Monday, September 27, 2010

September Spinning

As a result of the rather late (and some would say 'non-existent') summer this year, canning season has been a bit extended and has dragged on through most of September. This is what my spinning time looks like lately:

Mmm, Spicy Garlic Dills! We will enjoy you.

I probably have a bit more to go in October when I eventually completely give up on the notion of having any ripened tomatoes and decide to try out all of the interesting looking green tomato recipes and canning ideas that my friends have so helpfully sent me. (11 tomato plants = a lot of green tomatoes)

So anyway, that extended intro is all by way of explanation as to why there really hasn't been much knitting or spinning going on here on the blog of late.

I have been sort of poking away at a second batch of Dicentra Designs Merino/Silk/Angora blend here and there between gardening and canning sessions.

Label Info

Singles spun for a 3-ply fingering weight

The color is actually much more attractive in real life - the photo was taken at night in rather challenged lighting conditions. I really must learn how to use my new Photoshop software so I can color correct my bad photos. Sorry about the sideways label. Blogger absolutely refused to load the picture (which, by the way is actually oriented correctly). I tried to outsmart the photo loader and rotate the photo 90 degrees but then, of course, it loaded it correctly. I give up.

This is some fiber that I bought at Black Sheep several years ago (I haven't been to that festival in at least 3 years so it's older than that). I'm hoping to have enough to make some stranded fingerless mitts in conjunction with the off-white angora blend that I spun for Tour de Fleece.

I have big plans to set aside time to finally learn how to use my new loom and also venture into learning how to sew for myself this winter, once the garden is finally put to bed for the season (ha ha, a little bad garden humor there for you!).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Temporary Hiatus

Casa del Chaos has been busy living up to its name, I have been rather understandably distracted caring for Mr. CPA after his bladder cancer surgery, a subsequent post-surgical infection requiring IV antibiotics and hospitalization for possible heart attack (fortunately this turned out to be Pericarditis with Pericardial effusion and not a heart attack, for which we are both exceedingly grateful). Accordingly, things have been a wee bit too busy for blogging or gardening of late.

With all the waiting room, urgent care, ER and hospital time, I did manage to get some productive knitting in on the second Cedar Creek sock, that is right up until the time that I actually became too overwhelmed to even knit. (note to self: it might be good planning to always have a straightforward stockinette sock at the ready for times such as this!)

Let's just say that this was a week that I'd rather not repeat anytime soon.

Mr. CPA is home recuperating now and things look on track to be back to normal soon.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Grandkids say the darndest things

7:00 pm Wednesday evening. Mr. CPA and I have both arrived home from our 10 hour workday and have taken delivery of the three G-kids who have been in Portland for the last week visiting their dad (otherwise known as the oldest son). Three of the five people in the room are overflowing with energy, the other two? Not so much.

The energetic people in the room have just floated several suggestions about what fun activities we should go and do RIGHT! NOW! All involve leaving the house and require much more energy and enthusiasm than either of the potential activity directors can muster at that particular moment.

Grandpa: Well, Grandma and I are pretty tired from being at work all day; maybe we can do some of that stuff tomorrow.

Oldest Grandson
: What? You still work? But you’re OLD!!!

(Very Young) Grandma
: How old do you think we are?

Oldest Grandson: At least 60!

(Very Young) Grandma: … ::blink, blink:: …*

Gee, thanks a lot kid. Stay tuned for your super special birthday gift next month.

That is, if I get a chance to go shopping for it before they come to take me off to the home.

* I suppose this is some sort of karmic payback for my 8 or 9 year-old self asking my grandmother what it was like coming over in the covered wagons. She was probably around 42 at the time and really didn’t care for being called Grandma in public (at one point she actually requested that I refer to her as ‘Auntie GiGi’ whenever anyone else was around). The fact that I can still clearly remember this incident over forty years later may give you some insight as to how she responded to that ‘I think you’re old enough to have been a pioneer’ question!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tour de Fleece - Day 10

first bobbin completed
pretty much the same boring off-white yarn as before...

I Navajo plyed* (or Chain plyed) my completed TdF bobbin on Saturday evening.

Finished Yarn Info
Spinning notes:
I usually ply at two-thirds of original spinning twist, but I followed Fleegle's tip on Navajo Plying and plied a bit more firmly - about three-fourths of original spinning twist. (I didn't bother intentionally underspinning because I don't spin a super firmly twisted single as it is).

Plies: 3 ply
WPI: ~16-18
Plied twist angle: between 21 - 27 degrees
Yardage: ~ 300 yards

If I recall my basic math correctly, since the yarn is a 3 ply that means I spun approximately 900 yards since the beginning of Tour de Fleece, or only a little over 100 yards per day. But I did manage to spin every day so I suppose that's considerably more than I would usually manage this time of year (spinning is usually primarily a winter activity for me since we're usually working in the garden and canning in the summer), especially given that we've been otherwise engaged with a minor home-improvement project.

plied yarn - before and after washing

Before going to bed I started on the remaining batts:

Second verse, same as the first

Non-Tour de Fleece happenings
My spinning time has been a bit limited due to seasonal jam making and the most current household project here at Casa del Chaos.

This is what I was doing Saturday morning:

Goodbye old 'dirty vanilla' colored tile - you won't be missed!
(note original mid century wallpaper behind the tiles!)

Late Saturday afternoon:

It actually looks better without the tile

*is it 'plied' or 'plyed'? Neither one looks right to me this afternoon, but Blogger spell check really doesn't like 'plyed'. Do you ever have those days where regular words that you use all the time just don't look correct? I'm having one.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Tour de Fleece - day 8

So far I've spun every day ( although only the tiniest bit this morning since we were busy working on a home renovation project today).
There's quite a bit more yarn on the bobbin since my last update, but it's hard to tell from the photo:

I'm getting ready to ply this up tonight.

I didn't post any details about this last time so here are they are:
Singles twist angle: 27-30 degrees
Grist/size: 25-30 wpi
(my Mable Ross tool only goes to 25 wpi and the single is smaller than that so I'm guestimating)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tour de Fleece - Day 5

Progress as of bedtime on day 5:

White fiber, finer grist - it's a bit like watching solid color stockinette grow as far as blogging goes.

Also, kind of slow going now that the holiday is over and I'm back to my regular work schedule.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July Already?

I can't believe it's been nearly two months since I last posted. June was a very busy month here at Casa del Chaos! I'm not going to try to catch up in one post because it will be too much.

Tour de Fleece
I'm doing Tour de Fleece this year. Here's my progress as of yesterday morning (day 3):

Tour de Fleece - Day 3

That's more of the angora blend (actually a Dorset/kid Mohair/Satin Angora mix) that I've been spinning to match the Dicentra Designs roving I was working on here . This is actually some of the oldest stash I have in the Basement of Wool since the Dorset component is from when I was a brand new spinner nearly 20 years ago (and with an interesting story around its acquisition but that's a story for another blog post).

Non-Tour de Fleece
I finished spinning the Dicentra Design BRIGHT rainbow:

two tiny balls of handspun

Unfortunately, there's only about 80 yards or so, maybe around 100 yards when combined with the yarn used for the initial test swatch. So I'm not sure if my initial plan to make myself a pair of mittens will work out here.

The natural angora skein next to it is from the batts I'm currently spinning for TdF, but this batch had a higher percentage of angora than the other batts, giving it a more definite grey color (the satin angora I used was silver). The grey angora skein only has around 120 yards in it.

I quickly swatched a bit with the initial run of matching Dorset/mohair/angora blend to see how the grey worked with the colored yarn (nicely I think). I have to say that my purling in two colors technique is something I need to work on.

I've nearly finished my handspun Spring Forward socks:

Yes, Vanessa, I still have my bad habit of waiting to graft the toes!

And I've started another pair of socks:

Pattern: Cedar Creek Socks
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Colorway: Rainforest Jasper

I know, I know, I said I wasn't starting any new knitting projects until the sweater was done, but I have been rethinking that approach (not really working for me - more on that later). Besides I used the well-known "Traveling to son's college commencement" exception. What, you haven't heard of that one? It's right there in chapter 12 of Denise's Book of Knitting Rationalizations.

I also started a quilting project. It's a gift but I think it's safe to assume the intended recipient doesn't read this blog (and if they do, they wouldn't necessarily know it's for them) so I think I can blog my progress on it here.

I think it should be noted that I am a very beginning quilter. Very. Beginning. A lot.

My previous quilting projects have consisted of some seriously simple nine patch blocks in table runners and precisely two baby quilts (one nine patch and one printed panel type quilt). I do have some sampler blocks from a beginning quilting class I took more than 8 years ago, but I got the flu and didn't manage to finish the class so the sampler wall hanging was never finished. And, unless buying fabric and patterns counts, I haven't really done any quilting in years.

I mention all of that so that it's clear just how ambitious this project is for me. And also to show that I may not be completely clear on the difference between optimism and insanity.

So far I've pieced the 'leaf' units and now I'm working on the base units. The base units involve using templates, which I've never used before. I can't really say I'm wild about them at this point. I think I prefer shapes that are rotary cut. The second batch got a bit easier after I starched the fabric and switched to a narrow (.5 mm) mechanical pencil for outlining the template shapes on the fabric. Here they are in progress:

And here's the initial test block (to make sure the templates were cut correctly):

Untrimmed block I guess I should have tidied it up before its photoshoot
(leaf units are to the side)

And here's part of the reason I don't think I'll be doing too many template-based patterns in the future:

Maybe if your post-cut out pattern piece 'adjustments' consist of one or two
thread-widths it was probably close enough to begin with...

Yeah, like I really need something that works to enhance my abilities in the 'obsess about the tiny details' department...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spinning is the new avoidance

I was sick with an ill-timed, weekend stomach virus and after a not-too-successful attempt at getting some gardening done Saturday, I retreated into the house to suffer in silence* and total non-productivity for the remainder of the afternoon.

By late afternoon Sunday my new diet of delicious extra-dry saltines and ginger ale had restored me to a point that I wanted to do something that felt productive but didn't offer too much in the way of personal exertion. I didn't feel like knitting on either of my current projects (and frankly, wasn't up to working on either of them), but my current personal growth rules prevent me from starting a new knitting project. What to do...?

Well, spinning certainly doesn't count as a project as far as I can see.

In fact, it's practically a house chore since I have all this stored fiber cluttering up the house that needs to be processed and gotten out of the way. And I wouldn't be spinning any new fiber! Heavens no, this is old, old fiber from a Black Sheep Fiber Gathering event several years ago and I'm sure it should be spun up before the expiration date. Did I mention it's old?

Moving on...

Yeah, I don't know what I was thinking either.
I think I was trying to 'buy something different than I usually buy'.
I succeeded.

The fiber:
2 oz of 50% Merino/30% silk/20% angora blend dyed by Dicentra Designs

The colorway:
BRIGHT Rainbow
Official name is currently unknown. (The label has wandered off. I'm hoping it surfaces at some point.)

The goal:
light fingering weight 3 ply (Navajo plied)

I had already spun a healthy sized sample and knit up a swatch with it a few months ago in order to check the length of the color repeats:

extra large swatch

My plan is to use this yarn in a stranded knitting project in the future and the swatch had the length of the color repeats I was looking for, but there's a slight problem. The swatch is knitted flat and the project I have in mind would be in the round so it would have double the fabric and, as a result, the current color repeats would be half the length.

To solve this, instead of splitting the roving I should just spin it as is and problem solved. Unfortunately, I had proactively split all the roving already. (note to self: next time, maybe wait until *after* sampling to make decisions about the roving).

Of course I can still spin it with the longer repeats by splitting out the color sequences, it just would have been easier to do if I'd left the roving as-is until the sample was finished.

Did I say I only wanted to *feel* productive? Well mission accomplished!
Not much to see here.

*my motto is 'I don't mind suffering in silence as long as everyone knows about it first.'

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hobbies are like potato chips

What's the best solution to not having enough time to devote to one's current hobbies? Why to get a new one of course!

I am the proud owner of a Schacht Mighty Wolf 8 harness loom!

Here's a photo from the sale listing:

I don't actually have it in my possession yet since there are some logistical issues involved in picking it up (like a 456 mile one-way drive for one thing and dog-sitting arrangements for another) so I'll be driving down to get it in a couple of weeks.

Well, *I* won't actually be driving, Mr. CPA will since it's his truck and I don't like to drive it (big truck + short person = not a good match*). Have I mentioned lately that I have the best husband ever?

*for me, YMMV of course, I realize lots of other short people drive big vehicles with no problems whatsoever. I am just not one of them, unfortunately.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sample Sweaters

I'm a sucker for shop samples. The opportunity to try on a sweater to see that it fits and flatters me is reassuring and alleviates the anxiety that I usually have when knitting a sweater (I fret the whole time that I'm spending weeks (or months) knitting something that in the end will make me look frumpy/lumpy/dumpy).

So, yeah, shop samples seem to practically propel my credit card out of my wallet to buy the pattern and yarn! Which brings me to my current project: Sommelier (Raveled here)

Black Water Abbey Yarns was at Madrona this year and, as usual, had a nice selection of sample sweaters to try on. The Sommelier sweater was there and several of us tried it on and liked it. I bought the pattern and, since BWA was out of the color I wanted, bought the yarn for the sweater from Shelly at Butternut Woolens.

I cast on right away and have made good progress (it's relative - I'm a slow-ish knitter)

Not shown but also done: the sleeves

There are a couple of minor errors in the pattern but easy enough to spot and work around, I've listed all the details on my Ravelry project page.

I finished up the sleeves and prepared to sew them in but there was a slight problem.

Worked as written, the sleeve cap is several inches smaller than the armscye. Mary Scott Huff (the designer) has been quite helpful. We've compared photos and her sleeve and body both have the same number of lace repeats as mine but clearly the sleeves on mine need to be longer for this to work.

So the sweater is in project time out for just a bit.

Because I'm trying to work on my bad habits of procrastination and avoidance that have caused many a project to come to a dead-end in the past, I'm not allowing myself to start a new project until I sort this one out.

Socks don't really count as a project though, right? I had to have something to take on the plane and the sweater just wouldn't work. (That's my rationalization and I'm sticking with it).

Spring Forward Socks in my handspun BFL
(Raveled here)