annoying as heck but user error for sure. Nice simple pattern that I would likely do again. I did a different heel than what’s listed in the pattern but the main thing is the top and leg of the foot right? :)

Next up is my “B”. I had originally thought of the Buttercup Tunic (Ravelry link) sweater but that pattern is a disaster, IMO. I read through it to familiarize myself with the construction and couldn’t make heads or tails of why it’s constructed the way it is, so I changed my mind and went for a Tappan Zee Sweater, renamed ‘Bridge Sweater’ to fit the project. So far, not bad. I’m already done with the knitting. I opted to make it into a pullover instead of the cardigan it’s designed as. Not sure if that was a good idea, or if I just used a not-very-good choice of yarn because it bloomed like CRAZY with blocking. Instead of buttons I will be adding in some ribbon to cinch the neckline and button band. Whoops.

Then there’s “C”: the Caroline Hat. Caroline Hat

This needs a ribbon and I already bought it, but you know me, procrastination galore here in Chez Bean. I bought it the same day I got the ribbon for the Bridge sweater, so at least I’m on something of a roll in terms of acquiring the embellishments. I’m sure I’ll get it done before Fall. ;)

Finally, I’m on “D”. First, understand that projects are NOT required to be finished within the two weeks, just that it should be the main thing I’m working on.

'Da Age of Brass and Steam shawl

I’m knitting The (‘Da) Age of Brass and Steam next. It’s all in my own handspun. Some of the fiber is pre-dyed Grafton Fibers Merino that I picked up in a buying frenzy when I first learned to spin back in ’06. The rest is some undyed Merino that I dyed myself, with Koolaid the following year. I’m just now getting around to using it. I’m sort of on a stash-burning quest in the process of completing these projects. Kill two birds with one stone, or something like that.

Eileen is next on the horizon, though, guess what? She’s done! Except for the zipper, which makes things easier, but I’ll likely throw in a secondary “E” project for $hits and giggles. We’ll see..

TTFN!

Tour de Flop

Yeah, I said it. Flop. I didn’t come close to doing the spinning I thought I would do for the TdF. I can’t even use the heat as an excuse because I could have just put the wheel in my cool room and kept on going. What happened was, I just got sidetracked by the sock knitting.

TdF Gestures awaiting bath

This is the only completed skein of handspun I can show from my TdF efforts. And, it’s not truly complete because I haven’t set the twist. Lay-Z.

The sock knitting, though, isn’t without its efforts. I’ve been knitting socks on the Magic Loop since I started knitting back in 2004. It had been a while, actually before I’d even knit anything on DPNs because I didn’t like the fiddly-ness of getting the needles set up. (I’ve long since gotten over than and can use DPNs now, with no problem.) Most of my socks were knit on the loop.

A few times, though, I’ve knit both socks of the pair on the loop and every time, I’ve had to stop knitting on one of the socks in order to complete the heel. When doing the short rows, or turning a heel flap, you’re leaving live stitches on both needles, which means the tips are not free to work on the other sock until you’ve finished working the rows/turns. So, for that portion of the project I have to slow down to one at a time. Bummer. Overall, though, I think it’s still faster than knitting the socks start to finish one by one, and it helps to combat the one-sock-syndrome I’ve dealt with in the past.

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon here in the pressure-cooker that the US has been this past week, so I’ve been reluctant to work on any sewing. There’s NO way I can get the tables and machines in the cool room so that’s out. Hopefully in the next week or so it’ll cool down to near normal again..

Well, my Roasted Herb Chicken and Potatoes is smelling good, so I’m off to check on it and get back to the socks.

TTFN!

A day late and a bobbin short…

HelloYarn Merino wool for Tour de Fleece

Every year, there are special fiber-craft events going on. Lacevember(and NaNoWriMo, for everyone) in November, Socktober in October, various Mystery shawls, and Tour de Fleece which is held during the Tour de France cycling event.

This will be my first time participating in TdF. I don’t have any specific spinning goals; I’m simply using this to get back into spinning. I admit I did get in over my head trying to spin an adult sweater’s worth of yarn(2 years ago) and that frightened me a bit. But I’m back in the swing of things, so to speak.

TdF began yesterday July 2nd but I’m starting today. No goals, remember? ;)

I’ll be spinning some lovely HelloYarn 100% Merino gifted to me by MUAKnits. YAY for crafting friends, huh? :) I love HelloYarn fibers, so she must have read my mind because it couldn’t have come at a better time. Alors!

Just Doing It.

That is kind of how I feel about my latest craft projects. Other than baking for special occasions I’ve been contemplating practicing my baking a little more. I’ve always farked up whole wheat bread. It was always hard, and flat. Nothing I tried worked. But recently I read something about “vital wheat gluten”, which is supposed to help wheat breads rise better. I’ve yet to actually try it but hopefully sometime this weekend I’ll get around to it.

I did manage to make some banana bread, though:
Banana Banana Bread

from this recipe.

I’m thinking I should have added that 4th banana in there. Some of the reviews do indicate that extra banana would improve the moisture but I didn’t listen. Or perhaps the addition of baking powder may have something to do with it. In previous incarnations, with a different recipe the bread was always kind of flat and that one didn’t call for baking powder either, so I figured that was the problem. This loaf is somewhat taller but not by much(I’m starting to think other people are using a smaller pan than my 9×5′er, which could mean nothing I do will yield a taller result). Oh well, it’s still very good, even if a little on the dry side. Nothing a hot cup of coffee or tea or a glass of cold milk won’t fix.

In knitting I’m also slowly starting up. Oh I’ve knit the occasional hat or mittens or some other whimsy but one of the things I’ve been wanting to knit more of is sweaters for ME. Sadly, though, I’ve been quite reluctant to do so because of the four disasters in my knitting past: namely, the felting of my Cheesylove pullover, the shrinking of my beloved Central Park Hoodie by my MIL, and the fact that I ran seriously short of yarn for the handspun Heather Hoodie. Not to mention, the failure of kiddo’s Basic Black.

Eileen back

Enter Eileen. I just decided to jump in and do it. Of course the decision was facilitated by a sale at Michaels. ;) I went with a bold color that I love and so far the knitting is going ok. I was a little uneasy with the shifting charts; if you look at the back photo you’ll notice there is a center panel and two side panels. The side panel chart only has 6 rows but the center one has 8. The first repeat of the two charts started out with the same rows, only to have me start the side panel chart AGAIN before finishing the first repeat of the center panel. And there I was thinking I’d print the charts on the same sheet of paper and use one long strip of highlighter tape to track the rows. Sigh. Oh well. I guess I could still print them together since they’re small. But it hasn’t been a major hassle yet.

Now, while I did enhance my stash for this project I have been working from stash I already had.

Crochet Box

I had 3 balls of Lamb’s Pride Bulky laying around, seemingly forever, and decided now was the time. The other day I just started crocheting these rectangles, not even knowing what I’d do with them. I just needed to be doing something with my hands. My son came in the room and asked if I was making a box. I looked at the panels and just decided, yeah, I’m gonna make a box. And I did!

I’ve read that crochet is harder to felt than knitting and I’m seeing this may very well be true. I would have thought with the yarn being a single ply that it would felt lovely but, the crochet won out. You can still see some of the stitch definition. Also the finished item isn’t as sturdy as knit felt would be. There’s no way that box would stand up to the spindles, but this is even floppier than normal; everything is actually sitting in a hard plastic bucket the kids got a few Halloween’s ago. Eh, it works, right?

I hear Eileen calling so I’d better go see what she wants.

TTFN!

Leap of Faith

It’s been a crazy past week or so. Over a week ago I got some terrible news. My Godmother had passed away unexpectedly. I was in no way ready for a funeral, emotionally or wardrobe-wise. Mary was always impeccably dressed at church and I felt I could NOT step into that sacred place looking like crap. But, life goes on and it got in the way of me making a full outfit to wear. I did manage, however to squeeze out a new skirt. I needed something long to cover my legs since it’s Winter, but simple enough that it wouldn’t drive me nuts. After those graduation dresses last year I felt like I could sew anything. But still, I was afraid of screwing it up. I’d gone down to the wire, with last-minute attempts to just buy a skirt but none was to be found.. So sew I did..

black(blue!) skirt

That’s a quick shot on the train platform on the way home. I wasn’t really in the mood for photos(obviously) but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get a picture of the skirt before the sunlight was completely gone.

Details:
Pattern: Simplicity 3827 in size BB
Fabric: some random blue(I’d mistaken it for black when purchased, perhaps) cotton/lycra blend from the 50% off room at Paron Fabrics
Notions: black(and some blue thread, see below!), elastic for the wasteband, size 90/14 sharp sewing machine needle.

Overall this was a very simple skirt pattern. I never had to look at the instructions and scream, “WHAT?!”. It’s a 6-gore skirt in two lengths and I chose the longer of the two. For the Spring I may go with the shorter. The pattern pieces for the skirt were just two but I’d need to make two cuts from each section on folded fabric to get the extra sections. I took the time to trace copies so I could lay out all the pieces and pin once instead of pinning, cutting, removing the piece and then pinning and cutting again.

About 2/3 of the way through I ran out of thread in the bobbin and went to refill it and got this:
Bobbin gone to hell...

I just sat there staring at it for a good 10 minutes. I didn’t give up though, kept right on going, thanks to a lovely bobbin with navy blue on it. That ran out too, but the next time I went to refill with black it went off without a hitch.

I will definitely make this skirt again. It was worth the effort and time challenge, despite the circumstances which caused me to need it in the first place.

In knitting, I also took a leap of faith with some handspun yarns I’ve had in the stash for a while. So long, in fact I couldn’t remember what the fiber content was or where I got it. After some thought I’m confident it’s a wool/silk blend, but I still don’t remember when or where I got it.

Winter Tam 2010

The fact that the yarn was a silk blend combined with a 1×1 ribbing was not a good idea for this hat. It’s already all stretched out at the brim, but I’m not sure if a soaking would help it snap back into place. I decided to knit another a bit bigger and in some 100% wool, this time some Merino 64s I got and dyed back in 2007. A week and 3 tiny skeins later:

All together now--Flickrtoys mosaic

I like this one better. The color is more accurate in the shot with the flash.

Details:
Pattern: Laura’s Floppy Beanie(pdf file)
Yarn/Fiber: Handspun Merino 64s (don’t remember where I got it from), dyed with Orange Wiltons food coloring
Notions: 3.25mm and 3.75mm circular needles with the magic loop method

Again I’m really liking this hat more than the other and it will see some serious use this winter. I thought I had a lot of the yarn around to maybe make matching mitts or something but I guess not. I do have a little left over but it’s probably not enough to work with.

That’s all for these few weeks; we’ll see what I can get into next!

TTFN

Easy on Sunday…(photos!)

It took everything in me, not to take out my hair dryer and work on the hoodie pieces:

Heather Hoodie blocking

It’s STILL drying, but it’s almost there. Maybe tonight I can start seaming. And then I can work on the hood. I still have two full skeins left, which should be enough for it. While that’s percolating, I cast on for the Hat Heel socks last night. I don’t have a pic of that; it’s not much to look at. I’ve got some thoughts about this pattern but I’ll keep it to myself til they’re done. ;) I also hope to get some use from these

Ohh Yes!! before the long weekend is out. I’m trying not to drop WIPs to start something new. It’s a struggle, I tell you.

Brand-spanking-new Gingher Dressmaker shears! A gift from my crafty chat friends!! The love keeps coming, I tell you. I mentioned how my kids got a hold of my sewing scissors and used them to cut PAPER. *cue blood-curdling scream* Well my friends heard my lament and sent me a new pair! Weeeeee! I haven’t had possession of an all-metal pair of scissors in who-knows how long! :D Thank you again, ladies!!

Glamour shot: Mine!

I’m being spoiled all around, it seems. The kids have figured out that if they do things around the house they might get treats. My son has always been more willing to do chores without being asked but this takes the cake. I snapped a photo of him and lil sis washing and drying the dishes the other night, so that I could whip up a smoothie for them

They're up to something..

Now to get them to understand that they should help out around the house because they SHOULD and not just to get things.. ;) too late, huh?

Older/The Journey Continues

Another year has gone by. I’m older. Unsure if I feel it or not. Another year of crafting. Has it really been 5 years since I fully got into knitting? I was digging in a bucket of handknit socks to pair them up before washing(I misplace socks like you wouldn’t believe!), and came across the very first pair I knit. They look almost brand new. You would never know they’re 5 years old! If someone had told me back in 2003 I would be a knitter/spinner in 2009 I’d have laughed. Time changes people.

Seriously I didn’t do much thinking on my birthday. I got some serious alone time(well, the kids being in school helped), and got to work on this:

Heather hoodie vest back

This is the back of the Heather Hoodie Vest from the Fall ’09 Knitscene. I’d wanted to knit this sweater vest ever since I picked up the magazine last month, but the yarn I was using didn’t suit it at all. When I’d spun this yarn I was hoping to use it for one of the sweaters in the Fall ’09 Knitty but the gauge just didn’t work out. Better luck next time.

I had originally thought the yarn needed over-dyeing but laziness got the best of me and I decided to go ahead and knit with it. So far I like it, but I might still have to do something because one or two of the balls is somewhat lighter in color. Seeing as this is a cabled item the last thing I want to do is alternate from two different balls. I haven’t ruled out over-dyeing the finished garment, though.

As it stands I’m well past halfway up the back and just now into my second ball of handspun. Wow this stuff lasts and lasts! I think I’m gonna make it! I can’t remember being this excited about a knitting project. In fact, I’m off to put a few more rows on this baby!

TTFN!

Gaining Confidence…

… with my spinning. Seeing the yarn come together is awesome. Visualizing the project to be done is exciting. Hoping I made the right choices is stressful.

It’s been a long road to making something I can really work with. As previously stated, I’m learning to more properly determine what size yarn I’m making. And I’m still working on really understanding how thick my singles are turning out. I’m still struggling to spin thicker singles.

I’m also learning that the form of fiber and the breed really affects the outcome. I’m seeing that carded fiber and longer staple combed fibers tend to thicken a bit with soaking/setting the twist. At least that’s how the BFL I’ve been spinning for mittens is turning out. I’m thinking it will be great for a pair of Pirate Mittens.

This might be Pirate(Mittens)

I’ve decided to go ahead and knit with the mauve-dyed Australian wool and then overdye the garment. I still don’t have a pattern in mind for it, and I’ve been trolling Ravelry for something I’ll like that uses thick yarn. I’ve yet to swatch but I get the feeling I’ll be using 8s or even 9s. This is a three-ply after all. Next time I do that I’ll have to go for a thinner single. Or leave it as a two-ply.

All hanked up and ready to go!

I’ve yet to fully measure the sweater yardage but so far one hank is coming in at approximately 147 yards. I’m sure I have enough for the mittens though. Off to swatch!