Thursday, January 21, 2016

In Point Form

Things that have been happening since last I posted:

-Christmas (which was lovely, and in which I had a chance to enjoy spending time with family).

-I worked on work, and made my deadlines for a couple of submissions and a sample, and nearly finished another sample (which is on schedule for the deadline).

-I bought Fibre: Texel, Romney, Polypay, Corriedale and Ramie (all but the last from acuriousspin.com)

-I have spun a bit of: Romney, Alpaca (a Christmas gift from my Mom), Ramie, Cotswold, and Gotland.

-My youngest made her first yarn! (I helped manage the amount of twist entering the fibre as she drafted, and mostly managed to keep myself from assisting with the drafting).



-I am knitting, a scarf (pictured below) for my New Year's Knitting (why make resolutions when you can just pick something to knit for yourself?), using my handspun from this post:


-I sprained my ankle playing soccer and am hobbling around on crutches (but it is getting better; I could just fit my boot on over it today!).

-I finished test-driving this Dorset swatch, and have less extensive notes than usual, but here they are in brief:

Breed: Dorset
Weight: Worsted (handspun)
Stitch pattern: Stockinette with Garter Border
initial thoughts: Goodness this is elasticy and bouncy! Rather dry and raspy to the touch though. (audibly raspy)
observations: The swatch is somewhat fuzzier and the purl bumps are somewhat flattened. Very little pilling (just a wee bit at the very edges). Still rather dry and raspy to the touch, and swatch is rather more cohesive now.
would use it for: I think this yarn would be nice for blankets, and for anything requiring good elasticity and sturdy woolliness. Outerwear would be a good bet as well.

-I forgot to eat lunch todasy, so I'm off to do that now!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Christmas!

I've felt that I've been managing pretty well at balancing work (I have third-party deadlines that are underway, but thankfully, quite reasonable ones) and getting everything ready for Christmas while still taking the time to slow down and spend time with the family, but I've realized to make it work I have got to let one thing go for a wee bit, and that's the blog. I've been wasting a lot of time putting "Blog!" on the to-do list and not actually doing it. It's not that I don't want to blog, but I'm apparently not leaving myself enough energy to get on here and do it. I'm giving myself permission to take a vacation from this and come back after the holidays. I'm hoping I can renew a bit of energy and with it, renew the blog too. In the meantime, leaving you with a wee corner of Christmas in my house (not much light this time of year, so all the more reason to add cheerful baubles), I'd like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Friday, December 11, 2015

Whittling Down the List

Oh goodness, is it Friday already? I know I promised a Swatchalong post, but it'll have to wait until Monday now. Of course, at least then I can get some notes together and put the swatch through the test drive, so that's something anyhow. In the meantime, here's a photo of the Dorset swatch:



I've been getting together a gift for a Christmas party that I'm off to tomorrow, and I'm on the finishing touches on almost all the woolly gifts (there's one that is just over half finished; hopefully it is ready for finishing touches by the end of today)! Also, I have picked up a commission to write up a pattern (yes, taking on work over December; madness...), but I'm nearly ready to cast on the sample, so that's exciting (for me anyway; can't tell you a thing about it other than what I've already told you). Anyhow, I am slowly but surely whittling down the list; progress is steady at least.

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Re-Swatching

My family was sick over the weekend, and really, I still am not quite 100%, so I'm not up for much today. Since I took yesterday off (not being well enough to get any actual work done), I didn't really want to take today off too, but I'm definitely having to keep things to a light bit of work, or I probably won't be much use tomorrow either. So, I'm sticking with a bit of swatching.

Really, it's more of a re-swatching. I know lots of people would rather skip the swatch and head right to the project, but swatching can do so much to save you so much trouble in the long run. In this case, I'm starting to suspect from my grading spreadsheet that I should really double-check my gauge for accuracy, since it seems like a lot of stitches for the thing that it is (sorry, can't be more clear! Top secret and all that.) I've made a small change to the stitch pattern, but even small changes can make big differences over lots of stitches. 

The deciding factor was when I remembered I will need to change needles for the actual sample from the ones I swatched with the first time so that I can fit the whole thing on the needles. Both sets are labelled the same size, but I have learned the hard way that there can be a very small difference between needles of the same diameter that will impact your gauge enough that it is noticeable. 

So, to be sure, it's time to re-swatch, so long as I can find those needles in this lot...


In other news, while Xmas gifts are ongoing but secret, my Dorset swatch is blocking at the moment, so expect a swatchalong post soonish!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Pinkety Pink Pink

I started a project in October that I've been meaning to share this whole time, but I've been having a hard time finding the energy for blogging lately. I usually do find a bit in December because there are, despite so many secret projects, so many things to share, but rather than simply launching into Christmas, I thought I'd share the finished October to December project first.

Rather spontaneously, (and entirely forgetting that I'd wanted to buy a second batch of Stroll roving before dying it so that I could have more yarn in the end), I decided to play with some pink.

I prepared the roving by soaking it in a vinegar solution (I can't remember how much vinegar, but a moderate amount, anyhow).




Next, I prepared the dye by adding a good dollop to hot water and very slowly adding a little bit of vinegar (the second time. The first time I sorted out that I wasn't adding it quite slowly enough, as the dye broke, and that wasn't the plan). 



I added the dye to a series of bowls as evenly as I could. I wanted pink and white stripes, so I left a fair bit of space in-between.


After the dye was soaked up, I wrapped the whole thing in plastic wrap (which I try not to use very often otherwise), put it in a crock-pot, and heated it in the microwave.














I rinsed it, and was pleased that there was little to no bleeding, and that the colours had mostly stayed put in their stripes, though I didn't mind the bit of mottling here and there.

















I took my time spinning it up; it was entertaining contrasting it with the more rustic wools I was spinning at the same time on the other spindle, as this stuff feels much like spinning a rather springy bit of fluffy cloud.









Chain-plied and after a bath, here is the resulting yarn! There will be stripes in whatever on earth I make with this. It's all very satisfying, and also feels nice to tie something up before everything gets crazy-busy.





Thursday, November 19, 2015

Gift-a-Long 2015!

This year I am again participating in the Gift-a-Long on Ravelry!

What is the Gift-a-Long you ask?

Well, for starters, if you're not on Ravelry, you can still participate in one part of it, and that's the sale, because you can shop on Ravelry without even joining. Between 335 participating designers from 30 countries, we are offering a total of 5065 patterns at 25% off from November 19th 20:00 EST to November 27th 23:59 EST.

My sale patterns can be found here in my Ravelry Shop. Use the code giftalong2015 for the discount!



If you are on Ravelry? Even better. There is a crochet-along and knit-along where you can sign up your project in the following categories in the indie-design-gift-a-long group on Ravelry:

Hats & Other Head Things
Hand & Arm Things
Foot & Leg Things
Kids & Baby Things (except toys)
Sweaters & Other Garments
Shawls & Stoles
Cowls, Scarves, & Other Neck Things
Toys, Home, & Other Miscellaneous Things

Any pattern you have purchased from a participating designer is eligible for prizes,  regardless of when it was purchased (particularly helpful if you bought patterns last year that you still haven't made!). Cast-on is tonight, November 19th 20:00 EST, and it runs through Thursday, December 31 at midnight EST.

Want a really big challenge? Sign up for the GAL2015 Head to Toe Ultimate Gifting Challenge and complete a project in each category with patterns from at least five participating designers!

Hope you join us! In the meantime, I'll leave you to peruse the Gift-a-Long 2015 Stats compiled by the amazing Kimberly Golynskiy.





Monday, November 02, 2015

Lincoln Swatch Part 2

Here's my completed Lincoln swatch!



The resulting yarn is creamy-coloured, fuzzy, and drapey. Some areas are over-plied, and don’t feel as nice to wind or knit with, but most of it is quite pleasant to the touch.While it’s softer than I would expect for what I had read of Lincoln, it is definitely not baby-soft. Washing definitely increased the halo on this swatch, and it already had quite a bit. I wore the swatch in three places over three days. I found that I barely noticed it at all pinned into the waistband of my jeans or in the leg of my jeans/inside my sock. I noticed it a fair bit more inside my sleeve, where it prickled occasionally. I didn’t notice much change to the swatch at all.

After another wash, I wore the swatch pinned inside my shirt at my side all day, where the prickle did call itself to my attention fairly often, but was mostly tolerable most of the time. It helped that it was just on the one side; I don’t think I’d have found it as tolerable in a full top worn next-to-skin. Despite all the fuzziness, there is still a bit of the lustre showing, but less than there would be with a worsted prep and longer staple.

Throughout the process, the swatch has not changed much except for the increased halo. No signs of pilling so far. The swatch is drapey, sturdy, and, while softer than I would have thought, not quite what I would want for next-to skin use. Someone with less sensitive skin would likely be fine for a number of uses. I am inclined to consider this yarn not-quite typical for Lincoln, based on my reading, so would be interested in trying Lincoln from other sources to compare.

I think this yarn would hold up quite decently over time. I’d be inclined towards using it mainly for outerwear (coats and cardigans) if spun to a heavier weight, or lighter layers as it is. Could be used for next-to-skin in less sensitive areas by those with a higher tolerance for prickliness than myself.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween!

"Jinkies! The Sinister Pumpkin is after us!"


"Run Scooby!"


 "We've got to find out who that Sinister Pumpkin is! Jinkies! A clue!"


"The Sinister Pumkin is no other than my little sister!"
"And I would have gotten away with it too, if it were not for my meddling older sister!"


One sweater, knit up in short order using Very Big Yarn (Lion Brand Thick and Quick in Pumpkin) and Very Big Needles (15mm!!!); the kids went shopping for the rest.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Lincoln Swatch Part 1

Next up in my contributions to the KnitBritish Breed Swatchalong is a bit of Lincoln I've spun up!


Lincolns are big sheep that grow long & heavy fleeces. The wool is strong and lustrous, and ranges 33.5-41 microns, with a staple length of 7-15 inches. The roving I started with seems to me to have a staple length at the lower end, and came in the form of a long, flattened ribbon. I can't determine for sure where this Lincoln was from, so I will just guess that it is from outside of Britain.





At any rate, it's rather lustrous, and at once quite fluffy. While spinning, I found this Lincoln to be softer than I would have thought it would be from what I had read. It's not so much that I was spinning a slubby yarn on purpose as I had made the conscious decision not to fight it the whole way. Let it be slubby if it wants to, right? There was lots of back spinning on the spindle besides! When plying, it behaved quite well, and seemed to get to a comfortable amount of twist without me having to second-guess myself too often. That being said, while knitting, I have found a few spots with too much twist; I would try to ply with a bit less twist in future.




I'd describe the resulting yarn as drapey, nice enough to touch in that it felt pretty soft and smooth running through my fingers when winding it, and it didn't prickle worn in a skein around my neck (yes, it's the thing to do when you're particularly delighted with yarn you've made; just wear it around like a necklace for a bit). It's somewhat dense, and definitely rather inelastic. It ended up looking rather more even than I had thought it might (the magic of plying!), but it still has a bumpy, textured look. It came up at about 17 wraps per inch, but it might be more like 15 in some places.


There's a fair bit of halo, so when I cast 50 stitches onto my 3.25mm needles, I figured I'd best stick with stockinette bordered with garter stitch; we'll see how it goes then!


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Manx Loaghtan Swatch post 2

I was just about to write a post about my next swatch for the swatchalong when I realized I never did remember post 2 for the Manx Loaghtan Swatch, so I'm writing that instead, and will hopefully do some more writing next week to overcome a bit of a backlog in blogging plans.

So, here is my finished Manx Loaghtan swatch!



The finished swatch was not very drapey, and was nice enough but a little rough yet, at least in the Garter stitch areas. The Stocking stitch areas feel a bit, well, nicer. Washing the swatch really improved the drape. Following the directions set out for this swatchalong, the next bit was the test-drive, where we're to pin the swatch into our clothing and assess how it wears and how it feels. I started by pinning the swatch into the waistband of my jeans and  heading off to IKEA. I only noticed it immediately after pinning it in while I was busy thinking about it, then mostly forgot about it after for most of the day. I latter tried pinning it to the inside of my sleeve; it was a bit more prickly here, and I noticed it occasionally, but it was mostly fine.

Next, I washed the swatch again, let it dry again (took less than a day; one of the advantages of how dry the air starts to get this time of year). A slight halo started to make an appearance, and I'd say the fabric was now somewhat more cohesive. I wore the swatch inside my sock most of the day, where I pretty much forgot about it. I do find that it doesn’t take much for me to find a sock too itchy to wear, so the Manx Loaghtan passed that particular test with flying colours!

So, overall, the swatch seems decently hard-wearing, and had no pilling so far, had good drape, fairly stretchy, and features a warm and soft-but-woolly feel; just fine for next to skin in most cases (depending on how sensitive your skin is and where). I think this yarn would hold up quite decently for a variety of uses, though I would advocate knitting rather more tightly for something like socks or mittens. At the gauge I have knit the swatch, it could certainly be used for a light sweater, hat, or even a scarf (though I find it a touch prickly against the neck, but others might not). Certainly someone with more experience in spinning could spin this yarn for a softer feel or a less-soft-but-more-hardwearing quality, so the fiber experience would vary depending on the individual fleece, and actual yarn construction.

I'm eager to try Manx Loaghtan again someday!