Gearing up for Girasole

>> Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I've been spending a little too much time on Ravelry lately (school blocked both Molehill Empire and Plurk, so I have nothing to do all day but WORK!), and I blame that time for making me cast on another project. A project that I have no business beginning because I have too many other projects waiting to be spun or knit. But honestly, how can you not cast on for this:I humbly present to you Girasole, by Jared Flood (this pic and the one below of the same blanket are both his and are used here without his permission which is why I'm crediting him for the photo now. Sorry, Jared!)

It's a blanket done on size 10.5 needles. It's big - 72 inches in diameter. It will probably take me years to complete. Although, the other Jared Flood pattern I've done (Koolhaas) was probably the quickest project I've ever done start to finish. He is a master of gorgeous and fun-to-knit patterns. When I first saw this pattern on his blog, I knew I wanted to do it. But 1,800 yards of yarn (that's more than a mile!) is expensive, even in cheap acrylic. And I didn't want to do it in cheap yarn. I wanted to do it in true wool yarn. Regretfully I put it on the back page of my queue to start only if I landed a mile of pretty yarn for free.

Then one day last month I posted pictures of my craft room and my yarn stash. I felt sorry for myself for how little yarn I had. The only natural (non-acrylic) stuff I had were several skeins of 100% wool my father has given me over the past few years. He picks them up random places and since I have no idea what do to with it all, I just store it.

And then it hit me.

I have EASILY enough yarn for Girasole if I use that stuff! The wool is great - not the softest, but lots of loft (they are two-plys) and warmth. Perfect for a blanket. The skeins are in three different colors of natural sheep's wool - cream, grey, and chocolate. Perfect! My blanket will have visual interest as I switch colors and I will get to use up all the great yarn my Daddy bought me. I love my daddy more than anyone else on the planet (excluding my husband and cat, of course. It's a three-way tie). Here's the yarn:
Sorry for the crappy pic - the light isn't great in here today. So now I have decisions to make: Namely, which color do I put where? I will have to switch off when the charts change. But do I start with a light center or a dark one? I have more of the cream yarn than the other two colors, so I should probably use that for the edging (I have a nearly completed pair of wool socks I can frog if I need to for more yardage). After a couple of days of thinking, here's where I think I'm at, color-wise:
The darkest yarn (chocolate) will go in the center, where the seeds of the sunflower would be. The medium (gray) will be the petals and the spiral. If I run out of gray, the chocolate can cover that section where the spiral turns back on itself (I'm hoping that doesn't happen, because I think too many color shifts will look like shit). The cream is for the V-pattern, as that is the largest section of the blanket and will therefore take the most yarn. The edging I'm going to wait to see how much yarn of each color I have. I'll blog about it again then to elicit your opinions on the matter.

Actually, I want them now. What do you think? Are the color choices a good or bad idea? Any help you can give is GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!


Spin-a-long progress

>> Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I've been working hard to get my fiber from CJKopec spun for her March spin-a-long. I thought I was only 1/4 done with it, but it turns out I'm about 1/3. I unloaded the first single from my spindle last night. I tried winding it onto my ball winder, but it looked like a cocoon from "Killer Clowns from Outer Space":

and I couldn't figure out why:

Athough the bottom of it looked kind of cool:

Then I realized that I hadn't used the yarn guide. D'oh! So I took the cocoon off of the winder, stuck it in a box with a size 15 wooden needle through it:

and wound it again. The second attempt was much better:

Once that was done, I took the next strip of roving apart - first by color, then by dividing each color into four equal parts:

I start spinning it today. I am *hoping* to have this strip done in about a week which will give me about ten days to spin the third section, ply all three together, wash the skein and take photos of the finished project. I can't WAIT to see how it turns out!


The Giant List of Intent

>> Friday, March 13, 2009

Like many knitters, I have more projects in my "to do" list than I will probably ever have in my "done" list. My Ravelry queue is filled with projects - some for others, many for me. Every time I finish a knitted item (which is very rarely, since I suffer from startitis), I look around for a new project or two to begin. Here is my list (with Ravelry links) of things I'd like to knit once I finish the Scarf of Incessent Cables. The list isn't in a specific order except that I have tried to list projects I already have yarn for first.

  1. Girasole. This looks so beautiful! Everyone who has done the project has said the pattern is both fun to knit and easy to follow. My father brings me skeins of natural sheep's wool that he finds on his travels, so I have all the yarn I could possibly want for this project. I would probably have to buy a 60" cable for my Knit Picks Options needles, but that's only about $4. A blanket that size for such a small price? Fabulous! I do wonder, though, if it's too big a project. I'm the girl that's been knittitng the same sweater for a year and a half. Maybe this one will wait until I'm done the sweater. One everlasting gobstopper of a project at a time.
  2. Elephante. This is for a friend's daughter. The yarn is the same that I knit the Saartje's Bootees in (but I didn't use much yarn for that tiny project). Caitlin, the intended recipient, has a rare autoimmune disorder, so I've purchased bamboo fiber for the stuffing, since it has natural antiseptic qualities.
  3. Toe up socks. This one is super close to my heart, since I will be using my own handspun for the first time. I still have about an ounce left to spin and ply, then will be starting some socks. I've never done toe-up, but want to be able to guage my yard-usage so I have two complete socks. I also would like to try two-at-a-time socks for the same reason. Am I taking on too much with this project? Probably.
  4. Trigger Finger Mitten #2. I made one for my daddy. I just have to make the other one. Preferably before the next hunting season arrives in November.
  5. A "tightly knit hat" for my husband. He wants a hat knit on very small needles so it's wind resistant. He rarely asks for knit objects, so I'd like to be able to do it for him. The question is which yarn/needle combination? I have no answers to this one yet.
  6. Penis chapstick cozy. Why not? I spun some samples of shetland fiber that I think would be perfect for this.
  7. Rogue, with a tree of life pattern on the back. A friend fron Knit Group may get me a discount on some Peace Fleece for this; another friend and I may do a knit-a-long for it.
  8. A shawl. Icarus, Aeolian, Swallowtail, Shipwreck, Laminaria ... I have no idea which one I want to knit (I'm leaning towards Icarus because it looks easy-ish). I do not have yarn for this, although I have enough black 100% merino to spin it up. On a spindle, though, it may take a while!
  9. Vivian. I love, love, love, the look of this sweater. Plus it's in bulky weight so I may actually get it done in a single year! No yarn for it, though, and don't know what I would choose to knit it with, either.
  10. Quickie Cowl. I'd like to use the yarn I made from my Loop fiber for this - it's a wool, alpaca, bamboo blend that would feel awesome around my neck. I'm not sure if I have enough yardage, though. Hmmm.
Sorry for all the Ravelry links - I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use the designer's photos on my blog to show you what they all look like (I bet the answer would be no, anyway). I wonder - do other people have queues like this? I don't know how anyone ever finishes any knitting projects with so many great ones still to be begun.

Did I miss anything? Put the link in my comments - you KNOW I need to add to this list!


It's HERE! Hooray!

>> Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Yesterday in the mail I received my fiber from CJKopec Creations for the March spin-along. It is 4 oz. of merino, colorway "Inquiry". Here it is:

It is very bright and very colorful, and totally different than colors I usually spin (which is why I chose it). Here is Briggs investigating my newest acquisition:

While I was waiting for the fiber to arrive, I thought a lot about how I am going to spin it. Originally I thought I would navajo ply it, but I think I will do a straight three ply instead. Or maybe a two ply. I think plying from two bobbins will make the color shifts a bit more gradual than navajo plying will do. I've separated out each color and broken it into equal parts so that each color is spun by itself in order. Of course, with spindle spinning being an arbitrary beast at best, I'm thinking that I won't get exactly the same yardage out of each color. By plying multiple strands together, I should get a beautiful and gradual color shift. Right? I'm not really sure. The fiber will have to tell me how it wants to be spun and plyed, I guess. I'm through one color repeat so far, and have about 15 more to go. Here's the spindle I'm using, a 7/8oz. bird's eye maple spindle my husband made for me:

Progress pics soon.


A Monday FO

>> Monday, March 9, 2009

Yesterday I was bumming around the house, wondering what I should to (knit? spin? work on the giant chenille knot of Doom?) when I happened upon a friend's plurk. "Melonhead wants everyone to finish a UFO today." Well geez, I thought. I can do that - all I need is about fifteen minutes of work to finish the saartje's bootees I've been working on. I responded to Melon's plurk and got to work. It took a little bit longer than 15 minutes (I HATE weaving in ends!), but they are done. I give you boutrosbabe's saartje's bootees:

I felt great after I got them done. Now I just need to find a cute box to put them in and wait for Amanda's baby shower to gift them. It is so rare that I complete something ahead of schedule, I'm a bit surprised! Of course, yesterday while I was finishing these my friend finished no less than FIVE projects. She is ever so much more dedicated than I. Two of the things she finished, a cherry blossom scarf and a fiddlehead scarf are really beautiful. If you get a chance to look at her stuff, do it! She is truly amazing.

I hope to be receiving my 4 oz of CJKopec's "Inquiry" roving today. I've been stalking my mailbox for it. I hope to have it in my hot little hands this afternoon. I will post pics when I get them done. Until then I'm working on Deidre's plaited cable scarf in the hopes of finishing it soon - it was supposed to be done more than a month ago. Sorry Deedles!

What are you working on?


A tangle of gifts

>> Friday, March 6, 2009

Via plurk and Ravelry, I have become friends with some of the most amazing women. One woman introduced me to spinning by sending me one of her spindles and three bundles of fiber. Just because. Without ever having met me in real life. Becuase of Lori I have discovered a new love. I owe her so much more than gratitude. But Lori's generosity doesn't end there. I purchased some black merino from her last week and in the mail yesterday I got this:

The four braids of black merino I'd purchased plus an entire braid of beautifully dyed 100% silk roving from Enchanted Knoll Farms. It is gorgeous! She is such a wonderful friend. She sent it to me because she knows I haven't spun silk yet. I will be returning her original spindle to her this week or next and am trying to come up with suitable goodies to put in her box. I'm afraid I won't even come close.

I have another friend I've met via plurk. Brandy sent me nearly three ounces of BFL rolags she hand carded herself because she knew I hadn't spun BFL yet. I continuously squee over the softness and fluffiness of the fiber she sent me. I spun up and plied a miniskein of it (approx.41 yards) and took a picture. Isn't it adorable?

She, too, needs a suitable thank you gift. I am working on it.

One of my favorite Plurk ladies, an amazing fiber artist named Coby, offered to GIVE me free of charge, one of her custom blended rovings so that I may participate in her new spin-a-long (my finances are incredibly tight right now). Coby sells her creations for a living; her generosity and sweetness go above and beyond time and again.

To all of the wonderful ladies who have given me gifts beyond measure, thank you. To the ladies on Plurk and Ravelry that keep me laughing each day (especially Carmen), thank you. Your friendship and generosity mean more to me than I can properly express.

Because all this sappy gratefullness gets cloying, I thought I'd leave you with an image of what I've been working on for several days. It's 200yds of cotton chenille that came apart from the neat skein I bought it in. I've been trying to wind it into a center-pull ball:


Spinning Sunday, a day early and late.

>> Monday, March 2, 2009

I usually set aside some time on Sunday to spin, even if it's only for a short time. I was unable to this past Sunday, but since I knew what my schedule was going to look like I decided to spin on Saturday instead. But what to spin? I have 7oz or so of Ashland Bay merino to spin, an ounce of CJKopec Creations' merino/colonial blend to spin (the last of the "pumpkin cappuccino" colorway I bought from her in October) and two 4oz. bundles of natural Shetland from Windswept Farms. I wavered indecisively for a while, and decided that I should distract myself with the day's mail before I made up my mind.

Boy am I glad I did! Brandy from Yarn Tails had sent me a ginormous box filled with natural chocolate and cafe au lait rolags of BFL (blue faced leiscter). I've not yet spun BFL and squealed with delight when I stuck my hands into the fiber mass and squeezed. It was SO soft, SO fluffy, so WONDERFUL! I immediately grabbed an empty spindle and started spinning. The rolags make for an exceptionally fluffy spin - they draft like warm butter. I'm going to alternate the light and dark colors and navajo ply it so it becomes a striping yarn. I cannot thank Brandy enough for her generous gift. I'm definitely a BFL believer!

In other news, I am signed up to take part in Coby Kopec's first spin-a-long. She has twenty new blends in her shop and chose two gorgeous colorways to pick from for the month's spinning challenge. I chose 4 oz. of "inquiry" and will post Coby's picture here. It should be mailed some time this week. I can't wait to start spinning that, too! I hope to get one or two spinning projects finished in that time (most notably the rest of her "pumpkin cappuccino"). I'll be spinning a lot in the next few weeks.

Finally, I am halfway done a knitting project that is almost too cute for words. I'm making a pair of Saartje's Baby Bootees for a friend who is having a baby girl in May. One bootee is complete except for buttons. Isn't it adorable?


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