Monday, March 30, 2009

Same old, same old

I feel like I've been showing you the same scarf a lot lately, but I thought I might get away with one more post before it gets really old. And, I wanted some knitting content to prove that I haven't been neglecting the needles in favor of the loom.

Here's the scarf after blocking. It's about 6 feet long.

The color repeats show up better with a little less sun. (I'm not going to complain about sun, though! It was beautiful yesterday.)

It's funny; I specifically chose this pattern for the "Y" shape on the front, but now that it's blocked, I think I like the reverse side better.

To say that this yarn bloomed would be a bit of an understatement. Can you see all that fuzz? Note to self; when you think you're spinning too tight, spin it just a little tighter. I love the softness, but I'm a little worried that this will be a fragile yarn. We'll have to see how it wears.

This scarf looks so fluffy and deep. The brioche stitch makes it 3 or 4 layers thick, but when you hold it up to the light, it changes from thick and fluffy to almost lacy.

I'll be glad to pull this one out again in the fall. I'll also be glad to be able to pull this out:

I've made it to the elbow on the handspun sweater. I can't get this color to photograph properly. It apparently can't decide if it's grey or deep chocolate brown. It's warm, whatever color it is. This is not a fabric that understands the word "drape" by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not stiff, either. It should make a good, solid, coat-like sweater. I'm feeling indecisive about the body; I almost think that I should make it open-fronted, more like a jacket. But then, I wear pullovers almost exclusively. I wouldn't want it to be so warm that I can't wear it, but we keep our heat low and we're moving to Wisconsin. My original design was definitely a pull-over, but open-fronted might work....

Fortunately, I still have a sleeve and a half to dither over it. The knitting is flying along, since I'm getting about 3 rows to the inch, but it's also killing my hands. I hate to stop once I find time to knit, but I can only get 2 or 3 inches done before I have to put it down. I think I might need a lighter project to work on in between...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I need a new definition of epic

I really love to plan projects. I like to stretch the planning out over weeks or even months before buying yarn or casting on. I enjoy the process of thinking through the possibilities, and I really like to have the time to do so. Especially because planning takes thought. And thought takes brain cells. Right now, my brain cells are busy elsewhere. (Can we please work on a way to think with something else? How about a little toe? That has lots of cells, and it's not doing much, far as I can tell. A whole foot would be a real boost...)

Anyway. I was thrilled last week to have finally gotten the latest weaving project on the loom. It's a 6-7 yard project, which seemed like it should take a really long time. A month, maybe. It's using up a sweater's worth of yarn, so it should take a sweater's worth of time, right? Long enough to let me get through the craziness of the next few weeks and into a place where I can think about things that do not involve writing and revising.

You do know where this is going, don't you? My "epic" weaving project, that should take forever and a day? Well. Not so much. Remember how I said weaving eats up yarn? I felt pretty secure in my pile of skeins, but it turns out that I shouldn't have.

Turns out that one skein is about two hours of weaving. Think about that. A 100-g, 220 yard skein takes about two hours to use up. It also produces about a yard of fabric (35 inches, to be exact).

At this rate, it could be finished in a matter of hours. (That, of course, assumes that I have hours to spend, but let's not think about that.)

Clearly, I need a new definition of epic when it comes to weaving. I think it involves very skinny thread.

Of course, it's hard to begrudge a project that feels like it's going somewhere (my thesis should take some lessons...). And I do rather like how it looks, though I was surprised at how much the warp colors get muted by the grey.

It's a little less dramatic close up.

And it does have great texture.

And I think I need to start planning the next project...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Crafty Sunday

Didn't get a lot of knitting done this week. But I did find a way to incorporate fiber into my work day. Wrist acting up from typing? What better than a skein of sock yarn as a wrist rest? (It's much nicer than my gel rest, and works on my lap, which is where laptops should be.)

It was really good to take a break last Sunday. So, I decided to do the same today. This was good for crafting.

This morning, I finished the handspun scarf (it's blocking at the moment). I find it funny that I can knit contentedly for months on a sweater, but that I get sick of a scarf after a week. It must be something about setting expectations; I know a sweater will take forever, but a scarf should just fly off the needles, right? Or maybe it's turning the piece at the end of every row.

I don't know. But I do know that I have more scarves languishing on the needles than any other project. Fortunately, the handspun was thick (an 8 oz scarf???) and the needles were large, and I made it to the end before wandering off in search of something more interesting. It took a bath this afternoon, and it's blocking now. And I think it's going to be perfect.

After finishing the scarf, we did this:

That, my friends, is a warped loom. Weaving goes very fast. Warping, well...warping kinda makes up for it. Fortunately, you only warp once per project, and this is going to be a big project. So a few days worth of prep work is worth it.

That's 196 pieces of yarn, threaded onto the loom and tied carefully in place. Fortunately, Branden seems to enjoy helping me warp the loom, so it went reasonably quickly. It's much more fun with two. Now, I just need to add this:

And we'll have a new throw for the bedroom.

This is some of the oldest stash that I have. In fact I think it is the oldest. I bought a lot of Paton's Merino on sale at the same time that I bought the yarn for my first sweater. I liked the yarn, it was a great price, and I intended to make a bunch of sweaters. I made one for Branden and one for me, and both lost their shape and pilled horribly within weeks. Now, part of this was definitely my construction and my knitting, but part of it was also the yarn. So, in addition to having two sweaters that we don't wear, I suddenly had a bunch of yarn that I no longer wanted to use.

The yarn has now sat in the stash for two and a half years. My Paton's collection probably makes up almost a quarter of my stash, and I don't want to knit with it. I've started a couple of projects with it, and I don't make it very far before putting them aside. When I discovered that weaving eats up yarn, I naturally thought of the this yarn. It's really soft, and it's a decent yarn, but it's not one that I'm going to use for knitting anytime soon. I love the color, and I'm thinking that weaving might be sturdy enough to keep the pilling to a minimum.

And, I should get about 6 yards of 20" fabric out of it (I think...that's a very rough and uneducated guess). Lots of weaving for not much money, a new throw, and room in the stash; sounds like a winning combination to me! And, now that it's warped, it's all fast and easy from here!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Detente Day

I made it halfway through grading yesterday, and then I realized that my brain was fried. It's been a month of no-weekends now, and things are progressing ok. Enough that the world will not come to an end if I stop for a day (I hope, anyway). So, today I declared a detente.

We cleaned the house. I cooked for the week. And, I knit.

I've been working on knitting up the BFL that I dyed and spun. The stitch pattern has great texture.

And I like how the colors are blending.

This is a thick and soft scarf; I think it will be a favorite. It will also be pretty long; I'm getting about 18" a ball, and I have three balls of yarn, so it will be a good length when it's done. I cast on sometime last week, and I'm about halfway done now. It's nice to have a fast project on the needles!

The stitch pattern is easy enough that I can (mostly) knit without looking, so it might qualify for bus knitting. Hopefully I'll finish the scarf this week, rather than letting it languish (a common fate for scarves around here).

Branden built me a warping board this weekend, and we've been winding the warp for the next weaving project. True to character, I'm diving into a big project next, which I'm pretty excited about. More details later, but here it is on the warping board:

And off:

(That's half of the warp. Still need to wind the other half.) Aren't the colors pretty? It's a cotton weaving thread, and it has great sheen. I'm looking forward to having it on the loom.

We stopped at the yarn shop on the way home from the farmer's market and got this:

That's a ball of Manos with a skein of handspun. Sorry for the dark picture, but it was really the only way to get good color representation. Tonight, I've been working on a couple of swatches:

So far, I'm thinking I like the diamonds best. Hopefully my newly returned weeknights will help me to get a few more of these knit up this week. Swatches make rewarding projects for in-between times!

It's been nice having a day of craft in the middle of the craziness. I should declare detentes more often.

Also, thank you for all of the comments that you have been steadily leaving for me. I have seen and appreciated them all, but haven't responded. They do make the week a bit brighter, though, so thanks!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Growing pains

The computer that hosts all of the pictures for the blog got (another) virus last night. We've been thinking of switching over to a more long-term stable server anyway, since a lot of my academic material needs to move when I graduate in June, and we'd like to centralize all of the various sites that we maintain.

Of course, setting up a "real" website to host everything is kind of a big deal, and it takes a lot of planning. There are lots of things you need to know about what you want the website to do, but before all of that comes the name.

We'd like to have a single domain ( for both Branden and I, that can host both hobbies and professional materials. It's hard coming up with a good domain name for two people that goes with crafts, photography, engineering, chemistry, and teaching. Branden really likes "engunneer" (his handle on just about anything that requires a username), but it doesn't apply well to both of us. And "knittingfreestyle" isn't such a great address for a teaching portfolio, or a professional resume. BandEGunn is a little bit boring, but it might work ok. Thing is, we'd also like something clever. (Might as well try for the impossible, right?)

The domain name is an important part of a site's identity, and it's a pretty permanent choice. We thought we had a little longer to make up our minds, but the virus is kind of forcing the issue, and we're having a hard time coming up with good ideas. So, I thought I'd "ask the blog." Any ideas for the perfect website handle?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking back the evening

My night class had it's final meeting tonight. So, I suddenly have two more nights a week, just as the sun starts hanging around later into the evening. Here's hoping that translates into some kind of knitting progress to show you soon! Yay for having one thing finished (except grading, but we're not talking about that yet...).

Monday, March 9, 2009

The beginning of the end?

Anyone still there? I think you all deserve an award for patience, at this point. Work is going well, and there is a faint, faint glimmer of hope that I might make it through the endless projects and back to crafting someday.

Have you noticed that spring has come? (I say this despite the fact that we've had snow squalls every day this week, here in the land of no snow...) Suddenly, it's light out again, and there are things growing outside, and the air just smells like spring. I have my own system for determining when spring arrives (groundhogs be damned!), and it's definitely spring. The time of long nights, long work days, and long projects is ending. Not nearly as fast as I'd like, but there is hope.

You want proof?

I'd say that's proof that endless projects can be conquered. I finished the knitting last week sometime, and then wove in the ends on Sunday morning. If I ever consider a fingering weight sweater for Branden, please make sure that I have my sanity checked. I can't believe that a worsted weight sweater took an entire two months to finish. It's obviously partially due to the lack of knitting time, but this has definitely been a long project. Those sleeves are 24.5 inches long.

Incidentally, the sweater is also proof positive that spring is here. I finished a big, bulky sweater for Branden. Always happens about 2 weeks before we put them away for the year. Definitely spring.

And, for once, I think I might actually be happy with a sweater. It's the right size, there's nothing too funny about the neckline (why do those always get me??), and the yarn seems fairly sturdy. The shoulders could be a little less dropped, but he likes them that way. There's also a little more bulk around the underarm than I like, but in general I'm pretty happy. His comment? "It's warm."

This sweater also taught me why my raspberry sweater (made from the same brand of yarn, on the same needles) came out too big, even after swatching. Turns out, swatches aren't accurate when you swatch on a size 8 and knit with a size 9. I am neurotic about keeping my needles organized and in the correct bags, and so I never thought to check that my size 8 was really a size 8. I put it away, so of course it should be right! Well, just goes to show that you should always triple check. I knit the arms of my sweater (which do have the right gauge) on a size 8, and the body on a size 9 (which does not). Can't really tell the difference in the fabric, except that the body is about 8 inches bigger than it should be. Now I know why. I'm not sure that knowing comforts me, because it was a really brainless mistake, but at least I can actually measure a gauge swatch!

Fortunately, this time I caught on before knitting the entire sweater, and therefore this one actually fits.

I like the grafted seams:

and the cable detail:

Overall, it looks like a pretty comfortable sweater.

I also have to say that Branden is a very good sport about picture-taking sessions. He is absolutely horrible about having his picture taken, so these photo shoots can begin to approximate torture sessions after 45 minutes or so. (Yes, it takes that long to get a decent picture...we took 159 to get 6 useable ones without camera smile, blurriness, face-making or other issues). And he managedto be good-humored about an endless picture session after spending Wed-Sat on a no-sleep kinda schedule for the regional high school robotics competition (where his team won first place, I might add).

I think he probably deserves a sweater.