Thursday, January 26, 2012

New stash...

Gosh, it has been a while since a yarn grabbed me like this.  I found some really pretty ruffling yarn advertised in a catalog from Mary Maxim.  Most of their things are way to cutesy for my taste, but they had several varieties of this self-ruffling yarn that I wanted to have a look at "in person" to see how they worked.  I went to every craft shop in town, and of course, none of them had any of the types - not even the Red Heart version. Sigh....
So, I went back to the catalog and tried to place an order for the least expensive version - Red Heart Sashay - and it was out of stock!  Bigger sigh...
So, I went for the higher priced version and placed an order.  Hope it arrives soon... it looks so nice in the pictures.
Of course, with all that yarn shopping a few skeins followed me home.  I found this lovely, fuzzy Patons Lace with Sequins in the Amethyst colorway:
Pretty stuff, but as with most sparkly yarns, this one is a bit camera shy.  The sequins are a deep color that shimmers between red, fuschia and violet.  Very pretty indeed!  I'm thinking of a shrug or a vest with this, the balls are lace weight, and with all that glittering, I'll want a smooth knit to show it off to it's best advantage.

I'll swatch it later on, since I seem to have caught the "cast on" bug in the last little while.

Here's the beginning of my next sweater - at least I hope it is, the swatch is feeling a little light and loose and it isn't at gauge yet.  But here's the picture of what I'm planning for the next sweater.
The pattern is from Sunday Knits and is called Tapestry.  Very romantic, lots of cables and lace and knit in the round up to the armsceye.  I especially like the way the buttons are nestled into the cables on the front.  I chose a superwash fingering weight yarn from Knit Picks called Stroll in the colorway Twinkle Heather.  I'll keep going on the swatch and see if I like it better as it grows in size.  There are some people that say superwash wools don't feel good to them.  I really rather like the soft hand that this treatment gives the fiber.  Some wools feel a bit scratchy to me - even Merino sometimes.  I typically wear pure regular wool sweaters over a cotton turtleneck for comfort.  The superwash I can wear in socks on my bare skin without a problem.  For instance, those new slippers I made have both kinds of wool in them, superwash on the tops and feltable wool for the soles.  I find them more comfortable if I wear thin socks inside the slippers.  Doing this should also help improve the wearing life of the slippers as well, so it becomes a win-win situation.  This being said, I've started another pair of slipper socks since I adore the first pair and needed another "easy" knitting project for when I'm somewhere that I can knit on something simple and still be able to pay attention to other things going on... like at church.  So here's a work-in-progress shot of the slippers:

Since it takes two strands held together for the tops, I wound off a small ball of the sock yarn, trying to match up the patterning so there are some coherent stripes on the tops.  I like the effect I'm getting so far.  The match isn't perfect, but with two yarns running together the stripes are softened a bit.  So far, so good.  I'm just starting the top of the foot on the first slipper.  These take me about twenty hours from start to finish.  The yarn is Wisdom Yarns Phoenix in the Hayden colorway.  Superwash wool and nylon blend.  Cast on with size 7 needles and switch to size 4 for the tops.  I'll use my leftover Wool of the Andes Worsted in Fairy Tale for the heels and soles - I had a few balls left from the sweater and they match this yarn pretty nicely.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Sweater done, spinning in progress...

I love the feeling of finishing things... got a few more done this week. The never-ending sweater is finally knitted. Took a picture of it before blocking:

I like the way it turned out, but there are a couple of things I still want to do before I wear it.  Blocking would be the first thing, and I have given it the first warm bath of its life.  At the moment it is drying on a screen.  Never ceases to amaze me how the stitches smooth out after blocking.  Didn't need any wires in this one, just laid it out flat.  Second thing I'll be doing is adding a band of ribbon to the back of the button bands.  The knitting is wonderfully soft, but it isn't likely to support buttonholes and buttons without sagging.  So rather than wait for that to happen, I'll be putting the ribbon on to stabilize it.
I've also been finishing up some spinning that has been hanging around for a while. Here is a small skein of Amethyst Heather merino from Ashland Bay.  It started as one of the lovely striped tops that they are so famous for.  I just got a tiny sample (this skein is 9 grams) so that I could check the colors.  I'm pleased with this colorway, it "reads" visually as purple, but it is made up of blues, reds, pinks and grays.  Very nice indeed - I'll be ordering up more of this one. Statistics: 32 yards, 9 grams; Amethyst Heather merino top from Ashland Bay; spindle spun singles clockwise, Navajo plied counterclockwise 15 treadles.

This one has been hanging out on a spindle for who knows how long.  I took it off the spindle onto a bobbin and Navajo plied it to this gorgeous yarn.  It is a black Shetland wool blended with dyed mohair locks in blue and fuschia.  I really didn't expect Shetland wool to be so soft.  Love the sparkle and shine of the mohair.  I'll certainly be doing more of this blend in the future!  Statistics: 92 yards, 31 grams; Shetland/Mohair; spindle spun singles clockwise, Navajo plied counterclockwise 14 treadles.

This brute of a skein is the beginning of a sweater project from the color study yarns.  This is the 50/50 blend of GNR and Dolly Dorset.  Love the heathering and the color.  This isn't the softest wool, so it will definitely be outerwear.  Haven't worn much green lately, but it is a good color for me and I'll enjoy working with my handspun on a larger project.  Statistics: 270 yards, 74 grams; 50/50 GNR/Dolly; spindle spun singles clockwise, Navajo plied counterclockwise 14 treadles.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Quilting club...

The story started a long time ago....

Mom's mom was a passionate and gifted quilter, modest enough to think that she didn't do it right - even after winning quilt shows and being invited to judge the same show the following year! I often asked Grandma if she'd teach me to quilt, and she always told me I should take a class, since she didn't think she did it right.  I never did get her to change her mind, and she's gone now.  So, after all these years, Mom and I are learning to quilt.

Mom and I have started taking a quilting class of sorts.  It is actually a club that meets once a month.  No schlepping sewing machines - one person in the group presents the block that we'll be making for the month and points out any tips or troublemakers in the construction.  Then we all go home and take our chances with the directions and try to make the block.

We're working out of a book called Sylvia's Bridal Sampler by Jennifer Chiaverini.  As Mom and I looked it over, we thought "hmmm, 6 inch blocks, shouldn't take much fabric. How hard could it be?"  (Okay, now that anyone who knows anything about quilting is having a good laugh at our expense.....)  Not only have we discovered how little we know, we've also found a group of some of the most supportive and interesting women I've ever met.

I'm rather pleased with what I've learned.  Each month my skills get a little better.  Here's my first block, called Cats and Mice

Fun to do, but lots of tiny pieces!  I actually cut all those tiny bits and did all the 1/4" seams.  Since then I've learned how to do paper piecing and that makes it go a lot better - easier too!
As for the other things rolling around in my studio, the sweater is getting sewn up, and I found some great buttons for it!  I'm still spinning on the GNR/Dolly blend at work.  Just about ready to ply off the first bobbin of that one.  Made a sample of some very fine 3 ply yarn from a little puff of Ashland Bay Amethyst Multi wool.  The skein is drying now.  I'll shoot more pictures and get those posted next time.