Friday, January 23, 2009

January Sweater

It seems like I always manage to produce a sweater (or vest) in the early months of each year. This year's is the Garter Yoke Cardigan from the latest Knit.1 It is knit with humble Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool (just 2 hanks, on sale - can't beat a $14 sweater!). I think this is one of the best fitting sweaters I've done to date. I wanted some negative ease, but my gauge was off so I risked knitting 2 sizes smaller than my bust and it worked out just fine.

Thanks to my involvement in the PhatFiber sample box, I was made aware of these kick ass buttons made from small slices of oak, that I think are the perfect match for the simplicity of the pattern. You can get your own (in all kinds of sizes) at Wooden Treasures on Etsy. He also has some really lovely shawl pins too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Big Spinning

My spinning time has been completely consumed with the first batch of my "big handspun sweater project". The fiber fates had me fall into a fleece at last spring's New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival - a stunning Romeldale (the non-mutant version of CVM) in the deepest brown-black. I dropped it for processing that same day, and I've had it sitting in a box waiting to be spun all summer and fall.

The plan is for a sweater - my first adult-size handspun sweater. I sampled and settled on a 3ply, woolen spun of course, and a little on the chunky side of worsted weight. My first skein is 5oz, about 300yds and measures 11WPI. This is some seriously boing-y yarn, stretchy but firm and nice and soft. I feel like I need to carry it around like a lap-pet it has so much life to it. The second photo, while not great is included as it shows the true color (at least on my monitor).

Next up, I'm interjecting some color and taking a break from the brown to spin a couple batts I made for myself with some leftovers - a nice minty/seafoamy/green heather with ribbons of white silk. Yummy.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Shop Update

The shop has just been updated.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Phat Fiber Sample Box

Goes on sale today sometime (if you recall, I made up these baby braids for inclusion in this month's box). Keep an eye on the PhatFiber blog for details. Jessie, the coordinator of all this fibery goodness, also posted a very cool video that shows you what kind of goodies are in store for January's box.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I Made This!

Like I said earlier, until the last few months weaving never interested me. I would read about it occasionally, but all the terms - warp, DPI, shuttles, heddles, weft, would leave my brain in a fog of confusion and it all just seemed so complicated and technical.

Then, kind of out of no-where I started thinking about it - it might be fun to try. After all, when I first read posts about spinning I was all baffled by the terminology there too - WPI, grist, twist angle - and I managed to figure that out well enough to progress to the point where I can make a pretty damn good yarn, if I do say so myself. So I started poking around - just looking, of course, because really, do I need another past time added to the list? And besides, I'm already pushing the limits of how many spaces in this house I can take over in the name of my "hobbies".

But, you read my previous post, so you know what happens in the end - I researched, I raised funds, and I purchased. And I wove. This is fun stuff, my friends. Just like spinning, the terms lose their intimidating unfamiliarity once you have the materials in front of you to give them context. Obviously, I am a rank beginner, and just like the first lumpy bumpy yarn I made more than three years ago, my first finished piece carries all the hallmarks of that. Also just like my first yarn, I love it!

The warp (the yarn going the length of the fabric) is half Ella Rae Classic in pale blue, and half Arucania Nature Wool in off white. The weft (the yarn that goes back forth the narrow way) is my handspun, "Baked Alaska" romney from HelloYarn Fiber Club. I chose the blue warp to match the blue in this, but didn't have enough to make it all blue. The intent was a scarf, but it is a little too wide and short (8.5" x 50") to be useful as one.

Warping the loom, the part of the process that I thought I would hate, is certainly a little labor intensive, but not nearly as fiddly as I thought it would be. With the kids around, for me, it has to be a post-bedtime activity, as it takes a full hour and I need to have yarn strung halfway across an entire room, which also means I have to get it done in one fell swoop so I'm not barricading access to other parts of the house.

Once warped though, a project (at least a simple plain weave one like I've done here) is very tending-kids friendly, as I can just wander over to the loom if I have a quiet 5 minutes and do a little work. As a project's resting state is reached about every 3 seconds (the time it takes to run the shuttle through and out the other side) it is eminently suited to the constant interruption that takes place when kids are around.

A couple other things I love - the weft uses up so much less yardage than I would expect - the handspun I used here was a mere 2.5oz of yarn! I half half the skein left over - a pleasant surprise. Also, as you can guess, its fast! I really didn't push myself in any way to finish this, I just wove when I had some time over a couple non-work days, and voila!

Cheryl may have made all of us buy Fat Baby Boots, but I'm going to make sure all of you start weaving!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Like a Hole in my Head

So, for those of you who I didn't already blab to, my newest toy is an Ashford 16" Rigid Heddle loom. I always said I had no interest in weaving, but in the last 4-5 months I've had a little nagging voice in my head telling me I should try. Then I made the fatal mistake of doing a Ravelry Project search for things tagged with "weaving". I warn you - do not click that link if you don't want to see some seriously gorgeous pieces that will make you end up with a loom in your house - I speak from experience. I did a bit of research, mostly on some Ravelry weaving groups, and found an awesome price on the 16" Ashford. In a fit of fiscal responsibility, I did make myself wait until I could fund the entire purchase by destashing yarn (I still have some listed, though with the loom's arrival, I've already swiped some back for myself, and will probably continue to do so).

As luck would have it, my inter-library loan request of 3 weaving books was fulfilled yesterday morning, hours before the loom's arrival. I read up (the best for this wee baby weaver so far as been "Hands on Rigid Heddle Weaving" by Betty Davenport) a bit before it came.

It was super easy to assemble, and I managed to warp it (direct method) in about one hour once the kiddos were in bed. My primary mistake was setting it up on a toddler sized table for warping, which meant I was bent at the waist, intently warping and winding for one full hour. Not until I attempted to stand upright again and my back muscles wouldn't do it did I realize my error. So, I had to wait a bit and walk around and stretch before I could get to the weaving.

I'll tell you more about the project and my overall experience when I'm done, but so far I'm loving it and my brain is already plotting and planning my next project.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Wait is Over

The Man in Brown finally came.....

Monday, January 05, 2009

Christmas Knits

I started out knitting just one Christmas gift this year - a sweater for the newest member of our family (the one who got this blanket upon his birth in September). I knit "Get Ziggy" with some Blue Sky Organic Cotton. It is a really great pattern, and might just become my go-to baby sweater. The seaming with the lap shoulders is a little tricky (I had to do it 2 or 3 times to get it right) but I love the way it looks and makes the neckline very accommodating to big-headed babies, which tend to run in our family, anyway. Here is my photo:

and here is his Mama's photo, with the cute baby included:

I made the baby sweater and mailed it off, with weeks to spare until Christmas. I was pleased, but then, the Sunday before the holiday, in what can only be described as a fit of insanity, got it stuck my head that I could and should knit really quick gifts for the 4 adult family members who were coming to our house for the big day. That left me with 4 days, 4 gifts, plus planning and prepping to host my first big holiday meal. (Thankfully, the husband heroically had dealt with all the gift shopping and wrapping so no one had to worry about that - sweet!)

The end result was this - (all are on Ravelry if you want specifics on patterns and yarn) going clockwise: hat for big brother, mittens for Dad (which don't fit, but he was ever the father and insisted that they did), an airy little scarf for Mom and neck warmer for future-SIL.

It was actually kind of fun, creating a silly, stupid challenge for myself to see if I could do it. I don't think I would do it again, but you never know - I tend to be both impulsive and stubborn which frequently results in situations like this.

Speaking of impulsive...wait until I show you what is in the mail for me. I have to wait for the beloved man in brown to arrive with it, but its either a very good thing, or a very bad thing....only time will tell.