14 August 2009

My Sock Summit

Viewing all the sock yarns that were submitted on Ravelry's "Dye for Glory" page (alas, since taken down, but here are the winners) sent me into some kind of psychedelic haze markedly similar to that induced by the ingestion of hallucinogenic drugs. I left my greedy perusal of the 201 yarns on that site with a sense of exhaustion, itchy fingers, exhilaration, addiction, and a need to knit socks.

Now, of course, I have sock yarns. A lot of them. In fact, I issued to myself a temporary sock-yarn-buying moratorium (along with the theoretical moratorium on acquiring spinning fiber that I keep threatening to make a reality by suspending my fiber club memberships. Thank heaven I'm too much of a procrastinator to act on that one).

But there I was a week or so later, in the yarn shop in Kirkby-Lonsdale, which seemed to me to have come up in the world considerably since I was last there. This was because 1. they had Peruvian yarns in addition to their Brigantia (they're my sole source for the latter) and 2. the nice lady behind the counter, who was knitting a sock, was on Ravelry. Now, how can you resist a fellow sock-knitter on Ravelry?

Ergo: my sock summit.


Not that I've started actually knitting a sock with it, you understand. We're still at the petting stage while I forge away on Belinda and on the several pounds of raw Swaledale fleece my stepfather bought me as a surprise present. (Gotta love those surprise presents.)

Surface Tension (Backlog)

[I post rarely enough that you'd think I wouldn't forget to post something I've already written, but here this is: written two weeks ago, saved, and abandoned. So I'm posting it now. Waste not, want not.]

Here's my current debate: whether or not to knit the wrap that is such an integral part of Surface.

The wrap was one of the things that drew me to the pattern in the first place. And I've already cast on for the darn thing. But here are my reservations:

- I'm not sure I will have enough yarn.

- I'm not sure whether, once completed, it is actually going to look all that great. I have pored over the pictures in the vain hope of figuring out what it is like actually to move in a sweater with an extra wrap buttoned around your shoulders. Does it scoot up when you move your arms? Can you wear a coat over it? Does it strain the buttons out of alignment (which it appears to do in one of the pictures), or ruck up the collar?

(I should note that at this juncture I am not 100% sure the sweater is going to look all that great either. It's lying on the floor drying as I write. It's certainly the best finishing job I've ever done, and I'm inordinately proud of it, if you didn't figure that out from my last rather conceited post on the topic, but I remain uncertain as to whether it cuts across my body at its least flattering point. Even my husband has come to share my anxious anticipation, or at least he is nice enough to say that he does.)

- I am concerned that this sweater, densely knit, is already going to be one of the warmest garments in my possession. Every time I try it on it seems almost suffocating (of course, it is the month of July, which doesn't help). I realize that in winter I may sing a different tune, but the idea of adding an extra layer of insulation seems tantamount to gilding the lily.

- The wrap represents a huge amount of knitting, and it seems a shame to go through all that for a garment that, if completed and found wanting, will not be very useful for anything else.

All this sounds like talking myself out of it. The issue is critical at the moment because I'm packing for a month away and I have to figure out what knitting to take. Queries to Ravelry on the shawl topic have been inconclusive.

Edited to add: I didn't bring the yarn with me. And I haven't regretted it. The callus on the back of my right ring finger caused by forcing the needle through all those p4togs may, however, be with me always.

02 April 2009

New Day, New Wheel

This yarn is called "New Day" (from Spunky Eclectic). I call it "Eye Candy."
I first looked at it and thought, "Orange." But when I spun it up it turned into streams of butterscotch and toffee, lines of spun sugar like French pastry chefs make into baskets on top of their desserts, caramel and toffee and the inside of a Butterfinger bar. I wrote on Ravelry, but I'll say again, that spinning it did for my eyes and fingers what eating all those delicious sweet things would have done for my tongue. Except that I didn't feel sick afterwards.

And I wasn't planning to spin it up at all. But then I got, wait for it, my new wheel.
My new Lendrum DT, my Christmas present, for which I'd been on the waiting list since December, arrived in mid-March (I think I was really lucky only to have to wait a couple of months). And when I pulled it from its box and assembled it (such an elegant well-planned and well-made thing; two screws, basically, and you're ready to go), I wanted to spin some appropriate fiber, and there was my new Spunky Club installment sitting right there, appropriately called "New Day" to mark a new beginning.

When I began plying I briefly considered changing the name of the yarn to "Spice Market." Maybe it was because the lighting was different, but I started thinking of tumeric and curry powder and cardamom and cloves and saffron as I blended all the colors together.

But "Eye Candy" won out when I noticed a strong family resemblance between it and a newly-opened box of Girl Scout cookies. (Samoas, of course.)

Meanwhile, I outed myself as a spinner at work. It says something about me, I'm not sure what, that I freely post in a public place about my spinning and yet I've been extremely shy about telling people who know me in person. But I made it pretty public now. I think for most people the idea seems so weird that it's not even worth commenting on; it's as if someone said, "In her spare time she enjoys taking walks on Mars."

06 February 2009

Size matters, redux

I have been spinning for nearly 2 years now, but sometimes I suspect that I have no idea what I'm doing.

Example: I see on Ravelry a gorgeous specimen of a Morning Surf Scarf, out of the Spunky fiber club's August 08 installment, Thermograph. So I decide I want to spin fat singles and make one just like it.
So I spin these.

I've said it before: my idea of "fat" in spinning seems to be like an teenage girl's idea of "fat" in body weight.

Then, I cast on. Those singles seem awfully thin, so I cast on a lot of stitches. As a result, rather than a slender scarf, I get this.

Still, it's knitting up pretty nicely. But then I panic, because I've finished the first 2 oz of my 4-oz hank of fiber, and the scarf clearly isn't going to be long enough. So I quickly engineer a trade on Ravelry to get more of the fiber. At the same time, I spin the other 2 oz.

Clearly my concern about running out of fiber affected my spinning. Because while the first 2 oz yielded about 250 yards, the second 2 oz yielded about 500 yards. Even I can't call them "fat singles" any more.

And the scarf keeps groooowwwinggg.

Then, a little late in the game, I decide to test-block a swatch. Which grows from a little over 3 inches in length to 4.5 inches in length. Since I now have 5 feet of unblocked scarf, this gives rise to concern about the length of the finished product. I'm putting off the final blocking, in fact, because I'm scared.

Meanwhile, I have another 4 oz of Thermograph sitting there minding its own business. I decide to change gears and spin up a chunky yarn for this cowl. I decide to chain-ply it to preserve the colors. I need about 150 yards, and as I spin I keep thinking, "spin chunky! spin chunky!"

Well, I did.

Here's what I got: under 50 yards of super-bulky 3-ply yarn.

The thing is, I don't even care that I don't have enough for the cowl I wanted to make, because it may be my favorite yarn I've ever spun.

01 February 2009


I had a vow in January not to start anything new until I finished up what was already on my plate.

Here's all I have to show for that.

The great thing about these scarves is that they photograph so well. In person, however, I fear that my elephants look a bit like anteaters. Since the recipient is 3 years old, I am hoping that her critical faculties are not yet finely honed enough to take exception to this zoological abomination. Or, I hope she likes anteaters.

Meanwhile, I chafe at my self-imposed restriction by spending my time, not finishing my four other WIP's, but planning out all the zillion projects I will start when they're done. (Does swatching count as "starting something new"? Does spinning? Of such questions are the Talmudic debates of the fiberholic engendered.)

Here, for instance, is something pretty that arrived in the mail.

(Organic merino, colorway "Twilight" from Spunky Eclectic.)