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.

IMG_0453

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.
IMG_0465
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.
IMG_0466
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.

IMG_0391
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.
IMG_0394
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.

More spinning

It’s been kind of a major weekend of spinning for me.  For those of you not in law school, this is how it works.  Your whole grade is determined by your score on the final exam.  There are no mid-terms, essays, or anything else for the 13 weeks of the semester, just general reading homework and class leading up to one big test.  While this makes the last third of the semester absolute hell, it actually means that the first several weeks of the semester are kind of relaxed (at least I’ve never begun preparing before the half-way mark–too likely to forget before the test comes.)  I’ve taken the relatively relaxing beginning of the semester to get lots of fun fiber stuff done (in anticipation of the later hell that will keep me from the fiber.)

IMG_0309
For Christmas, my mom gave me this yummy soft alpaca merino blend.  Turns out there is an alpaca farm not far from where she works and she stopped by to investigate.  She picked me up this naturally colored fiber along with two lighter shades as well.  My mom also got me the drop spindle for me for my birthday.  It’s the Knit Picks Turkish spindle.  The quality of the spindle is only so-so.  Clearly an example of “you get what you pay for.”
IMG_0312
I spin a drop spindle by flicking the shaft between my fingers (sort of like you would as if you were snapping.)  This particular spindle doesn’t work well with my method because the arms don’t fit very snuggly around the shaft.  This means that sometimes the shaft spins but the arms don’t.  Now that I have more fiber wrapped around the arms, it seems to prevent this problem, but it was a real pain when I was first starting.  I only have about 2 ounces, so my plan is to try to spin this as a stable single to maximize yardage.  We’ll see if it works…

Satisfaction

I was patient and waited until this evening to ply my singles from yesterday.  However, I got a comment from someone on Google+ saying that she never waits to ply, she just fills a bobbin then uses her ball winder to make a center pull ball and plies from both ends.  Anyone else tried this?  Anyone ply without waiting overnight?  How much of a difference does it make?  My finished yarn on the bobbin:

IMG_0301
This color is near impossible to photograph well.  At least for my mediocre photography skills.  The fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  It started out looking like this:
IMG_0290
Spinning muted the color changes quite a bit, but there are a few places where pink barberpoles around the cream.  I managed to spin pretty darn consistently, after dividing the roving into two halves and spinning the singles and then plying them this is all that was left on my “fuller” bobbin:
IMG_0299
After plying, I used my swift to skein up the yarn so that it could be washed.  I don’t bother to use the niddy noddy at this stage because the length will change with washing and hanging anyway.
IMG_0303
Then I drop the whole thing in the sink with some wool wash.  I just picked up this tester-sized bottle of Eucalan and I love it.  It’s grapefruit scented, but not overpoweringly so, just enough to be pleasant.  For $4 it was a great way to see if I liked the scent.  I used less than 1/10 of the bottle, so it’s a pretty good value.  (Especially compared to the $10 per bottle of SOAK testers.)
IMG_0306
The fiber is Abstract Fiber Alpaca Silk  in colorway Mt. Hood Rose.  It appears to be available on the website, but they don’t have a picture.  I got mine at For Yarns Sake.  I let you know the final yardage and weight once it’s fully dry.

New Pattern

The Sylvan Cowl pattern that I showed you guys earlier this month is not available on Ravelry for $2.00.

IMG_0257

It’s an infinity cowl that can be wrapped twice around the head as show above or worn as one long loop, more like a scarf.  I originally created the pattern because I didn’t know what to do with some sport weight handspun I’ve had for months.  The yarn was extremely soft so I knew I wanted it around my neck, but the heathered tweedy color made it look very rustic.  I couldn’t find a pattern that was both interesting to knit and worked with the yarn.  I tried lace but the delicate look of the lace didn’t seem right with the hearty look of the yarn.  This was my solution.  It’s interesting enough to knit since you’re changing what you’re doing every few rounds, but the pattern doesn’t overpower the yarn.

Sylvan Cowl 1
This is Knitgeneering’s test knit version of the pattern.  I think she made it so beautiful.  Her yarn is exactly the type this pattern was made for.
 
Every few rounds there is something different going on–garter stitch, stockinette stitch, eyelet panels.  Even though it’s knit in sport weight it goes very quickly.  Mine only took about two afternoons.  You can get it through Ravelry as linked at the beginning of the post, or you can buy it here but clicking on the design tab up top and click on the “buy now” button.  Hope you like it!
IMG_0253

Sylvan Cowl

I’ve had some handspun that I finished several months ago burning a hole in my stash for quite a while.  The fiber was a merino silk blend heathered with misty grey, blue, and gold.  The finished yarn was very heathered and had a “rustic”look to it.  While the color gave it a rustic feel, the fiber blend made the yarn buttery soft and I knew I wanted it up by my face to snuggle in when it’s cold outside.

I could not find the right pattern.  Lace didn’t seem to go well with the rustic look of the yarn.  Too much texture, like cables, took away from the beauty of the yarn itself.  Plain stockinette was too boring.  I decided to play around and invent my own pattern.  Here was my solution.

IMG_0253
I call it Sylvan Cowl.  It’s an infinity scarf that can be worn long as pictured above or wrapped around the head twice for a snug fit up around the neck.
IMG_0257
It’s a mixture of simple textures and simple eyelets that is just enough to give some interest to the project but allows the yarn to do its thing and show off its inherent beauty.  I want to make another one in a tweed yarn, I think it would be perfect.
IMG_0247
Currently the pattern is being test knit.  When testing is done, I’ll have the pattern for sale on Ravelry and here on the Designs tab.  The pattern takes about 250 yards of sport weight yarn and US 7 needles.  If you are interested in test-knitting for me, shoot me an email before January 12 and I’ll send you the pattern for free so long as you can get my your feedback by the 16th.
IMG_0252

SIP (Spinning In Progress)

You know you are falling behind on your blogging when you non-knitting boyfriend notices that you haven’t posted in a while.  (Thanks for the kick in the butt Ry! Love you!)  It’s been a solid three weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Partially it’s because I don’t have anything finished and my favorite posts are showing off finished things.  Partially it’s because the weather has been horrible… 5 straight days of rain… and there’s been no sunlight to take pictures in.  My apartment is destroyed and I don’t want you all to see the mess.  Really, I’m thinking of you all.  It’s bad.

I’ve been very uncommitted to any one project lately so all my projects have some progress but not lots.  Mostly I’m trying to get some market bags done for my mom’s birthday present (her birthday is December 21.)  I’ve got some socks going for working on at sock hour at the yarn shop.  A sweater that I started as part of an October knit-a-long and am only about half done with.  Socks that I can’t work on at sock hour so only get attention when I’m on the bus.  A cabled pullover in bulky yarn that I love but don’t focus on too much because every time I do I feel guilty I’m not working on gift knitting.  Granny squares for an afghan that I sometimes have interest in.

There are some other things I need to cast on as gifts, but I think I’ll keep them a secret for now.  But I don’t want to talk about any of that right now.  Right now, I want to show you my current spinning project.

IMG_0047

That is 2 oz. of Alpaca/Silk from Abstract Fibers in colorway Mount Hood Rose.  This luscious fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  I’ve spun it to a lace weight but I’m planning on spinning another 2 oz. and plying it so that I get a fingering weight.  I’m hoping for enough yardage for a triangle shawl–they make the best winter scarves because they cover the whole gap in my coat, not just up by my throat.

Spinning this was a bit hard to adjust to.  I’ve never worked with alpaca before or any other really long-stapled fiber and I wasn’t used to drafting with my finger so far apart.  Once I finally figured it out and got in my rhythm it spins so smoothly and it can be drafted down to almost nothing.

IMG_0046

The yarn is not as garish as the photos make it look.  The sheen from the silk and alpaca make it hard to photograph.  Especially in the bad lighting the weather has left us with here in Portland.  Don’t expect good pictures on the blog again until June… grumble rain grumble grumble

And August is gone…

What happened?  Didn’t I just get back from Sock Summit?  I feel like that was yesterday, but the calendar is telling me that it is already the end of August.  School starts on monday.  Incontrovertible evidence that fall is right around the corner is staring me in the face even thought it feels like summer is just kicking off.  I worked my last full-time day yesterday before switching over to my part-time “school schedule”–fall is here.  What better way to (grudgingly) welcome it than with an offering of wool?

IMG_1212

That is my brother being blackmailed into modeling the Habitat by Jared Flood that I just finished.  If he looks a bit sweaty, that’s because it’s 88 degrees out and he’s modeling a wool hat.

This pattern is one of those “looks-super-complex-but-really-just-takes-a-little-focus” types that makes you feel like you worked out something really clever when you’re done.  It’s for my dad’s 60th birthday (which was the 11th…)  Really though, he only told me he wanted a hat on the 4th, so I think it’s OK that it was finished a bit late.  Plus, it’s still super hot in New Mexico where my parents live so it’s not like he “needs” it right now.

IMG_1213

The yarn is the handspun Corriedale that I made on my new Ashford Joy spinning wheel a few weeks ago.  The handspun nature of the yarn plus the heathered color means the cables are a bit subdued, but I think it gives the hat a well-worn rustic look that makes me think of those pictures of knitwear taken on a farm when it’s drizzling out… you know the ones.

IMG_1214

Extremely fun hat to knit.  I’m sure I will knit it again.  However, as much as I love buying things local it’s over a dollar more to buy a paper copy from the LYS than to buy it online–since I prefer digital copies anyway, I don’t think I’ll be buying any more of Jared Flood’s patterns as a paper version.  It’d be different if they were the same price, but one dollar added to a five dollar pattern is a 20% mark-up…  not cool.