Sunday, October 30, 2005

Yeah Baby!

So, on a day like this:

What could be better than to work with this:

I had a great time meeting Adrian of Hello Yarn on Saturday. She and I spent about and hour and a half at the wheel. I learned the basic mechanics of this particular one (Louet S17) and got to practice both combing then spinning some black very "wooly" ram fleece, and then spin some very soft and lovely Blue Faced Leicester. With the BFL, I got an unexpected lesson the the value of pre-drafting. Adrian showed me how to do it, and we both pre-drafted a strip. I started with mine and I couldn't freakin spin it - the whole shebang was twisting up before I could draft anything off of it. After mutilating that, she handed me the one she had done and I was able to draft and spin it with pretty good (beginners) success. The difference was quite dramatic and lesson promptly learned.

Anyway, here are my spoils from yesterday (apart from the wheel, which I have for three weeks):

Big white blob is 8oz of "mystery wool" from Adrian (which I might attempt to dye before I spin), the greeny yarn cake is some Hello Yarn sock yarn (I am a sock yarn ho, after all) and the black blob on the bottom is my first wheel-yarn! Its one ply of the black rams wool, and one ply of the BFL. Half of it was created during my lesson, and the other half at home last night. Its crazy uneven and wonky, but its kind of cute.

Here is my work from last night spinning the CooperMoose roving I picked up a while back.

This stuff has been challenging - it slides apart quickly, so it is getting away from me and breaking constantly, but I did find a groove after some time. I'm scared to ply it - I suck at plying on the wheel, I get all out of control and crazy. I think I need to practice just going slow, but its hard to do.

So I am one happy PumpkinMama, and I'd like to give a hearty thanks to Adrian, she is so nice and a very good teacher and I thank her for her lesson and her patience (and she has a very cute doggy-friend too).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Flower Basket Done

The Flower Basket Shawl is complete.

She got bound off and pinned up last night. Here she is in this mornings cloud-filtered sun:


Here's an artsy-fartsy obligatory window shot:

Here she in in repose amongst the backdrop of the pine needled backyard:

And a little closeup of one of the corners:

pointy goodness

Project Specs:
Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl, by Evelyn Clark for Fiber Trends
Yarn: handspun 2-ply silk from Claudia, roughly fingering weight(?)
Needles: Denise #5

This came out pretty damn good for a first shawl, if I do say so myself. This is a lovely, rhythmic pattern and I think that helped with my beginner-ness (the only other lace I've done is Branching Out). It has enough repeats to not really get boring, and has the nice resting row of all purls on the wrong side. I could see myself knitting this again. I had been a little worried about the variegation in the yarn making the pattern get lost, but I think it worked out pretty well. The overall effect is not too distracting, I don't think.

I got 15 repeats in I believe. The ever growing rows began to eat up yarn pretty quickly, and I got skittish about having enough to complete a 16th. I got out the old scale an weighed and guesstimated, and I was quite literaly dealing with one gram of leeway as far as I could calculate. A clever knitter would have strung a lifeline through the end of a pattern repeat and just knit on and see what happened, but I have not been feeling to clever this week and decided to play it safe. With hindsight I see I could have gotten one more repeat in, but I am happy with the size.

On a completely separate note, I go to Dorchester tomorrow to meet up with Adrian of HelloYarn. I get a spinning lesson and a wheel to rent for a few weeks. I am more excited than words can say.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Socks and Ham Sandwiches

You know how food tastes better if someone else has prepared it for you? Especially sandwiches, I think. I have no idea where this phenomenon comes from, but its true. I can make a ham and cheese sandwich, and then have husband make the same exact one, and his will taste better, just because I didn't make it. Am I weird in that regard?

I think its true for socks as well. Don't get me wrong, I love my socks that I've knit for myself, but some of the magic is lost when you are intimately familar with each and every stitch that went into them.

These are the sock equivalent of hubby's ham sandwich:

loveliness Posted by Picasa

These are my Townsend-Sock Swap socks from my parner Diane. They are made from Lorna's Laces, in an unknown colorway and the pattern is Hatsuyo's Lacy Sock from the Sole
Solution 2003/2004 Design Collection. Not one I'd seen before and very nice, a little lacey, but not too holey. Truly beautiful.

These are awesomely soft and lucious (much more so than a ham sandwich), and I'm so happy they are mine. Thank you Diane!

PS: In the fall and winter, I am sadly never home during daylight hours on the days that I work, so you will all have to suffer crappy lighting photos from me if I decide to post on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. I'm already longing for the long days - I've got a long ways of longing ahead.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Just a little quickie for the PumpkinBoy's head. It was making him a hat that got me to pick up the needles for the 1st time in forever at about this time last year. Luckily, I'm a little more skilled than I was back then. When he saw me working on it, he asked what it was, and when I told him it was a hat for him, he was very excited. He wore it for hours inside this morning after I gave it to him, and insisted on wearing it each time we went out of the house today. So nice to have such a simple knit so well appreciated.

Project Specs:
Pattern: Tychus, Knitty Summer `05
Yarn: Red Heart Super Saver, variegated blue and white
Needles: Denise #9
Notes: Cute and clever pattern. Did only 4 "wedges" for his smaller head. This yarn is awful (but I had some lying around), and held double for this, it is really really bulky. I will most likely re-knit this for him using wool or a wool blend.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

One Track Mind

I just received an email from my boss with the title "Fibre Planning" and got very confused but excited, thinking we had some wooly adventure ahead. Then I remembered that I'm a UNIX Systems Adminsitrator by trade, NOT a professional spinner/knitter and that he was probably referring to a discussion about the fibre cabling for our storage network. Sigh.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Baskets of Flowers

I've been making slow but steady progress on the flower basket shawl. I am really enjoying knitting with Claudia's handspun - watching the colors in the plies change from peachy-yellow to deep crimson to pale green, and then the added twist (pun intended) of the color combinations that appear plied together. I am also loving this pattern. Its been easy to imprint on my brain, and has a very nice rhythm to it.

this one goes to 11 Posted by Picasa

closeup (unstretched)

I am up to 11 repeats and have more than half of the yarn left! The big question will be when to stop. The current down the center measurement is 16" relaxed, but it stretches out quite readily by hand to almost 24" I would guess that blocking with pins would get me close to 26-28". As I've never worn a shawl, I'm trying to figure out what a good size would be. I'm moderately tall at 5'9" and I'm thinking I want the depth to be at least 34-36". Anybody know some guidelines?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Home Again, home again

Casa de Pumpkin is now reinhabited as of late Monday night. We had a wonderful vacation on "the VinYud". We seem to have enjoyed the last week of lovely fall weather that Mother Nature saw fit to dole out. Its been rain, rain, rain, since Saturday in these parts. We managed to get in the water (still pretty warm). Did some fishing (Carole - no big stripers, but a few small blues) and shellfishing - there is nothing so good as scallops straight from the water, yum!

The wedding was beautiful - the rain and cold temps held off all afternoon last Saturday, allowing the bride and groom a wonderful (outdoor) party without anyone being miserable. I was shawl-less, having not spent much time knitting all week due to fabulous weather and the desire to be outside constantly.

I did buy myself a little prize at Mind's Eye Yarns in Cambridge before I headed out on vacation. I picked up a little drop spindle and about 4oz of Romney roving. I played with this on and off throughout vacation and am pleased to introduce you to my first little bundle of joy:

so proud Posted by Picasa

Isn't it cute? Its totally uneven, and a little too twisted, but I'm having fun and just trying to get used to drafting evenly (I'm a tight knitter, and I hold my roving much too tightly as well). I still am renting a wheel, hopefully in a few weeks, and I am still knitting, I promise!