Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Very vari socks

Ha! With just hours to go before the end of the August 2010 sockalong, I present my veryvari socks:

I knit them from my own pattern, which needs a good deal of finetuning before I can share it, but is supremely comfortable.

Having these done is like having a plug pulled out of a blocked sink - I feel so much lighter, so free, so empty of stress!

Except of course for the long shadow of Man Socks. I'm going to have lunch and then I'm going to stare those things down and see if I can't sweep them off my needles before midnight. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Knitting: it's a lot like parking

When I was practising for my driver's test in April the worst part was backing into a parking space, uphill. I'd be easing down on the gas hoping the steering wheel was just right so I wouldn't hit another car and not. moving. at. all. Not moving, easing down, not moving, easing down, not movi


hoping so much not to have smash.

This is just about exactly what happened with the variegated socks this weekend:

Suddenly, they were long enough. In fact, this one turned out to too long for the width of the sock, and having established that I don't have enough yarn to justify adding stitches for something that stretches around my calf, I had to rip back. Gah! But now suddenly the end is in sight, and there is a remote chance that when I get home from tomorrow's outing they will be finished. Fingers crossed, if only mentally, because as you doubtless know it is difficult to knit with crossed fingers.

Freeing myself from the tyranny of the sock meant I was finally able to finish a mitten that matched the remaining unmatched mitten:

and even revisit the Carrot Cardi.

I can see why I stopped carting it around, sock aside - I have to match the shaping of the front to the back, and at this point, I really need to be knitting it in front of a table so I can be sure the length is right. Soon, carrot, soon. And I cannot wait!

(no really, I can't. This current heatwave we're having aside, the weather is definitely turning where I live, and I need this thing.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cashmere, weaving, and socks

It had to happen sometime: I've found a cashmere sweater in a thrift store, for $3.

Now I feel sort of honour-bound to try unraveling it, though really I just want to hug it indefinitely. It's so much softer than the cashmere sweaters I see for sale in non-thrift stores, even the really expensive ones. It would be almost worth it if it led to wearing it over my forehead in the form of a hat.

In more branching-out-from-actual-knitting news, Kathi figured out what those weird sticks were in my old knitting roll-up unearthed in another thrifting run: stick weaving. Yes, there is such a thing, and either that link or the other Kathi found includes a reference to a book I now have on hold at the library. Well, two books. For some reason there are two with exactly the same title and I suspect it will take both for me to figure out how to weave without a loom. Thank you Kathi! It was driving me crazy wondering what on earth those things were.

I was in the car all day balancing a map on my knees to four different thrift stores plus a train museum - I got to ride on a 1920s Toronto Transit Commission streetcar and wonder whether it was one of the ones my grandfather, a carpenter, did repairs on when he worked for them doing that sort of thing - and I did work on my socks.

Quite a lot.

Without much to show for it.

(unless you count motion sickness.)

While doing this I thought a lot about thick warm winter socks, and I picked up several pairs of already-knit ones in a farm store and again in a thrift store (where they cost $1 and I tried not to cry) and I decided that this nice not-quite-ribbed stitch pattern I'm using would be beautiful in plain heavy yarn that is much, much faster to knit. And isn't a knee sock.

So that's my sock carrot idea, now. Gotta love the carrots.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mystery tools

I realized yesterday that for the past few weeks I've been lagging along with my four unfinished socks thinking I have another ten days or so to finish them but


August actually ends a little before Labour Day Weekend, which I had mentally substituted as the deadline for finishing all my unfinished socks for the August Sockalong. I mean, the name alone should have been a clue that I only have till the end of the month. And I have a long way to go even without the distraction of mittens.

Living on the edge as I do, I continued to ignore my socks last night. Instead I spent nearly two hours knitting (*frogging reknitting repeat from * till blind) the top of mitten #3 so it would match mitten #2 as closely as possible. And then I knit the cuff of mitten #4, found it was too narrow, frogged, and started reknitting to make it match mitten #1.

When #4 is done, I'm done, till the socks are finished and the ends run in. Then it's thumb time.

Somewhere in the midst of the mitten frenzy I wandered over to my needle stash and revisited a needle roll storage thingy I bought at a rummage sale in the spring. Inside, I found these sticks I missed the first time:

I'm wondering what they are. I can't help thinking they look like the hooks Robin Hansen describes in Favorite Mittens - aka the source of all my mitten angst - for the Hooked Mittens some gentleman used to make in acrylic yarn: not a crochet hook, but not a knitting needle either. Still, they do seem to be missing a hook, having been sharpened at the ends like pencils.

They have all been shaved to a flat edge like a screwdriver on top, with a little hole drilled in the top, and one is cracked near the hole; the three that aren't have a little yellow yarn threaded through the hole and something, I can't tell what, written in blue on the flattened edge below the hole.

Any ideas?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts on (boot) socks

As I struggle through the variegated socks I cast on back in June - really I think the problem is I get eyestrain from knitting such tiny stitches in a moving vehicle, so maybe I should forget them till I get to be more sedentary in a couple of weeks - I am realizing that they are very thin.

For maybe 12 weeks of the year, thin socks are exactly what I want to show off under the strap of my Mary Janes. The rest of the time, I'm either in sandals with no socks, or shivering in my unlined Blundstone boots (or ripping up the heel flap in a pair of super insulated rain boots, which is why I stick with cheap athletic socks when the weather makes those ones a necessity.)

Clearly what I need are boot socks which, incidentally, would be way way faster to knit and have stitches I don't have to squint to see. Not that this is a driving factor in my sock knitting choices or anything, what with being so stoic and all.

I've been digging through the stash and it seems I have a truly ridiculous amount of Patons Classic Wool, way more than I need for the mitten plan, so I could spare some for warm feet. Plus, I'd get to go on with the incredibly addictive 2+2, 1+1 stripe design. This colour combo might make for some cool socks to match my favourite heathery scarf:

But can you get away with Classic Wool for socks if you use small needles, or would they just wear right through?

While I was hunting up chunky wool for socks, I remembered this bison/seacell blend yarn I splurged on about 18 months ago and never knit up:

They're the same gauge as the Mary Jane socks and I'm thinking I should be clever and do something pretty with cables or lace. Probably cables, as they're warmer. With luck I'd have them finished around this time next year - just in time for fall!

I bet you're wondering what I was procrastinating about enough to go back hunting through the stash for socks I don't need for months yet, right? Well....

I got the cuff width right this time. And I swear I the rounds count up the same too. But definitely, one of these cuffs is longer than the other.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


I couldn't help myself: I had to knit another mitten last night.

I was so looking forward to being done with blue and heathery white and on to another combination from my vast Patons Classic Wool stash! I even mirror-imaged the top decreases so the mittens would be a perfect pair.

But then I looked closer and - yes. My old stranded knitting problem. I knit with a looser tension the first time, and the second mitt's cuff is about half an inch narrower. Also, I miscounted and started the decreases a row early, and having cut the yarn before establishing this fact I can't really rip back and add the extra row.

That's why today I will be knitting a third blue and white mitt to see if I can't match the tension to one of the first two, and then, verrrry carefully, a fourth to adhere to the one that remains. And after that I'll be knitting the mitts simultaneously - cuffs, then thumb gussets, then hands, then tops - and hoping that solves the tension problem. Think it will?

(and while I'm asking, think I'll ever get my variegated socks done?)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Striped mittens

Have you read any of Robin Hansen's books? She researched mittens in the wild, made traditionally in particular cold-weather communities, and collected the patterns as the knitters who made them were beginning to take them along to the grave. I found one of her first two books in the library a while back and immediately bought the new version that combines the most popular of them in Favorite Mittens. I think I'm going to hunt down copies of the originals though, just to make sure I didn't miss anything.

I love this book. It takes knitting firmly into social history, and that's a subject I can't get enough of. I particularly can't get enough of the pattern for Striped Mittens, and for the last ten days or so my liking for them has become, well, obsessive. So when I finished the green and purple hat yesterday I figured I could spare a few minutes to start the cuff:

before moving on to more responsible things.

I went for the smallest of the child sizes, which is meant to fit ages 2-4, but I used Patons Classic Wool - my stash dates from the days when they still used Merino for this - and 3mm needles and no swatch, guessing that whatever size it came out to be would fit somebody. Somebody in this case being one of the children in the orphanage in Russia I wanted to knit a lot of warm things for last spring, ahem. See, I figured that this way I'd get the pattern out of my system faster, while getting a start on the charity knitting I had to put off for my driver's test and sample knitting.

Well, a few hours after I got the cuff done I had a few minutes and thought... why not? And then the thumb gore was just so amazing I thought... a little more? And then it was just going so fast I thought... I can stay up late again! I don't need sleep! which turned out not to be true.

And then this morning while I waited to turn the bacon I finished off the top of the first mitt.

Don't you just love the way the stripes round out?

And the thumb gore - yum.

Best of all, the Classic Wool feels like alpaca inside, I don't know why - is it the stranding? Anyway this makes me extra excited about having found recently in my junk room about 10 balls of it that had been destined for an ill-fated sweater as many years ago - again, in Merino.

Turns out the finished size is perfect for a 5-8 year old, so maybe I'll try another yarn to knit smaller ones for smaller children. I can't help thinking about them for adults, though, too... what with another round of holidays coming. These things are like candy and you know how hard it is for me to resist that.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Knitting while busy

It is very, very hard to knit for people's birthdays, or knit at all for that matter, when almost everybody you love got born in the same three-week stretch of the year (I'm looking at you, latter half of August.)

This is why Bob will not be getting his own pair of Man Socks this year even though I really, really wanted to make him some. (On the upside, I do have another idea to mark this milestone year, which might still arrive at his house in time if I order it immediately after publishing this post.)

This is also, along with continuing but milder eyestrain, why I haven't done much other knitting either. Shopping and event planning have been in the way, plus a lot of day trips and other social engagements in which it's not really practical to knit - and you know I'd find a way if there was one.

I worked on my variegated socks yesterday, but you don't want to see yet another picture of those.

I worked on a hat today, and you might want to see a picture of that:

Longtime readers might recognize these colours and stitches and the rest of you will have to wait a month or so for more details because they aren't likely to be ready before that. But I can tell you I'm knitting it in insanely squashy soft fast-knitting yarn that is about as opposite as you can get to variegated non-wear-y-outie sock yarn, which makes a nice change. Mmmmm.

Tonight I am going to wind the recycled yarn from that man-sized vest back into balls. Think good thoughts for me.

(no, I did not find any good sweaters at the thrift stores I visited yesterday. yes, it is killing me and I am beginning to obsess again. yay, I did find another blanket to add to my stack of thrifted wool blankets, for which I have suddenly decided on a use, and if you are wondering with a pleasant curiosity what I'm talking about you should be reading my Procrastination Diary where I write about all the non-knitting crafty stuff.)

Speaking of blankets and not-knitting crafts,


I don't know how to crochet. My mother keeps trying to teach me and I did finally manage to do a few stitches under her close supervision but not enough to be able to make so much as a granny square. That doesn't really bother me because I can still make yarny things with needles, and I can still enjoy Attic24, where Lucy writes about the colourful things she's made with her hook.

Her photographs are probably why I couldn't resist this non-wool blanket in a Salvation Army store yesterday:

I love these colours together, don't you? It's so well made - it's just terrible that it didn't have a home with somebody to love it. Isn't it convenient that I have a room in my house it matches perfectly? And I didn't have to learn to crochet to have it.

The store was having a half price sale at the time I went in so it cost me all of $2. Also costing me $2:

My favourites are the pinky red buttons at the top, and the shiny blue ones near the bottom right.

And you know what would have cost me $2.50 if I had been able to get over the fact that I don't have carding paddle thingies?

Yes. That's right. I turned down a bag of curly locks from a sheep. They'd been washed, but not dyed, and they needed a good brushing before they could be spun. It's the first time I ever saw something like that in a thrift store and I dearly hope it's not the last. As long as I get myself a pair of carding thingies in the meantime.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In which Mary goes unravelly

When I left you guys yesterday I had just finished taking apart a giant knit vest for the purpose of reclaiming its 3-ply fingering lambswool, yes? Instead of spinning or knitting or resting my eyes which I have to admit are still pretty sore, all of which is to say that this was totally illogical of me, but what else is new.

And to recap: this turn of events is mostly Trish's fault, but partly also Cosette Cornelius-Bates' fault because she has a whole section on reclaiming yarn in her book Knit One, Embellish Too which I bought last year and really liked then and still do and did I mention I started reading knitting books at bedtime so I wouldn't be still reading fiction at 3am? Which is evidently not as smart as it seems, because that tutorial stuck with me through the night after I read it, and seeded itself, so that ever since I got my swift in March I've been thinking

Huh! I could reclaim some yarn with this thing! and then telling myself to quit while I was ahead.

We're up to speed now, I think. So, after two or three hours of frogging and winding and reading the rest of The New Yorker and chatting with people as they wandered through the room - this is an unquestionable plus to the process, the ability to multitask - I had this:

All those small balls were from me snipping outside of the seams in the half-light on the porch in the evening yesterday, a mistake I will not be making again let me tell you. What I was able to salvage amounts to a little over 200g.

I will be knitting this stuff with the yarn held double because even then it will be thinner than my usual sock yarn, something I don't want to think about right now, so I figured I might as well get it onto the swift that way before washing it out.

Periodically, when one of the strands emptied out before the other was ready, I got a new one and kind of wound it around the end of the shorty, giving me a few inches of 3-ply. It's not an elegant solution but it is better than a knot and at least I know they're in there and can plan for them as I work. If it's a disaster rest assured you'll be hearing about it - but you knew that.

By a little after 4, just in time for me to start thinking about supper and deciding I'd rather unearth a patch of kitchen counter and put away four loads of laundry, I had this:

And by 5 it was all soaked and blotted and hanging up with weights, still kinky, waiting to dry enough to get rolled back into balls for knitting.

Tally: a whole day plus a whole evening for 200g of lambswool - worth it? I am thinking not so much, though if I found some really awesome brightly coloured worsted weight in a man's XL pullover sweater with no felting or moth holes I would be all over it.

(which is good for me to know, since I will be stopping in at three different thrift stores tomorrow.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

On-the-go knitting

Today was Island day - in spite of living quite close to this hugely beautiful park only accessible by ferry (or other boat, should you be fortunate enough to own one or know somebody who does) I'm lucky to get down there once a year - and you couldn't have asked for a lovelier day to do it in. Perfect temperature, soft breeze off the lake, lots of sun between the shady places. And even a bit of time in which to knit my sock among the persistently falling leaves:

But as I knit my way along another pattern repeat I realized Something Awful.

I'm in the car again later this week for just a ton of time in which I will not be called upon to navigate at all. And apart from these socks, I have nothing to bring that will feed over three hours of potential stitching.

Which would be okay if I wasn't also going to be waiting around someplace knitty on the weekend, and I mean seriously bored out of my mind for about an hour in a place where I want to be carrying as little as possible, i.e. socks. But I'm getting pretty close to the end of these ones, and there aren't even three more hours of mindless knitting in them, I don't think.

So I need to make some time tomorrow to get my Carrot cardi back in the front of my brain. I'm doing the first front now, nearly ready to cast off, but I have to match the shaping to the back which needs to happen at home (where I should also stitch on the buttons I bought in June, or others from the stash if there are any I like better.) Then I could in theory bring the second front along in the car, matching buttonholes to the location of the buttons per the instructions.

And that would be okay if I hadn't gone and bought this on the way home from the Island today:

A $6 lambswool vest - mens' XL, super long with buttons, fabulous murky colour that matches the skirt in the photo above like a dream - to frog into yarn.

Guess what I did tonight instead of sorting out the Carrot or writing this blog?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Pools, and not the summertime kind

I'm entertaining a little eyestrain as a result of all this close work I've been up to, so last night I put the needles down and browsed through my newly acquired copy of Carol J. Sulcoski's Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn.

Also known as 'the book I needed before I started the variegated socks.'

This is an excellent book and I would be proud to wear any of the socks in it: if you've been thinking about getting it some time, my advice is to stop thinking and just treat yourself.

In addition to the ones on the cover by Jody Pirrello, my particular favourites are Laura Nelkin's Whirlpool Socks:

I probably couldn't face putting all those tiny beads onto the yarn but if you click on the image to see them up close I think you'll agree they are stunning. Maybe I could get somebody else to do the beads for me, or plan that activity for a day without eyestrain.

... and Veronik Avery's Staccato Socks (yes, I do hate myself for not knowing how to put the accent over the e in Veronik's name, especially since just typing that means I've butchered it twice) which are designed to make use of leftover sock yarn but also would be beautiful with just one yarn, I bet:

Okay, having established that, and bearing in mind that these patterns both use self-striping rather than truly variegated yarns, let's have a look at my socks in progress, shall we?

Um, yes.

While I am compulsive about symmetry and matchiness, I've learned to let that go with sock knitting: as a rule, I keep most of my wardrobe either plain in form or colour or both and use socks as the one wild note, so the wackier the better as far as I'm concerned. I will wear these when they are done because I love all the colours in them and they fit super comfortably (and I have a very good pair of boots that will hide all but the cuff)


I have revised my plan to knit until I run out of yarn and then do the cuff in red. Instead, I'm going to make them a respectable length for jeans and get out of Dodge, saving what's left as an accent in a better pattern from the book.

Bonus: I'll finish a pair of socks before the end of the month! assuming my eyes stop being hurty before then, of course.

Friday, August 13, 2010

A new knitting tool

So.... on my travels yesterday I went into a store that sells fudge, other assorted candy, and stuffed animals. (you know, the kind of store that pretends to market to kids but is really directed straight at me?) I came out with some fudge, which is gone now, and a cat, which is not:

Yes, I realize this is lame and information I should be keeping very much to myself. But what can I say? It was cute, and it's the kind with insanely soft plush, and it's sort of curved so that it hugs you when you pick it up, and I do not currently live with a real cat and am in no position to acquire one either.

The eyes are a little creepy. I am trying not to look too closely at them.

On the way home from the fudge store, I put Molly (these things name themselves, I take no responsibility) on my knee and got to work with my needles, and she was sort of warm and nice to glance down at since I'd positioned her such a way that her eyes were on my sock, and I thought,


I forgot to bring her along on today's trip and somebody in the car said, Um, where's your cat? which I realized immediately I was also asking myself. It is nice to have a cat on my knee while I knit, even if it is just a stuffed one. So I've decided she's my new knitting tool, and she's going to live in my 'studio' aka the space under and immediately beside the basement stairs - really I have to do a photographic tour of that for you some time because it's quite astonishing what I've been able to cram in there - and be with me while I knit.

But probably not while I spin, because even a stuffed cat isn't likely to put up with all that movement and temptation.

(PS, I finished the heel flap on sock #2 tonight and will be ankles-up on both of them from now on. This must mean the end of them is in sight because Man Socks are beginning to snigger at me about my returning to the fold to finish off their toes.)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sock on

Okay, I confess, I've been very very sock-neglectful this week


I took the variegated socks in the car with me tody and got sock #2 all the way up to the end of the gusset increases. See? Proof!

And by evening when that was done I still had time for a few more rounds on the ankle of sock #1, and I will be taking them both out with me again tomorrow. So maybe I can redeem myself for all the other things I've been knitting instead of my poor long-suffering socks.

Now, back to that picture. You may be asking yourself - what's the point when you can't see the stitch? The point is the fact that in spite of being invisible this stitch creates ribbing, without the torture of K1P1 or K2P2 every single row until you're ready to throw the socks across the room.

I really need ribbing in my socks, unless they're ankle length - I don't know what's wrong with my legs or the amount of time I spend sprinting late to things, but they just don't stay up without some ribbing beyond the cuff. And this stitch changes every other row, over twelve whole rows, giving you a sense of accomplishment and progress before you have to start over again.

Next time I will knit them in a solid colour so the stitch gets a chance to shine, as well as being practical and sanity-saving. But for now it's enough that I'm getting a pair of long socks that won't cluster around the tops of my shoes and will break up the variegation of this yarn a bit.

(Navy pooling on the top of the foot of this sock, did you notice? They're going to end up being fraternals, I can tell.)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I should be knitting, but I have the Fall 2010 copy of Interweave Knits and, well. Takes me a few reads-through to decide what I like best, and it's nice and breezy on the porch for sitting and leafing, you know?

Sometimes an ad really grabs me, like this Bergere de France cardi from their Creations 10/11 magazine:

I would make it without the fussy collar (pretty, but not me) and I would want raglan sleeves, because they look nicer on my shoulders, but I looove those flared sleeves and hem, don't you?

And then there's Classic Elite Yarns, which always has the cutest of cute patterns:

It's Forest, by a very clever Susan Mills. I might really have to make this one, if only to try out the wool and nettles yarn. But only after I've finished the Carrot cardi, which is pining away in a bag on the back of my bedroom door while I avoid knitting socks.

Speaking of socks:

Love these. Alpen Socken, by Judy Alexander. Not just because I own almost exactly the same shoes. And I have some red sock yarn sitting in the stash, too...

Still, it's going to be fall, and I'm thinking sweaters. Like this bewitching little Cloisonne Jacket by Deborah Helmke:

But the one I love most?

Hawthorn Pullover, by Kathy Zimmerman. I will probably never make it for myself, because it's exactly the wrong sort of shape to draw attention away from one's tummy, but the way the cables stand out? Mmmm. Perfect combination of stitch and yarn if you ask me.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Noir knits

When Aunt Paula died, I inherited all her crafty magazines to add to my collection of vintage stuff harvested from eBay during a long, too-boring winter a few years back. And that makes a nice pile of stuff to go through periodically, like this past weekend. Here is one of my favourites:

I love how the movies informed styles generally, but especially how this one draws on Noir to pitch the mood. I mean, c'mon people, these are sweaters, and demure ones at that. Can you really make them look edgy and dangerous just with lighting? (and also, is that lady on the right Rene Russo's mother, or what?)

What to wear to your job as Sam Spade's secretary.

Flirting while answering questions (left), or dramatically declining to do so (right).

How much does he know? Will he succumb to my charms, or turn me in?

Mug shots: keeping it classy.

Yes, I know, this post has no pictures of socks or spinning in it. I thought I'd spare you. Also: I did no sock knitting yesterday. Because... I used all my sock time to spin and ply. I know! After all my best-laid diet plans! but I'm saying nothing more about that... today, anyway.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My low-fiber diet

I decided the only way I would get my socks and other knitting obligations done is to limit my spinning, so I hit on this plan:

Every day, I get to spin only what I can draft in 30 minutes.

I find it takes about as long again to spin that much, so it's only an hour on spinning instead of the usual three that eat into potential sleep time at night. Also, just like on a food diet, I try to do the spinning before 7pm. Any later, my willpower is impacted and I stay up too late.

So, in spite of a weekend that felt austere, I still got closer to plying the red Fleece Artist stuff:

If I'm nimble, I can probably draft out what's left in the bag in the designated 30 minutes and ply it tonight. Well, if I'm nimble and break my diet just a little.

Of course all this was in aid of moving forward with my variegated socks. I got the second sock set up and about halfway to the heel, and I reknit the first sock's heel and revised my instructions so that they are easy to follow and have correct math and all that nonsense.

Most of all, this means I have a sock I can take anywhere because all I need to do is keep going round and round until I run out of yarn - unless it starts to get very long such that I have to increase to accommodate my calf, which is unlikely.

I seem to be getting a lot of navy pooling around the ankle after a very pale foot, but I'm trying not to be disappointed about that even though navy is the one shade I never wear; I'll just have to think of it as an especially rich blue. And chalk it up to more motivation, as well - getting further along to see what colour pools next!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Some sock progress

I went to bed super early last night so that today I'd be able to see sufficiently straight to rework my sock pattern. Success! It's now easier to follow and has correct math, which allowed me to knit more of sock #2:

Okay, so it's not a lot of progress, but it's something, and if I can do this much every day I should be done the pair by the end of the month (even with ripping out the heel of #1, which I've decided just doesn't cut it) and finish Man Socks too.

Of course I'll be able to do a good deal more than that if I can just keep my hands off the spindle. Honestly, that bag of fiber I'm spinning from is like a bag of potato chips - I can't spin just one piece!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New toys

I just happened to be traveling near Mount Albert, Ontario, today, which coincidentally is where Gemini Fibres is located if you're not just visiting it online.

If you're in the market for spinning-related things you need to try out in person, it can be very helpful to persuade your preferred traveling companions to visit someplace or other that is near Mount Albert so you can stop in on the way home and acquire same (bwa ha ha ha ha).

In my case, it was spindles:

Seriously. Plying on my little beginner spindle was making me crazy - I'd do all that work to make a really nice long single, and then I'd ply it and have to take the scissors to all my hard work because the spindle would fill before the singles were done! Buying a bigger spindle specifically for plying was clearly indicated. At the same time, my beginner spindle is far too heavy for delicate fibers like the alpaca that's waiting for me to do something with it. I needed a much lighter spindle for that sort of thing.

So here's the new setup:

Delicate fibers will be spun on the beautiful Tom Forrester spindle and plied on my beginner Ashford; heavier ones will be spun on the beginner Ashford and plied on the giant Ashford. It's not pretty, but it should do the job until I get good enough at spinning to treat myself to another special one like the Tom Forrester.

Now, if you can go into a fibery store needing just one thing and leave with just said thing you are a better person than I. Though I admit I was thinking about more fiber when I went in so it's probably not totally horrible that I gave in to these:

I was told at the time that Polwarth fiber spins up like baby yarn and drafts out much like merino, which was more than good enough for me to get carrying them to the counter. But when I got it home and opened a bag?


I mean, beautiful as this looks, it's nothing to how it feels. It's like - well, as snuggly as you'd expect vanilla fudge to be when it just begins to thicken and get a deeper lustre, if it were snuggly and not sticky.

Maybe speechless was better. I cannot wait to get it onto a spindle... only I'm in the middle of a wodge of red Fleece Artist stuff, so I have to wait. Or spin really fast. Guess which I'm doing?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August sock knitalong

Over at Knitting and Tea and Cookies, we're doing a Sock Knitalong so as to be ready for cooler weather - and some lucky randomly-selected participant will receive a prize of a skein of sock yarn from my personal stash, which is in intense need of destash activity (two birds, one feeder, yesss!)

Want to join us?

All you have to do really is add a comment to the Sockalong thread with or without your goals for the month to say you're in - at the end of the month I'll do that random number selector thingy to see who gets the yarn.

My goal - surprise! - is to stop being mad at Man Socks and finish them:

They really are so close, aren't they. And also, finish my variegated socks, which aren't close at all. Also I think I'm really not happy with the way I messed up the heel on sock #1 yesterday - really, I should frog back and do that part over. But will I?

Even if I don't, the two pairs should take me most of the month what with my other patterning obligations and spinning obsession but... um... I'm going to try to start another pair of socks too. There's just so much yarn, and I want to knit it all!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Resistance: futile

Yeah, I got started on the Fleece Artist roving:

It came in a kit, did I say this? For thrummed mittens, I think - so there is a skein of some sort of very nice wool (merino or BFL maybe) dyed in the matching denim blue to go with it. I am leaning toward 'hat', because what else is new? but maybe... since I seem to be able to spin this a bit narrower than the bulky stuff I've been up to so far... would there be enough for heavy socks?

Speaking of which, I have been putting my head down over the variegated socks and got as far as the heel on the first one.

I've been finetuning the pattern as I go, but it was a cobbled-together mash of my favourite sock elements from the start and it's still got its share of rough edges. I'll make the second sock to match this one, and then do a second pair in a solid to be sure it's what I like.

One thing I definitely like: the way this stitch gives me a little ribbing and the variegation a little breakup. Plus, so comfy! Even in this summer heat.