The 2012 Tour: Day One

The Tour de France kicked off today, and with it, this year’s Tour de Fleece. General life craziness meant that I had to sit last year’s Tour out, so I’m psyched to jump back in this year…though I am setting some reasonable goals.

I’m riding with Team Corgi Hill Farm again because AnnaMarie is my absolute fave…

In honor of the occasion, I whipped up a little ravatar!

…and the Corgi Hill groupies always make it extra fun. And I may have a massive stash little bit of Corgi Hill fiber hanging around…can we say Operation Stash Containment? I think so!

Anywho, today I worked on the merino/cashmere/bombyx that I’ve been working on for the better part of the past two years.

“Emo”

I’m finally almost done with the first ounce, spinning it into laceweight singles.

It’ll be nice to free up my pretty sumac-whorl Bosworth Midi.

If I can get the second ounce spun and the whole she-bang two-plied by the end of the Tour, I’ll be a very happy camper.

I also started spinning this Corgi Hill gradient on Evelyn.

5 ounces of 80/20 merino/tussah in “Hawk Brother,” photo shameless ganked from AnnaMarie (because my photos of this were total junk)

I’m really stoked about this one. I split the top in half down the middle, making two matching strips, then split those strips again, for a total of four gradient pieces. The goal is two fingering-weight skeins, each with that same long gradient, to knit into Stephen West’s Daybreak.

If I can pull off the spin as I see it in my brain, I think it’s going to be pretty brilliant.

I forgot to mention…

…that I got a swift and a ball winder this past Xmas.

Pretty little yarn cakes!

I gotta say: Not having to hand-wind everything is pretty sweet…and far more efficient.

That’s my whole stash of Malabrigo Finito, BTW, all rolled in about 45 minutes. It’s about to get all sorts of colorwork-ey up in here.

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…that I knit a giant blanket a few months ago.

Warm and wooly!

It completely covers a queen-size bed. The pattern is Jared Flood’s Bridgewater, just supersized from laceweight shawl to worsted weight blanket. I dig it.

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…that I finally took pics of the socks I made for The Dude.

The Dude’s socks…not, however, modeled by The Dude

I couldn’t be happier with them…but I’ll never knit 2X2 ribbed men’s socks on US 0 needles every again!

Yay for Malabrigo socks!

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…that I decided it was a good idea to knit a fingering-weight fair isle baby blanket in the round…

Call me crazy…

…and it turns out that it totally was!

…but it was loads of fun to cut this thing in half!

I set the steeks with crochet using leftover BFL handspun from the Sunshiney socks, followed by two lines of machine sewing. Worked like a charm!

Just need to do the finishing work, and she’s done.

I’ve recruited Jenni to help me with the sewing (because she’s a sewing rockstar and I am decidedly not…) after I block this out. The pattern, Latvian Garden, is so much freaking fun to knit. Most of the yarn is Corgi Hill’s now-discontinued Fiona (the purple, the only exception, is Claudia’s Handpainted Fingering), a buttery superwash merino-cashmere-nylon blend.

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…that I fell off the Operation Stash Containment wagon for a little while, but I’m officially hopping back on. Yay for stashbusting!

Returning from the Depths

Oh, hello there! Yes, I think I remember this place….it’s my blog, right?

I’ve been under water for a while and seem to have misplaced a month of my  life. Huh. Weird how that happens. Extra Work I Do After Actual Work is over, thankfully, and I’m hoping to return to regularly scheduled programming for a little while…at least until Annual Busy Time starts beating up on me again.

While I wasn’t here, I was using the various fiber arts to maintain my sanity. I did some colorwork.

Mitts for me!

It drove me a little bug-nutty, but I really wanted to wear these new mitts that match my big, gray, military-style wool half-trench winter coat.

I kind of love them. A lot. I love them so much, they’re getting pilly already.

Organic wool makes me happy.

The pattern is Vanamo (Rav link), and the yarn is that Sanguine Gryphon Free Range I showed off a month ago. I did change the cuffs and the tops, and made braids that point in opposite directions. I had to block the crap out of these because the first was notably smaller than the second. Humm…was someone a little stressed out at the start of this project? Possibly….

I also finished spinning that bright orange BFL top from Fiber Optic, and then I two-plied it.

Bright Sunshiney Day

It’s not my finest, evenest spin ever. Not by a long shot. But I’m proud, nonetheless, because I actually achieved a sportweight on Evelyn. Which rocks because I have a hell of a time spinning anything that’s not lace or fingering on her. I rule.

Evelyn and I cranked out another four ounces of two-ply sportweight right after, this time a superwash BFL from Southern Cross in the “Sturt” colorway.

Really dig how the colors worked out here.

Also not the most even yarn I’ve ever spun, but I’m still pleased…especially because Evelyn decided to start kicking her drive band every three minutes while I was working on the ply here. It’s the first argument Evelyn and I have ever had, and it was quite frustrating.

Very earthy…I likes it.

We’ve since worked it out, thankfully, and this yarn will end up being socks.

Oh, and I spun up some Spunky Eclectic corriedale on Evelyn, too.

Spunky corriedale in “Twenty-Ten”

I’ve since plied these singles and set the twist on the yarn. Both the Spunky and the Southern Cross were part of my random prize from the 4! Ounce! Challene! As you can see, Operation Stash Containment continues.

I’ve been working away at my Military Cardigan…

The color in this pic is way, way off. This is way more of an orange-red and way less of a pink-red.

…but I’ve kind of petered out a bit on the collar and placket. I’ll pick it back up soon, though. It’s a really cute sweater.

Finally, I whipped up a little hat!

So soft and lovely

The pattern is Brattleboro, the yarn is Malabrigo Worsted, and the hat is for a collection that Tracy is hosting for Children with Hair Loss in honor of her 30th birthday. Not only is Tracy cutting off and donating her gorgeous hair, she’s asked us to not get her gifts and to instead knit hats or make a donation to the charity. How could I not??

Like I said, fiber arts helped maintain my sanity…it’s amazing how much better my head feels when my hands are busy, busy, busy.

Snow Driving 101, Plus an FO

I should preface this whole rant by saying that I love snow. Seriously, deeply and truly. Love. It.

What I can’t stand are people who don’t know how to drive in it.

Trying to get to work. Behind a bus. Being towed by a dump truck. Going 10 mph. On the worst snow plow-job ever. FML.

Now, we got whalloped yesterday with snow of epic proportions, so I kind of understand the roads being less than awesome the next day. However, this is New England and, from time to time, we do get some snow during the winter. Shocking, I know, but history will support this. So I don’t get why we’re all so shocked when we get slapped by Mother Nature with some serious white-age.

All that being said, I’m not a 4-wheel-driver. My first car had it; it was fabulous. That car broke. I got a new one. A little one, subcompact-style. Very fuel efficient and cute. And freaking KILLER in the snow. This car is unstoppable. I’ve never gotten totally stuck. Ever. But idiot snow drivers threaten to bring my bad-ass-mobile down constantly. So, as a public service message here’s my tips for the not-so-snow-savvy motoring public.

  • Don’t brake. Seriously. An attribute of the modern automatic-transmission automobile is that, if you simply lift your foot off the gas pedal, the car will slow down. CRAZY, I know, but I assure you its the truth. So don’t brake. If you brake, you will slide. And if you’re following the car in front of you so closely during a snow storm that you’re forced to slam on your brakes when they tap their’s, you’re probably just going to slide into them anyways. And you just learned a valuable lesson about proper following distance. Just say no to braking.
  • Maintain forward motion. If you stop, you might not start again. Momentum is a beautiful thing. Embrace it.
  • Don’t be a dumb ass. So simple, but such a difficult concept to grasp.

And that’s it! Wow. I feel so much better now.  End rant.

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So, because of the Epic Snow, I got to stay home from work yesterday. I used my free time wisely and finished my Girasole. I love her.

Isn’t she lovely?

I have almost two full skeins of yarn left over, so go me on finally having an adequate yardage estimate. I’d heard stories about the edging on this pattern, and they didn’t disappoint. The edging took forever to work over those 640 stitches. But it was totally worth it in the end.

Simon was *very* helpful with the blocking process. So helpful, that I’ve already had to fix two pulls suffered from his little claws.

The pattern itself  isn’t terribly difficult, and I liked that it was broken up into a whole mess of smaller charts. It would have been monotonous, but the excitement of getting to start new charts all the time helped keep it moving.

Another close-up

The final piece is about 60 inches in diameter, plenty big to curl up with on the couch. While knitting, I had some concerns about how I was going to actually block this, and it needed a serious blocking. I don’t have an abundance of floor space, and leaving it in the middle of the living room for three days — where two eager cats could have their way with it while I’m at work — was not an attractive option.

Then, I had a stroke of brilliance and decided to try steam. It took me and my iron an hour and three cups of water, but I got a nice even block on her. Not as hard a block as I usually want on lace, but it’s a damn blanket, not a shawl. I’m really happy with the results.

The view from the couch: I love how happy and sunny it is!

So, there it is, the first FO of 2011! And Operation Stash Containment continues. Still loving the stashdown, too.

After I wrapped up Girasole, I dug out two skeins for my next project and got to casting on.

Sanguine Gryphon Free Range in “Ixworth”

Sanguine Gryphon Free Range in "Cochin"

You know I love me some colorwork.

Well, Hello There 2011…

I ushered out 2010 and welcomed 2011 with two faves on what wound up being a really fantastic night.

2010 was a weird year for me: fewer tears, big changes, mountains of stress and mountains of joy…it was a year to reboot, I think. Not great, but not horrid.

2010: The year of the kitties

I have high hopes for 2011.

I’ve been on vacation since Xmas Eve; tomorrow, I go back to work and Wednesday starts Annual Busy Time. This vacation was all about recharging my batteries…and catching up on so many little things. So, here’s my catch-up blog post…

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I finally got around to taking project pics. I’m still not in love with my new camera, but we’re getting along better than we were; color is still a bit off, though. Gotta figure that setting out…

“Dutch Tulip”

This is the 80/20 merino/cashmere 2-ply laceweight from Corgi Hill that spent so much time on Evelyn this fall. It’s lovely, and will make some pretty lace someday.

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These were, officially, the most labor-intensive socks ever.

“See You Later”

They weren’t difficult, and they worked up very quickly, but the manual crossing, twisting and interlacing of the stitches was really intense. They came out fantastic, though…

Great pairing of pattern and colorway

…and I see many more handspun socks in my future. I also see more toe-ups with heel flaps. Way better fit on my feet than short-row heels.

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I knocked out that pair of Pointelles. They finished beautifully.

Cookie A. is a flippin genius.

I still have to give them to Mom for her birthday. I’m resisting the urge to keep them. That little touch of cashmere just makes them so delicious.

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I Navajo plied off the first skein of Crazy Silk

The silk that never ends…

…and wound up with 339 yards of 52 WPI. I have a lot more of this to spin…a lot…

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I finally got around to photographing Multnomah.

Pretty sparkly waves

The pics are terrible, but the shawl is lovely.

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I knocked out a quick hat between Xmas and New Years.

“Lallans”

It was a tricksey little pattern, very engaging to knit. The two yarns—Malabrigo Worsted and Lorna’s Laces Greenline Worsted—are just delicious together.

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I’ve spent way more time on knitting than spinning lately. This BFL has been on Evelyn for quite a while now.

From FiberOptic, in “Vitamin C,” a bright cheerful orange batik

I have so many things I want to knit, though, that it might have to stay on Evelyn for a while longer.

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My current obsession is my Girasole.

A delightful project!

I can’t seem to put it down! It’s on track to be my first FO of 2011.

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So, here’s to a new year! One full of friends and creativity and love and fun and much, much more!