Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Octopus meets "The Traveling Sock" (and some sheepishness, too)

Boy, did I have a busy weekend! What did I do? Well, here's a little clue:


Yes, octopus and I spent a lovely Sunday in Northampton, MA, and we just happened (...ahem) to stumble across the wonderfully funny (and flat out wonderful) Yarn Harlot and a veritable kaleidoscope of knitters.

Unfortunately the magnets in octopus's feet weren't attracted to Stephanie's aluminum (I assume) needles (I did a poor job explaining that they were mainly for cat entanglement purposes, not for gripping knitting needles) -- so if you look closely you will see that he's impaled for photographic purposes. He didn't mind a bit, as he was completely entranced with the rippling reds of the traveling sock. (He also doesn't mind that Stephanie took his picture, too, and he's currently one of the knitters showcased in her Webs recap post. In fact, he thinks he looks quite handsome.)

Here's a refresher of what octopus can do to an unsuspecting feline:


I had a great time listening to Stephanie speak, meeting other knitters, and admiring all the sock yarn that Webs had on sale in honor of the event. I picked up a copy of her new book -- and a nifty Ravelry sticker featuring "Bob" and a pin from Jess herself:


Bob is such a cutie : )

On top of that, I spent Saturday at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival with a bunch of new friends (including sunflowerfairyknits, missalicefaye, knittingeweonthego, and blogless Anne -- all of whom I drove up with). Thanks for letting me come along, guys!

In keeping with my tradition of putting way too many photos in my posts, here are some photos from Saturday.

Spiky-haired alpacas:

Sheep dog trials:
IMG_3627.jpg Run!

Woolly sheep backs (I just love the texture!):

UConn sheep in a pen... waiting to be em-baldened (note that they're camera-shy even with all their "clothes" on):

I'm sure you're wondering how the sheep go from this:

to this:

Well, here you go:
IMG_3652.jpg The aftermath.

Here is the sequence as a video slideshow (no music), if you're interested.

Quite intriguing, yes? I have to tell you that I have no photos of a whole segment of the shearing process due to the fact that the expert sheep shearer was wielding the giant electric clippers blithely around the facial area (specifically over and around the eyes) while the sheep nervously kicked and struggled. I feared for her eyeballs and had to look away repeatedly (geez, am I a wimp, or what), hence the lack of photographs.

I did make some lovely fiber acquisitions, but I'll detail those in a later post.

Happy (belated) Earth Day, and I hope you're all having a good last week in April : )

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Clearing the backlog...

Eeesh! I keep intending to write various and sundry things up in a blog post (or two)... so get ready for a major mish-mash : )

1. Pay It Forward

Last month (I'm a little behind here) I sent out little gifts to the first 3 knitters who expressed interest when I posted about Pay It Forward way back when. In addition to some snickerdoodle cookies, I sent Leslie (and her kitty Perry!) two felted catnip mice:


...and Jenn and Sarah each a snowflake washcloth:


I think they all enjoyed their gifts : ) Here are the details:

Felted Catnip Mice Kitty Knits: Projects for Cats and their People by Donna Druchunas (very generously given to me by Laiane)
Berroco Jasper, color "Copper Silk," 100% Fine Merino Wool (98 yards / 50 g per skein), 0.22 skeins (for gray/brown mouse)
Morehouse Merino Gator Yarn, color "Chartreuse," 100% Merino Wool (220 yards / 57 g per skein), 0.19 skeins (for green mouse)
US 10 (6.0 mm) double pointed needles

Originally, I knit up a gold mouse and a green mouse. Here they are pre-felting. Aren't they cute together?

Moana wonders who steamrolled the mice.
Bug cannot believe he's modeling mice destined for some other cat. Humph....

Upon hand-felting them in the sink, I discovered that I hadn't... ahem... read the label of the yarn I used for the gold mouse very thoroughly. Evidently I am extremely stubborn, because it took me a good 20 minutes to accept that the floppy yellow critter I was alternately beating senseless in a bath of soapy hot water and shocking under cold running water was indeed made with (gasp!) superwash yarn. Doh. I'm a genius - what can I say?

Henceforth, this little guy continues to look pretty much like this (except a little "rattier" due to all the agitation):


Because the mice are a quick knit (and I wanted Perry to have a pair to play with!) I decided to use the leftovers from my husband's hat to make another. Here it is pre-felting


Both the mice felted wonderfully. Because I think they're so cute, here are a few more photos:


And now for the washcloths:

IMG_2307.jpg unblocked
IMG_2318.jpg blocking
IMG_2384.jpg blocked
IMG_2397.jpg backlit
IMG_2592.jpg both together!

Snowflake by Norah Gaughan
Pakucho Organic Cotton, color "cream," 100% organic cotton (88 yards / 37 g per skein), 0.75 skeins (for "Cream" colored cloth)
Bernat Organic Cotton, color "Hemp," 100% organic cotton (84 yards / 50 g per ball), 0.6 balls (for "Hemp" colored cloth)
US 6 (4.0 mm) Knitpicks Options circular needles (for "Cream" colored cloth)
US 5 (3.75 mm) Knitpicks Options circular needles and dpns (for "Hemp" colored cloth)

I knit the first one ("Cream" colored version) back and forth as directed, but for the second one ("Hemp" colored version) I went down a needle size (to achieve a denser fabric) and converted the pattern for knitting in the round to avoid having a seam. I thought both yarns were nice, but I especially enjoyed working with the Pakucho.

2. The Knitter Project

Months ago I signed up to participate in the Knitter Project, Elizabeth's ambitious senior project. Here's a short description of it:

"The Knitter Project is a collaborative effort by nearly fifty knitters from all over the world. Each knitter has been asked to knit tags into their work, and write a short journal entry on each tag. The finished pieces will be a rich self-portrait of who knitters really are."

Here is my contribution:


Marsan Watchcap by Staceyjoy Elkin
My own handspun yarn, color "Denim," made from Ashland Bay Merino (~100 yards / 90 g per skein), ~1 skein + some unplied singles held double
Berroco Jasper, color "Copper Silk," 100% Fine Merino Wool (98 yards / 50 g per skein), small amount for stripe
US 6 (4.0 mm) Denise Interchangeable circular needles and double pointed needles

I made the smaller size. My cooky thick and thin yarn made a very dense hat. It should be nice and warm... though I haven't gotten to try it out yet because it was mailed off to Elizabeth in Philadelphia : ) While knitting, I started to get concerned that I wouldn't have enough yarn, so I added a stripe of Berroco Jasper (the last of the leftovers from my husband's hat). It turns out my fears were justified, as I ran out of yarn with a few rounds to go in the crown - however, I had a bit of unplied singles of my handspun left over, so I held that double and was able to eek out the rest of the hat : )

IMG_2039.jpg the fiber
IMG_2163.jpg the yarn
IMG_2727.jpg isn't perspective fun?

As you can probably tell, I had to work to keep Bug from biting the tags.

3. A Little Gift For My Spinning Mentor : )

I thought the very generous woman who helped me get started with spinning deserved a little gift. Originally, I intended to spin some fun yarn and then knit something out of it for her. It wasn't happening... so I decided to make her something with millspun yarn from my stash that looked like handspun yarn I would like to make.

On Ravelry I had noticed a (free!) pattern for simple yet beautiful fingerless mitts in a broken rib stitch - so that is what I made.


Bainbridge Mitts by Amy Goodstine
SWTC Karaoke, color 285 "Intensity," 100% Fine Merino Wool (109 yards / 50 g per ball), 0.75 balls
US 3 (3.25 mm) double pointed needles

I made these pretty much as directed, however my gauge was way off initially, and I made one huge mitt before I fully comprehended this (luckily it fits someone I know, so I'll be making it a mate soon). I love the yarn... and you can bet I'll be trying to spin up something like it soon.

Speaking of which... this sounds like a good segue into:

4. Spinning Update

I spun up the 8 ounces of gray Icelandic wool that came with my spinning wheel.


Although I plied the singles last night, I haven't gotten a photo of my 2-ply yarn yet.

I went to the bimonthly meeting of the Nutmeg Spinners Guild on Saturday. I took my wheel with me and got a bit of spinning done. They had an interesting program and a number of great local/regional vendors (as well as a hoard of wonderful spinners - it was so nice to meet you guys). I bought spinning fiber from two of them.

Some soft and springy hand-dyed Cormo from Foxhill Farm (Lee, MA - no website):


The individual fibers are so fine and crimpy it's hard to actually see them. (I'm having great fun trying out various types of wool - it's amazing how different they are!) I've already started spinning some of this up:

IMG_3063.jpg Bug looks on...

I also bought these lovelies from The Painted Sheep:


The white and the blue/green/amber/burgundy mix are both Bluefaced Leicester while the fiber in shades of green is a lovely mix of alpaca, merino, and silk. I look forward to spinning them all!

5. Knitting Update

The Andrea Dogwood Blossom Wrap for Schaefer is coming along. Here it is about 20% done:


I made nearly all of the first Endpaper Mitt, but decided it was turning out huge (except for my cast on edge, which was too tight).


I didn't have a set of 5 dpns of the right size, so I ended up ordering this set from KnitPicks. Even though I've got to rip it out, the mitt gave me some good practice with two-handed stranded colorwork (which is slightly easier for me now). I'll get back to this project soon.

The Endpaper Mitts were meant to be a warm up for more colorwork, so while I was waiting for the dpns to arrive, I went ahead and started Norah Gaughan's Serpentine Coat from Knitting Nature. Here's a photo from the book


I am making a shorter "sweater-length" version using the same yarns called for in the pattern. I decided to convert the pattern for top-down knitting in order to make the body fit well (I'll be able to try it on as I go), so I started with the ribbed collar and have progressed into the yoke:


I wasn't daring enough to knit this in the round with steeks (I also thought it would be hard to try on, which defeats the purpose of knitting top-down), so I'm learning how to do two-handed stranded colorwork on the "wrong" side, too.

...........Ok, that's (more than) enough for now. I have a few more things on my mind, but they'll have to wait until my next post (which will hopefully be sooner than this one was)

Have a great week!