December 21, 2008

Spinning and Travel

The holidays are upon us! This year we have an adventure planned - tomorrow we are heading to Romania for a family Christmas in the countryside. I've never been to Romania and am super excited about the trip! I am extremely unprepared for the travel but I'm ready to dive into an unforgettable experience. I'll be back after the new year with plenty of photos.

I've been cramming in some last minute crafting in preparation for the trip. A gift hat is almost done after an evening of knitting, and I finished a yarn for travel knitting. 
Handspun merino

The fiber is merino in my colorway Roses of my Childhood.
Handspun merino

There are two plump skeins of it, adding up to 640 yards of a heavy fingering yarn.
Handspun merino

It's destiny is to become an Elizabeth Zimmerman February baby sweater, as a gift for a friend's baby girl who will arrive in this world this spring. I'm thrilled with how the colors spun up and can't wait to knit with it.

My other travel knitting is one of the famous two row Noro striped scarves, so it should be a nice balance.  

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

ps- the fence is DONE! WOOOOO!

December 19, 2008

FO: Elijah

Elijah finished

Pattern: Elijah, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull in gray-blue
Needles: bamboo DPNs in US0 (yeeeeeesh.)
Elijah finished
This pattern is brilliant! Knit in the round and seamlessly, the little guy comes together pretty quickly.  

Elijah finished
His ears were a little fiddly, but otherwise just a smooth, easy knit. He is super squishy soft and I think my friend's baby will get some great cuddle time with this little guy. It'll be hard to put him in the mail! Maybe I'll have to knit him a penpal to stay here with me.

FO: A scarf for Alex

Nothing fancy here, just a 1x1 rib scarf for Alex. I love the drape of the fabric with this stitch pattern, and I'm happy with the colors he picked out.
Alex Scarf
He said that all the scarves he has are too short and all he wanted was a scarf that wasn't too short.

Alex Scarf
I took the request seriously.
Despite the ridiculous looking lenght, when he wears it the scarf comes just to the bottom of his coat when wrapped around his neck once. I think that'll do!

December 16, 2008


Dyeing other people's knitted goods is nervewracking!

A friend from knit night was unhappy with how a yarn had knit up and was asking about how she would go about dyeing it. I offered to just take care of it for her, and went home with a beautiful lace scarf, ready for dyeing.

Enter nerves.

I just pulled it out of the dye pot and I'm happy with how it came out, so I just hope my friend is too! I'll try to photograph it tomorrow if the sky isn't miserably gray like it has been the last few days. 

I'm just so relieved that it didn't end disastrously!!

In other non-disaster news, I finished some spinning.
moss at midnight for alli
This is a colorway called "Moss at Midnight" that is absolutely impossible to photograph. ARGH! A friend of mine bought the fiber and asked if I could do a custom spin order. You betcha! Eight ounces of spinning later, here are two skeins of light worsted weight BFL yarn. The fiber is decidedly green, even if I can't quite capture that in the photos, and there's subtle variagation from a cool gray green to warmer mossy tones.  The whole thing is pretty dark, hence the "midnight" part of the name. 

I'll be switching spinning gears this week and heading to merino land in a great PINK color. Should be a nice change of pace and help offset the grayskydoldrums.

December 15, 2008

Fence Building

Yes, my husband and I are building a fence. Which right now means a lot of digging and not a lot of knitting. Also, it means sore shoulders. Ouch.

But just to keep things alive around here, here's a picture of the smidgen of progress I've made on one of my Christmas projects.

head and body
He looks a little alien right now, but I promise he'll cute right up when he gets ears. I'm saving them for last.

My husband's scarf is almost done (oh, the ends the ends! So much weaving!) and then I'm planning to dive right into another 1x1er. 

Later today I have some finished spinning to share, but for now I have some holes to dig!

December 10, 2008


zeilinger order

They're here! Back from processing!!
Overall, I'm thrilled. The fleeces all have a really nice hand to them and I think they'll be a delight to dye and spin. I lost less weight in processing than I thought I might, and Zeilinger did a great job - zero VM!

I'm anxious to start spinning with some of this wool. It was an adventure to pick these fleeces and send them off, and I'll be curious how spinning with them compares to spinning with the commercial Romney I have.

I think I'm finally committing to my next big project, which will involve the gray fleece, second from the left.  More on this soon!

December 7, 2008

I wasn't kidding...

...about treating the failed mittens like the mitten equivalent of stockings.

Christmas decorations

That's better.

You all were too nice in your comments about my first embroidery attempt. Really! But thanks in part to your niceness I got right back on the horse and tried again. This time with patterns.
tea towel for liz
That's better, now isn't it?
I made a little tea towel for my friend Liz who hosted an eggnog party last night, and she's just the type to appreciate a tea towel!
Sorry for the moody lighting in the photos - I finished the towel after dark and handed it off an hour later.

tea towel for liz

tea towel for liz

In knitting news, a little friend is beginning to grow...
The start of a little friend

December 5, 2008

Shop Update - at last!

It's been a while, but I finally have some new products up in The Vildish Twist.
December update

These colors are brand new, and I'm loving them all. There are so many baby girls (no, no, not mine! No surprise announcements here!) about to appear in my world that I have some serious pink on the brain!! 

Also, I've been spinning.

moss at midnight
It looks like a fuzzy mess here, but that's some lovely BFL in my Moss at Midnight colorway. I'm spinning it for a crocheter so I'm twisting in the opposite direction than I normally do.

Yay, fiber!!

December 4, 2008

Want to see something funny?

embroidery take 1

So this is what happens when Someone (ahem. okay, fine it was me) decides that even though she has never done a stitch of embroidery in her life, for her first project she's going to do away with patterns and just try to mimic the embroidery on her national costume. Without even trying to trace it out first.

Go ahead and laugh. I know it's totally mishapen and scrappy. 
Lesson #1 - I am not good at drawing freehand, what on earth made me think I'd be good at embroidering freehand? (???)
Lesson #2 - picking the right number of threads to embroider with makes a big difference. I really wanted that stem to be the size that it is, but I used too few threads so it looks jagged. Clearly there's a certain amount of poor stitchery involved, but I think that if I had used more threads it would have helped cover some of the jags.
Lesson #3 - embroidery is about precision. Every. Single. Stitch. Placement makes a difference in how the darned thing will look. This makes it a very different kind of craft than knitting and spinning. (or, at least, my sloppy approach to knitting and spinning.) If I want to be happy with my finished embroidery, I need to take the time to give it my full, unrushed attention.
In this case? I rushed. I was too hopped up on the thought of embroidering everything in sight!

I'm obviously a beginner at this and I'm a-okay with that! Right now I'm sticking to tea towels that won't leave the house, so the learning curve can take whatever form it takes. 

Just think of this as a hopeful future "remember when..." post reference.

December 3, 2008

Thanks, Courtney!!

mitten box

My package from my secret mitten pal arrived, and WOW! Thanks so much, Courtney!! I love it all!!
Sorry the picture is so dark - I'll try to get better pictures of the mittens soon. They are from the Egyptian Mitten pattern, and knit in beautiful blue and green, with maroon and white cuffs. They fit perfectly, too!!! The knitting is stunning - Courtney, you are one seriously skilled knitter!!
The other goodies include two skeins of Cascade 220 in greens (yay!!) a pattern for the Wintergreen Mittnes, some red laceweight yarn (ooooooo!) and a pattern for a scarf. And licorice! YUM!

Thanks so much for everything, I am THRILLED and have already worn the mittens!! What a treat!! :) 

My package went out to my secret pal yesterday, so hopefully she's as delighted with her package as I was with mine!

November 30, 2008

It couldn't be simpler

alex scarf
Slip. Purl, knit, purl, knit, purl, knit.... ooap. There's the end. Turn.

Slip. Purl, knit, purl, knit, purl, knit...

This January my husband is going to China for six months, and I am not. This means a lot of things but most relevantly for this blog it means that when he mentions that he might like to have a handknit scarf to wear while he's there, the very next evening 17 inches of scarf have materialized.

All of my excitement and panic and pride and nerves (and did I mention panic?) have found an outlet. SCARF.

November 28, 2008

FO: Postwar Mittens!

Postwar mittens
Pattern: Postwar Mittens, by Mary Ann Stephens from the latest Twist Collective (which, by the way, actually managed to outdo the first issue which I didn't think was possible!)

Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull (from the stash, baby!)
Needles: two addi turbo US 0 circs
Date started: 11/20/08
Date finished: 11/26/08

Postwar mittens

There are a few fiddley things about this pattern, especially if you happen to be super picky about tension in colorwork. The "stars" that shine through the tile pattern are awesome, but if you get off a bit in tension, you get the effect of planets versus distant stars. E.g. they aren't even, damnit. These pictures were taken preblocking and I think it'll all even out enough to chill me out. The other tricky tension bit is the flecks along the faux seam. I lined mine up between needles which made tension extra challenging, and the white against black contrast really highlights any unevenness.

Postwar mittens
Eh, I think they're just fine, thanks. 
Postwar mittens
In fact, I'm pleased as punch. Easily the best thing I've knit in any single six day period.

November 26, 2008

Wednesday Mitten Report

postwar mitten wednesday 004

Getting close to the home stretch, here, and I'm a weeeee bit nervous about running out of the black yarn. I'd normally seam up the picot hem with black, but I'm holding off on that for mitten number one until I finish knitting mitten number two. Worst comes to worst... well, I'll cross that bridge if I get there.

Still loving the pattern! And my arms haven't fallen off yet!! (though I am going a little cross-eyed)

November 25, 2008

Tuesday Morning Mitten Report.

postwar mitten tuesday 005
Mitten number two! I may actually have a shot at finishing these suckers on timeish!

I'm loving the pattern. I liked knitting the thumb hole onto scrap yarn rather than casting off and back on like I did for the Selbuvotter. The whole shebang looked tidier while knitting, and the stitches were just sitting there, ready to go, when I was ready for them!  I usually pick up an extra stitch in the corners of things like thumbs and gussets - this time I didn't and I regret it. There's a wee hole where there shouldn't be, and I'm itching to stitch it closed. 

I've also had some problems with my tension related to knitting on two circs. Oops! At the turn, things get a bit tight and bumpy. It almost looks like a faux seam up the side of the mitten. No disaster, but it makes my teeth itch a little.

Perfectionist, who?

November 24, 2008

Emergency Knitting, the Monday morning update

Sunday mitten progress

Here we are after a Sunday's worth of knitting. Not as many hours as I would have liked, but the house needed some attention after an all-day cooking and eating event on Saturday. (kind of an early Thanksgiving, but with sauerkraut.) But I will start the decreases in the very next row, so it's close on mitten #1.

Thanks to all those who sympathized about the oversized mittens. I think I have a solution I'm happy with: Since they are to normal mittens what stockings are to socks, plus they are festively colored, I think they'll go on the mantel for the holiday season!

November 22, 2008

Mitten progress and comment commenting

The state of the emergency replacement mittens:
postwar saturday
The pattern is Postwar Mittens by Mary Ann Stephens from the second (and just as fab as the first!) issue of Twist Collective. The issue came out about two weeks ago and I marked this mitten pattern as something I'd definitely like to make... I just didn't realize how soon it would be!

A few comments on comments from the last post...
First, gauge and size!
Margaret commiserated about row gauge, and wondered if Terri gave one. Shana wondered what went wrong and was curious about whether the book is still a good buy.  E speculated that maybe the mittens are just supposed to be huge!
The facts: Terri gives a row gauge of 32 rounds per 4 inches, and specifies that the mitten will end up 9.5" long. While my stitch gauge was right on, my row gauge was more like 29 rounds per 4 inches. My mitten is (blush) 11.5" long. 

The moral of the story? Measure your row gauge in your swatch, not just the stitch gauge. But you all knew that already! 

If I had used a thinner yarn, it probably would have worked out. But since my Falk was slightly heavier than the recommended yarn, I ended up with plump stitches. Going down a needle size would have solved the madness. So, Shana, I still recommend the book heartily and take full responsibilty for the disastrous results!

Shannon wondered what kind of needles I normally use for mittens. My approach has been the same as with socks: either two circs or a set of dpns. The dpns slowed me down a bit since I had to manage two yarns during those frequent needle changes. I'm doing this pair on two circs, and so far so good! 

November 21, 2008

FO: Selbuvotter! But...

NHM #9

Pattern: NHM #9, by Terri Shea
Yarn: Falk, by Dale of Norway
Needles: 2.5 mm wooden dpns

Beautiful pattern, right?

Thumb joint
I also love the details in Terri Shea's book, like how to handle the thumb stitches so that the pattern moves smoothly from the palm up the inside of the thumb. Nice, no?

Only one problem.
Even after shrinking them as much as I could (until the floats started pulling in too much) They are still several inches too long.


Now, I'm no expert but I'm not an inexperienced knitter either. At some point in this process I really should have known that things were going horribly, horribly wrong. I mean, really. Look at those mittens. They're ET ready!
What I don't understand is why I kept going. Why did I not stop, listen to that annoyingly right voice inside, and fix the problem? Sure my gauge was matching the gauge in the pattern. (Still does, by the way.) That doesn't change that the finished measurements of my mittens is three inches longer than that listed in the pattern!

Willful denial is the only answer.

But! I promised a pair of mittens to my swap partner, and frankly these NHM #9s can't really be called mittens. Oven mitts, maybe, but not mittens.

That can only mean one thing.

New mittens

Wish me all the speed knitting vibes you can muster.

November 19, 2008

Personal mitten deadline FAIL!

Okay, it's Wednesday. My mitten? Is not done.

I tried! I really did! That whole grad school thing got in the way a little bit. Shocking, right? I'm prepping for my comprehensive exams and I can't just stop everything to knit a mitten?

And if I'm being entirely honest I'm a little nervous to finish the mittens. Remember the gauge issues? The success of these mittens depends (desperately) on their shrinking in the dryer when they are all finished. The closer I get to that process, the more nervous I get that they won't shrink, won't shrink enough, or shrink way too much! 

I'm down to the second thumb. This should be a whiz. Finish tonight, soak, and toss them in the dryer (with obsessive frequent checking) until they are the right size.

Easy peasy, right?


ps- what kind of crazy person puts her knitting in the dryer to fix gauge issues twice in one year? No one should expose themselves to that frequency and intensity of anxiety!

November 17, 2008

Tomorrow is Tuesday

i.e. my self-imposed mitten deadline. Here's what we're facing:
36 hours to go

Yikes. Still a fair amount to knit. I'd say 2/3 of the mitten left. Ahem. We'll see how this goes.
ps- by Tuesday I certainly do not mean Tuesday morning. Tuesday by 11:59pm. Every minute counts.

November 14, 2008

Update: fjordalicious!

This week's shop update has six spinning fibers in the fjord colorway!
November 14 Update

In addition to the ones above  I also have this fjordish top:
Foggy Fjord
I'm calling it Foggy Fjord and I luff it. And I'm experimenting with photographing my lighter tops on a white background. While I love the drama of black, I think that some of the subtle color variations of the light tops get lost against black. Just like deep tops get lost against white. 

The Deep fjord handspun shown a couple posts down is also in the shop now.

For those who haven't been over to the shop recently, I wanted to mention that I am dyeing 8 ounces of my colorways at a time, but dividing them into 4 ounces braids.  This means you can buy just one 4 ouncer for a small project or get both and make something bigger. Flexibility, yay!

November 12, 2008

What kind of night is it?

Oh, just the kind where you drive to knit night thinking "won't this be a nice break from work" only to realize when you get there that you left your knitting at home.


And now it's back to work. (insert melodramatic poor me gesture here)

November 11, 2008

Did I say Friday?

Mmmmkay. I looked at my schedule for the next week, and seeing as how it's Tuesday night and I'm already feeling a little panicky about prep work for a meeting on Monday I think I'd better dial back the expectations.

Revised Mitten Deadline: Tuesday!

Here's a cutie pie to distract you from my deadline fudging.
Oh, you're still here? You didn't fall deeply into those dewy brown eyes?

Well, then, here's a glamor shot of my latest handspun. It is a fiber blog, after all.
Deep Fjord handspun

PS - for the record I am *this close* to finishing the thumb on the first mitten. Slow going, that thumb.
PPS - No, I have not cast on anything else. Startitis is raging, but I'm treating it with cheese which seems to be working for the moment. If it gets any worse I may need to apply beer.


Progress on mittens?


But I did make cheesy squash.
(That's acorn squash stuffed with rice, pecans, ground pork, mozarella, and sage. Yum.)

Oh, and I did some other stuff.
group shot
But tonight? MITTENS!

November 9, 2008

Second mittenitis

I'm having major trouble finishing my mitten project. I don't know if it's that I'm rather taken (and thus distracted) with my Urban Aran project (plus I'm selfish and the sweater is for me me me!) or that I'm feeling sheepish about my gauge issues or that I'm just plain swamped these days. 

Most likely? Some combination of all three. 

But. This week I will make this mitten. I will, I will, I will. On Friday, I will post a finished pair of mittens, do you hear me?
Hold me accountable, people.  I'm feeling a startitis tickle in my molars. (What's with the funny look? Where do YOU feel your statitis?) 

So. I have one full mitten, minus a thumb. I am not allowed to cast on anything else until it is finished.  

In other news, I am trying to learn to cook for myself. Usually my husband does the cooking around here but for various reasons I'm going to need to step it up. He's traveling this week so I'm going to try to work through some of autumn produce we've collected - butternut squashes, acorn squashes, collard greens, and beets. So it's a week of mittens and vegetables. I want socks and cheese. I'll settle for cheesy squash.

November 6, 2008

One Month Update

The Vildish Twist has been open for business for a full month!
The celebrate, today's update is FULL of spinning fiber!
Shop update, November 6

I'll be back later to post about some of the dyeing fun I had this week, but for now I hope you'll pop over to the shop and check out the goods!

Thanks for all the support and encouragment this past month, and I hope the shop will be around for many months to come!

November 2, 2008

FO: Surprise! A hat.

This project knit up so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to blog about it in progress!
Handspun hat for Karen
Pattern: My Herringbone Hat
Yarn: my handspun Garden lavendar!

Needles: US 10s and US7s (10s for brim and 7s for the top)
Mods: oh, a handful.  I used the pattern for the basic idea and the stitch pattern. For the top of the hat I just picked up however many made sense and then did a spiral decrease at the top. 
Handspun hat for Karen

Part of what was so fun about this project was that it was my first time going end to end on a project (minus the fiber prep part - this came to me as combed top already).
It started as an idea in my head: oo! I should make yarn that looks like a lavender plant,
lavendershoot 004 
to this dyed roving,
7-15 014
to these singles,
to this yarn,
Handspun hat for Karen
to this hat.
I'm looking forward to doing lots more of this end-to-end business.

Milo crashed the photo shoot:
Milo looking soulful

Psst I got a secret to tell you!
But only because he had something important to tell me about orange squeaky toys.

October 31, 2008

Shop Update!

It's that time again...

Halloween update

Today there are five new dyed spinning fibers and one new handspun. I know some of you will be happy to see recreations of two popular past colors - After Twilight, and Inside the Glacier (called Glacial Glow in this update because it is just different enough to warrant a different name).

I'm also having a Harvest Sale!
Harvest sale
All orange items are 20% off to celebrate the season.
Hope to see you over at The Vildish Twist!