Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Funny Thing Happened

I've had trouble getting into my very own blog. There's supposed to be a little orange square with a B in it up in the left hand corner of my blog that lets me enter when I want to make a post. My B has been missing in action!! Only this morning, as I tried once more, it appeared & let me into the NEW POST section. Whoo Hoo!! Not that there's much to report around here in the Basement these days. I am inundated with Red Geraniums! I was a flower PIG when they got marked down & I bought too many so there's pots of them everywhere. I rescued an Orchid that almost died due to neglect & it's flowering again for me!! My Taro didn't die over the winter like I thought but put up a new leaf & is now churning them out like crazy. The Fern Garden is healthy & the Christmas Cacti are blooming again - second time this year!!! And, I'd like to report that my sore right knee seems to be getting better - I can actually walk up stairs almost like an adult again!! I've been sweltering in Orthopedic sneakers this August whilst most of you wear sandals but it seems to have stabilized my knee. Let that be a lesson, slopping about in Thongs is bad for you when you get OLD.

I DID start winding off all that Black Sheep mill end yarn I've been spinning on the Old Indian spinner. My knee's been too sore to spin. I'd been working on finishing all the 'lumps' in the 15lb grab bag I bought several years ago from the Sheep Shed Studios. Even though I shared that bag with Gail, it still left an awful lot of really nice wool to spin. I got mostly lovely wool/mohair roving & lumps or knots left over from the spinning machine. I preferred the feel of the 'lumps' & chose to spin them first. The biggest problem with them is that they breed in the bag when you're not looking. At least that's how it seems - just when I think I'm finished, I find another handful!! So, I had an overflowing giant bobbin - it holds a pound or two, can't remember which but it's a lot - spun up to fingering sized singles. I have 8 other skeins of the same - it's plain wool which reminds me a lot of Polworth - almost spongey, a very soft springy wool - & I wanted to dye the whole lot at the same time so I could use it in a larger project. Winding off that huge bobbin is a royal pain in the ass!! I have to wind it onto a 2 yard niddy noddy before steaming & dyeing. I'd like to keep it uncut & on a cone of some sort but, I guess if I want to dye it, that's out.

All along I wanted to knit this yarn into a Kimono style sweater/jacket. I have the Knit Kimono & Knit Kimono Too books by Vicky Square & have fallen for a couple of the patterns. I think the hand spun will work well for Kimono styles.

Now all I have to do is win the Lotto so I have the time to spend my Golden Years in the pursuit of fibre, spinning, knitting & dyeing.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I finished the socks but not the sweater! My Arvik Ribbons sweater turned out to be a much bigger job than I expected but the hand spun socks are done. I discovered
that hand spun socks take longer to knit than mill spun yarn. Dunno why but they do. They DO feel nice & cozy though & I can't wait to wear them. They're very definitely Fraternal socks - maybe even cousins instead of siblings - but this is the way I spun the yarn that made them. They could almost belong to different pairs of socks but I'm proud of them.

So I got my medal for the Ravellenics Sock Put. And I finished my purple socks. So? What next?? Well, I had this 100gm ball of yarn that had been calling to me for some time but I was too busy to listen. Since I finished my sock project but didn't have enough time left to finish the sweater or knit the other pair of hand spun socks, well, I slipped & fell into the arms of the new sock yarn. It's ON YOUR TOES by Kertzer. It's a dark & moody ball of bubblegum pink, eggplant & navy. I have no idea where it came from - it might've been a gift or a trade but it was in my stash & has been calling my name for a couple of months. Seduced by a ball of yarn - again. I decided to knit socks that just cover my ankle since I don't have a lot of short socks. I can't wear shoes or sneakers without a sock so I make short socks for summer when I'm not flopping around in my thongs or sandals. I finished the first sock quickly & the second sock was started yesterday - as I've said before & I'll say it again - new colorways knit up faster!! They really do. I think it's the excitement to see what kind of pattern the dyed wool will make. These socks are very soft - apparently there's ALOE in the yarn - and look a whole lot better than the yarn suggested in the ball. I think I'm going to like wearing these ones.
I used the standard pattern in my head. Cast on 69sts, the first & last are knit together at the join. Rib for three inches, stockinette to the heel flap, knit side gussets on either side of a K1,S1 heel flap. I usually increase 13 or 15sts on either side of the flap before short rowing & turning the heel. Stockinette to the toe & decrease 4 every other row until I ha
ve 32sts remain. Three needle bind off at the toe.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

The World's Worst Picture Taker

I am the worst. If they had a medals for bad photography, I'd have the Gold. I just point, shoot & pray. My old camera took pretty good photos until it totally quit working. This new electronic, shock proof, water proof, rechargeable, expandable, digital movie taker mystifies me. I can rarely take a photo that shows the correct color & most of my photos are blurry. Apparently I can self correct 'red-eye' but can't take a close-up. I take several shots of each thing I photograph & hope I have one that's postable. Heh, at least you have an idea of what I'm doing!!!

I continue to plod along on the hand spun purple socks. PLOD is the term I used & PLOD is the term I meant. Considering all the socks I've made in the last 10 years - at least a couple of dozen pairs a year & 4 dozen pairs one memorable one!!! - you'd think I'd've had those socks finished the first weekend! One is completed & I started on the ribbing for the second last evening. The color is close but you can't see the play of the variegation.

Hand spun is not as easy to knit as mill spun sock yarn. Hand spun splits, blends into the stitch next t
o it, stretches & is slippery as hell when it contains nylon!! I'm also busy at the Motorcycle School so I'm not getting as much knit time as usual. And it's hot & sticky so the yarn doesn't co-operate at all. And then add my metal needles which are too slick for this yarn. Oooops. It all comes from little experience knitting hand spun into socks. The next pair will be knitted on my bamboo needles & I may just spray the yarn with a little water so that it stays in one place as I work. At this rate, I will NOT get to the Orange socks at all & may not get my sweater finished!!! Grrrrr . . . And I have to just look at two more braids I want to spin up!! But, they'll just have to wait.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Off to the ****lympics er Ravellenics

Thanx to the IOC, the crafty pursuit once known as the Ravelympics is now known as the Ravellenics - they now own the 'rights' to the Olympic name . . yeah right. I'm surprised the Greeks haven't been told to rename mount Olympus! But, now that that's out of my system - it still makes me mad though . . .

I took the yarn spun in the Tour de Fleece & decided to knit it into socks for the Ravellenics. Thought I'd just whack them off in a day or two & move along to my sweater. Not so. I had good intentions but I may only get a couple of pairs of socks finished. Knitting socks with handspun is a little different that knitting them with commercial yarn. I had intended to ply my yarn so the socks would wear longer - normally I don't bother with plying but there is a place & time.

When my skein hit the water
after spinning, it POUFED up to almost twice it's thickness - oops. So after soaking, whacking & drying, well, it's a little too thick to ply. I'd never get the socks into my shoes if I did & it's a little thin without plying. Not what I'd planned at all. But I'm doing it anyway!!

I cast-on on Fr
iday, the first day of the Olympics with my usual size 1 needles & my singles yarn in Purple Majesty - seemed fitting somehow. I decided to just go for it. I used my usual count of 68 stitches for the ribbing which is in K2,P2. The knitting was a little slower since my singles is not as regular as it normally is since I had planned to ply to even it out by plying. I did have a few very thin spots that I doubled as I went & I definitely had to keep a closer eye on the knitting. I even took a picture on the first night.

I decided to make these a short sock since I don't have many of them & wanted a few more pairs for summer. The sock is plain stocking stitch for a couple of inches below the ribbing to where I started fo
r the heel. I'm using the heel with knitted gussets formed on either side as I do a K1,S1 heel between them. This heel is from the Crazy Heels & Toes Book which saved my life when I couldn't see to pick up those stitches on either side of the old heel flap. I don't have to pick up stitches anymore, thank gawd, but I did have a slight learning curve at the beginning. The K1,S1 flap is between the markers & the knitted gusset is from the marker to the end of the needle. The nice thing about this heel is that you can make the gussets narrower or wider to accommodate the foot you're knitting for. I usually use 13 increases for my old, widening clodhopper but use 15 for most men's sizes. My socks never crawl into my shoes! Ever!