Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Updates on information from yesterday: the Lovely L let me know that Dragonfly Kate's wheel is a "Lendrum double treadle wheel," also considered to be a castle style (even though it's tilty). Her beautiful spindle is a Mongold Norge. (I am quite saddened by the complete lack of Wikientries on this lovely thing, although AbiKnits has some photos of the one she sold in her Flickrstream. It looks very much like the one I got to play with.)

Monday morning, I needed to switch to my new Kenneth Cole bag (oh, how I love discount stores. I have a lot of Betsy Johnson, Gwen Stefani and now a Cole bag, and I totally wouldn't be able to afford them first-run.) I looked at the Fairy Tale Socks, which I hadn't touched all day Sunday (due to spinning fake spider webs into yarn) . . . and went and picked up Secret of the Stole II instead. (Hey, it's also Sanguine Gryphon yarn, so it's sort of the same?) At the end of the morning commute, I was about ten rows away from finally finishing Hint #5:

Monday morning... almost done with Hint #5

Saturday was the last time I worked on the Fairy Tale Sock Club socks. They'd been my ONLY project for over a week, which is pretty impressive if you know the extent of my PADD. I'm over halfway up the second leg, so I'm hoping I'll feel like getting back to them this week so I have Finished Socks Really Soon.

Sunday afternoon at the Spin-in
(during Exile to Porch due to Sneezing on Bunnysquirrel)

I realized just now that I should've been checking my "colorwork" tag for every instance of these socks, because they TOTALLY are. I also think one of my missions this weekend will be to find actual critter-fiber stuff to spin. Or plantstuff. Fake spiderweb, although it *was* good practice, has been banned by She Who Knows Stuff. I think I will be buying my first Etsy things in the near future!

Monday, September 29, 2008

My First Spin-In

This was the weekend of Learning How To Spin. Now I *have* actually used a drop spindle. At Sully Plantation, for about an hour, during the American Bicentennial. I was very, very little. As such, I began as a total newbie, since things one does for an hour decades ago don't really count towards actual knowledge points (usually). I was first given the Spinny Stick lesson with some designated Junk Yarn. The spinny stick was a shiny orange-copper double-ended crochet hook, probably about an N, and was almost as fascinating as the lesson. (I'm all about shiny orange-copper things.) Once I figured out how the twist in the yarn was actually happening, and the whole "drafting" thing (which is vastly different in NASCAR, by the way), and "parking" thing (again, different with cars), I was entrusted with a spindle. I was told only it was a collectors' item. (This makes sense, since the Lovely L collects such things.) Here is the spindle:

Turns out it's quite rare, and quite valuable. It's made of resin, is virtually indestructable, and, oh yeah, really beautiful. It was very easy to play with, once my left hand figured out what my right hand was doing (mostly by copying what Bunnysquirrel was doing). I ended up getting this much stuff spun (the lumpy white stuff on the bottom, not the really evenly-spun lovely grey stuff at the top):

I know, it doesn't seem like a lot, but I eventually figured out important things like making sure What Goes Into The Spindle is even - because then what comes out is even, and how to slide my hand along to do the drafty-thing. It was pretty cool!!

The Spin In contained Lovely L (hosting), Gryphon, Dragonfly Kate, CraftyGryphon (me), Bunnysquirrel and Eutrapelia. I now know Many (i.e., more than three!) actual spinners. And boy, did I get to see all sorts of spinning wheels. There's Saxony wheels (the classic Sleeping Beauty style), Castle wheels (upright, and I swear you could put stained glass in the back for the pretty), and the magic tilty-wheels like Kate had, which I belive was a "Louet" (if I'm wrong, please correct). If I actually get up to the point of Spinning as a Hobby, I'd eventually get a wheel, but probably one of Doug Dodd's Pocket Wheels, because in my house, it's all about SPACE. I don't have anywhere to *put* a wheel! (The sad thing is we got rid of my great-great-grandmother's beautiful Saxony wheel when we cleaned out my grandmother's house "because we'd never use it". The woman who got it was thrilled - I'm pretty sure she got a MAJOR deal, since we didn't know what we had. Sigh. And my husband wonders why I never want to get rid of anything...)

ANYway, the spinning thing might happen. I spent Sunday's NASCAR race both wondering why my driver couldn't figure out "speed" and "pit road" (he got black flagged TWICE for the same violation!!) and spinning up a bag of decorative spider web, which actually had a lot of the same properties as the junk wool L had given me to learn on. It didn't feel nearly as nice, but the stuff about pre-drafting, and being careful, and spinning and all that was about the same. When I got careless, I got chunky yarn, when I really paid attention and was careful, I got stuff that would actually knit up fairly easily. Oh... and I kinda made my own spindle out of a cheap wooden candle-stitck and a cup hook. It didn't spin as smoothly as the really beautiful resin spindle, and it didn't have hold-the-yarn-here notches, but it worked! I got about an ounce of non-flammable polyester yarn when all was said and done.

Yarn in Progress

Look! A Ball of Actual Yarn!

I mean, look at that. It LOOKS like yarn. I'd need to get another bag, spin it up, and ply it to make it actually work as yarn - unlike wool yarn, this stuff doesn't really stick to itself, so the twist has to be pretty tight. As it is, I'm going to search through Etsy and find a spindle I like . . . well, okay, I found one, but I need to wait a week for the check to the credit card to clear before I buy it. But I think this "spinning" thing may actually become a Something!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wooly Bullies and Market Woes

I haven't the faintest idea how to embed a YouTube video (and I think it requires "joining", which I refuse to do), so I hereby redirect you to YouTube to see the wonderfully subversive video about crochet in a knit-dominated world, Wooly Bullies. Court, thanks for posting this gem!!

You may have noticed that, except for Tuesday, all the backgrounds of my photos are "my desk at work" or "The stone wall outside work" or "the lunchroom at work". The banking/finance industry, which indirectly pays for my yarn, is NOT having a good week. On the other hand, I'm getting a lot done on my #3 Fairy Tale Sock Club socks in between bouts of market panic. Having strung all the beads on Wednesday, Thursday was devoted to Actual Knitting. I didn't get anywhere near as much done as I thought I would, because of the Bead Factor. Even though I gave myself YARDS of yarn before the beads are there en masse, I caught up quickly. So it goes "knit a row, spend five minutes moving all the beads down what seems like enough, knit two rows, spend five more minutes moving all the beads..."

Thus, I got This Far (20 rows up):

I'm hoping to have at least one bead-part of one leg done by tomorrow. With Washington Mutual (WaMu) collapsing like a ton of bricks, there might not be that much knitting time today.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I work with an expert crocheter.

First, a shot of the lovely baby afghan D at work finished this week:

Isn't it gorgeous? I really like the colors - like Neapolitan ice cream!!

Okay, back to the socks. At lunch, I set up to get at least one sock's worth of beads threaded onto my yarn . . .

. . . and managed to do so:

Then, there was another sock's worth of beads to do. (Remember, if I don't do it today, it might not happen.)

And lo, through some miracle, it happened, and I was able to actually start knitting my sock legs. Which, since they're really just stockinette with the occasional bead, should go pretty fast. I'm at 60st around right now; might increase a bit up the calf if I need. I stayed with the size 1 needles, though, instead of kicking back down to the size 0s, so I should be fine.

Two socks' worth of beads strung on ball of yarn.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tiny holes in tiny beads. Yikes!

I find myself hoping that when I'm finished with these lovely socks, I'll have enough yarn left over to make matching mitts. Because the pattern is Just That Pretty!! I'm also all a-squee because the designer, Sanguine Gryphon, actually wants to *see* my socks in person. Extra incentive to Get Lots Done before Saturday! Wheee! Anyway, here's where I am now:

Fronts, up to the ankle

Backs, up to the ankle
(sorta would have to be, yah?)

That was last night's work. This morning, I gave the end of my ball of Magic Carpet an aglet, using some clear nail polish that was in my house. (I don't wear nail polish; clearly, it's been used as a crafting aid before, elsewise why would I have it?) I was, more or less, able to string on my first nineteen beads, but that first leaf? Whouf, it put up a fight! Today will be All The Stringing.

And I am TOTALLY doing all the bead-stringing at once, for both socks, since (a) I can - I'm at the beading point on both socks and (b) because I get the feeling I may never get a second completed sock if I don't.

I have learned to trust these feelings.

I may just have a long bit of bead-covered yarn to show tomorrow, unless I'm able to string beads at my desk during the day. I'm certainly going to try to do this, of course, but we're into the Busy Season, so it may not work as well as it would have, say, mid-August. We'll see.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A surprising new ability!

It certainly surprised me, that's for certain - apparently I learned something, before I realized I knew it. Seriously. Look at the following picture. Note that it's two-color knitting, and I'm just easily running both threads as if they were one, stitching the one I need and ignoring the one I didn't. I was on the train (see "train window" as evidence in photo below), and wondering why the heck the second MTMWMC sock was going so much more quickly than the other... and that would be why! So, I made my husband take a picture.

This new trick that my hands figured out before my brain knew what they were doing made getting all the way up to the "word" part of the sock before an early bedtime possible. See?

It probably doesn't hurt that I didn't have to figure out what the heck I was doing this sock, either, but could just slavishly copy the first one. With a few tweaks; I figured out how to do the "Chart A" increases near the toe so that the pattern just flows, and where to put the decreases to get the "word" part so it works out pretty. Also cheating horribly on second sock vis-a-vis the bottom - I purposely overstitched two stitches and scooted them onto the back needles so the "word" part is on the top needle, and the pattern on the bottm ones. Makes for less thinking. Hoping to have second sock up to where first sock is by end of lunch today. Wheeee!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It seemed like a long weekend...

Got home Friday night, late, and found a box waiting for me, yay! The third (and final) installment of the first Fairy Tale Sock Club had arrived. I didn't have much energy left, but I had enough to wind up my three little balls of yarn so I'd be ready to start knitting on Saturday:

Over the next two days, I managed to get one sock knit up to the ankle, with a LOT of edits to the pattern. Compared to Gryphon P., the designer, I must have (a) freakishly small feet and (b) knit really, really loosely. Even with size 0 needles, I couldn't get gauge, no matter how tightly I pulled. So, the knitting math began. What ended up working was cast on 24, increase up to 48, then up to 60, then 64 (then back to 60, then 59, then back to 60). Keeping mulitples of four, eight and sixteen were crucial in some places for the pattern to go around prettily - and, thankfully, I figured out how to make it work. Did my own short-row heel which worked great on one seam, not so great on the other (thankfully, I have a tutorial on how to overstitch and fix that hidden on my computer somewhere), but got it done up to the ankle-band, and it fits perfectly. Yaaaaay! Less blurry photos will be available once everyone has their kits for sure.



Sunday afternoon, I got to go to Amazing Art, a paint-your-own-pottery place up somewhere related to the Rockville Metro Station, but a good drive from there. I did get a break from knitting (although not much of one; I was actually knitting once I'd finished my painting). I also created art: A happy Sun Face for my new bathroom, whenever I get around to painting it, and a goofy-looking White Tiger Cub for my friend, MG, who kindly drove me around. (It's actually for her daughter, but as she has two children and I didn't think to make something for her son, it's Mommy's Tiger. I must remember multi-offspring diplomacy in the future.)

Watched some sports (My guy, Clint Bowyer, went up in the NASCAR standings with a good finish at Dover; my Broncos pulled out another they-really-shouldn't-have win against the Saints, and the Skins won.) Decided that my crochet-hook method will NOT work on the leg of the socks, so I'll be knitting the other foot up to the ankle and *then* worrying about how I'm going to handle the beads. Going to try to knit at my desk again today....!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Fun Foto Friday, with Extra Added Whining!

So, I had the brilliant idea Wednesday night of frogging the Tiger Eye Shawl and balling up the yarn, since that would make knitting much easier. (Working straight off the skein *really* doesn't work. Trust me on this.) I wound and wound and wound - without benefit of swift. I wasn't done last night (it's 1100 yards). Didn't finish this morning on the commute in, either. Finally broke down at lunch and spent my full lunch hour at Stitch DC Georgetown using their swift, and winding from the other end of the skein (which DIDN'T try to tangle every 1/3 of the way around the swift). While there was markedly less yarn left to ball up at the end of lunch, I wasn't finished, and I didn't get lunch. (Thankfully, there was a birthday in the office, so there was cake after the fact.) I finally finished creating my ball o' yarn by the end of the commute home, and almost didn't have the strength to cast on again...!

Anyway, on to the photos... Knitting is clearly cool this year - remember the wool-skein sheep in the Diesel window? - and so is crochet. In the window at Urban Outfitters, my favorite spot for all things trendy, there are two crocheted cloche hats:

Up the street, there's this AMAZING Charles Dresser teapot (the 1871 version) that I absolutely want, but cannot in any way justify obtaining without a sizeable lottery win:

Charles Dresser Teapot

where it is (Georgetown)

I mean, I absolutely love this thing. It's non-useable (if I actually want to keep it in good condition), it would just be decoration. I have nowhere to put it where it could be seen and enjoyed. But the design of it just sings to me!

Oh yeah, knitting. Here's some:

I think the center one is my favorite. (But I still really wish the almost-one from yesterday actually existed.) And, as you can see, I *did* start the shawl again, this time on my size 6 bamboos. It's going much better - the eights are just too big for the laceweight stuff. Hopefully, some actual visible progress will happen on *some* project this weekend!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sideways progress

I've heard more than one knitter say "Well, I read a lot of blogs... except I'm really just looking at the pictures." This is why I try to add pictures to every entry, even if they're slightly strange. For example: remember when you were a little kid, and something like TWO forks accidently inserted in a plastic package that was only supposed to contain one was almost like magic? I've never really gotten past that, so, last weekend, I had to take a photo of our find at the local Chick-Fil-A:

Magic Siamese Forks!

Since I realize that these photo-inclined knitters are actually expecting photos of things relating to the fiber arts, if not actual knitting, I'll throw in some of that, too.

Here's the Tiger Eye Shawl at the end of lunch yesterday...

...and hanging out in its bag so you can actually SEE the colors.

Check out my cool pattern-keeping system. When I'm sitting down on the train, the pattern is right where I can see it. And, since I actually knitted on the train, and then again once I got home for unwinding, plus on the ride in in the morning, here's where it sits this morning:

Okay, so this should totally be a photo of a half-wound ball of Claudia Handpainted silk lace, sitting on its little makeshift cardboard core, with two lovely fancy-ended 16" size 6 bamboo needles placed artfully through said makeshift cardboard core, and the other half of the skein, yet unwound, draped artfully around it, all on a lovely carved-granite block in the bright early-morning sunshine. The colors are intense, the composition dramatic, the lighting excellent. It's a really, really good yarn photo, suitable for framing, even. Or it would be... if I hadn't left my phone, and thus my camera, at home today!!

Really, there's progress. Um. Sorta. I'll be able to knit it back faster without having to carefully unloop the yarn from the skein as I go, and on the slightly smaller needles. That's progress, right?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Yarn books are soothing.

Well, it's an interesting day today for those folks (such as myself) in the banking/finance industry in the US. Interesting in that ancient Chinese curse sort of way, of course. While we aren't immediately affected, I'm betting the next year or so will be pretty tight. The will-they-or-won't-they government bailouts (or lack of same) aren't giving ANYONE confidence in the industry as a whole, because no one knows what will be allowed to collapse, what will get saved, and, quite frankly, the whole "safe investment" idea has been reduced to "Treasury bonds". Keeping in mind that these things are cyclic, and that the stock market persists in unnatural inflation, in a decade, everything will be fine. Not so fun getting there, though!

Back to the world of knitting, which can be summed up in today's Stuff I want:

'Nuff said.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sadly, I also start new things. Lots of them.

Okay, I'm still trying to figure out how I managed to knit several rows of SotS-III without noticing that my needle was stuck through the shawl in a couple of places. Oy.

I'm still about halfway through Hint #2, and have decided that this shawl will be my Couch Project for the foreseeable future. The beading really just makes it non-portable for me. It's gonna be really, really pretty when done, though.

In non-knitting news, my poor Starbucks:

It totally flooded when the hydrant/water main underneath it went. Naturally, the entire place - despite being atop a hill - was completely flooded in the basement, and four feet of the first floor. (Also took out my new lunch spot next door. Sigh.) This Starbucks had wonderful comfy chairs that were just perfect for knitting beaded things (the window ledge was just the right height for the bead box). This is the other reason I'm not working on SotS-III as the carry-around project - lack of window ledge.

Anyway, instead of being a Good Bunny and picking up SotS-II as the carry-around (and it's just sitting right there in my Broncos stripe tote bag, too), I was drawn to my new hank of Claudia Hand Painted Silk Lace in the Stormy Days colorway. And I'd found, over the weekend, the pattern for the Tiger Eye Lace Scarf, which would, done over 115 stitches with three repeats of the Tiger Eye motif, broken up by three stitches in garter stitch, make a lovely Tiger Eye Lace Shawl. I am this far along:

Yeah, I know, I've cast on and knitted one row. But... the yarn is so PRETTY!!! (Back to 62 UFOs. Sigh.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

I do actually finish things. Really. I have proof!

Well, the UFO count didn't suffer this weekend. The stash room, however, did.

First, the loot from my trip to Uniquities. "Dyer Consequences", the knitting mysteries set in it's-not-Fort-Collins Colorado (in the book, it's "Fort Connor" - but we know where it is). I read the first three chapters at Borders once waiting for my spouse, and now I can find out how it ends! The Fall Knitter's Magazine has several patters I want to knit up, most notably Elsebeth Lavold's Groa (a cute Celtic tabard), Carol Wessinger's Mistake Stitch Coat and Lou Schiela's lovely Renaissance White (which I, of course, will do in orange). I had to get more size one DPNs (I love the Addis!!) and another 12" size 1 circ. Socks are just easier then!! The real find, though, was a beautiful skein of Claudia Handpaints Silk Lace in the "Stormy Days" colorway. I have no idea what shawl it will become, but I love working with this stuff. Yaaaaay!

Now I *did* actually knit and stitch, too. To wit, my finished Star of the County Down Tam! It's tempting to try to figure out a way to intarsia this design so the colors are red-green-white out from the center. Wouldn't it be a pretty pointsettia tam? I may try to do that!

Blocking on a Plate


I also finished my little canvas pumpkin. It was a fun, quick little canvas... and it glows in the dark! (My cellphone camera, however, is not so great at capturing glow-in-the-dark. Oh well.)

I got a wee bit done on Secret of the Stole III, also. UFO Count back to 61. So, a good weekend!!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Why I will always have UFOs.

Well, I'm knitting away on SotS-III, and I realize that one of my snowflake/sunburts (the first one) looks like a rat's nest instead of, well, a snowflake/starburst. This Cannot Be. So I had to frog back to where it began, and by Tuesday morning, was back up to where I had been A.F. (Ante Froggorime). Tuesday was declared to be "uninterrupted knitting day" - sort of. I did have to actually do some work at work, but it's been really, really quiet this week (calm before the storm, I'm betting), so there was a wee bit of knitting-under-the-desk. Not much, since Bright Yellow yarn is hideously hard to hide, which is, after all, the point of Bright Yellow yarn. But there was some, enough to finish Hint #1 back up by the end of lunch and get a decent start on Hint #2. Tuesday evening was devoted to finishing up Hint #2, which totally didn't happen. Since this weekend is likely to be rainy, with very little going on but for dinner with friends on Friday, I'm hoping to get somewhat caught up on the whole thing, now that I've started. (Or at least only two hints behind.) (If I need a break, I can go right back to knitting SotS-II, right?)

What happened on Wednesday was I found Karabella Cashmere at a price I could almost justify (thus bought anywya). I have a second ball on hold, which I will pick up today. I presently have half of a Star of the County Down Tam (first picture is closest to the actual color of the yarn):

Yarn Accident, 9-10
Karabella Supercashmere - 50% OFF!!

Star of the County Down Tam,
Post-Lunch on Wednesday

Entire top of Tam = One Ball of Supercashmere

Everything you see knitted was done either at my desk on Wednesday, or on the ride home. I figured one ball of yarn - "lacy hat" should work, right? This stuff is SUPER soft (as it should be!), and knits up really fast. I'm using a size 3 circular needle (16") at this point, and it just FLIES. I have to add that the "second star" got entirely frogged (something had gone horribly, horribly wrong) and re-knit. And still, the ball was gone at the end of the day. I wish I'd just gone ahead and bought the extra ball, because then I'd have the Tam done right now. As it is, I'll have it done in time to show it off to friends tonight.

Since I took yesterday off, I hit the local needlework store after my headache-from-heck finally went away, and bought a cute new little canvas, on sale since it was the first day of the Trunk Show.

All the white bits that are stitched will glow in the dark, and this, too, will be done before the end of the weekend. And I'm trying the new Mandarin floss - it's 100% bamboo, six stranded. Works up like silk; it's a bit shreddier, so use shorter lengths than normal. The Silk Splendor is 12-ply and they've worked the shred out, so I still prefer it, but the bamboo was cool to try. It, like the silk, will improve over time. Yay for new things to try!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Things I might make (someday)

Shopping over the weekend - well, a couple of weekends back. There were some cool things out there. One, this hoodie-fitted-jacket thing, which would work up well as a knitted garment. I think. I wish the danged light hadn't been reflecting so badly.

Then we have the cool cape/poncho with hood thing, modeled by my mom, who is not blurry in real life. The hood is head-eating large, as you can see, so I'm thinking "smaller hood" if I make one.

Also, it had a very cool cable pattern, which showed up much better on the grey version.

Not that I'll be trying to knit either of them any time soon!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Well, maybe *one* new project...

Okay, so, there was this weekend. And a storm. That blocked one of the interstates between the baby shower and home. So, MG and I (she was driving) detoured off Route 50 and into Nature's Yarns. I got to see Tiffany's progress on her SotS-III (it's gonna be GORGEOUS. She's using a slightly-paler version of firey beads, like I am, but is knitting in a neutral color that will be dyed once the whole thing is knitted up. Did I mention it's gonna be spectacular?) Anyway, so, it's raining outside, and I'm in a warm, wonderful yarn store. Naturally, I had to wander around and look at things. I did stop by the yarn that Tiffany had been meaning to use for SotS III, but it was 'spensive. (Well, not really. But more than I could safely spend right then.) There were many other things in the pale-peach to peach range, but they just didn't sing to me. Some bright yellow cotton, however, sang LOUDLY.

Simple multiplication said that eight skeins should be more than enough for the SotS III, assuming I remembered how much yarn I needed correctly (thankfully, I had). So I got them, and Tiffany balled two of them up for me.

The insane pressure of the Diaper Holder being off my back for a day, I managed to zip through Hint #1, and start in on Hint #2 already.

I consider myself only two hints behind, not three.

I didn't get back to the store for the Yarn Tasting on Sunday, sadly, but it's probably a good thing. I'm almost at the point of "too much yarn", which I didn't think was possible, and I don't *want* to be possible, so I'd best ease off for a week or two. Or, I suppose, finish knitting something . . . So, yes, the UFO count is now back up to 61, but I couldn't help myself. The yarn was so pretty and yellow!!

Oh! Lest I forget! I also received my yellow-and-orange bag, made by Cindy. I got it to go with the socks behind it. V. Cute!!