FO: The Squirrel Mittens of Doom

The 4! Ounce! Challenge! prototype is finished, and it was moderately successful. Only moderately. The edging did not work out in any way that it was expected to, and despite my best effort, the bind-off still came out way too tight…but it didn’t seem way too tight right off the needles. Blocking showed that glaring flaw. Ugh…

Part of me wants to bail again, scrap the whole idea and return to the sanity of just knitting other people’s patterns. Another part of me wants to conquer the beast. We’ll see which part wins out in the end…

In the meantime, I’ve been working on some spinning, which takes so much less thought than designing, and I blocked out a long-standing FO.

The Official Squirrel Mittens of Doom

Yup, there they are, in all their insane-intarsia-in-the-round, squirrel-ridden glory.

I came, I saw, I conquered their fluffy asses…

Several lessons were learned over the course of this project. First and foremost, of course, is the most important lesson of all: Don’t do intarsia in the round. Just don’t. If you even think about it, get someone you trust inexplicably to literally slap some sense into you. No one needs that kind of hassle in their life. Ever.

Those nuts are nuts. And clearly I am as well.

Second, I learned that reading a pattern and chart—I mean, really reading it, to the point where you actually understand fully what your hands are going to be attempting to do—is ridiculously important. See, if I had really read and understood this before I cast on, I wouldn’t have been stupid enough to try intarsia in the round. I also would have recognized the fact that there are super-mega-long floats built into this colorwork, so choosing a wooly yarn that has some grab to it would be a really good idea.

I can almost hear them chattering away at me, mocking me for making such ridiculous choices.

Third—and this ties into Point No. 2—I learned that yarn choice makes a big difference in how high the Frustrate-o-Meter is going to go with a project like this one. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love Spud & Chloe Fine. I really do. It’s delightful to work with, and it would be perfect for colorwork with short little floats. But it’s superwash, and it’s a silk blend, which means it has no stickiness to it whatsoever. This equals crazy tension problems, some of which blocked out and some of which are still ripply and sad. But all tension issues disappear when they’re on my hands, so I can live with them. And I will totally use this yarn again because it’s just a joy to work with. Lesson learned.

The green merino/tussah blend laceweight linings finish them off really nicely…and hide all the ugly floats inside.

And finally, I learned not to use my favorite wood US 1 needles to pick up lining stitches. I broke two of them over the course of that lesson. Thankfully, the extremely awesome and wonderful needlemaker hooked me up, so I still have a full set, plus one extra, but I’m being a bit more careful with those lovelies now, for sure.

Such an innocent looking squirrel…

And that’s all she wrote on these bad boys. Very glad they’re done…and  I suspect they’ll  be making their debut at Rhinebeck in October.

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Something New

This little skein is, without a doubt, the worst yarn I’ve spun in quite some time.

At least it’s soft…

It’s was a Corgi Hill merino/camel/tussah sample. It’s now a god-awful mini-skein of two ply. It’s wicked uneven, broken in spots and full of knots, icky by my standards, and would probably fall apart if I tried to knit with it. It partially fell apart while I was plying it. It’s not even going into my 2010 project archive page because it’s never going to be turned into anything. Structural integrity is seriously lacking.

Despite all that, I am deleriously proud of this awful little skein.

Why?

Because it’s the first thing I spun on this:

Apricot wood on pau ferro…sitting pretty on a pile of baby camel/tussah

Awww, yeah, baby. You like that support spindle action, don’t you?

I’d been eyeing the Grizzly Mountain Tibetan-style spindles for a while, so when I happened upon a shop update one fine day, I jumped. It took a solid hour to get the hang of it, and my work is far from perfect. It’s slubby and uneven. Hello, learning curve. But, it’s something new, and it’s really fun to play with. And I’m determined to master the fine art of long-draw on a spindle.

As soon as I finish that 4! Ounce! Challenge! prototype, that is.

And look what I found at this adorable little Turkish shop called Meyra in Newburyport a couple weekends ago.

Love these!

Are those not the most perfect little spindle bowls ever?

I might have a Spanish Peacock Russian spindle on it’s way to me as well. That’s totally Jenni‘s fault, though…

Birth of a Knitting Pattern

A couple weeks ago, I was ready to throw in the towel on the 4! Ounce! Challenge! The whole “challenge” part was getting to me. I was caving under the stress of life.

My first swatch was fugly, my yarn wasn’t finished and I was all wrapped up in maintaining interspecies harmony in my household—a real challenge these days—and fighting the meager beginnings of a flea infestation. Giving up seemed like the best way to keep myself sane.

Then I got it together and put on my big girl panties. The lure of that grand prize was strong. And the idea in my brain was festering. So, I finished my yarn…

“Pomegranate,” 510 yards of heavy fingering weight 2-ply Shetland wool, spun from 4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic handpainted top

…and, throwing caution to the wind, cast on a prototype design without even swatching.

Damn, it feels good to be a gangsta

Cuz that’s how I roll.,,,mad deep, yo…

 The biggest problem here is that I’m not a designer. I work with words for a living…the numbers are not my friends…so wrapping my head around increases and patterning has been pretty challenging for me. My pattern numbers don’t completely work out evenly, so I might end up charting the whole damn thing out. Which isn’t horrible. I kind of like charting.

The scene from the couch…eh, I mean, workspace…yeah, workspace…

I spent most of the day yesterday working on the prototype.

At first, I was trying to knit the stitches, then write the pattern based on what I knit. (That really wasn’t working.)

Then I tried to hand-write the pattern out while I was knitting it. (No dice.)

Then I tried hand charting. (That was the most futile effort of them all.)

Then I tried using a nifty little online knitting chart generator. (Failure. First-class failure.)

Then, finally, I dusted off my Excel skills and built a spreadsheet and started charting one row at a time. (Success!)

Needless to say, this will be a charted pattern. Written directions will remain at a minimum. Really, it’s for the best.

I had a dedicated little helper in this process, too.

Madori concurred that abandoning the paper was the way to go…made more room for her on the couch…er, I mean, in the workspace…

Her contributions to the effort were truly invaluable.

I still have some concerns about actually publishing this in time. While I made some progress, I still have a lot left to knit on the prototype—which I’m knitting with that Woolen Rabbit Kashmir I got at fiber revival…it’s dreamy—then I have to knit the handspun one, plus there’s test knitting and tech editing and actual publishing. And it all has to be done by September 30.

But I figure it can go out for testing once the prototype is done, while I’m knitting the handspun version. So that might ease the crunch a little bit. If I can get the prototype finished by the end of the week, that is.

I’m itchy to get the handspun version going.

Lovely rustic wooly yarn

The yarn came out really nice.

Ruby and amythyst splattered all over

Can’t you just see it all knit up in stripey, lacy cables?

Itchy fingers want the wool…

 Gotta finish that prototype first… 

Eye Candy Friday – Backyard Edition

I live in a six-family house, and the state of the backyard is a constant issue. My landlord is a dear friend, but to say it’s unkempt back there is probably putting it lightly. There is, however, this one Rose of Sharon bush—Kris informed me that’s what this is—that is absolutely gorgeous, especially this time of year.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Newbury or Bust!

This past weekend, the girls and I packed up our spinning wheels, loaded them into The Mom Mobile (TM) and made the almost three-hour treck up to Newbury, Mass., for Fiber Revival at the Spencer Pierce Little Farm. The weather was gorgeous, the property was beautiful and the air was full of wool fumes.

This really cool windmill greeted us in Newbury. Some people hate these modern windmills, but I find them so beautiful.

Kris was way, way better with the photos than I was, so you can check out her post here. But, I managed to snag a few…

Jenni works on some Spunky fiber on her Ashford Joy.

 

This was Evelyn’s first outing since her restoration. In honor of the occasion, we started some Corgi Hill Farm merino/cashmere blend top. This stuff…OMG…it spins like WHOA.

 

Our resident photog had some camera hiccups. She got them all figured out, though.

 

Yup, I broke stashdown. I mean, how could I not break stashdown at a fiber festival? Especially when faced with amazing Kashmir fingering weight yarn and polwarth top (which you can see on the ground there) from The Woolen Rabbit.

 

 

After the Revival, (see, that’s all I took for pics…I know, I’m a terrible blogger) we went into Newburyport and found gelato. Gelato is delicious. And full of cream. Oh, yeah…

 

 

Then, on the way home, we stopped in this field we had spotted on the way in. It was breathtaking.

 

Sunflowers, sunflowers, everywhere. I love sunflowers.

 

Busy bumblebee!

 

I love my urban life. But sometimes it’s nice to get back to my country roots a little bit. (Sidebar: I really don’t know what my hair was doing here.)

All-in-all, a great day.

Despite evidence to the contrary, I actually have been knitting. A little. I’ve been slogging along on another sock scrap scarf (say that five times fast) and I started an epic hat for that woodturner guy I know in exchange for a new spindle and an awesome new orifice hook for Evelyn. And I finally blocked the Squirrel Mittens of Doom…I’ll post about them once I take pics.

Everything falls by the wayside lately because I seem to enter some sort of timewarp everytime I go near these things.

Ash

 

 

Chloe

 

 

Bailey

 

Miles

 

Simon

I’ve lost hours of my life. I don’t know where they went. All I do is go in there to scoop the litterbox and, just like that, 45 minutes disappear and I’m late to work again.

So weird…