Friday, October 28, 2005

Finally, pictures of the finished gansey! I finished this Wednesday night, after knitting the collar three times. First I did it with neck gussets, but that made it too small, then I did it without the gussets, and that was fine, except that I didn't like the transition between the body and the collar. I frogged it again, and added a round of purl between the body stitches and the collar stitches, and that finally looked right to me. Luckily, the yarn held up really well to being frogged that much!

You may notice that there is a slight difference in the overall look of the patterning in these pictures, compared to the last picture I posted.

After I had finished the entire front and back and joined the shoulders with the straps, I realized that the proportions were all off. There was too much space above the underarm gusset for the armhole, and the area below the gussets looked stubby. So, I took a deep breath, frogged the shoulder straps and an inch and a half of each of the front and back, and snipped one of the stitches in the stockinette portion. I picked out one complete round of the stockinette, and put all the stitches back on the needles. I used the yarn unravelled from the tops of the front and back to knit another inch and a half of stockinette into the middle of the sweater. Then I spent two hours kitchenering the whole thing back together. Whew!

I am, however, very glad I spent the time to do this. The sweater looks better, it will fit better, and I won't have the problem of wonky proportions staring at me every time Emma wears the sweater. Best of all, you can't even tell where the kitchenered row is!

(It's at the red arrow...)

So the sweater is done, I like it, and I only had to use three skeins of yarn. I got both sleeves, the cuffs, and the collar from the third skein! There isn't an appreciable difference in the feel of the fabric between the body and the sleeves, despite using a slightly thinner yarn.

Here's what I have left over:

Ten yards! I was getting a little nervous toward the end of the second sleeve!

A shameless plug- I put the last two skeins of this yarn up for sale in my store, if anyone's interested.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I'm feeding a friend's cat this week, and she lives down a mile-long dirt road flanked by big fields. As I was driving there this morning, it was an amazing sight. The whole fields were covered by spiderwebs, each glistening with fog. Most were the big wheel-type like this:

But I also found this 3" one, which was particularly fancy:

The fields were purely beautiful.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Another few hours knitting last night, and the sweater is now an inch short of a finished back. I was pleased to see that you can't tell where I joined the second ball of yarn, except that there are still two floppy loose stitches because I haven't woven in the tails yet. It's about 2/3 of the way up, towards the right side.

I purposely picked out the two skeins that were closest in grist to knit the body with. The first was 58 yards per ounce, and the second was 59. This measurement was pretty quick and dirty. I took the length measurement from my niddy noddy, which is only approximate, because yarn stretchage (I just made up that word) and yarn piling up will both change the length of the yarn travelling around the arms of the niddy noddy, and my scale only measures to tenths of an ounce, so there could be as much as two tenths difference in weight between the two skeins depending on how the scale rounds off.

I get the impression so far (less than a quarter of the way into the second skein) that the second skein is very slightly thinner than the first. However, you can't tell the difference in the knitting, and the gauge didn't change. I have these first two skeins that are nearly identical for the body, and a third that is a bit thinner (61 yds/oz) for the sleeves. Hopefully I can get both sleeves from one skein. The cuffs and collar (and any remaining sleeve area) will be from the fourth skein, which is about 65 yds/oz. I expect that the little "leftover" skein, Navajo-plied from the last bobbin, will not be used on the sweater, and maybe I can use it in a hat.

This will make the body of the sweater the warmest part, since it has the thickest yarn. The sleeves can be lighter weight, which also allows for easier movement. I'm hoping that the gauge won't change too much with the thinner yarn, but if it does, I'll just pick up a few more stitches and go down a needle size.

I also discovered last night, when I put the front and back stitches on separate needles, that the circumference of the body is 30 inches, not 28. I guess having something on one circular needle so it can't really lay flat isn't the most accurate way to measure. That's OK, though, because I actually planned the sweater around a 30" circumference, based on my swatch gauge, and thought that it was just coming out smaller due to the swatch lying to me. Either way it's still big enough for Emma to grow into, and I'm happy with the fabric.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Well, after finishing all ten of the hardanger tops, I was feeling in need of a bit of a change. I was longing for the feel of wool in my fingers. I've done so much fiddly lacy stuff recently, that I wanted a project on a larger scale.

So I thought about what I have in my fiber closet, and remembered the pretty turquoise yarn I spun last March that was slated to become a sweater for Emma. I pulled it out and dutifully swatched:

That's size 4, 5, and 6 needles, bottom to top. Size 5 seemed to be the one to use. The 6's gave a fabric that was a bit floppy, and while the size 4's gave a lovely thick swatch, but I was afraid if I made a whole sweater with them, Emma wouldn't be able to move her arms! Gauge with the 5's is 6 stitches and 7 rows to the inch.

After swatching, it was 9:30 pm, and I had to get up for work in the morning. The logical, responsible, adult thing to do would be to take myself off to bed, happy with the knowledge that I was all ready to cast on the next night and dive into the sweater. And still able to get up in the morning and be coherent enough do things like actually feed my daughter breakfast.

I never said I was logical.

I stayed up until 3:00 am, knitting. Stupid, stupid me. The bright side is that I really like the way the yarn is knitting up, the size is working out the way I planned, and I think I'll have enough yarn to finish the whole thing. That's about 4 1/2" there, and I'm almost ready to start the underarm gussets. This is going to be a gansey-style sweater, with braided cables and ladders up the body, shoulder straps with braided cables that continue down the arms, and a rolled collar. The body is about 28" in circumference, and this will be for Emma next winter. She already has a sweater for this winter.

Channel Island cast-on gives such a pretty edge that it's worth the pain of actually doing it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And the last two...

Woven bars, wrapped bars, dove's eyes, and a spiderweb:

Wrapped bars, dove's cotes, and greek crosses:

The curved bars turned out well on this one.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Another quick post to show the next four of the sachet tops. I did the first two of these on Saturday, and the last two Sunday night.

Square filet, large dove's eye, and picots:

Dove's cote (this will look better after it's pressed- the curved bars don't really show up well here):

Wrapped bars, greek crosses, and dove's eye:

Dove's eye, picots, and divided branches:

I think the last one is my favorite so far. I'll probably do the last two tonight, and maybe start some bookmarks on the narrow edge of fabric that's left over. I think there's a wide enough strip to do maybe two bookmarks. At this rate, I'll have all my Christmas presents done early!

It's been really fun coming up with all the designs for the centers of the sachets.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Well, howdy. (My mom used to say that when something was amazing or surprising.) Lookit this!

I not only figured out how to create a button of my very own, I also managed to set up an online shop, make a logo for it, stock it, and link the button to it from my blog! You'd almost think I knew what I was doing.....

I'm going to try this shop thing out for a while and see how it goes. Feel free to stop by!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A quick post to show what I've been working on recently. This is my current hardanger project- more sachet tops. I figure it'll be good to have them on hand, either for Christmas presents or to sell at the Fair next year.

So, the overview of all ten:

And the close-ups:

I'm going to do each one with different stitches in the middle so I don't get bored and because it's good practice.

And here's the product of three hour's spinning last night. The lace flyer and I have successfully bonded. This is I-don't-know-how-many yards of 145 wpi merino/silk singles. This should ply up to about 75 wpi two-ply, which will be knitted into lace at some point.

Not quite froghair, but getting close. Don't you just love the term froghair?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's been a while! Apparently, I've been busy. This week has flown by, and I have so much to catch up on that it's a bit overwhelming.

The first fun thing that happened was that Emma and I went on the annual "Apple Raid" last weekend. This is a Lab tradition, where everyone at the Lab is invited to go over to Shaw Island to a Lab property that has a very old and neglected apple orchard. We pick apples and basically fill a 15 passenger van, then spend several hours the next day pressing them into cider. The trees haven't been pruned or cared for in ages, but they have great apples.

This is Emma's first year going on the Apple Raid, and she had a blast. We take a sailboat over (though there was no wind and we just motored), and she thought that was pretty cool, although she was a little too interested in looking over the railing for my peace of mind. Luckily her lifejacket had a strap on the back that made a convenient handle!

She enjoyed running around the orchard picking up apples, and was a great help (not) with loading the apples into boxes. It was very fun to pick an apple off the tree and eat it right away!

So that was fun, and then on Monday, the three of us up and decided to take a mini-vacation! We were going to go on Saturday and Sunday, but Shaun had to work, and there was the Apple Raid, so we went Monday and Tuesday instead.

We took the ferry to the mainland, and drove out Rt. 20 over Washington Pass to Winthrop. It was raining buckets on Monday, so we didn't get the full effect of the sweeping views, but it was still gorgeous in the rainy Pacific Northwest style.

Here's a view over Diablo Lake:

When we got to Winthrop, we found a hotel and had a late lunch/early dinner in town. Winthrop is an old mining town, and is tiny and touristy and cute. I expect that it's swarming with people and very irritating in the summer, but it was nice this time of year. There is only one road, and everything is old-timey, with false fronts on the buildings and wooden sidewalks, and it looks very much like a movie set of the old west. Lots of little shops.

After walking around a bit, we went back to the hotel. Shaun settled in for a nap, and Emma and I went for a walk along the Methow River. It was lovely. The rain had stopped, but it was still overcast and cool and moist. I saw two (!) new species for my bird Life List, the black-billed magpie and the American dipper, bringing my total to 380 species seen. The magpie is a pretty common bird in the western US, but we don't have them west of the Cascades, so it was new to me. It's a little surprising to see this big tropical-looking bird in this area! We do have dippers in the San Juan Islands (apparently there's a stable population on Orcas Island), but I've never seen one, despite looking several times. The magpie I was expecting to see on this trip, but the dipper was a surprise. I heard it before I saw it, and was very excited. It has a beautiful song, and was doing all its neat dipper behaviors- bobbing up and down, hopping around on the rocks and tree roots, and foraging underwater for insect larvae. We also saw lots of steelhead salmon in the river.

On Tuesday, we packed up and started driving back west. The clouds were completely gone, and the views were stunning! I've never seen mountains like this before. East coast mountains are geologically older, and more worn down. These mountains are pointy and steep and amazing.

We were total tourists, driving slow and pulling over at the overlooks to oooh and aaah. The temperature at Washington Pass and Rainy Pass was 34 F, and the road and some of the trees were frosty. Unbelievable views.

We took a little hike on the Rainy Lake trail, back through the woods to the lake, which lies in a cirque and is fed by the Lyall glacier. Emma saw her first chipmunks and squirrels, and kept calling them monkeys.

The walk through the woods was lovely. The trail is paved to prevent erosion and allow wheelchair access, so I wouldn't really call it a hike, but it was a nice mile-long walk.

The rest of the drive back to Anacortes and the ferry was similarly lovely. We did one more little hike, to the Gorge Dam overlook, but Emma was in the middle of her nap for that one. Shaun carried her and she didn't even wake up, except once, to ask for her blankie. When we said it was back in the car, she said "OK," wrapped her arms around Shaun's neck, and went back to sleep. She really is a remarkably good little girl.

Lots of fall color, though nothing really compares to New England, and wonderful crisp, cool air. When we stopped at the Diablo Lake Overlook again, I thought I saw a Clark's nutcracker, but didn't get a good look at it, so unfortunately can't count it on my Life List. Ah well, I'll just have to go back!

Then we returned to civilization, a quick stop at Costco, and boarded the ferry. Back to reality.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I was all set last night to spend the whole evening bonding with my lace flyer. I predrafted three nests of fiber, oiled up the wheel, and had a bunch of Stargate SG-1's ready to go on TiVo.
Then, as I started to treadle- disaster! I was treadling, but nothing was happening! The drive wheel wasn't turning! So instead of having a lovely spinning evening, I had to disassemble my wheel and it spent the evening like this:

The cause? This:

The main screw that goes through the drive wheel and crank and attaches them together was neatly sheered off on both sides of the crank. To say that this is a very important part is an understatement.

So I spent the evening doing hardanger instead, and am now off to the hardware store to hopefully find a replacement screw.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Today is for housekeeping. Dad left yesterday, which was actually a few days earlier than he originally planned. Mom's grave marker was installed last week, and he wants to stop in Kansas to see it before continuing the rest of the trip home to Maine. The second half of his stay here went a little better than the first half. Anyway, we survived the first visit without Mom.

So I've been doing regular housekeeping like laundry and turning the guest bedroom back into an office. But I've also been doing some blog housekeeping- namely, taking pictures of things I haven't had a chance to post about yet.

First, there's the finished pair of socks, made out of the OnLine self-striping yarn. I really like these. The yarn feels so much nicer than my other self-striping socks. Hopefully it will hold up as well as that other yarn. Oh, and for Agent Gray, who asked where I got the yarn, it was at my LYS, Island Wools in Friday Harbor, WA, but I googled it and it's for sale lots of places online. (Ha! OnLine yarn for sale online!)

And here's an update of the doily I started in August and last updated here. As you can see, I haven't worked on it much, as the scarf took precedence for a while, but this is the next up on my "to finish" list. It's about halfway done at this point. I like the chevrons.

And what have we here?

Why yes, it’s a lace flyer! I have wanted one of these for ages because I find that I mainly enjoy spinning fine to very fine yarns. This has ratios of 15, 20, 30, and 40:1. Hooray! This is my Christmas present, which is how I justify the expense, though I did get a really good deal on it and sold my jumbo flyer unit to offset well more than half the cost. I still have my regular flyer, with ratios of 6.75, 11.5, and 15:1, which is good for worsted- to sport-weight yarn. The only problem is that to switch between the two flyers, I also have to switch the maiden uprights, since the lace flyer has a smaller orifice and works better with the ball bearings.

I’ve tried it out a bit, but obviously didn’t have much time last week. So far I like it a lot, but I’ve been having a bit of a problem with the drive band slipping on the flyer whorl. It’s like the band isn’t “grippy” enough- if I have the band tight enough to turn the flyer reliably, it’s too tight too treadle easily. I think I may have solved it last night, when I took a piece of chalk to the drive band to give it some tooth. I think if I used the polycord drive band instead of the cotton cord band it would grip better and treadle easier, but that band is thicker and would give lower ratios. I use a polycord band with my other flyer and love it.

I need to take a few hours to just sit and spin on this flyer, to learn all its quirks. I foresee a lot of lace yarn in my future. And one advantage of spinning laceweight is that a little fiber goes a long way!

And finally, I’ll leave you with some of the Chestnut-backed Chickadees that are flocking in my backyard right now. At one point yesterday afternoon there was a mixed flock of probably 400 chickadees, juncos ("Oregon" subspecies here), robins, bushtits (which are drab but very personable), nuthatches, and a few Townsend’s Warblers (gorgeous!) swarming through the trees, gobbling newly ripened madrona berries and assorted insects. That’s a lot of birds for my little yard!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I've been tagged! I've seen this going around the blogiverse, and have always been mildly interested in checking out my own archives, but have never gotten around to it. So, here you go, courtesy of Kris...

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same

My 23rd post's fifth sentence is.....

"So I got a dowel and marked off an inch and started wrapping."

This, coincidentally, refers to the time last October when I was spinning the merino/tussah yarn and decided to see how fine I was spinning. This is the yarn that just became the lace scarf. And I was right. It did make pretty lace!

I'm not going to officially tag anyone, but feel free to consider yourself tagged if you want to do the excercise!