So much going on…

And so little I can really show or write about :-)

I have a freebie sock design completed, photographed and laid out, and being test knit as we speak.  A second design has been drafted and test knitters are all lined up!   A few more designs are spinning about in my head and will have to wait just a little longer.

While all this is ongoing, most regular knitting has been suspended with the exception of my indigodragonfly No Purl Monkeys.  These things really just knit themselves!

Sock 1 complete!

Sock 1 complete!

I am actually ready to start the heel flap on Sock #2 and plan to have these done soon so they will be ready for when the weather turns.  Until today’s 30 degree high, there are many that might have argued that had already happened, but I digress.

I have also done little to no spinning.  That has to be remedied soon so as not to lose the consistency I have gained.  Plus I really miss the soothing, zen feeling that it brings.

What have you been doing now that autumn is just around the corner?

Road Trip!

On Saturday, at some ungodly hour, my dear friend Caryn and I set out for a day trip.  Destination?  The wilds of Haliburton and the home/studio of indigodragonfly yarns, for their 5th Annual Highland Fibre Fling.

photo 2

Kim and Ron open up their home on the third Saturday in August each year for friends and strangers alike to drop by and visit.  There is food, and drink…and this year, in celebration of their 5th Anniversary, there was even cake!  But, of course…it’s really all about friends…and the yarn.  Oh the gorgeous colours!  So many to choose from!

photo11

Marit, the creative mind behind Gobstopper, was in attendance, with a selection of her “cake-dyed”, gradient yarns.  Such lovely colours!

photo 1

And of course, no Fling is complete without the requisite piñatas!

Jenn (with Kim, right) holds the Elmo and Minion pinatas, moments before their untimely end!

Jenn (with Kim, right) holds the Elmo and Minion piñatas, moments before their untimely end!

Sadly, this year we didn’t get to take them outside…it was quite the rainy day.   But it turns out that modern day piñatas are rigged with handy ribbons and no longer require baseball bats, golf clubs or other bashing implements.  So fun was still had by all on the piñata front!

I had to have one of the 5th anniversary goodie bags:  a project bag containing a skein of CaribouBaa in a limited edition anniversary colourway called Cinco de Mine!, and some other goodies that included buttons, stitch markers and soak wash packets.

goodie_sm

Days with my knitting peeps…definitely fewer and farther between that I’d like, and totally worth the hours behind the wheel!

Exciting Times!

These past few months, my creative brain has been in overdrive. I credit some of that to hanging out with the multi-talented Shireen.  Spend a few evenings creating new things with her, and you start dreaming of what else you can accomplish.

In the past twelve months, just from a fibre standpoint, I have dyed some of my own yarn and fibre.  We started off with just experimenting with fabric dye, but since then I have played with acid dyes and have created some spin-able and knit-able pieces.  And I sincerely doubt I am done yet.

I have picked up spinning again and gotten surprisingly good at it, if my spinning teacher, Leslie is to be believed (and I believe she is).  In fact, she even thinks a couple of my skeins from Tour de Fleece should be entered in competition. Took a while for my ego to come down off that one, let me tell you!

I have gotten a loom and done a limited amount of weaving.  That is the activity that logistically is hardest to do just anywhere due to the need for a prop for the loom, so it tends to get ignored when I am deciding what craft to pursue in the evenings.

I have also self-published my first sock pattern.  Admittedly, it started out as a tool to help Shireen knit her own socks, but it was still a fun exercise and it encouraged me to keep going and create more designs.

All this is in addition to the (obviously decreased) knitting that I have been doing.  Since both of my parents have jumped on the “we love hand knit socks” bandwagon, and my husband has also decided that hand knit socks are something he was missing out on, socks have been practically the only things I have actually been working on.  In fact, I just finished my first pair for hubby and he loves them!  (More on that and my second pattern release soon!)

I have had several other patterns floating around in my head, based on somewhat of a theme; two of those have made it onto needles and one of those two is a bit behind schedule, but picking up again now.  I am enthused about that one for a number of reasons, none of which I can really talk about at the moment.

All that being said, changes are coming, and I won’t lie; I am pretty excited about them!

 

The Quest to Finish…Something

A few weeks ago I looked at my list of projects that I have cast on in the last *mumblety-mumble* months and found the number to be more than a bit jarring.  I seem to have “knitting ADD” lately…the minute something new and pretty comes along, I am off and my lovely WIPs are left languishing.  Right now, OTN, I have a collection of three fingering weight scarves…one of which has the distinction (?) of being my oldest WIP…cast on in January of last year.  There is my Colour Affection, which for some reason I never really got into, and another shawlette I was super excited about (love the pattern, adore the OOAK Tanis Fiber Arts yarn) and just put it down last fall, never to resume.  On and on it goes.

Shockingly, I only have two pairs of socks on needles, one of which is on 2mm needles and I think it intimidates me somewhat….again, a pattern I adored (Margaritaville by Adrienne Fong) but it has a 72-stitch cast on, ergo the small needles.  (I have little-ish feet).

The second pair is a pair of No Purl Monkeys in indigodragonfly MCN Sock (since renamed to Mergoat Sock) in “Don’t You Have An Elsewhere To Be”.  I cast these on last fall for the wedding of the indigodragonfly couple, Kim and Ron.  (The invitation said knitting was encouraged…I HAD to bring something!)  I knit the cuff and a single repeat, then put them down to knit socks for my parents for Christmas, and that, as they say, was all she wrote.

Kim and Ron are hosting their Annual Highlands Fibre Fling this coming weekend and I figured I’d resurrect them to bring as my “sit about and chat” project.  I dug them out of my WIP tote yesterday morning and started them up again.

It seems my finish-itis is in better shape than I might have thought.  By dinner time last night…the leg was done.

cordeliaMonkey

And before I went to work this morning, the heel flap was done, the heel was turned and the gussets stitches were picked up.  By the end of the evening, I am hoping to have all the gusset decreases done and be on the foot.

I am suddenly glad this is the first sock so I can have a second one on needles for Saturday.

On a not unrelated note…I wonder if this is the reason why, of twelve WIPs, only two are socks.

Is it just me….?

Or does summer crafting just seem to go a lot more slowly?

Admittedly, this summer in Toronto is uncharacteristically cool…but I still can’t seem to find the energy to do much in the way of, well, anything, to be perfectly honest.

I have been doing bits and pieces of a scarf for my mom, and last week I cast on a hat in MadTosh Vintage for a colleague at work.  He has proven himself knit-worthy by wearing (and gushing repeatedly over) a cowl I made him last year.

Watch Cap in Madeline Tosh Vintage in Baltic

Watch Cap in Madeline Tosh Vintage in “Baltic”

I did put a new braid of fibre on my wheel – a braid of SweetGeorgia BFL in my favourite of her colourways, “Stormchaser”.  (I also have this colourway on Tough Love Sock which I will eventually get to.)  I am alternating this with a bobbin of the Humpspun that I started during Tour de Fleece, and my spinning progress seems to be much slower.  That is to say, it seems to take a LOT longer to get through a braid.  This might be a symptom of finer spinning.

Stormchaser BFL

“Stormchaser” BFL

In any case, I am not even through the “fractal” half of the braid yet.  But I love the colour so much that I don’t care how long it takes.  I want this on every base!

So even though this looks like I am doing a lot, I am really not.  My heart’s not really in it and when I am too warm, my energy is just tapped out.

Maybe this boredom is what’s feeding my start-itis that I am fighting, quite valiantly, I might add.   Something to consider.  What do you do when summer is here or your mojo is just plain out of whack?

Shoulda, woulda, coulda…

I had an interesting conversation with Shireen yesterday that made me stop and think.  I mentioned that I was battling a severe case of start-itis, and that the main reason I was not casting on a new Trillian was because I already have three scarves on needles, never mind the two sock designs that I started but have left languishing of late.  I said that “I had other things I should be working on”.

Shireen responded to the effect of  “that there’s where I went wrong…crafting has become something I should be doing and not always what I want to be doing.” (I am paraphrasing here.)

And I realized that somewhere along the line, I seem to have strayed into that mindset.  I think that (for me) it’s that I promise someone I will make them something, and then I feel guilty if I do anything else.  I just finished socks for my husband (which have inadvertently turned into a free pattern I am now writing up) and I have promised my mom a fingering weight scarf that I am less than halfway through.  By the time you factor in the other half-completed projects that I somehow feel guilty about letting sit in project bags, I feel rather like a Catholic school girl in confession.

I frogged a couple of those WIPs already and I keep looking at the others on my project page, wondering idly “If it’s been on needles for 18 months, am I ever really going to finish it?”

Does it “bother” you to have multiple projects on needles?  Or are you the type that never does?  (My girlfriend, Caryn, somehow never seems to have more than two or three things on the go at any point, and not shockingly, actually seems to finish things.)  If it does bother you, what’s your solution?  Do you buckle down and finish them?  Or frog them and move on?  Do you have an arbitrary time frame in which you know that if it doesn’t get finished, it never will?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Tour de Fleece 2014 Draws To A Close

I have officially completed my first Tour de Fleece.

I am pretty happy with how it went, overall.  I didn’t spin as much as I had hoped.  Actually that’s not true.  I spun more than I thought I would at the start, but after finishing a whole braid in my first 8 days, I had thought I’d get more done.

However, it seems that spinning progress got a lot slower in the second half.  Maybe because I spun less, time-wise…maybe because the fibre was different and it just took me longer.  I am still not sure.

In any case, I turned a 115 gram braid of merino bamboo into 300 yards of gorgeous yarn,

Colourway: “Cast On Couch”

and a 62 gram braid of merino cashmere into 230 yards of delightful squooshy-ness,

Colourway: Flamingoes Are Not Munitions Experts"

Colourway: “Flamingos Are Not Munitions Experts”

and I made some headway into a third braid of camel/silk.

Colourway: "I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem"

Colourway: “I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem”

I spun indigodragonfly only…being their team captain and all.  The only untouched indigodragonfly fibre I have left is some merino/seacell…but I have 300 grams of that so I am keeping that until I figure out what I want that to become.

I will keep on keeping on with the Humpspun…and maybe alternate that bobbin with some other fibre that has been languishing in my stash.  I am looking to learn some woolen techniques and I may have to break into some batts for that.

In which prayers are said…

Prayers that soaking/blocking really is magic for weaving, just like it is for knitting.

I started my first laceweight weaving project Friday night.  Shireen came over for a visit and offered to help me warp up my loom with some Malabrigo Silkpaca in “Archangel” she gave me.  Since I always find warping to be the most intimidating part of weaving, I took her up on her offer.  We moved some furniture and warped up a nice long, if narrow scarf-like piece.  It’s amazing how fast 440 yards goes!

warp

Since she gave me two skeins of this lovely stuff, we decided I would weft with the other skein.  This meant I was free to practice without fear of making any sort of colour choices/mistakes.  So I wound the entirety of the second skein onto the bobbins for my boat shuttle (Shireen brought with her the prototype of an amazing machine that Tito made to help with that most boring of tasks) and got ready to go.

bobbins

 

I got started with my leader yarn, and for some reason that seemed to take a LOT of yarn.  The gaps didn’t seem to want to close at all.  Once I did get them closed up, I started with my boat shuttle and words cannot express how much more enjoyable using that shuttle is, compared to the basic stick ones that come with the loom.  I had a problem with the left side of my shed…however I tied it, it seemed sorta loose and wimpy and there are a few inadvertent floats as a result.

But the bigger issue I encountered was not being able to get the weft to stay put.  I’d beat it down, and it would bounce back up.  I assumed either I was doing something wrong, or the silk in the yarn was rendering it so slippery that the threads just weren’t sticking together.  I messaged Shireen to ask her what I was doing wrong and her response was not to think of it as beating it down but rather “think of it as placing it on a line that is an equal distance from the one below it.”  I tried that, but I admit that I still wasn’t too successful.  That being said, I am fairly sure that the method I used to attach the warp to the apron bar rendered the start of the piece somewhat uneven.  I have already decided that even if it means less loom waste, I won’t be trying that method again.

3

So by the end of the weaving time on the weekend, this was what I had.  It’s way uneven (there are all sorts of gaps and you can see where the weft threads are actually wavy over on the right) and the edges are pretty ratty looking.  But, it’s also my first laceweight piece and I am hoping I (and it) will get better as the piece progresses.

Besides, that s$%# will totally block out, right?

Tour de Fleece: Rest Day 1

It popped up on my calendar today that this is the first of the two Tour “rest days”.  We don’t spin our wheels when the riders don’t, so to speak.  I had not planned to actually take a day off today, but I think I will because I am getting some aches and pains in my right hand.  Considering how much time I have spent at my wheel these past 10 days, I suppose that should not be surprising.

My current project is another indigodragonfly fibre.  This one is a camel/silk blend, creatively named Humpspun, in a colourway named, “I Am A Drinker With A Spinning Problem”.

Humpspun Fibre

Humpspun Fibre

This name might be more a propos than I care to admit. This yarn, when finished, is going to be a great many things.  It’s going to be ultra-soft, and very warm.  It’s also going to be very pretty, with some blue-green silky bits strewn in amongst natural/beige coloured camel fibres.

Know what it’s not going to be?  EVEN.

I have been spinning this fibre for a few nights and my relatively inexperienced hands just cannot get the hang of drafting this.  At.  All.

Single Progress after 3rd day

Single Progress after 3rd day

I am fairly certain this single runs the gamut from laceweight to worsted, depending on where you look.  I am not sure if this is just a “harder” fibre to spin, or if it’s different from the usual merino or BFL blends I am accustomed to.  But in any case, I suspect this is going to take the rest of the Tour to spin because I am spinning way more slowly than with the PandaBaa and I can’t spin as long because my hands hurt.

I am still loving working on it though, now that I have decided to let it be what it wants to be, and I think the yarn is going to be lovely and original when I am done.

Which is to say, “lovely and original” sounded much nicer than saying “it will look like it was spun by an untrained four year old who drafted with her left foot”.

Spinning FO: Indigodragonfly PandaBaa

Two years ago, I started Tour de Fleece, armed with nothing more than a few braids of fibre and my Houndesign spindle.  I got about 9 days in, and a few things came up, and that, as they say, was that.

Two years later, with my trusty Lenrdum wheel, I decided to give it another go, and while I was at it, I thought I’d head up the indigodragonfly TdF team.  I had a single braid of PandaBaa (merino/bamboo) and if I managed to finish that one, I figured, I had another couple I could work on.  Truthfully, I was not really expecting that to happen, but a girl can hope.

PandaBaa in "Cast-On Couch"

PandaBaa in “Cast-On Couch”

I had not at all figured on the addiction-inducing properties of this fibre.  So soft, so lustrous and it, as I have said before, drafts like butter.  I had half the braid done in the first weekend, and then spun the other half over the next four days.  Plying always takes longer than I think it will (this is in no way aided by the fact that I have had to ply my last two skeins twice) so I saved it for a peaceful Sunday morning activity.

Finished Single

Finished Single

There’s a saying…”Man Plans.  God Laughs.”  I am guessing he had a mighty chuckle at me yesterday morning.

After the recent success of plying from both ends of a centre-pull ball, that seemed like the most reasonable way to go.  I wound the single off the bobbin and settled in, not knowing the horror that awaited me.

Ready To Ply!

Ready To Ply!

This time, something went horribly awry, and even now I can’t say what exactly.  The strands doubled back on themselves and each other.  They got twisted and tangled, and the strands were almost sticky….keeping them apart proved to be impossible and in one case, no matter how hard I tried, scissors were required.   The air was positively blue from the language that erupted as I’d untangle one bit, only to hit two more.

The only thing we could see that would work would be to have the ball spin so that the strand on the outside never had a chance to wind itself around the middle one.  My darling husband was good enough to hold the ball, slowly turning it to keep the strands apart while I plied.  (As I write this, he is busily trying to invent/MacGyver something to help me with this in future.  If he fails this will NOT be a method I am idiotic enough to try again.  Fool me once….)

90 or so minutes later, the yarn was plied, but I could see, like last time, that it was too loose for me to be happy with.  So after some coffee and pancakes (yes, I was also stupid enough to try this un-caffeinated) I settled in with the plied bobbin and ran it through the wheel again.  I mutter as I do this, but I have to say, for the second time now, the second pass made all the difference in the world.  Actually, since the last skein had already alerted me to the fact that I ply loosely, I suspect that this one would have been tight enough the first time if not for the unanticipated snags I hit, as the closer I got to the end, the more nicely plied the yarn was already.

finished1

In the end…just barely shy of 300 yards.  It looks like fingering weight but might be sport – I haven’t had a chance to do a WPI test on it yet.  But no matter what, I absolutely love it.  So soft and squishy and such lovely colour.  I am seriously contemplating using it to warp my loom and then wefting with just a plain natural colour lace or fingering weight to keep the colours from being obscured.

finished2And now back to the Humpspun I started last week.