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Um, hi.  Been a while, huh?

I’ve tried to compose a post for at least two weeks (after several promises to other bloggers to do so) and I keep coming up flat.  There really are no words for the last, oh, four months.  I do have pictures, though.  Will that work?

Rhinebeck was awesome, of course.  I immediately lost my son and husband upon entering Saturday and was was *forced* to spend the next five hours with Sarah and Sarah.  It was just awful, really.  (Ok, it was fabulous.  Seriously, these girls are fun).  There was lots of running into old friends and acquaintences and meeting new ones.  I met up with the Mr. C and Em at 5pm, which was perfect.  And I took no pictures at all on Saturday.

Sunday, however, was a nice family day.  Em likes sheep:

Baaaaaaa!

Baaaaaaa!

Oh, geez, I didn’t realize that was so blurry.  He was very busy poking that sheep in the rear and saying “baaaa!” to stay still long enough for a photo.  How about alpacas?

Paca!

Paca!

He was pretty thrilled.

Fall was a time of big change for me.  I started working on the Fairly Easy Fair Isle from SnB Nation, my first large project since I knit the .  Really, it IS fairly easy.  It just gave me the trouble of my life.  First, I didn’t swatch.  I know.  Thankfully, I was only a few rows in when it was pointed out to me at my Stitch N Bitch that it was way too huge on me to consider continuing on.  Yep, I substituted yarn and didn’t even swatch.  (I am thinking that the bulk of my problems with this sweater were user error.)  So, I ripped out, cast on for the smallest size (which I am not), and knit on.

Then, I had trouble with the charts.  The real problem? When I photocopied the pattern on my way out the door to a later SnB I cut of the part of the chart that indicated the stitches to repeat.  At some point I was forced to throw it back into my bag and wish I’d ordered a wine with dinner.

Then, later, I ran out of yarn.  Yep.   I was using some Maine wool that was gifted to me after it had spent years in a tub in a basement.  There was *no* way to get more.  I dug through everything I could, thinking I must have some.  I found two skeins and was ecstatic…until discovering that the natural-colored wool I was using had waaaay too many black fibers to match.  As in, a man on a galloping horse would stop and stare.  Insert a period of agony and…I found ONE more ball.  It was perfect and I knit on.  After much holding of breath that ball made it all the way to the neck band, but would go no further.  Much agonizing questioning of anyone who would listen, I decided to knit the neck and button bands in another color.  I finished this about a week ago (just 3 months into it?!), after weaving in a hellish 66 ends.  In pictures:

Front:

Colors and buttons picked by Mr. C.  Im color-challenged.

Colors and buttons picked by Mr. C. I'm color-challenged. Oh, and the striped DO line up, I was just trying to play keep-away with a toddler.

And the back, on me:

Back view.  It looks like I need to re-block the neck, the top motif wasnt so pulled before blocking

Back view. It looks like I need to re-block the neck, the top motif wasn't so pulled before blocking

Currently on the needles is a picot-edge ankle sock in STR light-weight for Lisa.  No pictures yet, but they are coming soon.  I’ve also been knitting play food for a nephew:

What you see is 2 slices of pumpernickel and three cookies.  Added since then are several slices of corned beef.  Yum.  Em keep trying to eat the cookies (incidentally, made from the non-matching yarn from the FEFI cardi) and is sorely disappointed they taste like sheep.  The patterns for both of these are adapted from those found here.  If anyone is interested in my modifications, just let me know and I’ll either post or email them.

The next part of the program: Gifts

I’ve been very lucky recently to have received two awesome hand-knit gifts recently.  My birthday present from Lisa:

I have no idea what the pattern’s name is or what the yarn is.  I do know the yarn is alpaca and is both amazingly light and incredibly warm.  I wore them out the first day I had them, a cold night with 25 mph gusts of wind.  It was mid-December and I was hiking to a store from the deep-parking lot, and it wasn’t until I was nearly at the door did I realize I was feeling a breeze on my fingers.  Not a *cold* breeze, mind you, just a little bit of air let in.  I love these with all my might.

Another, extremely thoughtful gift given to me by Knitter Bunny:

Detail of shoulder.  I just love how the raglan looks on this.

Detail of shoulder. I just love how the raglan looks on this.

And a larger view:

Look kinda small to you?  Yeah, that’s the next part of the program here.  Oh, the neck is unfinished due to the customs of my husband’s family.  Confused? Read on.

The biggest shock of my life came on Oct 5.    Let’s say that I was more than surprised.  Can you guess?  If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years you can think of the only thing that has led me to abandon the blog for more than a few weeks at a time.  Give up?  Try this:

Yup, thats a baby.  Scrawny legs at the bottom and head bending down at the top.  The dark spot on the head isnt an eye, its just shadow.  Baby is looking down.

Yup, that's a baby. Scrawny legs and feet at the bottom and head bending down at the top. The dark spot on the head isn't an eye, it's just shadow; the nose is a white spot. Baby is looking down.

There’s a baby in there.  I am still shocked some days.

No help

I took the sage advice on reblocking the Liesl from the comments of my last post.  And?  I think it worked!  As I fussed over the blocking I realized it really was short if blocked it wide.  Gee, surprised?  I can’t have it long and not pointy, I suppose.  The minute it was dry I tried it on and…it wasn’t bad.  That is no help to you, though, as both camera cords are MIA and both memory cards, too. I put them somewhere safe when I cleaned up recently, but where?

IF I get my act together today, I will iron the sun dress she’s to be worn with and wear them to SnB.  Shave my legs, too, I guess.  So, you know, maybe.

Which reminds me:  This Saturday is my Knit- and Spin-In! If you didn’t get an email from me and want to come, just leave a comment here.  I think I got everybody, but I am not totally confident in my memory.  Also, if you’re a lurker and live in CT, leave a comment, too, ‘k?  Feel free to bring a friend(s), there’s plenty of room and plenty of food 😉

Would you like to see another FO?  This is kinda cheating, as I finished it a few weeks ago.  What’s a post without pictures, right?

I imagine you must get tired of seeing me knit yet another pair of shrorties/longies from the Sheepy Pants pattern.  It is odd, this is one of the very few patterns I care to knit more than once.  I guess because it is so easy to do?

Here’s a shot of the yarn, which is no help because I have no idea what it is

yarn of the unknown variety

yarn of the unknown variety

Whatever it was, I loved it.  It was nice and squishy and I was able to go up a needle size, thus making them a slightly quicker knit.  I know I bought it in Texas last October, when I was visiting an old friend.  The yarn label was black, too.  Yeah, big help. That’s what happens when you have a child that eats yarn.

Unlike some I’ve been knitting, this pair was for Em.  I’ve tried for some action shots, but as blurry as they are they are no help:

Em in motion

Em in motion

I can’t seem to take any picture of him where he’s not a little blur.  I tried a front shot here:

only slightly better

only slightly better

I didn’t actually mean to make them a board short length, I just forget that my child has a long torso and short little legs. Just like his mama. On days like today, where the temp is a sunny 65*F (18*C), I’m happy to have him in warm little shorts.

To forewarn you, I do have another pair on the needles.  They are knit from yarn I dyed–supposedly a mistake but turned out great–and are newborn sized.  And *very* not for me, thankyouverymuch.  Then, no more of this pattern for a while, I promise.

I’m going to knit something for me again.  Either the medium length Liesl (on Flickr here), using the burgundy Valley Yarns I just bought, or the Fairly Easy Fair Isle (link to a shot of the book here).  I have the yarn for both, though the yarn for the FEFI needs to be washed first.  It was given to me ages ago and has a strong sheepy odor.  Either way, I promise it won’t be baby pants.

FO: Short Liesl*

I know, I wasn’t supposed to drop off the face of the earth now that school is done. Somehow, I am still caught up in work and life and am behind in just about everything. How hard is it to post about an FO? Apparently, quite tricky for me lately.

Well, then, here is Liesl. This is how she looked for a long time:

Liesl, close up

Liesl, close up

That’s Cascade 220, in case you are curious. I picked it up originally for a fair isle vest, then decided I didn’t like the colors together. When I decided I needed a shrug for a new sundress it was, thankfully, the right brown.

This version of Liesl is the 40″ bust size and is four repeats past the break for sleeve. If you follow the link above, you’ll see I knit the cream version.  You can’t really tell from my quick (and dark) pictures, but the armscye is, well, rather too generous. Maybe with a chest like mine I am supposed to have chunky arms?

Here’s a side view. Sorry for the poor lighting, I took these while ready to dash to work, then the battery died.

pointy ends

meh

Do you see the points in the front? I’m not especially overjoyed about them. I understand that it is the nature of Feather and Fan to make its own pretty edging, I am not sure it works here. While the center back (sadly not photographed) meets in a lovely scoop, I just don’t think it looks right split in half for the cardigan fronts. Don’t believe me?

Hangs funny, huh? I am sure it is not helped by a mistake I made, being to rushed…I sewed the buttons to the (ahem) wrong side. Since I’m not thrilled about the project I haven’t fixed it yet, either. I know.

Despite all that I really enjoyed the pattern. I picked up some yarn at Webs for my birthday, and will be making a longer version of this and with 3/4 sleeves. I think that might be a smidge more flattering. I hope. The yarn is nice, at least.

Valley Yarns Berkshire

Valley Yarns Berkshire

I think this will be an even quicker knit, if that’s possible. I promise better photos next time, really.

Why yes, I am alive

The last few weeks have been crazy. I’ve been working! It is only temporary, but I’ve been loving the library I’ve been working for. I heartily wish they had a position for me. I’ve missed Em tremendously the last few weeks, but being competent at a job has been a real ego boost for me. As much as being a stay-at-home mom/student has been enjoyable, it always seems to call into question my sanity and judgment. They joys of toddlers.

Oh yeah, and during that time I completed all the requirements for my Master of Library and Information Science. 🙂

I am so far behind with what I have been up to that I won’t be able to catch up in just one post. Would you like to start with some spinning?

I spent the Fourth of July weekend plying. Surprisingly, it actually occurred to me to take notes while spinning so I’d have something blog about.

So, the amazing thing is that I plied yarn that’s been on the bobbin for nearly two years. Can you believe it? I could nearly faint from the shock of it, myself. You may remember when I blogged about it in May, though I didn’t even post a new picture, just recycled the original one. From back in October of 2006. This begs the question of why. Why has this fiber, lovely as it is, been on bobbins for so freakin’ long?

I don’t know if I have an answer for this. It is easy to spin, is grabby enough that I could (and did) spin it quite fine. The colors are lovely and change at an interesting pace, therefore it isn’t boring.

For some reason spinning it felt like a life’s work. As I was plying I felt like it was taking forever. Really, this couldn’t have been more than 4oz, but I suppose the fineness and the long color repeats explains the angst. However, the fiber itself was pleasurable enough. Does that make sense?

One of my goals (and problems) while spinning this over such a long period was spinning a balanced yarn. I didn’t want it over plied only to be relaxed in finishing. Yet, this was the fiber I had trouble spinning about 18 months ago, because it was falling apart. I was lucky to be at a spin-in in February of ’07 and have a bevy of experienced spinners at hand to help with wheel tuning and spinning advice. Turns out I was not adding enough twist and the fibers were not holding together. Although that was a great revelation, I had to be very careful not to have too great a change in the rest of the single on the bobbin. I am not sure how or why that it would be a bad thing, I just figured things would not turn out right.

Over time I also questioned the reliance on finishing to cover spinning sins. Does it really help, or will things revert to chaos when the final knitting good is blocked? Will make the under plied sections fall completely apart? As I let this sit in the back of my mind I saw some similar thoughts on a number of blogs. This from here:

When dried with blocking, the yarn is temporarily ‘set’, like putting your wet hair on rollers to make a temporary curl. As soon as the yarn is exposed to water again–even in the form of a very humid day, just like with human hair–the original twist, or lack of, will reassert itself, even if it’s been woven or knit in the meantime.

Sounds like bad news, right?

Some other thoughts:

I had a ridiculous time getting the wheel set up to ply. I emailed/plurked/IMed Jess, my personal guide to spinning, but I was still obviously doing something wrong, until I somehow got it settled.

I could have preserved the color changes with a chain ply, but really wanted a marled look. Scratch that, wanted a look totally my own. In spinning I’ve done since then I’ve done some playing around with making color repeats longer or shorter than the roving was dyed. This stuff, though, was started at a time when I was exceptionally new at spinning, and finished at a time I had much more confidence. I finally figured out my yarn has a right to be exactly what I make it to be.

Of course, I immediatly starting spinning something:

I freaked out because I had no fiber handy to spin. I dug through some as-yet-unpacked-boxes and found some lovely fiber gifted to me nearly two years ago by The Gabby Knitter. My photography skills do not do it justice.

Finally, with school behind me and a roomy home, I’m ready to do what I’ve wanted to for ages: Have a spin-in at my barn house. I’m working up a flier at the moment, so let me know if you want me to email it to you. I’ll have it in a post in the next few days, too.

Distraction

I have a post sitting in my drafts, nearly written except for the parts that require real thought. I am kinda short on that right now, as I’ve just started my last class for my Master’s(!!), I have just taken a wee part-time job I am unsure about, and Em has decided he likes to walk more often than not. Eep!

Until I have some spare thoughts to share, I will offer up pictures. Pictures placate, right?

I am immensely pleased by this:

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3059/2647179201_89a5a8fe43.jpg

I do love zucchini, especially grilled.

I am also tickled to death by this: (embedding is just not working for me. Follow the link for a 20 second video)

Though also a little scared.

I have knitting nearly done and some fab spinning action to show. I’ll be back soon enough for that!

One

Geez, when I asked if I’d get kicked out of blogland I wasn’t expecting almost no one to comment! Its ok, I’ll be fine *sniff*

Moving on…No knitting/spinning/dyeing today, I’m afraid. Why? The last few weeks have been all about one thing:

Em turned one last week.

I can’t believe it, either.

There was one thing to be done before his party. Not cleaning, not unpacking (still), not preparing food. Nope. Em needed his first hair cut.

At the salon:

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3129/2562238883_375b36906f.jpg

See how long that hair was?

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3117/2563065914_913ea97087.jpg

Unsure about the process:

https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3080/2563066364_8bcf7a1d65.jpg

Cute, no?

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3029/2563066892_61f2d71210.jpg

We had his birthday party the following week, which just happened to be World Wide Knit In Public Day. One of our guests was Catie and her family. Catie celebrated both events here:

https://i0.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3081/2607609179_3e81c264e8.jpg

And of course, this could hardly be a birthday party post without some cake:

https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3283/2608447594_8dae7a3ef9.jpg

Finally, a comparison.

My newly born son, last year:

https://i1.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3241/2608492200_2621a093c8.jpg

And my newly one year-old boy:

https://i2.wp.com/farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/2607615793_f4175a173b.jpg

Mama loves you, little one.

…more knitting. While I might have had the keeping of my handspun at the top of the page as a wee bit of ulterior motive (I think it is too pretty to bump further down), I was really knitting something else. Bright stripy pants, actually.

The color isn’t great here, even with a little editing. It does show the pattern a bit, though. This is a bit more accurate color-wise, I think:

Hmm, that’s still not the best. How about a picture of the yarn?

Go Team yarn

The weird thing? The really, really, really weird thing I’m almost afraid to say so you people don’t kick me out of blogland?

I knit them for pay.

I know, right?

It was an experimental colorway (read: a big oops!) that I put a label on and prayed for a sports fan. Sure enough, an LSU alumna contacted me. However, she doesn’t knit…and wanted to pay me to knit for her, as a surprise for her husband. What could I say, but yes?

Weird, I know.

Details

Pattern: Sheepy Pants

Yarn: Knit Picks Bare, hand dyed by me in the “Go Team!” colorway

Needles: This time I used the recommended 5s for the ribbing and 7s for the body. Last time I think I did 8’s on the body (I forgot to note that). I used some crappy 16″ bamboo circs I picked up at Wal-Mart as I lost my pretty Options size 7.

Modifications: I didn’t do any modifications this time. Since I was knitting shorts I knew I wasn’t in danger of running out of yarn. Last time I only did 3 sets of short rows, but this time I did the full four.

Oddities: I have to say, if I was knitting these for me/Em, I wouldn’t have been so worked up about the striping. Since someone was actually paying me, I fussed over making sure the legs were exactly the same and the crotch gusset was kitchenerd with the right color. In all honesty, it was a little more fiddly than I would normally have gone for.

For example, Em’s longies:

longies

There’s an odd stripe near the crotch of the left leg. Then, there’s the whole reversal of colors from one leg to the other. And please, don’t get too close to the crotch*. There’s some scary kitchenering there. Nobody sees it, though. And, it’s my kid. He can wear funny looking drawers if I say so. Someone else’s kid? Not so much.

* Honestly, if you’re that close to the kid’s crotch could you change him, please?

On a jag

I can’t be the only one who goes on a jag, either a spinning or a knitting one.

After I made the second mistake reading the ballband swiffer cover pattern, a wicked easy one to read, I realized what I really needed was some spinning. First, I finished spinning some fiber that’s been on the bobbin for at least 18 months. It looked like this for a long time:

Cherry Tree Hill roving

In fact, I think that’s the only photo of it for the 19 months of it’s life. Now, there are two bobbin’s full that are just waiting for me to look at the how-to-Navajo-ply video.

That didn’t satisfy me, so I pulled out a bag of Foxfire Fiber’s cashmere/tussah silk blend in lilac (you have to scroll down to see it, but it is SO worth it) . I think this is what Jess bought for me at Cummington last year, but I was hugely pregnant (37 weeks) and can’t remember if she bought this or my other acquisition from their booth. Either way, it was luxury and I am glad for it.

I admit some trouble drafting the silk. It didn’t talke long for me to realize there was no way I could spin this as smooth and even as commercially spun yarn. For the first time, I decided I didn’t mind that. Some sections, yards and yards of it even, were nearly perfect. Then, I’d get into a funk and couldn’t spin straight to save my life. It didn’t matter, though. This stuff was wonderful to spin– I nearly typed that it was “like silk” to spin, then realized it was.

To keep too-thin spots away I spun it to be about fingering weight (14ish wpi). At some point I realized a few things. One, I wanted this 2oz bump to go as far as possible. Two, I didn’t want to Navajo ply and cut my yardage in third. Finally, I wanted to preserve the color changes as closely as possible. The colors are fantastic, transitioning from a light lilac to a deep one, and a pale silvery shade in between. I wanted that in whatever lacy thing this was meant to be. So, I got brave and decided it would be a single.

This scared me a little:

cashmere/silk single

It was freshly off the swift and oh-so-overspun in too many places. Here’s a closer look:

overspun single

Scary, isn’t it?

Then, it took a nice hot bath. It was still a little over-spun but not too terribly bad. It was (despite my fear) strong enough to take a spin on the ball winder:

cashmere/silk single

I was pleased.

For the first time in my 20 months of (off and on) spinning, I cast on right away. I couldn’t help myself, I wanted luxury now.

I am doing two repeats of the Ostrich Lace pattern. It is in both the Vogue Stitchonairy Vol. 1 (no. one oh eight-to defeat the auto-smiley) and the Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns. The Walker Treasury Project has a swatch here.

We’ll see how far I get.

I think something pretty is in order, for no other reason to combat yesterday’s vent. So, how about a few FO pictures?

Longies

Side view:

short rows longies

The side view shows off the short rows in the bum, for accommodating a fluffy diaper.

Details:

Pattern: Sheepy Pants

Yarn: just about 220 yards of my hand dyed self-striping yarn

Start: April 13th

Finish: April 17th

Modifications and details:
*I did just three sets of short rows. I wasn’t sure if I had enough yarn, and figured we could get by with 3. For most of our diapers I can, but some of the bulkier ones it’s a bit of a stretch.
* I was planning on just making shorts, but kept going to see how close I could get to pants. I really liked the thicker stripes on the legs, my real motivation for keeping going
* I did both legs at the same time from opposite ends of the ball. For the record (as if I didn’t know this) this means stripes are backwards on one side. Duh.

Measurements: 17″ rise, 7″ inseam

And finally, just for fun, a picture of my silly boy trying not to laugh:

Em

Knitting furiously

Which I realize usually pairs with “fast” to mean “with great intensity.” Lately, it means, “with much anger.”* I have been wanting to post, and even have photos of CT S&W (11 days ago!) loaded in the computer, ready to add. I just haven’t been able to get past the anger and into a better place to write. I’m working on that, but it’s taking some time.

I’ve been thinking much on what I remember of an old Knitty article on images of women knitting in mid-century film. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to put my finger on the right key words to search for it. I remember only that women were often viewed by men as knitting demurely, while in actual fact they were knitting out their anger? I only recall that it was obvious from their intensity while knitting that they were Not. Happy. but the interpretation at the time was on their femininity at knitting. I know that doesn’t make sense, not being able to put the right words to it is why I can’t find the article. Please do send me the link if you have a clue what I am talking about. I very much want to read it again.

I am knitting, currently a Swiffer cover. It’s good that I’m knitting my anger into something meant to collect dirt and nastiness. Better than knitting it into a baby item, right?

I plan to take a number of pictures today, some of the completed brightly striped longies, some of the extra yarn I dyed a few weeks ago that I’ll be putting up for sale soon. Today is a baby-free day and I’m reveling in the ability to fold laundry, mop floors and go to the bathroom alone. I hope to post a real post in the next few days.

*Forgive my over-usage of quotations, I’m not caring about grammatical details at the moment.