Saturday, December 31, 2011

Save Those Yarn Squibs!

Only a few days ago I finished reknitting the toe of a sock made from handspun yarn, my very first handspun, actually. A dreadful hole (three toes wide!) had sprouted. And, of course, this was a pattern with cables and twisted stitches which I had decided to carry ALL the way down to the very end of the toe. Fortunately I had a little bit of leftover yarn, so I soldiered on – ripped back past the hole, got all the stitches onto needles, figured out how to manage the decreases and the pattern, and we were done. No need to do that again for a long time, right?

So today, guess what? Yeah, this –

Could I be so lucky again as to have leftover yarn? YES! Two little squibs ready for action. This one was much easier, partly because I'd just gone through the same geblinkin' process mere days before and partly because the toe was a simpler construction – a star toe in stockinette.

Once again – rip, get stitches on needles, tink some, figure out where we are, and onward.

What have I learned? When knitting socks with handspun yarn, always use a nice sturdy commercial yarn for the toe. Other spinners may be able to produce toe-proof yarn, but clearly I cannot. Oh, and lesson number two – always save leftover yarn, no matter how tiny the squib.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bulky Yarn + Fat Needles = Finished Object

I have never before knit with bulky yarn. Nor with U.S. # 13 needles. It felt like manipulating tree trunks. But in less than a month, ta-daaaaa !

This is the Abrazo vest, a free pattern from the Fall 2008 issue of "Knitty." It's actually written for "super bulky" yarn, so I had to knit a size up to get a good fit. Of course I had to make a few adjustments to the pattern cuz I didn't entirely approve of the designer's choices: I left off the "shaping," made the shoulders wider, put a garter border at the armhole edge, and re-engineered the center back . . . nothing much really.

No complaints about the yarn either. This is Knitpicks Cadena, 70% wool and 30% alpaca. (Yes, ALPACA – my greatest fiber love!)

And the frosting on the cake? Total frugality. Cadena is just under $6 per skein, and the vest used three skeins. Soooooo. . . yes, a custom-fit, wool/alpaca vest (with cables) for under $18.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Roses and Roses and Roses

I went to the Orange County Rose Society's 2011 exhibition this past weekend.  Lots and lots of amazing roses. 

They were large, tiny, scented, unscented, and colors I'd never seen. Here's just a few.

This is a miniature rose, barely two inches across, floating in a silver dish. The colors are difficult to capture. The red is a medium deep maroon, and the yellow is an intense light gold.

This doesn't look like a rose at all, does it? There were a few others of the same form, more daisy-like than rose-shaped.

I love the combination of yellow and pink on this one

Yet again a traditional rose shape (with lots of petals!), but multi-colored – deep pink and white.

The curling petals on this one definitely curled my toes.

I think this one might be my favorite – just enough petals to look like a rose, but not so many as the pink-and-white one. And that incredible pale pink with deeper pink at the edges – yum!

I didn't get any pictures of the roses that won the prize for best scent. Darn! One was peach-colored and had a deep, almost musky scent, and the other was lavender with a lighter, sharper smell. Both wonderful.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Color in Spindling

It all began with an itch to use the long-neglected spindles. Then I found this.

Madly inexpensive Brown Sheep Mill Ends from Suzoo's Woolworks. There was a lot of blue, a moderate amount of yellow, and just a bit of red. It didn't even occur to me until much further along that these are the three primary colors.

Of course yarn isn't paint. You can't expect to combine blue and yellow to make green. And yet . . . . Look at this first ply.

I used 15 grams of yellow and 10 grams of blue, feeding them in more-or-less side by side.

The second ply was almost all blue with little bits of red spun in at random intervals throughout.

Then I plied both singles together, ending up with 5o grams and 260 yards of light fingering with a predominant look of blue, but other colors mixing in here and there. I think I like it.

Here's a close-up:

Interestingly, these "mill ends" were some of the best fiber I have ever spun – soft, smooth, and super easy to draft.

There are two similar singles waiting to be plied, for a total of about 500 yards. Not sure what to do with this yarn. It's too pretty for socks. Maybe a little neckpiece?