Saturday, April 26, 2008

If only I could shrink myself


I've been knitting lots, but just haven't the time to tell you all about it since there has been so many tests. I could go on and on about their unfairness, but wouldn't it just be so much more lovely to look at a baby sweater?

This is the February Baby Sweater from Knitter's Almanac by the ever wonderful Elizabeth Zimmermann. Obviously I've changed this from the typical stitch used, because looking at that stitch pattern, I'd have to do more counting every two rows. Here, with the feather and fan stitch, I only had to count every 4 rows, and even then not very much.

The feather and fan stitch was changed to a 12 stitch repeat. This, however, necessitated a change in the total number of stitches for the body and arms. In order to keep the proportions correct as possible, I added quite a few stitches. I don't remember how many, precisely, but I could count it out if I needed to again. The yarn is my own handspun which you can see here, and it makes the entire sweater very cushy and light.

Pattern: February Baby Sweater, Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Pink and Blue makes Purple handspun, ~350 yards
Needles: Knitpicks Options circulars sz 5
Mods: Switched out stitch patterns for feather and fan, including sizing changes
Size: 22" chest circumference
I just need some really cute buttons. And someone small enough and cold enough to wear it.

Since it's Iowa in the spring, the weather is delightfully bipolar. Some days it's absolutely beautiful outside, and the birds can't stop singing.

Some days it's jumping between pouring and tornado sirens. (And earthquakes? What in the world?
So even though it's quite lovely to watch and photograph, my head hasn't appreciated this as all, as you can well imagine. I've been working with on and off headaches for the past 3 weeks.

At least there are bewitching clouds.

Struggling through finals,

Sunday, April 20, 2008



Apparently you are under the impression that I've been spinning lots and lots of things! Spinning everything I can find! Spinning my own hair when I run out of fiber!

Ummm, no. You pretty much just saw the entire collection of my spinning for the last year. There's just a bit more yarn coming up, but other than that wool, what you just saw whas it.

Yeah, I know. That's a lot less impressive.

However, it is absolutely gorgeous and 68 degrees Fahrenheit outside today with lush green grass and clear blue skies. I feel like I'm in some Lifetime TV special with my perfect weather, perfect grass, and blank, sterile suburban neighborhood. I'm not saying I want a crime rate, but a few random ugly garden gnomes wouldn't hurt.

So you've been asking about my wheel? I love my spinning wheel.

This is a Fricke S-160-ST. I have no idea what the S-160 means, but I know that the "ST" means single treadle. I'm not going to go into the details, you can find that here, but I can tell you why I wanted and got this wheel, and why I love it.

You see that dark wooden stick? That's the handle. I love that. I so need that. And opposite the handle is where you stick the oil. That's pretty sweet, too, because I would definitely lose the oil without it literally stuck to the wheel.

There are 5 different speeds, giving me a really good wide range for my beginning spinner-ness. This treadles and spins really smoothly and easily for me because I'm not treadling at super high speeds to try and spin a thin yarn like I was with a previous wheel that only had lower ratios. (Sorry this is so blurry. You can get a good view of the grass. I know you miss grass down there in Arizona.)

The orifice is a delta orifice. I had no idea what this meant until I opened the box. For me, this means I don't have a hard time pulling the yarn through to spin it, and it works out really well for me. Everything is nicely adjustable to get exactly the tension and speed I want. It's a triangle like the greek letter delta!

In my opinion, it's a beautiful wheel for the price, which is absolutely one of the best out there for an all-over excellent wheel.

Do you recognize the wool? It's the black llama that I got from Syvilla way back when I was making thrummed mittens. Syvilla's always got the good stuff for a fiber junkie like me. I've got to give her a call over commencement weekend when I'm visiting Kris so she can hook me up with some more of her Norwegian goodness.

Tell me about study knitting...I had to put down the needles because I was knitting so much=studying so much. My entire left arm was starting to hurt and go numb. I'm not a doctor, but I'm a medical student, and so far they've taught me that's bad.

Stay tuned for later when I show you the lovely baby things I've spun and knitted, and learn that perhaps if you're blood pressure is running high, that you shouldn't eat that whole bag of salty chips along with a frozen dinner.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Same Old


Sorry I haven't posted in a while, but if feels like I've been working on the same old same old for far too long. Look at you though! Spinning away. No wonder you don't get any sleep. All those hours at the spinning wheel.

I'm afraid that when my classes end so too will my productivity. As in, my knitting productivity. Possibly 90% of my knitting is done during class; and not just the mindless knitting either, anymore. I'm becoming a careless student and a craftier knitter. Which is okay with me. It just makes for bad learning habits. Plus that over-arching fear that once the classes end I won't have a daily time slot to pick up the needles.

In other news, I picked up this handy bread book last week and was delighted to find recipes and technical instructions and delightful tastes. This is the most technical bread tutorial I've ever seen. I mean, the thing has graphs, and calculations for what temperature your water should be, and it wants me to figure out the rpm of my mixer. Mmm, tasty bread though. I've been frustrated by the graininess and short life-span of the bread that I've been making recently, and I think I may have found a solution to both those little troubles.

So while the knitting is feeling momentarily stagnant, the bread is coming out of the oven. And nothing smells better, not even fresh yarn.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Professional Sleeper


You know that I'm not getting enough sleep when I get home after my test yesterday, sleep 3 hours, do a little work and play a little games, then come home and slept another 13 hours.

Anyhow, now I'm awake, and I'd like to show you all the spinning I've done the past few months, because I really haven't found a better place to fit it in.

I think that I've showed the Ultraviolet Blue before, but I just wanted to throw this up for comparison with my newly spun Plum Wine wool. These are made from the same wool, but the Plum was spun on my new Fricke 160 wheel, which I absolutely adore. Someday when I can take pictures outside (it's been storming the past 4 days) I'll tell you a bit more.

Plum Wine, 4 oz, ~164 yds, mystery wool origin from Syvilla Tweed Bolson.

Then I bought some of this beautiful Iowan-grown wool from Home Ec in Iowa City and dyed it with Kool-aid. That wasn't so gorgeous, so I then overdyed it with food coloring. You can tell I didn't just have my regular acid dyes with me.

This is the craziness that resulted, except imagine a bit more red and purple. I just happened to capture the wrong color side. Here are the singles I also spun on the Fricke.

And the lovely 2-ply yarn.

I really liked this yarn. Home-grown Iowan (just like me), 4 oz (slightly less than me), about 358 yds. Unfortunately while dying it I removed most of the lanolin because the water was too hot, but it's very soft and springy. I'm not so fond of the red streaks throughout. You can especially see them while it's knitted up.

So I provisionally cast these on and knit the hand of the glove first, which I truly love. I adore making gloves.

Then I cast on about 41 stitches and began making the cuff back and forth in seed stitch, knitting 2 stitches together every other row to connect these to the glove. However, after I finished that, I decided I didn't really like the sizing. The bottom of the cuff was too small, and the wrist of it was too wide. Now I've been experimenting with knitting two together at the wrist 2/3 rows and throwing in short rows at the bottom portion. I'll let you know how it's going.

I plied you some yarn, which I think you received and enjoy.

Karaoke 50% soy silk, 50% wool, ~1 oz spun on my spindle, 2 plied on the wheel.
Also spun on the spindle and plied on the wheel we have the most delicious chocolate yak wool.

I loved this. Loved it, still love it, adore it, hope I can someday have a large sweater made of it. 4 oz. of pure yak down, spindle spun and 3 plied on my wheel.

Last but certainly not least, hand-dyed and handspun on the Fricke merino wool, about 7 oz. I absolutely love this stuff, and was able to spin it so much softer than the last batch of merino on my spindle. Of course, the first merino was also the first wool I've ever spun, so I'll excuse myself on that one. This was really interesting, because the original roving was pure hot pink with deep blue patches. No purple. When it was spun, these blended rather nicely, to make some hot pink, a little blue, and a lot of purple looking yarn.

When I wet set this, however, it bled on itself, I think. The funny thing is, the water didn't show much bleeding, but when it dried it was far, far more purple and magenta than before. I also think I might have beat it up a bit too much while setting it, because the three plies all felted against each other a bit. However, since this is destined for a baby sweater, that'll probably be a good thing. Those babies. They can be rough.

Berry Mush, ~7 oz Merino roving, hand-dyed by me, unknown yardage. Probably about 350 yards.

Whew. There you go. I'm probably going to have to go internet silent again this week, since I'm completely behind in the class we've got a test in, but at least I'm somewhat caught up on sleep.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Coming out of internet silence


So I made some little snails, too!

Kris found a friend named Yang-Mills. He loves to run around, and seems to have found his way up on Kris' shoulder.

Then he found a bunch of really little snails.

Umm, they're pretty cute, and perfect the person who needs some snails in their life but doesn't have a lot of room.

Here's my little snail, who loves to bounce around everywhere. He gets very excited when we get to go traveling, because he gets to hide in my pocket. One of the most intelligent snails I've ever met, I'm now taking him with me to all my tests so he can help me out with the answers when I get stuck.

However, he also does like to live on the wild side. Look at him on that precipice! Such bravery!