Posts Tagged ‘yarn’

At a family dinner last night, I was reminded that I never updated about my Bundle-Up Bear Brigade post Christmas!  Shocking!

By the time I finally put away my bear bag (yes, I had a bag I carried around all month containing every relevant scrap I could collect as well as the pertinent needles & notions), I had knit 8 bears.  Sadly, since 6 of them went to other homes over the festive season, I don’t have a photo of them all together, but I think I’ve got pictures of all but the very last one (who I just discovered at the bottom of a project bag, finished except for her blank little face).  First up, here’s a picture comparing the regular and mini sizes (regular size bear went home with a friend’s toddler because babies deserve bears; yellow Noro suit belongs to the unfinished last bear).  I might be biased, but I rather prefer the teeny ones!


Now I want you to notice in the following pictures the amazing crispness, clarity, and colour.  One of the awesome things about giving away the bears to various family members was that my mother-in-law was usually around, with her DSLR camera, and she was kind enough to let me use it.  I have hemmed and hawed for a long time about getting a DSLR – I know that part of the appeal is that I imagine I can make up for my artistic shortcomings with a fancier machine, and as such I’ve pushed myself to be content with my point-and-shoot and improve my skills instead.  But the pictures are just so much better.  So after I purchase the sweater quantity of Everything Old yarn I’m currently saving for, I’ll be starting a new camera fund, because – look!



*Wistful sigh* …and now back to your regularly scheduled point-and-shoot update, under the jump.


Read Full Post »

OMG DEARLI IS DONE.  Now that it’s November, I’ve finally finished my summer sweater, aw yeah!


It took over a week to block that ruffle.  Now I never want to wash the thing for fear of having to block it again (I am pretty sure I could get it down to about 5 days now that I understand it’s imperative to block a section upon waking and before bed, not just once per day).  But I’m sure it will happen because, as I suspected, I LOVE THIS CARDIGAN.


I went for a modern/urban and yet Mori-girl inspired look today.  I’d really love to super-Mori-style this with a big fluffy hat, a pair of loose leggings over the tights, and maybe a long scarf…but these were the pieces I actually own.  Seriously thinking about knitting a hat, though.  Like, now.


All my hard work shaping and re-shaping the body paid off.  The shoulders aren’t quite perfect (although some of that awkward pooch is from blocking and should fade after a couple wearings), but can I just say how much I dig the turned cuffs?  I love how smooth and simple they are, providing a super-subtle contrast to the excitement of the ruffle.  They’re also really comfy!


And check out the cute purse I got for $2!  It’s pretty small (I usually go for big sack purses), but so cute, and just right for this outfit.  Only problem is, I can barely stuff my next knitting project inside it and still have room for wallet & phone!  What’s the next project?  Oh, you know, just yet another sweater…!


When it grows up, it’s going to be a sweater I heard about from the gals over at the Just One More Row Podcast: Wanda Nell, a cardigan with such small yardage it can be knit from about 300g of fingering weight yarn – perfect for 2-3 skeins of indie-dyed sock yarn you might have impulse bought without thinking what you would use them for!  I actually bought this yarn specifically for the cardi when I was at Knit City; it’s Sweet Georgia Tough Love, and I am totally loving the subtle tonal variation, as well as the incredibly funky mix of grey and pink.  Hey, maybe I can do this colour pairing thing after all!  Since it’s a top-down seamless raglan, it feels like it’s clipping along quite nicely right now, though it will slow down by the time I get to the main body.

I’ve also been getting to know Tamar (my wheel), spinning away at the alpaca I picked up at Fibrations.  Here’s about 2.5 oz of mixed natural-coloured alpaca, spun up “que sera sera” style to approximately fingering weight 2-ply. It really turned out quite even considering how little I was trying to spin it accurately – I am starting to get the hang of this wheel thing!  I have one more “practice” bump of fibre to spin, and then I think I will be ready to spin something I really care about (I totally agree that life is to short to spin crummy fibre just because you’re learning, but I also believe there’s value in learning on middle-of-the-road stuff and saving your totally dreamy indie-dyer batts from heaven until you have a modicum of skill)!


It’s soft and floofy as alpaca ought to be, but it does have a little vegetable matter still stuck in, despite my best efforts to remove it.  I am thinking it will either be a hat (see above post re: Mori girl style) or perhaps a möbius cowl.  I only have a little under 300 yards, though, so although I was dreaming of being able to do both, I think I’ll have to choose just one.  Time to start pattern diving!  Any favourite hat patterns out there, especially for gals with bangs they don’t like to compress?

P.S. I totally found the white balance setting on my camera!  I feel like a total doofus that it took me almost 2 years, but holy crow did that make a difference in how accurately I was able to photograph colours!  Live and learn, eh?  Maybe now I’ll be able to take indoor photos and have them look decent too, who even knows?!?

Read Full Post »

One craft-along wraps up, another starts, and just where is a person supposed to find time to blog about it?

I outdid myself on the Tour De Fleece.  I didn’t come out with as many completely finished yarns as I maybe hoped, but I spun every day the tour rode, challenged myself to try out new fibres and new techniques, and all in all had so much fun!


I’m really excited about the Polwarth/silk in the top right corner.  It was my spin on Challenge Day: I was busy with work and friends and wasn’t sure how much spinning I’d get to, so I gave myself half an hour and measured how much I was able to complete in that time – about half of this 1/2 oz teaser bump from Corgi Hill Farms, it turned out.  In the end, I was able to spin the rest while visiting my friends (as we played Small World, I worked on this and Em was busy just, you know, SPINNING A SWEATER!), a thick-and-thin yarn destined to be a sweater for poor, neglected Edik.  He’s equal parts thrilled (“It’s for me!!!”) and bemused (“But…what is it?”), as you can see in my progress pic.


Now, of course, the Ravellenic Games, which run parallel to a certain international competitive sporting event but had to be renamed this year so as not to go on diluting the brand, as it were, have started!  Actually, I guess they’re more than halfway done!  And I have so much more to do!  Which is kind of sad, considering that I kind of burned out in 2010 and therefore set my goals commensurately lower this year.  Well, I guess in 2010, I was only employed part-time and wasn’t entertaining folks for board- and role-playing games 4 nights a week.

My main focus is socks for Mr. Salamander.  I bought the yarn (you might remember) on impulse one payday, then saw the perfect match for it over at Everything Old (it’s awesome to find amazeballs indie dyers who happen to be local and also fun to hang out with) and knew this needed to become his-and-her mismatched socks.  I’m a little more than halfway onhis, have yet to start mine.  I’m using various elements from Socks A La Carte 2: Toes Up, which my lovely mother-in-law gave me for Christmas.  I have to say, I’m not overly impressed with the book – some of the directions are worded confusingly and relatively few of the designs appeal to me – but it’s great for learning different construction for toes & heels.  Here, I’m using the star toe and origami heel, and I’m planning to try out a couple of different options when it’s time for my own mismatched pair.


I was going to work on an old WIP as part of my games challenge, especially since I’ve been doing so little dolly knitting lately, but, well, have a look:


It’s the thinnest cobweb-weight yarn I own, on 1mm needles, a bottom-up skirt for Vasya, my 60cm girl.  I worked on it for about 2 hours last week, and do you know how much farther I got than that photo?  FOUR ROWS.  I calculated how much more there is to it, and it’s over 100 more rows.  Now, the rows will get faster as they get shorter, but not soon enough!  I’m still committed to finishing this skirt in 2012, especially now that I can work under a magnifying craft light (Canadian Tire!  $40!), but I think it can wait until after August 12th.

It’s also been hard to convince myself to do any knitting at all, since this totally happened:


That there is my new spinning wheel (tentatively named Tamar).  Vintage (reportedly 50s), virtually all wood, so Mr. Salamander can help look after her/make some new parts, on consignment at the local yarn store for only $100 (I’m still not ready to spend $3-600 on a wheel, but this seemed manageable), not too frightening since she only has one setting, so no worrying about ratios (yet).  There’s definitely a learning curve: here’s my first attempt at yarn, the braid of corriedale that came free-with-large-purchase plied with some boucle cotton that was what I was in the store looking for in the first place.


After I spun that, I went back to spindling my flax to prove to myself that I don’t totally suck at spinning.  I’ve also been plying several strands of that cotton together to get a feel for the wheel and also make up some bulky multi-strand funkiness with which to make more wacky hot mats.  Soon, I’ll spin up the rest of my KP Roving of the Andes – I had a lot of trouble drafting the Corriedale, but I had trouble drafting it on a spindle as well.  I don’t quite want to sacrifice one of my beloved braids from CHF or Everything Old to learning how to wheel, but I do want to try out something a little less compacted and grabby.  Plus, must stash down before buying more fibre at the local agricultural fair!  Yes, that’s what’s going to happen…

Read Full Post »

Now Gollum was in a much worse state than when Bilbo had asked him the egg-question.  He hissed and spluttered and rocked himself backwards and forwards, and slapped his feet on the floor, and wriggled and squirmed; but still he did not dare to waste his last guess.

“Come on!” said Bilbo.  “I am waiting!”  He tried to sound bold and cheerful, but he did not feel at all sure how the game was going to end, whether Gollum guessed right or not.

“Time’s up!” he said.

“String, or nothing!” shrieked Gollum, which was not quite fair – working in two guesses at once.

This whole spinning thing is getting to be a bit of a problem for me.  Because I’ve been neglecting my knitting.  Shocking, but true – I’ve had to strictly schedule myself to make sure I’m progressing on the wedding socks I promised my sister & her lovely husband (who have now been married for almost 6 weeks, whoops!).  I’m around halfway through Cool Stockings, Bro for J, knitting them 2-at-a-time on DPNs.  I am in love with the idea of 2aat socks, and every time I sit down to do it, I think of all the double-knit projects I’ve completed since my last attempt, and think how totally up for the challenge I am…and every time things go wrong and I end up spending some 30-50% more time than if I just knit each sock separately.  This time, it took me several tries to figure out how to manage my yarn for the single-round stripes – I’m crossing yarns every round, and apparently the first time through I crossed some of the wrong yarns…!  But I think I’ve got it now, and as you can see if you find that one row of green, I’m past the provisional…area…that will become the heel and into the ankle/home stretch!


So much for my knitting, on to my handspun under the jump!


Read Full Post »

Everybody hats, sometimes…


I’ve got four out of seven prototypes for my every-size hat pattern tested out!  This is the 9-10″ size, modelled by the beautiful Vasilisa.  Now I am scratching my head and poring over numbers, because I’ll admit that for each of the four finished hats I have had to try them on time and again trying to figure out a good length (the circumference was pretty easy to figure out before knitting) and while I have local folks lined up to try the fit of the remaining sizes, I don’t think I’m on close enough terms with anybody to borrow a doll or head over to their house for an evening of hard knitting, frogging, and re-knitting to try and get things right.  So I have to figure out the proportions somehow, and I think that somehow will involve arithmetic.  Well, Mr. Salamander is working this weekend and I have the house to myself.  Sounds like a good time for a little Saturday math, right?  And then probably some spinning for a reward!

Speaking of which, here’s the first plied yarn I’ve made that I feel truly deserves the name!  I am planning to knit up a little collar/neckwarmer with it.  There’s really not very much – around 45 yards, gulp!


I’m also working on trying to spin a thicker single that could eventually become a small wrap/shawl, but it’s not going so well.  The ability to get a reasonably even single eludes me at a heavier weight and my efforts so far have been a little disappointing.  I’m not giving up, though!  I will learn even if it kills me!  Or, more likely, makes my fingers bleed!  Or even more likely, makes my arms slightly tired!  Yup, that’s dedication!

Read Full Post »

Evolution of spin

No new knitting to show yet (though I’m in the midst of binding off a shawl), but I have finished spinning my first braid of Corriedale top and I wanted to post a little progress photo or two.



The above knit item is a coaster I knit from the very first wacky yarn-type substance I made; the toilet paper roll holds a bit more of the same that I’m not sure what to do with.  The curly mess at the bottom of the first picture is what I spun in class, and the ball and what’s on the spindle are what I’ve spun since, getting more even all the time.


Check that out!  It mostly varies from about N to 2N units of thickness (with a couple of “whoopses”) – still uneven, but quite respectable.  I’ll be plying it in the next few days and then…gotta figure out what to knit with it!  Next up, spin something that’s not so damn thin!  My spindle is a heavier one meant for spinning fingering or worsted weights, or for plying, and although I was pretty proud of how rarely I broke my yarn as I spun these singles, it sure wasn’t never!  And I don’t want to be stuck only ever doing skinny stuff, despite the fact that I do largely want to spin things in doll-scale that aren’t available commercially (thick-and-thin, Cowichan-inspired barely-spun singles, etc.), plus I think it will be a good challenge to work on getting my yarn more even at a larger gauge.

Read Full Post »

Folks who read the ABJD Knits group over on Ravelry might have already divined that this is in the works, but here’s the official announcement.  I’m working on a super-simple pattern for toques of all sizes, sized not for “tiny” and “large” but for wig sizes (e.g. 5-6″ and 8-9″) to make things easier on owners of dolls with unusual head sizes (not that I know any of those…).  I’ve worked out three sizes so far, 3-4. 7-8, and 8-9.  I’m planning to do at least two more, 6-7 and 9-10, but I’m not sure if there are many dolls who wear size 4-5 or 5-6 wigs.  NEED MORE RESEARCH!

Here’s a teaser photo showing two sizes and two styles of brim.


By the way, aren’t the two of them cute together?  I didn’t expect them to form a couple when I brought Suzuha home, but then BJDs love to surprise you!  Somehow I find their size difference adorable – in Edik’s embrace she literally has a handspan waist!

My design work, however, has been interrupted by a new hobby: hand spinning!

On Thursday evening I started messing around with my spindle and some youtube videos and some Corriedale fibre that was a “learn to spin” gift along with my BFL/silk top from Everything Old.  Here’s what I came up with:


It’s awfully uneven – there are cocoons of fibre almost a centimetre thick, and it thins down to cobweb weight in a few places.  But it’s…yarnlike?

Then yesterday, I took a drop spindling class at Knotty By Nature, joined by my lovely sister.  I learned a lot, bought some more fibre, and had a lot of fun! Here’s my sister, spinning her impressively fine and amazingly even single.


And me with…mine.  It’s miles better than the first already – I’ve learned how to deal with those cocoons and how not to let it get quite so thin – but I’m still having a very tough time getting the spin distributed evenly, so I have sections that are very soft-spun and others that are corkscrewing like mad.  But that’s okay; I now have lots of fibre to work on!


When I got home, I was in such a great, energized mood, and I didn’t want to stop spinning!  So I took the rest of the white Corriedale and some scraps from the braids I bought today as well as my needlefelting stash and spun a ridiculous riot of colour, which I attempted to ply with that first single.  Here are the results – my first yarnity yarn!


My plan is to knit a couple of coasters from it – something decorative yet useful.  I’m still waiting for the yarn to be fully dry after setting its twist, but I should be able to knit it up soon.  Meanwhile, more spinning!

Read Full Post »

Local Colour


Autumn on the Wet Coast involves much less red, orange, and yellow than more deciduous provinces, as the rain starts to come down bringing green to the grass and moss that mirrors the surrounding evergreens.  I still live in a culture that has its roots in a deciduous landscape, though, and as such when fall arrives I find myself gravitating towards traditional fall colours.  When I saw the fall update at local indie dye-shop Everything Old, this gorgeous tonal red yarn, Crab Apple Jelly from the Hopscotch line, jumped out at me as perfect, not just to satisfy my urge to surround myself with autumnal hues, but also to use in the pair of socks I owe my red-loving husband!  You see, I’m a bit of a selfish knitter – I love the fact that when I knit for myself, not only do I get to enjoy the finished product as much as the process of making it, I also get to skip all that negotiation stuff like “do you prefer the light or dark blue?” and “how do you want this to fit – loose or snug?”  But G’s my husband and I do love him, at least in theory (maybe not so much when he’s filling the spare/craft room with furniture, bikes, and power tools, although he assures me they’ll soon be back where they belong in our FRESHLY RENOVATED LAUNDRY ROOM OMG), so I make it a rule to knit him a pair of socks for every pair I knit myself.  I’d picked out AnneLena Mattison’s Paper Moon Socks for my next man-project, and I think my squishy new yarn is perfect for the pattern, with just enough colour variation to give the cables some depth without obscuring the details at all.  I may have arrived home from buying the yarn and hauled out my swift immediately so I could start knitting right away…


(colour is more accurate in the first photo)

I’m enjoying the pattern so far.  It’s kind of my second first crack at toe-up socks: my first try were doll-sized MistleToes for Rada, which turned out okay but not great, possibly because they were written for 60cm doll and I adapted them for 45cm, slightly different gauge, oh, and did I mention it was my first time ever knitting socks, and that the pattern, while perfectly adequate for someone familiar with socks, was a bit mysterious for a novice?  So, second first crack, following the pattern like some kind of rule-abiding type of person…so far so good, but we’ll talk again when I get to the heel!

Read Full Post »


Good news – I think I’m safe from moths!  I finally had time to haul all my yarn out of the freezer and check it for eggs by shaking it and listening for the sound of falling sand.  I checked all the yarn that was in the drawer where I saw the moth in detail, didn’t find/hear any eggs or see any more critters.  The only thing I saw was what looked like the cast off from a larva – so I’m strongly suspecting there was just one lonely egg or larva, no infestation.  Regardless, I baked all the yarn that was in that drawer just in case there were eggs, and all the rest of my wool is out of the freezer but remaining in warm quarantine for a few days – I’ll inspect it later and make sure no larvae have hatched (the transition from cold to warm makes them think it’s spring) before I put it away.  I’m heaving a huge sigh of relief right now.  I’ve been inconvenienced, sure, but I just keep thinking how much worse it could have been.

So anyway, I was really disappointed that all of my animal fibre yarn was off limits, since apparently that’s what I mostly like to buy these days.  However, I thought maybe it would be a good time to start…another blanket!  That’s right, I am just a glutton for punishment!  They seem to go by faster the more I knit, though.  And it’s not my fault – I really needed a simple pattern to knit while singing at my family’s monthly open-house sing-along, and I really don’t need any more dishcloths right now.  So I cast on 201 stitches, charted a lace pattern from my Harmony Guide to Lace and Eyelets that I’ve had my eye on for some time, and went to town.  Check out the slight checkerboard effect with the different blues – just a happy coincidence in the yarn!  Not a trick of the light, I swear!


In retrospect, I probably should have cast on about half that many stitches.  I’ve used up about 4/5 of my yarn, and the result is something more like a table runner than a blanket, about 4.5′ wide and maybe 18″ “long.”  I think…this is going to shock you…I think I might have to buy another ball of this yarn!  Oh no!  I just hope it sticks to the checkerboard pattern – I’ll be sad if it dissolves now!

When I was baking the yarn, I removed all the ball bands.  I knew I was baking it at a low enough temperature that the paper wasn’t going to burn (well below Farenheit 451!) but it might get a bit brown and crunchy, and some of the labels looked like they might have some plastic content and…I just figured I would remove them.  So I entered all the info into my Ravelry stash, and today (since I know they’re all safe!) I wound all my alpaca into lovely lovely skeins.  I also wound the wool I had bought on the day I discovered the moth, and a few odd half-used balls of various yarns.  G built me a swift and bought me a yarn winder for Christmas, and every time I use it I am compelled to thank him profusely.  It makes such pretty pretty cakes of yarn!  And it makes them in a flash!  This whole passle of yarn took me maybe 45 minutes, and that’s with intermittent stops to take photos, update stash info on Rav, etc.


The yarn in the middle, the grey and purple, is some dream-soft alpaca that’s going to be a cropped sweater.  Maybe sooner rather than later – handling it as I wound the cakes, I balked at the thought of putting it away.  This yarn needs to be free!  To live!  To be where I can pet it all day long!  The grey has sparkles, too, but it still manages to be amazingly soft, not scratchy at all.  And yes, I do think black/grey and purple is a fabulous colour scheme, that’s why I’m using it for multiple sweaters.  I’m also wearing a purple shirt with a black belt RIGHT NOW.  Predictability.  I has it.

Anyway, as soon as I finished winding that yarn, I started on the first of probably 2 or 3 neckwarmers.  Photos soon – it’s really cute, knit from the green yarn at the far right (squishy local alpaca).

Read Full Post »