Saturday, 30 January 2016

The Day of Rip and Re-knit

I should be knitting - I've got two pair of mittens to make for someone - but I needed to take a break and play on Ravelry and come here and whinge a bit. The first pair of mittens is being what you might call frustrating. I'm sure once I get it started properly it will be fine, but the getting started seems to be the problem.

See, they need to be a different size than the pattern is supposed to make. And normally that's basic math. Do a gauge swatch, do a little math, find out how many stitches are needed, and adjust pattern accordingly. It is not working out according to plan today. I have ripped out and restarted the mittens 4 times so far, and half the problem is that my gauge swatch was a big fat liar, giving me an extra stitch per inch. The other main problem was me missing the fact that they use a Norwegian construction where you start with less stitches on the palm side, and I was doing the calculations as if palm and back started with the same stitch count. 

So the day went like this. Start with 80 or 90 stitches, realize it's too big a cuff, rip out. Start with 72 stitches of cuff and increase to 86. Realize the increases should be part of the thumb gusset instead and rip them out. Start the pattern, realize it's divided incorrectly between palm and back of hand, rip out. Restart the pattern, realize halfway up the thumb that the mitt looks big, recheck gauge, discover your stitch count will result in a mitten too big by at least an inch, and rip out yet again. 

Sigh. That mitten had better work this time (knock wood, hopefully I've made all the mistakes now...). I will get to it right after I make a cup of tea. 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Quilt Square 2016

When I did the square last year for a local quilting group's fundraiser at the fair, it was 'easy' fabrics. That is, the fabrics supplied were nice blues, one solid and one print, and it was easy to find fabrics to match with them for the square.

This year's are a little more challenging, and it will be interesting to see what everyone else produces, in their choice of colour and pattern. Because we got two prints, and one is a little...intense. The other one is uber-neutral, almost washed out. I'm betting someone destashed those because they had no idea what to do with them. The orange one, certainly - I'm not sure why anyone would have bought a large piece of it, or what they would have planned to do with it.

Both my mother and I decided we wanted to tone it down a little, and anyway, the only orange material in stash was too red to work with the colour on the large print. After a little hemming and hawing, and a rummage through the cupboards, we decided on similar-but-not-identical additions. A blue-black to match the large print, plus a colour that picks up one of the shades where other colours mix; olive in her case, burgundy-rust in mine.

The flowers on my orange-print square were centred enough that I thought it might be nice to try and keep them as a centre motif, so I looked for a pattern that would be fairly simple and have a large central piece. And I found this one:

Black for the corners, beige and red for the triangles, and the orange stuff for the centre. I think it'll work. Now to draft the pieces.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Filling the Gap

It feels like this has been a super-productive weekend. Besides teaching a spinning class at L'Ourse Qui Danse ranch, I managed to finish off and deliver two fairly large projects. The first was a sweater going to a client of the ranch, so she will get it in time for her birthday next week.

Pattern base was Pioneer from Knitty, with mods to account for different gauge, stitch pattern, and sleeve length. It makes life so much easier when the client has measurements close to my own - so easy to try on and check things. Especially when it's a large, fitted item like said sweater.

Came home from the ranch yesterday and knitted all evening, and finished off the second project, a lace shawl (#28 lace shawl from Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2012). Yarn, an alpaca/silk laceweight dyed with blackberry canes. Blocked it before bed, and it was dry in the morning, photographed after breakfast, and delivered this afternoon.

I normally block lace on the bed or the carpet at the apartment, but since I was out at the parents', it wasn't an option. Beds were all in use overnight, and there's no carpeting. Mom had the brilliant idea, though, to block on the TV room rug. Not only is it the only rug in the place large enough for a shawl, but the TV room is right above the kitchen and the woodstove, and heat rises. It's the warmest room in the house, so the shawl dried quickly, even sandwiched between towels and flannel sheets (I covered it to prevent any feline 'help' overnight, especially since Gail has taken to misbehaving in baskets in the TV room).

Now I have a few days' gap to poke at projects that are not commissions, and it feels a little peculiar. First time since early November I haven't been knitting a commission. Thursday I'm meeting with someone to choose patterns and colours for a couple pairs of mittens. Until then there will be spinning, and some work on a pattern I've been promising myself will get done soon, especially since I have a couple test knitters lined up already. And I want to start this year's quilt square for the fair - Mom and I chose fabrics this afternoon, and I think I know the pattern I want.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Fight Against Distractions

I'm falling behind on the spinning...there's some kid mohair on the wheel, and I do a little every day, but not much.

Nominally, that's because I have a knitting deadline coming up. A sweater, in bicolour half-linen stitch, which I want to be done by Saturday. The first sleeve was finished this morning, so one sleeve and the neckline trim left (the picture was taken a couple days ago).

But half-linen stitch, in fingering weight, is, um, boring after a while. And I should be spinning when I need a break, I know, but I have another distraction. I'm puzzling. I like doing puzzles, and I got this one for Christmas.

So I do a bit of that when I get tired of knitting...then a little more....and the time slips away too damn fast. (I told you about the time I got so caught up in a puzzle I let the woodstove go out, and sat there wondering why it was so cold in the house, right?) Next thing I know, an hour's gone, my tea is cold, and the knitting isn't getting done. Time to exercise some willpower (and set a timer). Because when that puzzle's done? There are more. A friend of a friend was destashing, and several of her puzzles came home with me...

Sunday, 10 January 2016

More Spinning

I'm feeling reasonably productive with the spinning. The beige cria/silk for Johanne was plied Friday afternoon, washed Saturday, and dry and measured this morning. Total of 287 yards of 2-ply in beige (the two skeins shown) and 532 yards in the brown.

The third skein in the picture is yesterday's work. I spent the day picking, carding, and spinning a small skein of mohair from some fibre I was given on commission. I lost a lot in the picking process that was too felted or too short to salvage. It turned out to be only 68 yards of 2-ply in the end, maybe sport-weight, but at least it is enough for the owner to do something with it. And it is very nicely white and shiny, even if it wasn't the softest mohair. I was thinking I could add some mohair from my stash if necessary - if it looked like there wouldn't be much to spin after picking. But I didn't, so I guess today's spinning can be some nice kid mohair roving...

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Old Year Out and New Year In

We did have our dusting of snow before Christmas, just in time to cut the tree - then a meltdown and the rather astonishing fact of Christmas eve being something like 16C, warm enough to go out without coat and mittens after dark, warm enough to not need the stove on at all. And warm enough to find a few flowers in the garden and have a tiny bouquet on the holiday table, something new in my experience. I mean, really, who expects flowers here in late December? But the lamium was blooming and the hellebore in bud.

The snow came two days later, starting as rain. The ground stayed soft long enough for the sad necessity of the day, burying our older dog. He had some sort of attack Christmas night, and lost most of the use of his back end as well as his desire to eat. We helped him drink, and stretchered him outside and held him up for calls of nature for the day after that (two sweatshirts, two hockey sticks, and two or three people required - not the usual use for one's first-aid training), and he didn't suffer much. Sad to see him go, but glad it was fairly quick and calm for his sake. It felt odd, though, having normal life flow on right afterwards, as I was headed to brunch soon after with friends I see only rarely, and then preparing to return to the city the next day.

And with normal life comes the fibre, in my case. Not that that aspect was absent over the holidays, with a pair of leg warmers to knit and ship, and my brother's special glove liners to knit. Oh, the time we had with those liners. He traced his gloves and measured it all - in centimetres, if you please. Only he left out a few measurements I wanted, and a phone call didn't really help, since I ended up with some numbers that didn't add up. So I waited until he came home on the 23rd, did my own dang measuring, and knitted them up. In laceweight black cashmere. But they turned out well, only I didn't think to take pictures. But the sketch will be handy for another time.

I fought with a lined hat next. I always seem to fight with hats. No matter how carefully I measure head and gauge, they end up too loose or too tight. In this case it was the latter, and I had to rip back most of the hat and redo it, since I had started from the crown. Then the brim was flaring and that had to be fixed. But it is now mostly done. (At least, I know what I need to change next time!)

First project of the new year was another (quicker) hat, for a commission, and now there's a shawl (also commissioned) on the needles. I kind of love the hat, because it matches my normal hairstyle and colour.

But my focus is shifting towards spinning for the rest of the month. Heather of hellomello and I decided last fall we would do a little destashing SAL. New Years' revolutions instead of resolutions. And I'm a little slow off the mark, but I have managed to get a bobbin spun and two plied of Jo's cria/silk blend, and the second bag of the stuff is started. Now I just have to see about getting set up on Instagram to share my progress ;)