Monday, May 17, 2010

A plea to indie dyers

This year I have been trying to curb my fiber purchases somewhat. (It isn't going very well. Thanks for asking!) And while I have managed to reduce the number of discretionary purchases I make, I have been allowing myself to keep up with fiber clubs and spin-alongs. The problem is that all of my favorite dyers are doing clubs or SALs. Hence comes my downfall.

And why are they all doing fiber clubs and SALs? Because people like me are lured by the promise of "exclusive colorways" and "limited availability." Now, I'm a reasonably intelligent person, and I know how marketing works. I also know that there will always be more pretty fiber. But all of this rationality flies out of my head in the face of a new fibery offering. These clever dyers are positively charming the cash out of my pockets.

Of course, I try to justify this behavior to myself by trying to keep up with the clubs/SALs. In other words, I'm trying not to let any of these fibers actually go into my stash. And so far I've been mostly successful in that endeavor. The problem is that now I don't have much time to spin up all those fibers that are already in my (considerable) stash. Sigh. On the other hand, I have been rather productive.


So to the dyeing geniuses behind All Spun Up, Crown Mountain Farms, Into the Whirled, Fat Cat Knits, and Fiber Optic: please, have mercy.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ravelry killed the knitting blog

It's a cliche, I know, but in the case of this blog, it might actually be true. It's been quite a while since I posted, and I have a laundry list of excuses: mandatory overtime, snowstorms, power outages, social obligations, etc. The truth of the matter, though, is that I simply haven't felt like updating the blog. Apparently my inner slacker is coming through.

That's not to say I'm ready to abandon the blog, because I am not. However, I've decided to stop feeling guilty about not posting regularly. Sincere thanks to everyone who has continued to stop by and check things out despite my neglect of this space.

Where to begin? It seems appropriate to introduce the newest addition to our household:

hansen minispinner

It's my new HansenCrafts miniSpinner! For almost a year I've been on the market for a spinner that's more portable than my Lendrum. I had also been daydreaming about having an electric spinner, especially for plying (you 900+ yard skeins of laceweight, I'm looking at you). When I saw this little machine, I knew it would fit both requirements.

This really is a sweet piece of kit. It may be a miniSpinner, but those bobbins are enormous. The website claims they'll hold 8-10 ounces of fiber, and I don't doubt it for a minute. I just put 6 oz. on it, and it barely looked half full. And not only does it have great bobbin capacity, but it's also fast, quiet, and cute as a button.

I can't say enough about Kevin Hansen's customer service. When my miniSpinner arrived, it clearly had been damaged during shipping, and it was therefore unusable. Later it became apparent that I had a wonky power supply too. Kevin not only responded to my concerns almost immediately, but he also gave me lots of options about how to make things right. He fully stands behind his product, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this e-spinner to anyone.

Here's the new baby next to its older sibling.

spinning herd
All new babies require additional equipment. In this case it was a Zuca bag and a battery pack. Now my spinning addiction is as portable as I ever hoped it would be. (Please don't try to convince me to take up spindling. I know they're the most portable way to spin, but so far they just aren't for me.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

2009 holiday wrap-up

It seems a little silly to write a holiday wrap-up post in the second week of January, but really, I feel even more sheepish about not posting in nearly two months. So, holiday wrap-up it is.

I was going to boycott holiday knitting this year. Really, I was. Then I knit these for myself.

sc mitts 3

They were fast. They were adorable. They were perfect for using up handspun. And did I mention fast? Surely I could crank out a few pairs for some special people on my holiday list. It was the first week of December, and I planned to have all my packages in the mail by the 18th. I even had back-up gift ideas in case I couldn't finish all the mitts I wanted to make.

I ended up with four pairs.

2009 holiday mitts

(Note that the brown mitts in this photo are not the same ones as the mitts in the first photo.)

All of that mitt knitting meant that I fell behind on the Professor's Christmas socks, though. I didn't actually finish them until the 27th. No matter. I'm pretty sure the Professor is a distant cousin of Ebeneezer Scrooge, so he honestly didn't care when the socks were actually finished.

cmf bfl sr socks done2

(Fiber: Crown Mountain Farms Bluefaced Leicester, "Silk Road")

cmf bfl sr socks legs

Love, love this colorway! The Professor had asked for brown socks, and I was so surprised that I made him repeat the request. You see, previously whenever I had suggested brown as a possible sock color for him, he had always wrinkled his nose at me. I suppose he took a good look at his sock collection recently, though, and saw that it was overwhelmingly green and blue.

This yarn was the only brown handspun I had in the stash. I think the combination of brown with deep, dusky purple is brilliant. The purple is quite subtle, actually, and it even looks brown in some lights.

The Professor and I enjoyed a relaxing Colorado Christmas with the family in Boulder. I was thrilled to get to experience some real winter weather. As it turned out, though, the DFW area got more than it's yearly share of winter while we were away. Apparently it snowed twice. However, I'm glad we weren't here to experience the general freakout that kind of weather inspires among the natives around here.

Happy 2010, everyone! I'm working on a catch-up post for spinning, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gray for the boys

Two of my nephews have birthdays in November, and I decided to knit for them both. Nephew 1 turns six this year, and since I made socks for his older sister on her birthday earlier in the year, he gets socks too. (These kids have great taste in socks; they love the hanknitted ones.)

cmf atl socks done2
Yarn: my handspun
Needles: 2.00 mm (US size 0) DPNs
Pattern: 2x2 ribbing with purl ridges

cmf atl socks macro2
Mainly I picked this yarn because it was the most masculine handspun superwash yarn in my stash. Masculine or not, I'm now thinking of making socks for myself out of the other skein of this yarn. I love how it knitted up.

Nephew 2 was born a few days ago, and he's getting this:

owl vest slant2
Pattern: Owl Baby Vest (Rav link), by Jodi Haraldson
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK, "Cobblestone Heather"
Needles: 3.5 mm (US size 4) and 3.75 mm (US size 5)

owl vest macro2
This is such a sweet little vest. I've been waiting for an excuse to knit it for quite a while. I did make a few modifications to the pattern...nothing drastic, though. I knit the body over 112 stitches (vs. 110 in the pattern) to make it easy to center the V-neck over the middle owl. Then I knit the V-neck edging in the traditional manner, decreasing one stitch on each side of the V on each round. Finally, I did five rows of 2x2 around the neck and armhole openings.

Crochet comeback

I am a crocheter.

dotty quarter
Really, I am. I know I have shown very little evidence of it in the lifetime of this blog—notwithstanding this post, which has more hits than any other post I have written—but I was a crocheter long before I was a knitter.

Mainly I crocheted afghans. Between the ages of 15 and 30, I crocheted well over 100 afghans. You can imagine how I might have gotten a little burned out. But when my friend commissioned a baby blanket a couple of months ago, I knew I would crochet it rather than knit it. Crocheting is just faster. Or so I thought.

dotty bed
The whole project turned into a bit of an ordeal when I decided to design the pattern myself and crochet it out of fingering weight yarn. This blanket is based on a very similar design I did several years ago, except that the previous version had flowers around the border. Since this blankie had to be gender-neutral, I decided that flowers were out. Bring on the dots!

dotty folded macro
I crocheted the border motifs first and sewed them into strips. From those strips, I measured the dimensions of the center section. After doing a gauge swatch, I determined the number of stitches needed for the center, and away I went. When the center was almost done, I realized, to my great annoyance, that it was a bit narrower than I needed it to be. (Gauge swatches can lie!) Rather than rip out all that work, I added some rounds of single crochet around the edge before attaching the motifs.

dotty rumpled
I used Cascade Heritage sock yarn for this project, and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The blanket is so soft and cushy. If I had to make one complaint about the yarn, it would be that the it tends to be a bit splitty. But I think that mild annoyance was worth it in the end.