Yarn Treats from Edinburgh

My dad recently had a business trip to Scotland, and very kindly offered to accept a yarn-purchasing commission from me.  He took time out of his schedule to stop by Kathy’s Knits to pick up some treats.  My commission was for a sweater’s worth of Blacker Swan, 10 balls of which I am now the excited owner.

Blacker Swan Falkland Islands Wool

Gorse Gold is the colorway.  I’m going to make Kate Davies’ Edinburgh-inspired Braid Hills cardigan to match.  Swatch is completed – casting on today!

Braid Hills swatch

 

I also got 3 other surprise yarn treats from Scotland – will post them later!

Long-overdue Knitting Update

It’s been so long since I’ve mentioned any knitting projects I have going on.  The sad news is that I’ve been very busy this summer and have not had much time to knit, so my lovely stash yarns and my long list of wonderful projects that I have in mind have been languishing, untouched.

What I have gotten done in the last couple of months is (1) finishing the first pair of socks to match my turnagain cowl, and (2) most of a pair of socks for John.

John's Neville Socks

 

This has been a fun pair to work on – although his feet are enough larger than mine that it feels like I have been knitting these forever.  It’s my first pair of toe-up socks, so while I’m basing them off of the stitch pattern & Eye of Partridge heel of these Neville Socks, I have had to do some calculating and adjustment.  The heelflap and gusset construction is a little strange going “backward” (I’ve only ever done it top down before) but I like the method quite a lot, and anticipate doing all of my socks toe-up from now on.

The yarn for John’s socks is Madeleine Tosh, and one of my 4th of July purchases at Cannon Beach.  Someone was sympathizing with John for having been dragged into a yarn shop on a holiday, and he replied that “maybe at least he’d get a pair of socks out of it.”  After that, how could I leave without him choosing a sock skein?  If it was a scheme, it worked.

My turnagain socks turned out quite well.  I don’t have a photo of them finished, but I’ve been wearing them pretty hard since mid-July and the Black Trillium Merilon yarn is holding up well – nice and sturdy – and I’m pleased with the way the stripe pattern turned out.  Photos, perhaps, coming … eventually ….

Mustaches, Pt. 2

I realize we may seem to have a strange mustache fixation going on these last few weeks; I’ve been reading Poirot after Poirot, there was the wedding photo booth, and now this…

"The Eccentric"

Irresistable.

We found it in a yarn shop in Manzanita, for “taking your ‘stache with you wherever you go.”

(For non-knitters, the “stash” is how we refer to all the extra yarn we own that we haven’t gotten around to knitting up yet.  Mine, unfortunately, seems to be growing.  I need to work on that!)

Finished: Turnagain Cowl (#1)

I haven’t done a crafting update in quite a while; this is mostly because I haven’t had much of anything exciting to share since finishing my shawl.  I’m stalled on the fleece right now, since I want to try a spinning wheel as well as a drop spindle before I do much more with it, and this project took quite a bit longer to actually get off the needles than I thought and hoped it would.   But here it finally is!

CowlPart of the problem was the unending end-weaving, that felt like it would never be over.  I took it a little at a time – and end or two here and there – and eventually completed it.  Of course it might have been finished much faster if I had just done it all at once – but if I had decided to do it that way, I’m quite sure I would still be waiting for the right time to sit down and do it in 2019.

The other issue was that once actually confronted with them, the hundreds of stitches that needed to be cast off with a three-needle bind off – the live ones on the needles together with the opposite end, provisionally-cast-on-ones – looked quite daunting also.  But again, I finally settled down to it and persevered, and here is the cowl!

Cowl in a SquareI imagine this is mostly how I’ll wear it:

double-wrapped cowlDoubled up cozily and with part of each stripe pattern showing.

Bonus excitement: I have enough yarn left over to make two pairs of socks!  One will be mostly the dark teal, with stripes of the other colors around the ankles, and the other will be mostly the sea green with darker stripes.  Hooray.

Nascent Socks

Allerton Fun

… and fun with collages as well.

It was quite a warm day, so the boys enjoyed a nice Resting Pyramid and Maxwell panted in hopes of staying cool while Mom and Dad (and I) examined the peonies more closely.

Mom and Ryan also both graciously helped by taking some photos of my shawl.  There were passing clouds, so the exposure is a little strange here and there, but I think they both got some the captured the shawl well.  (Well – the last one of me reaching for the camera doesn’t really show off the shawl, but I think it’s a pretty cool shot of Ryan’s, so it’s there anyway.)

Blocking – Shawl

The shawl I cast on a couple of weeks ago is finally done.  It took much longer than anticipated … probably because I have not had much knitting time the last few weeks.  While I thought I’d have it blocking out a week ago, and a second project started, I didn’t finish weaving in the end until 10pm last night.

My feelings about this shawl have undergone wild swings over the last few weeks.  It’s my first attempt at designing with lace, and my first attempt at designing a shawl, and at times I’ve been full of excitement and thrilled certainty that it would be the most beautiful, perfect shawl the knitting world has seen – then the next day, cast into the depths of despair at how horribly far from my ideal it was becoming.  Now that it’s finished, it’s not really what I envisioned at first, but I’m quite pleased, hovering nicely in the neutral-to-happy zone of considering it a good learning experience and a good first attempt.

The most important lesson learned?  Don’t try to design a shawl on super-special stash yarn, with a two week deadline.  The process would have been much better if I’d had more time to rip back and experiment, and if I hadn’t been stressed about using up every inch of a beautiful cashmere.

At any rate, here are some details from the shawl.  I used stitch patterns (and modified ones) from Barbara Walker’s first stitch dictionary.  On the outer edge, the “shower stitch” lace (to me: rose petals) with extra increases and a 2-row garter stitch edge, which I’m blocking into points:

"shower stitch" petal edging

The middle section is a variation on the Rose Trellis lace:

Rose Trellis lace

and the top is a “little leaf” mesh, which to me looks like stacked rows of rose buds.

little leaf (rosebud) lace

See a theme?  I haven’t quite decided on a name yet, but my inspiration is our beautiful Rose City….

Photos next week of the finished, complete project!

Carding

My fleece is finally dry!

Dry Fleece

… and today I got to try my hand at carding, although not literally, thank goodness.  Working an entire fleece by hand with carding paddles does not look very pleasant at all.  Instead, I borrowed a tabletop sized electric drum carder at my local yarn shop.

Drum Carder

 

It really is a tiny version of the industrial sized cards I posted about last week.  You feed the fleece in from the left, under a small roller (hidden by the brush above) with coarse bristles, from which it’s transferred onto the larger, more finely bristled drum on the right.

Feeding the Fleece

A surprising large amount of fleece fits onto that large drum; here’s how much I got off on the first pass (probably about 5% of my total fleece).

Carded fleece

 

That lid is about 18″ by 30″, for reference….

 

I realized after beginning that the whole process works better if you pull apart the little hanks of hair (or french fries, as I’m still calling them internally) before feeding them in.  So curly and pretty!

Pulling apart a hank

 

It dawned on me today that Maxwell hasn’t made a blog appearance in a surprisingly long time, so – here’s him looking cutely annoyed at the noise of the machine.

 

Maxwell

 

(And also the very large volume of fleece I still had left to card….)

Before continuing with the carding, though, I was so excited to have a little bit of real roving of my own that I borrowed a drop spindle, read a quick tutorial online, and spun up a little bit of sample yarn.  It’s pretty terrible – not even at all and maybe over twisted or under twisted or who knows what, but it’s mine, from my very own fleece!

Yarn

Perhaps I will celebrate by knitting a coaster or a tiny scarf for Bruno.