Mystery revealed

OK, so I’m certainly not the first person to reveal this particular mystery, but I managed to finish up my Stephen West Mystery Knit-a-long from this year: Rockefeller.

For those of you not familiar with mystery knit-a-longs, the concept is that you sign up not knowing what the pattern is, then over several weeks, the designer releases “clues” until you finally have the whole pattern. Yes, you could wait for all the clues to come out and see if you like the full pattern, but that’s not really in the spirit of the mystery.
I jumped right in with yarn and needles the day clue 1 was released. Clue 1 was the band of collar meant to sit at the back of the neck. Clue 2 was the more solid light green section that was picked up and worked down from the collar. Clue 3 was the slipped stitch edging around the circumference of the semicircle. Clue 4 were the garter stitch wings that grow out of the ends of the semicircle. I loved watching the clues come together.
This is my preferred way to wear this shawl: collar sitting at the back of the neck, wings crossed over the chest and tied in the back. Because this shawl is so large I think that this way shows of the design the best while still letting me move around without getting in the way.
It also really shows off the pattern on the back which I think of as the highlight of the piece. Generally I prefer to wear shawls more in the kerchief style with the bulk in the front and the wings wrapped behind me. As you can see, this shaw is just way to big to do that with.
My one serious complaint with this shawl is that the yards requirements specified on the pattern are WAY low. I found that the estimate for color A was about 40 yards too low and the estimate for color B was a whopping 90 yards too low.
This led to me running out of both yarns. For my color A I used Tosh Merino Light in the colorway Brother’s Grimm. It was easy to pop by the yarn shop and pick up a second skein. For my color B however, I used Wollmeise 80/20 Tiwn in the colorway Grunfink. I knew it would be impossible to get another skein so I had to make due. I managed to find a close color match in a skein of Abstract Fiber O’Keefe yarn in the colorway chartreuse. I knew if I just changed colors after running out of the grunfink the change would be obvious, so I ripped my first wing back to the beginning and began striping every other “B” colored stipe between the lighter O’Keefe and the darker 80/20 Twin. This is really obvious in the first photo.
Now that I’m done with it, I’m in love but there was some serious cursing each time I ran out of yarn. I would also like to point out just for the record that this is the first of Stephen’s patterns that I’ve come across with this problem. Usually I have no trouble completing his patterns with the yardage he recommends. Just be warned if you decide to start this one. Buy extra yarn!

Rustling Leaves

This project has been done for a while.  I just, sort of, forgot that it was blocking on the table and left it there for two weeks neglected to show you.  It’s Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos from the book Coastal Knits.  There are some seriously beautiful patterns in this book.  Peter, lucky dude that he is actually did some of the test knitting so he got an early sneak peak.  This cute little beret was the February knit-a-long at my LYS.


This is the hat pre-blocking when it had more of a beanie shape.
I used some yarn that I had spun from an Abstract Fiber roving.  The fiber was an alpaca/silk blend that spun very smoothly.  The colorway is called Mt. Hood Rose.  It really wanted to be a fingering weight yarn even though my original spinning plan was for it to be sport.  All for the good since this pattern calls for fingering.
I made one tiny modification to the pattern based on the project notes of other people on Ravelry.  Many had complained that the brim of the hat was loose.  Since alpaca is known for stretching out, I really wanted to combat the possibility of a too-loose brim.  I used a smaller needle than called for for the brim ribbing a US 1 instead of a 2 and did a 1×1 twisted ribbing rather than a standard ribbing since twisting stitches tightens them up.
I was stretching when my brother snapped this picture, it’s not very flattering for me, but it shows the hat nicely.  Notice the beret-y shape now that it’s been blocked.
As soon as I finished knitting I snapped a few quick pre-blocking photos then gave it a quick soak and stretched it around a dinner plate to block it into proper beret shape.  I set it out of the way where the cats wouldn’t bother it then forgot about it became very busy.  When I rediscovered it a few weeks later  it was like getting a new hat for free.  I was happy.
So happy I put it on and took pictures right away, not even caring that it clearly did not match my shirt at all.


Spinning at Ryan’s

I have some roving and a drop spindle that I keep at Ryan’s for times when he’s busy, or I’m waiting for him to finish his Starcraft game, or other down time. Here’s how much I’ve got:

The fiber is merino/yak from Abstract Fibers. This is spinning up very slowly since I only work on it for 5 – 10 minutes at a time. I don’t have any plans for the finished yarn. Just like to have something to work on around all the time. Averts the problem of me having to guess if I need to bring anything over with me.

Edit: Oops, looks like the post from my iPad did not get the photo uploaded correctly.  I think I’ve fixed it, hope you guys can see it now.

Alpaca Silk

This alpaca/silk I finished spinning the other day is finally dry, measured, and skeined up.  I ended up with about 270 yards of mostly fingering-weight yarn.

I say “mostly fingering” because there are a few spots where it’s more of a sport weight, but they’re actually pretty few and far between.  I was amazed at how consistently I was able to spin this fiber.
The fiber is from Abstract Fiber and it created a heavenly soft yarn.  My only complaint is that something about their dyeing/prep process seems to pack down the fibers pretty tightly so that there is a lot of pre-drafting needed to fluff up the fiber so it’s spinnable.  The colorway is Mt. Hood Rose and the fiber is 70% alpaca, 30% silk.  My LYS has chosen the Rustling Leaves Beret as the February knit-a-long and I think I will see how it looks in this yarn.  I’m hoping the yarn is a solid enough color that it doesn’t obscure the pattern.

What next?

Since I finished the alpaca/silk that I had been working on on my wheel, I need to pick what my next wheel project will be.  The trouble is I’m torn.  I have so much lovely fiber that I feel like I want to spin ALL of it.  Right NOW.  So I’m asking you.  What should I spin next?

First up, I have this luscious 100% Tussah Silk top that I got at sock summit in July.  It’s from Teresa Ruch Designs.  The color is so vibrant and it’s so soft that when I touch it I feel like my hands must be covered in sandpaper.  The only downside is that I’ve never spun 100% silk before so there may be a steep learning curve.

Next option is the mind boggling roving from Abstract Fiber that I got at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  It’s 50% merino and 50% tencel.  The colorway is called “silver” and the reason I say that this is mind boggling is that it actually “looks” silver.  I didn’t know it was possible to give fiber a metallic look… at least not until I saw this for the first time.  It’s not as soft as the 100% silk, but still very soft.  The only downside is that I’ve worked with Abstract Fibers before and while their colors are absolutely amazing something about their prep or their dyeing makes the roving really packed tight so it takes a lot of extra prep to “re-fluff” to the point where it’s easily spinnable.
Last but not least is some good hearty 100% BFL that I got on the Portland Yarn Crawl.  (If you can’t tell, there are a lot of yarn/fiber related events in the Portland area.  It gets expensive.)  This is from Black Trillium Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Emerald City.  I have never spun with this particular dyers roving, but BFL is one of my go-to fibers for hours of simple mindless spinning enjoyment.  It is the least temperamental fiber I’ve found.  I curse way less at BFL than any other fiber.  The only downside here is that, while BFL is amazing fiber to work with from the simplicity standpoint, it lacks some of the sexiness of silk, merino, and other wonderful butter-in-your-hands luxury fibers.
Your votes will decide.  What do you think I should start next?