Friday, April 30, 2010


Puny skein gave me another inch on the latest sheep to sock project. The rather abrupt color change doesn't make me as unhappy as the idea of having to go work with the rest of that icky Corriedale I bought to finish the project. I am using every excuse I can think of to not find the time to drag it out for carding.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Accident?

I hated the awful dye job I did on the sock blank but the socks are not too bad after all. Sock blanks are such a mystery to me. I still don't get how those wide bands of color became these skinny stripes. I am not sure what's going to happen once I get to the stripe-less dark side but for now I am cautiously counting this a small success-or maybe a not-so-giant failure.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Little Surprise

That unfortunate dyeing experiment is not looking so bad now that I have unwound it into balls. I usually knit from the blank but I just couldn't bear to look at that thing anymore. The resulting yarn is pleasantly tweedy. My slap and dash dyeing habit may have just saved the day as the dye did not saturate all the way through leaving lots of little flecks of white that don't look as bad as a I expected.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Drawing a Blank

I am determined to get what I want out of a sock blank no matter how many I knit and then ruin. Here I go on victim #3. Now that the weather is nice, I am heading out for walks again and nothing is a better mindless knit than a sock blank.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Half and Half

So far, I have made a ton of fingering weight yarn out of my mystery wool batts and there is still more to ply. My big plan, before I learned to chain ply, was to spin them all in a striped order resulting in large blocks of color-but that is not exactly what happened. The overlap of colors was not as small as I imagined so it wasn't long before all I had was a barber pole blend.

As usual, the wool knows better than I do, so the colors actually look better where they mix. Unfortunately however, I now have half a skein of solid colored wool and half a skein of stripes. What in the world is this destined to become?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

All Wound Up-Sideways

I have spent the better part of a morning trying to figure out how to post a video, so I could show a newbie knitting friend how I wound up her skeins and turned them into these cute little yarn cakes. It's loads of fun but requires too much equipment for a quick lunch break meet-up.

I can't get the video to play right side up no matter what I do, so I apologize for all the head turning that needs to happen in order to see it straight. I swear, the thing is playing great off the desk top but looks pretty terrible here. The howling cat soundtrack is another issue all together.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Not Again!

Smaller needles + smaller yarn =another giant hat. I thought I had the gauge thing figured out this time around. I also left out several rows of the pattern just to be on the safe side. Even Daughter can't pull off this look. I think me and the moose are done for good this time. For crap's sake.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sad Little Batt Becomes a Sad Little Skein

Puny batt is now a puny little ball of yarn that is going to give me only another inch or so on the sibling socks. I chain plied it with a spindle right off the wheel which was interesting as it took me a few minutes to realize that the reason I couldn't remember how to chain ply was that I was trying to use my left hand because the wheel was on my right. I suppose you had to be there but I seriously was confused. It doesn't take much these days.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Misadventures With a Dye Pot

I did my homework. I got out my books and studied how to get some subtle color variations using a single dye color. The directions said to let part of the sock blank soak for a few minutes longer than the other part. So far so good, until I got the bright idea of adding a little more water to the pot to weaken the dye solution just a bit for the second part.

Not a good idea as you can see here. In fact this is just plain awful. This is the point where I panicked, grabbed the dye and a brush and just start painting away.

Eek! It's sloppy stripes. How original of me. Go ahead. Have a giggle at my expense. I deserve it. I have ruined a lot of perfectly good wool this week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Third Times the Charm?

It is nearing the end of April already and I am still obsessing over a silly winter hat. I finally located some decent acrylic sport weight and actually sat down and looked at the gauge numbers so I am somewhat hopeful that this may turn out to be a hat that fits a human head.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ready to Ply

My new cheap (-er $149 is not actually cheap) digital camera and I are not getting along at all. It does not want to take closeups with any quality at all. It's fine for FO mug shots but trying to capture a bobbin or two of singles is proving to be a problem no matter what lighting I use.

Having made my excuses for the poor quality photo, let me explain that this is last summer's dyeing project. I used my new drum carder to make lots of little single colored batts, tore them into 2 inch strips and then spun them all winter in order, hoping to get wide blocks of color on the socks they are about to come. We shall see. I rarely plan out anything in advance like this so I am anxious to see if I pulled this off.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

In the Wings

Having just finished my psychedelic Swallowtail, I placed two separate orders for some single colored Merino from Copper Moose. First I ordered an olive wool but then decided it was too dark to bring out those Nupps that I am so proud of conquering. This is the second arrival this week, chartreuse, and it is some of the loveliest, softest wool I have ever had the pleasure to play with. I thought I would get bored spindling a single color but I can happily report I still look forward to picking it up everyday at lunch. With only 42 days left in my school year (and my school LIFE) I am wondering how far I will get before the lure of the summer projects (i.e. giant messes in the kitchen) takes over.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

E Books

I bought Spin Your Socks from Interweave not realizing it was an ebook. It sat here on my desktop for months and months while my printer had one hissy fit after another. Just when I decided to go replace the old HP Officejet 4110, it decided to come out of its coma and print up a storm. 32 pages with huge color photos. It took the old thing all day to churn them out but here they are in a format I can finally read. My age is showing, but I have decided I hate ebooks. I am not too crazy about downloading patterns anymore either. Sure you get them right away but my creaky old technology makes that difficult. Very difficult. Let's keep the US Postal Service in business-just mail me the stuff from now on, please.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ugly Little Batt

It is ugly and it is very puny. After picking out tons of neps and other nasties from a disappointing bag of washed Corriedale, I managed to card up this tiny little thing. This is going to spin up in a split second and should give me only another inch or so on the sibling socks and then it will be back to digging through the remainder of that bag to try to scrape together enough to finish the job. I am not looking forward to that because along with being just plain annoying, I think that wool gave me a rash.

AND since there was no way I could duplicate the original dye job, I am going to have to continue with the browns but switch up the other colors so it looks like I might have had the foresight to plan this ahead. Ahem. I have no idea why I might have started dyeing batts in the first place. It is much better to dye the wool and then card the colors together. Dyeing this wispy thing was not fun. I am lucky it remained intact.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool

I have not yet made peace with my new camera but I decided to go ahead and record my handspun Swallowtail's half-assed blocking adventure anyway. This is the wool I bought and began spindling on the car ride home from last year's MD S &W. As usual, I declared this the ugliest thing ever for the entire time I was working on it. I owe it an apology. It is pretty. The colors are not the best choice, true, but it still works, even with those pesky semi-visible nupps.

I also always love to whine and complain about my blocking skills, so here goes: They are terrible, even with all my fancy new blocking equipment. As soon as I post this I am going to go fix that middle section. That photo is driving me crazy. I just don't have the patience to coax out every little yarnover to mathematical perfection. After all, I am just going to tie this thing around my waist and prance around the muddy fairgrounds at this year's festival which, is only weeks away.

If you are going, you'll be able to pick me out of the crowd now. I'll also be wearing my "Hello My Name is Araignee" button just in case this is the year for wonky colored Swallowtails.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


These are NOT my finished objects, I am sad to say. In fact this is the work of a total newbie who just learned to cast on 3 weeks ago. Seriously. When a non-knitting co-worker came and asked me to teach her how to knit socks I had to hide a little laugh at her beginner's ambition. As we all know socks are HARD. At first. I totally discouraged her and put her to work knitting cowls in the round and back and forth on garter stitch dishrags. But she showed me. On returning from spring break she produced this adorable little sock that she made following the directions she found on You Tube and Ravelry. She even managed to change colors after I told her not to. Not yet, anyway. I have seen so many beginning knitters crash and burn that it just seems to make more sense to encourage them to start slow. Very slow. Not anymore.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

So Special

The "one of a kind" colorways are hard to resist for the simple fact that YOU managed to get YOUR hands on something no one else will get the chance to have. A bit selfish, I suppose but when it comes to Fiber Optic pencil roving bad behavior is perfectly acceptable. I would steal this stuff if I had to. It's that good.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Digital Camera-Less

Who is the giant idiot who forgot their digital camera was charging when she picked up the laptop causing the camera to hit the floor and break? That would be me. This weekend I managed to finish the Swallowtail and now I have no way to capture the blocking process. I took a fuzzy pre-blocking snap with my phone but it's certainly not the quality I would want for so monumental a project. Having said that, I can already see that I will disappointed in the results of yet another handspun lace effort. This may be the thinnest yarn that I have spun so far, but it still lacks the ethereal gossamer quality of true lace weight-though it would have made great sock yarn. I am also still not loving the colors with this pattern. You can't even see the nepps. Today after work I will have to stop somewhere and pick up another camera. Until then I am rolling this thing back up and packing it away.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Daughter couldn't wait to show me her new hand knit sweater from J Crew. It appears to be a seamless raglan. The way the pattern is incorporated into the shaping is pretty amazing, as is the pink garter stitch trim on the edges. I had no idea she would wear something that looks like this and I just have to wonder if she would find it just as wonderful if I had made it for her instead of some anonymous knitter in China.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Faux Tea for Two

I placed my order less than 48 hours ago and the folks at Adagio Teas had it all on my doorstep this morning.
In addition to another big bag of Honeybush Rooibos, I added a shiny new two cup teapot and tea warmer to my order. I have rigged up countless makeshift tea warmers in my time and as a result have lost a few of my favorite pots so it was time to get something sturdy.

I love my tea but my tea is not loving me. I had to switch from my beloved Yorkshire Gold to a herbal to save my poor stomach lining. With a splash of rice milk and a cube of sugar the Honeybush is dark and mild enough that I can pretend that I have a cuppa the good stuff. Add a gluten free scone and a spoonful of apricot preserves and I'm in pretend tea heaven.

Friday, April 9, 2010

You Get What You Pay For

I needed some Corriedale to finish some socks, so as I have previously posted, I ordered some pre-washed fiber and was terribly disappointed in the quality. I dug through the stash and found some Corriedale locks that I had bought last summer and gave them a quick wash.

They turned out super gorgeous.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

More Spin As I Go Sibling Socks

The chain plied yarn is knitting up like any other sport weight hand spun. Thank goodness. The extra thickness of the yarn is creating a very cushy fabric that I am thinking will make great socks-for NEXT winter. We have reached the point of no return here for the flip flops. Once I go to the trouble to do my toes, I'm showing them off no matter how chilly it gets.

Sadly, this is the project that is causing me all the recent Corriedale drama. As you can see here, I am already almost out of yarn and there is still a very LONG way to go. Why I would start socks when I know I didn't have enough yarn is beyond me, but it's too late to turn back now.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One Trick Pony

All my excitement over my new colors completely evaporated when all I managed to create was the EXACT SAME dribble and splat pattern on this sock blank that I have created too many times before. As bad as this is, the batt that I dyed to look like a dirty diaper is worse. Much worse.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The 11th Hour

I sobbed my way home from the airport after dropping off son #2 this afternoon and then had some quiet me time on the deck with a bag of newly arrived washed Corriedale. I wish I could say it was a cure for my post holiday blues but the fiber was full of neps and short cuts. I was VERY disappointed. Being sad and mad at the same time isn't much fun. To make it worse, these were my last few precious hours of spring break.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday

Here in the Washington DC area, Easter Monday is for rolling your eggs on the White House lawn. Since this year's invitation must have been lost in the mail, our eggs are still tucked away in the fridge.

The leftover dye is bottled up and waiting for some freshly washed fleece. As soon as I drop #2 son off at the airport and finish boo-hooing my way back home, I hope to have a few minutes left of my precious spring break to steam up a rainbow or two.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

I realize that Easter is in April this year but the cute little bunny is in the March square of my calendar sampler. Please admire my french knot eyes. You would not believe how many tries it took to get them to look like eyes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

My Grownup Easter Basket

I have a friend in France who each year sends me the most amazingly delicious Easter goodies on the planet. I have been trying to go Gluten Free since daughter's Celiac's diagnosis, but all bets are off now that this stuff has arrived. In return, I always send him a box of snacks American style. This year: Cheez-Its, Hershey's Kisses, Beef Jerky and 100 calorie pack Oreo cookies. Not quite an even swap, but he enjoys our junk food-or at least he says he does!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Eureka Or April Fool?

This long journey started last summer with these little Corriedale mini batts that I washed, dyed and then spun.

I spent fruitless hours trying to learn how to Navajo ply so I could do justice to my hand dyed colors.

Then, while cleaning off my coffee table last night, I spied this copy of Spin Off in which Abby Franquemont, in an excerpt from Respect the Spindle, demonstrates plying techniques and something just clicked.

In minutes I had my mini batt singles chain plyed into something almost acceptable. I say almost because the yarn is not dry or knit into a sample and I certainly don't want to anger the yarn gods with my lack of humility. My last few samples came out looking like Curly Sue on a very bad hair day.

I am still waiting for my copy of Respect the Spindle to arrive. There is a Ravelry forum dedicated to seeing who will be the last to receive their pre-ordered signed copy. I ordered mine in October. Abby has had tons of issues getting the copies out and since fiber folk are the nicest people on the planet there is not a single snark in any of the 3293 posts. Amazing. My little sample proves that this must be a book certainly worth waiting for. And waiting for. Only now the wait has become even harder still.