Sunday, December 31

Looking Forward...

2006 was a rough year, and while some knitting got done, not enough of it did.

2007 will have more knitting, and less drama. The knit group's going to do a knit-along for the Knitpicks Fair Isle Cardigan. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to participate because of extenuating circumstances, but my adorable husband made sure that I'd be able to knit along with everyone.

Along with another lens for my camera, Christmas brought the Barbara Walker Treasuries of Knitting Patterns (all 4), and a larger hard drive for my ibook. Mom sent us Home Depot giftcards and we had 2 of my brothers for Christmas. They were argumentative, as usual, but it was mostly verbal. I think because they're now the same height (at 23 and 18, it's been a long time coming), they're less prone to duking it out. It was fun, though, and we went to the zoo with my brothers for the lights on the 23rd. We were snowed in for much of their visit, but all went pretty well (until our trip to Best Buy, where my brothers followed me through a 7" deep puddle (when I was wearing my 8" tall boots)).

I spent Thursday night at work, then was in a hotel Friday morning and Saturday morning (which work paid for). I went home early last night, and slept in my own bed --and slept IN this morning, otherwise I'd have woken up in time for knit group this morning. We're meeting again tomorrow (first meet of the new year) , and I'm looking forward to the new year.

What I want to get accomplished this year: the cardigan, a top-down raglan for me, and maybe another sweater for the husband. Oh, and more socks. I have a pair on the needles for Ben that need to be finished.

Tuesday, December 12

Norberta -- Knitty Winter '06

So, when Knitty came out with the winter issue, I knew I wanted to knit norberta, the little dragon. Here's the first one, that I followed the exact pattern (although with 1 strand of worsted versus 2 strands of dk -- any time I can deal with one strand versus 2, I'll do it). I had a few problems. Her eyes are a bit big (but I like them), and the bump on her head's not very pronounced, although I shoved some extra batting there.

The belly is VERY VERY Round. There's not really much direction to match pieces together -- there's not any obvious "corners" to match, except the neck decreases. On this piece, I hadn't figured out to use mattress stitch, and my stitching's rather crude...

And then there's the spikes. I didn't really think much about the sewing, and she's got crooked scales. The scales are REALLY long compared to her body. These came to her nose, which is one reason they look somewhat gathered.


This is NorOberta. She's made with Noro Kureyon, and made in this order: head/tail, arms, belly, spikes, wings, legs. The last leg was made with the end of the skein, using the "other end" of the skein (so it went to the red at the end of the leg, to half-match the other leg). I assembled her stockinette side out (although that's just a personal decision), and sewed both sides of her belly to her head/back/tail at the same time, making a few stitches on one side, then a few on the other.

Some of the changes I made include: extending the tail, working only ONE set of short rows (skipping the knit rows and short rows), and shortening the spikes. Even though I shortened the set of spikes by 2 large spikes, I ended up having to pull out a LOT of them. This one has NO tail spike, and only 4 large spikes, 1 'mini spike' on the small of the back, and one small spike. I pulled out the 2 large and 2 small spikes along with the tail spike and re-knit one small spike when I was assembling her, as the first modification I had made STILL made her spikes too long.

I ended up sewing a running stitch of cotton up the back (taken out when I was done), which made positioning the spikes straight MUCH easier. I also chose a garter ridge on which to start sewing the arms down, and only half-sewed the wings down, to make them look 'flappier'. Oh, and I made the knees better-defined by changing the rows from k7, kfb 4x, k7 to k6, kfb, kfb, k2, kfb, kfb, k6, etc. until I got to the decreases, which I left the same. I think this gives her more pronounced knees. The eyes on this one are safety eyes.

On both dragons, I had issues with stuffing showing through the garter-stitch leg bits. Noroberta wasn't even stuffed as much as the original Norberta. Next up, doubling the stitch count, and going down to a 3 for the body, and maybe a 2 for the spikes, which is the needle size that Brie suggested -- she was knitting Norberta with worsted on 3's, and had a babier-dragon than I had. We'll see how well that goes... some arrangements will have to be made to stretch the body while keeping the proportions the same, although I have a feeling I won't see ANY stuffing through those stitches!

If I were to knit another Norberta on 6's, I'd make the same considerations, but probably start the tail with 2-3 rows of 3-stitch i-cord, increase every stitch to get 6 sts, 2-3 rows of knitting 6 sts flat (or maybe in the round on dpn's or 2 circs), then increasing every other stitch to 9 sts, work for 1-2 rows, and then k2, kfb (or something similar) to get 12 sts, knit 2-3 rows. Then, if I had decided to work in the round until now, I'd start knitting flat. This would give the tail some stability, and give you somewhere to better attach the belly.

Monday, December 4

Je ne sais pas.

Everything sounds better in French, people. :)

Things have been happening preventing me from concentrating on my knitting lately... I got into a "I need to finish things" state the other day and pulled out the "Mason Dixon" book and started warshrags. I completed one of the hexagonal warshrags, two 'ballband' warshrags, and went insane on most of a baby genius "towel" that was bi-colored. I'd go insane if I had finished the whole 60 repeats. So, it's a warshrag. Pictures forthcoming.

The Benny Jaywalkers are on hold until I get this out of my system. Tiny needles, tiny yarn isn't the way to FINISH FINISH FINISH!!!

I'm still a little hoarse and have the stupid cold I've had since Thursday, but it's not as bad as it was when I missed knit group on Saturday. I had enough energy on Friday to do a little carding; I finished the "cream-colored" shetland and moved on to one of the white fleeces on Saturday. With whatever energy I had, I carded in bursts; I think I have 6 batts of the 5% silk, 95% shetland (less than 1% sparkly bits) and 6 or 8 batts of the shetland-sparkly bits ready to spin. I couldn't get enough energy to actually spin any of these beauties, but I should be better by Thursday. 2 fleeces down, 6 to card.

Yesterday, we did all of our clothes laundry, found several pairs of socks for Ben, and I finally got my favorite blue half-zip fleece (over)shirt clean -- I spilled toothpaste on it the other day, and forgot that each time I wore it (over a new shirt).

Knitting is going on, but not interesting knitting. Christmas is coming, and I don't have much knitting to do for Christmas because my family didn't get tickets early enough, and only 2 of my brothers are coming out this year. But my oldest brother and his wife want to come out in May, Mom and the 2 youngest brothers are coming out during spring break.

Thursday, November 16

Fleecy Fun

So the Fabulous Phoebe came over on Wednesday to help me use this beast :

to process this beast (2 lbs of shetland fleece from "Freckles", classified as cream-colored):

I have fibers to blend in -- clockwise from the top left, glitz, tencel, silk, and some angora. Along with "Burt" (not pictured). I got some of this carded and taken to knit group on Saturday.

I've set up the scale to get an accurate fiber percentage, but it feels weird weighing out fiber, mostly because I'm a 'seat-of-the-pants' kinda person.

I spun some thin 2-ply, navajo plied the rest of the thin singles, and spun a 'beginner's chunky-n-light' for Phoebe to take with her to swatch with (and therefore have no pics of those).

I now have half of the fleeces washed (one drying, 3 dry and ready to card).

Oh, and anyone who hasn't seen them yet... here are the Jaywalkers:

Monday, November 13

Field Trip!

The Fabulous Phoebe and I went to visit a shetland 'ranch' that's right near my house this morning, to buy some lovely fleeces. You should see how peoples' eyes go wide when you say "yes, really, I want all of them that you have left." After money changed hands, we got a tour, and here are some of the highlights.

This guy was out standing in his field...

This cutie wanted her picture taken, and went right up to the fence to say hi.

He was keeping some of his non-breeding rams in one pen (one had a 'fading gene', and his coloration was fading, so they didn't want to breed that through their stock). The one on the right had obviously been in a battle recently.

This group was ready for its group photo. Ok, together now people! Everyone move this way and face the camera! One.. two.. three... smile!

And finally, here's the haul from the day. Eight shetland fleeces, varying from 2-3.66 lbs, with staples varying from 4-6", in light grey, cream, and white. One fleece has been washed, and is laying out drying right now. Seven need washing. They will all need carding, and I've already made arrangements to pick up a drum carder from the Llama store tomorrow morning. (The same one I rented to process the previous shetland featured in MJ's photos.)

From the driveway of the sheep ranch, we had a great view of Pikes Peak, and since I had the camera, I had to snap a quick pic.

Dragon Cookies and Kitty Cats

This weekend started off with our Penzey's order coming in (with the ever-useful Vanilla Extract), and a trio of cookie cutters:

Cookies were made, and castles were saved, by eating the dragons one by one. Unfortunately, the threat to the castles wasn't over, and they were devoured by the evil people who eat cookies.

The kitties seemed nonplussed by the whole cookie-making weekend.

Sunday, October 29

Been Busy. Here's a picture of flowering tea to keep you occupied.

I finished my Jaywalkers, and started another pair, for Ben. We had a great group meeting on Saturday, although I wasn't there for too long. :)

This week: the other half of the Shetland fleece to process, and renting a drum carder from the llama store. If they get enough signups, I'll be teaching acid dyes on Friday.

Sunday, October 22

Post deleted. Settings changed.

I'm very sorry that fingers got pointed at MJ. MJ has more class than to leave anonymous comments that are only hurtful.

I know who anonymous was, she knows who she is, and she hurt me, not just because of her comments, but because she would do this, after I invited her into my home, not once but twice. Because I made her a special present for her birthday. I spent a few pleasant afternoons after knit group with her, and enjoyed her company. I showed her other ways to cast on, other ways to deal with sock toes and heels. I thought she was my friend. And the fact that she hid behind an 'anonymous' posting just frustrated me. As if I don't know who has been into my house, and who is leaving snarky comments on the blogs of the people in the "new group". People she obviously wanted kicked out when she hid behind someone else's skirts when KWA went "no spinning" and the "you will meet here, no exceptions" post came out.

Anonymous poster: Constructive criticism is done privately, and when asked. When it's done publicly, unprovoked, it's just hurtful.

I don't know what caused the mudslinging. I want the same thing as most of us. I want the drama to stop. I want the bitchy 'anonymous' comments to stop. It's childish. It's rude. And it's unwarranted. No one in the 'new group' leaves snarky anonymous comments on the blogs of those who are leaving snarky anonymous comments. I've stopped reading the others' blogs, for the most part. Only when I run out of blogs in my bloglines do I even glance that way (and I usually don't leave a comment, as I don't really have anything to say -- log cabin blankets are nothing new to me, as I was a quilter before I was a knitter, and the endless parade of socks start to look the same after a while).

I've been knitting on my Jaywalkers while everyone else sniped. I've been spinning my shetland fleece. I'll take pictures when I have the inclination.

I just hope that the childishness will stop. I don't really want anything to do with the 'other' group. I miss MJ. I told her so privately, and apologized privately before this public apology. I want the sniping to stop. I want the people who just comment to hurt my feelings to just leave me alone, and stop leaving anonymous comments.

I've turned moderation on, I've turned off anonymous comments. I'm tired of the anonymous crap. If you don't have the backbone to leave a comment under your OWN blogger or google sign-in, and if you don't have the common courtesy to knot when to just leave people alone who don't want to associate with you -- and who you've proven you don't want to associate with -- I don't want to hear about it.

Friday, October 13

Guess what is done

... except for the blocking of course. It's a bit late to block.

But look at the lovely details... the neck...

the beautiful shoulder seam (the 4th or 5th try is the charm, right?)

and the fair isle, of course, along with the garter stitch cuffs.

Thursday, October 12

Sleeve Island

If it weren't for my co-workers asking 'are you knitting a scarf', there would be nothing to report, really. I'm 2 increase rows (8 rows total) and 2 1/2" from having the sleeves done on Ben's sweater. All that's left after that is the finishing (including the garter stitch neck) and the washing and the drying, I guess. But here I am on sleeve island, knitting knitting knitting and getting almost nowhere... sigh.

If we weren't painting the bedroom (closet first -- we have a closet organizer to install), I'd probably spend the day just knitting on them.

Sunday, October 8

I'm such a dork!

I resisted the last time I was in the llama store, but this time, I couldn't. My resistance was down, and I decided I would knit ... this.

It's on the cusp of being dorky, but I think it still lies in the 'cute' realm (and I'd wear it to knitgroup, or out and about running errands). I bought the sweater pattern and the yarn to go with it (Cascade 220 in similar colors), although I have to find my 6's and 8's before I can begin.

Wednesday, September 27

More fiber pr0n...

Here's the "leftover" batt from dye day that was dyed in all the leftover dyes..

Onto the batt/cap combos...


Purple and blue:

Brown and blue:

Grey and teal:

I'm so excited to get these spun! :)

First Batt and Cap - blue/green

Here's the first bobbin full of the wool...

And the next bobbin-full...

I've got silk caps in bags, because, well, it sticks to everything, and I've separated the fully drafted pieces of silk from the not-quite-done pieces of silk.

And here's the leavings of the batt. Lovely colors, huh? More pictures of batts and caps to come... the next post will be full of color, both on matte wool and shiny silk. :)

I do what the voices in my head tell me to.

Or so my t-shirt says today.

So far, I've spun about half of the green/blue batt (I'm on my second bobbin), and have been drafting the silk cap (2 layers down, 8 to go) in preparation for spinning. I'm still doing the *'pull from the middle' thing with the silk caps, because finding a cap on the edge is less reliable for me.

I'll try to remember to get pictures tonight; last night I was too busy spinning to stop and take pictures! I've got to remember to take a picture of the "rest" of the batt before I finish spinning it. It's a lovely blue/green/cyan set of colors. I went all 'Jackson Pollock' on the dyed batts, and the colors blended well when I wrapped it up and steamed it.

* Reach into the top of the 'bell', pull at the center until you have 2 layers. Versus trying to pry up an edge which may or may not get me a whole layer.

Monday, September 25

Insanity (pictureless for now)

Ben and I decided that we'd make Christmas presents this year. With everyone coming to our house this Christmas (Mom, all 4 of my brothers, and my eldest brother's wife), it's kind of a daunting task. What I decided on was hats and mittens for everyone, from a FiberTrends pattern, out of handspun wool and wool/silk.

I bought a 2 lb 9 oz wool batt from Val and Kris at Table Rock Llamas, and 10 silk caps, and started separating the batt into layers. I decided, in my insanity, that I would dye the wool and silk at different stages for one or two of the hats, to make them different. I've got 6 "colorways" dyed right now, 6 wool batts and 6 silk caps sitting on the railing, waiting to be spun.

Since I was going to dye the other 4 silk caps after they were spun (2 after spinning, 2 after knitting), I decided to spin them early. A tip for anyone spinning silk caps on the wheel: Pre-draft all of the layers of your silk cap before your first treadle. They spin up really quick (because you can't really draft them anymore, and you're just getting the spin into the really long pre-drafted fibers). I worked on 2 caps, and got a small bobbin-full. I plied that with THREE bobbins of the wool batt to get ~190 yd of wool/silk ply. And I had a large piece of the batt left over (from which I got another ~75 yd of 2-ply).

I'm hoping there will be enough wool/silk for the brim (folded up or rolled up) and wool 2-ply for the rest of the hat. And enough colored wool left over for the mitten cuffs (I still have 4 "layers" of the batt that I can dye in complementary colors, or in grey or black if I sho choose) I think I'll start with the blue-green batt tonight and spin until I'm done with that, then spin its corresponding silk cap maybe tomorrow night and ply.

Sunday, September 24

Alpacas on the Rocks

Yesterday, Brie, Darcie, and I went to Alpacas on the Rocks, in Golden, CO. I was kinda impressed by the sheer number of alpaca ranchers around where we live... Elizabeth, Calhan, Monument... they're everywhere!

We were met by the "official greeter", Diomande, ever so graceful a host in his hat and blanket...

And saw alpacas of all colors. From the "cafe latte" pair

To a pair with adorable spots...

To this teddy-bear brown one. Don't you want to cuddle him?

Some alpacas had their ears up, others had them down...

All of them had that 'mop top' look.

Some were more interested in eating. This one was eating the hay at the BACK of the feedbag, where it's obviously sweeter...

This one was eating the banner for its ranch.

I came home with a fleece from an alpaca named "Burt". It was his first haircut. I can't wait to give it a gentle wash and start carding...

Tuesday, September 19

Dye Day Afternoon

So, last Saturday, I had the girls over for a dye-day, spin-in, knit, crochet, finger-weave, whatever day.

Stefano loved the warping board that Ellen brought...

While Murrie just kept to herself, attacking yarn whenever it dangled too long...

Chery tried on her silk cap -- it worked well as a REAL cap.

The girls seemed to have fun with the dyeing, as shown by Lisa and Liesel at the table...

And we dyed yarn...

More yarn...

a wool batt (which got spun before everyone left that afternoon)...

... and silk caps.

All in all, a pleasant day.

For those of you in the Colorado Springs area, I'll be teaching acid dyes at the llama store in November. I'm hoping to have as much fun with students as I've had on dye days. :)