Archive for February, 2009

Bacchus Socks, Finito!

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Heya, everybody! I’ve got my final report ready on the Bacchus socks, but first let me give a little update on the handspun yarn sale I mentioned yesterday. I just sent out e-mail responses, and it looks like all but the pastel merino 2-ply is spoken for. Someone even wanted to buy the crack-smokin’ violet! In the mean time, I’ve actually started and finished a small spinning project and started another. I’m sure there will be another round of handspun sales eventually.

That, and I think I’m done dyeing yarn with food colors – there is only so much free time, and I’ve been there and done that. So as soon as I can motivate to take some pictures of those supplies I’ll offer them up to my loyal readers. It’s going to be a good deal.

On to the main purpose of this post – the new socks. These socks are really really pretty, although incredibly hard to photograph. I need to go take a photography class some day to figure out how to capture the texture of the knitted fabric better. At least with the digital camera I can take 20 bazillion tries and only show you the least-bad attempts.

Joe took this one, and you can see they fit me just fine, and look fine on, but not so much of the grapevine detail.

Here they are on the sock blockers, and in the natural sunlight the bobbles are a little more visible if you know what you’re looking at.

From a lower angle, you can see the texture even a bit more.

And here’s an up-close-and-personal one that really lets you see the bobbles. I love bobbles.

And to repeat the details, this is the Bacchus Socks pattern by Alice Bell, published in Interweave Knits Fall 2008. I knit them using the Cherries colorway of Merino Slim Sock from the Knittery. This yarn was delicious to knit with, a nice tight twist and on the lighter side of fingering. I used size 00 Addi Turbos to knit them up.

I think these socks will be going to the Fair, so that means I’ll tuck them away in the yarn closet and keep them unworn till next Fall. This was a fun pattern to knit, with gratifying results.

Spinning Surprise

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Hey, everyone – I’ve got another completed spinning project. I love this new yarn. It is so soft and pretty, pretty pretty. It is so very fun and relaxing to sit and spin for an hour or so, I hardly even know how this pound and a half of fiber turned into yarn in what felt like the blink of an eye.

This is that Blue Faced Leicester wool from Crown Mountain Farms I was telling you about earlier this month. It’s their Avalon colorway, and the color in the photo on their webpage is a little more accurate than my flash-lit photos. I’ve got 1298 yards of worsted weight 3-ply. I so totally want to toss aside every one of the very many (more than you know about!) projects currently on my plate and cast on a swatch immediately.

But here’s the surprise. Are you ready? I’m not going to. But that’s not the real surprise for you. Oh, no. I’ve made a decision about some of my handspun yarns. I’ve been having so much fun making yarn that I have a surplus of handspun yarn at this point. So I’m going to offer this batch to you, my loyal readers. I paid $69.00 for the roving to make this yarn, before shipping costs. I think I deserve a tiny amount of compensation for the hours I spent making 3894 yards of singles, then plying them all together, as much fun as I had during those hours. So I’m going to offer it for sale at just twice what I paid for the roving. This yarn can be yours for just $138 plus shipping. Any takers? If not, I’ll hold on to it and eventually get around to knitting it up into a beautiful sweater for me.

But that is not all…This luscious yarn from last month is also still sitting on my shelf. There are 766 yards and 204 grams of Merino 2-ply squish here. It would make a very generous scarf, or a nice chunky lace shawl, or even a child’s sweater. It ranges mostly between sport and worsted weight, but it does have a lovely rustic handspum character with a few blobs of bigger and a few stretches of smaller.

The true colors are closer to the second picture than the first, but really somewhere in between.

I paid $35.50 for this roving, and would be happy to sell the yarn for $70 plus shipping.

And hold on to your seats, friends, that is not all! I’m pretty proud of this pile o’yarn. It’s 1188 yards/ 111 g of remarkably consistent lace weight 100% silk.

I made it out of Tussah silk top from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill, and I love this stuff. If I end up keeping this one, I’m going to make myself another shawl out of it – probably something from Knitted Lace of Estonia. I paid only about 33 dollars for this roving, but cripes, people! It’s teeny tiny lace yarn and there’s a lot of yardage here. You can have it for just $66 plus shipping. I was going to say more, but I started writing this post intending to ask double my materials for each of these yarns, and I’m going to stick to it.

Hello, here’s some more violet semi-goodness. This is 80% merino 20% nylon 3-ply fingering weight. There are a total of 110 grams and 594 yards between the two skeins.

I was practicing chain-plying on this batch, and I did a great job on most of it, but there is one section that looks like it’s been smoking crack. See?

Even so, I think there’s plenty of non-crack-smokin’ yarn here to set you up with a nice pair of socks. Or a lacy scarf or small shawl. I paid somewhere around $20 for the roving, and you can have the yarn for $30 plus shipping.

And finally, I don’t have a picture of the last yarn. It’s the leftover yarn from these socks.

It’s spindle-spun three-ply superwash merino from Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sheep to Shoe kit. There are 578 yards left, plenty to get another generous pair of socks from. It’s tightly spun, and on the light side of fingering weight. It’s quite consistent, and the socks I made from it are lovely to wear. Thirty bucks, plus shipping.

It feels totally crazy to be *selling* my handspun yarn. I’ve got lots of very good reasons to do it, though. The main one is that I feel I’m on the teetering edge between conscientious stashing and wild hoarding of yarn, fiber, and related tools and materials. I know that all of these yarns are ones I could make again, and the fibers are pretty much ones I could buy again. I would love to knit up any and all of them, but there are a bunch of commercial yarns in my closet begging to be dealt with, as well two sweaters’ worth of my other handspun yarn. I would love to see someone buy some of this yarn and knit it up so that I can feel the thrill of it coming to fruition sooner than if I were to save it for myself.

Also, I’m planning a big fiber-related purchase in the near future. Actually, I’ve put down a significant deposit on it already and will be collecting the item and paying the rest of the money during Shepherd’s Harvest over Mothers’ Day weekend. That sounds like a long way off, but the time is going to fly. I have the cash in my fun-money checking account right now, but just enough and I’d like to keep enough liquid cash available to indulge in additional fiber finds and all the kettle corn I can eat while I’m there as well. Not to mention that I’m trying to save for a fiber-related vacation later in the year. So….

If you’re interested in any of these yarns, e-mail me at shellyk@shellykang.com. It’ll be first-come first-serve, and I’ll respond back to you with a shipping amount and total, which you can pay via Paypal. I’m choosing not to list these on etsy because I’d rather not pay them a cut if I can keep this among friends. I know you all know I’m trustworthy.

Alrighty, then. Next time, a full report on my finished Bacchus Socks.

Dammit!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Hey, Sophie. Those are mommie's antique knitting needles. They're
fragile. Remember how you broke the green pair? Please be careful with
those. No banging them or waving them around please. (Said in a nice,
patient mommy voice)

Sophie continues smiling and pretending to knit with them, reciting the
familiar old rhyme, and it's quite cute the way she manipulates the
scraps of yarn around the needle, totally ineffective, as she says "In
through the front door, once around the back, out through the window and
off jumps Jack" In her small-child's lisp.

Thirty seconds later, SNAP! Yeah. No real surprise there. I managed to
contain my anger while conveying my disappointment at losing an
irreplaceable possession and a tool that I'd actually been using in a
project.

I gave myself a little time-out in my office to calm down and come to
terms with my loss, interrupted by Sophie, crying and wanting me to hold
her. Calmly, I explained that I needed a time out and that she needed to
go to the living room or I would take her upstairs. She chose by default
to go upstairs for the three minutes her age allows. If only the
one-minute-per-year rule applied to 36 year old mommies!

No wonder I end up exhausted at the end of most days, and sometimes with
a tension headache to boot. Luckily, Joe is headed home to relieve me so
I can go teach. I'll be taking some Tylenol for the headache and
stopping for some greasy fast food on the way so that I can re-energize
and put on my carefree knitter face for the rest of the evening. At
least I'll be able to buy myself a new pair of 10.5 needles, even if
they're not likely to be funky yellow Bakelite.

Pizza!

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

The girls and I are taking advantage of the Punch Pizza coupon we found
over on Annie Modesitt's blog while Joe works late again.

We eat here all the time, and not only is the food awesome, but on
weeknights it's a total family hangout. I'm currently obsessed with
their Greco salad, and often stop in to pick one up for dinner after I
teach a class at the store.

I have a sweaters' worth of newly-spun yarn to show off, and I'll try to
get a post up tonight if the kids go to sleep when they're supposed to.

Grocery List

Monday, February 16th, 2009

We're getting ready to head out to the store for a few things. As I did
a final check of my list, I noticed a couple of changes, most notably
the last item added by my clever 5-year-old. So funny.

What it Looks Like…

Monday, February 16th, 2009

When I finally get around to folding laundry

Procrastination at its finest!

MOA Knit-Out

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Well, I am exhausted! I spent a good six hours today talking and talking and talking to the many visitors to the Yarnery’s demo table at the Mall of America Knit-Out. I think I talked to literally hundreds of people. I handed out a bunch of my Moo cards, too, so if you’re coming over to check me out after meeting me at the Mall, welcome!

I am by nature an introvert (hard to believe I know!), but I’m quite good at putting on my extrovert persona when called for. It’s just really draining, as fun as it is. The Blankie was spread out on our table, and it was touched and fondled by many hands. Both it and I got a huge ego boost today at the reactions of people – knitters and non-knitters both – who stopped to check it out. And, by the way, if you’ve come to find the tutorial and read the story behind the Blankie, click on the button in the upper-right corner of this page to get started.

I had my camera with me at the Mall today, thinking that I would have time to take some pictures of the goings-on, but honestly I was too busy to even think about it. I’m sad that I didn’t at least get a picture of my co-worker Teresa Gaffey demonstrating weaving on her rigid-heddle loom. She teaches classes at the Yarnery too, and I am quite tempted to sign up for one. Did you know that you can use up yarn faster by weaving than knitting? Her sock-yarn scarves are beautiful, and they would make great gifts. Perfect for a serial stasher like me, right?

Anyway, I spent a good portion of the week scrambling to plan samples for my demonstration at the event. My bosses from the store had been pretty open-ended on what they wanted me to do – they just said to demonstrate my mitered-square blanket and my slip-stitch hats. I didn’t know how I was going to make that work at a table in the middle of the mall hallway with people passing by, but it actually worked out perfectly. Most people just wanted a brief explanation of the blanket’s structure, but a few people came up to the table with specific questions, and I was able to pull out either yarn and needles or one of the samples I brought to give them clear answers.

Now that I am home, though, I am left with two newly cast-on projects that hadn’t been part of the game plan till this week. I’m excited about both of these projects, but haven’t figured out where they fit into my knitting queue yet.

First is this mitered-square scarf. It is knit following exactly the same principles as the blankie, just with larger yarn and needles, and I’m filling in the triangles on the sides to make a smooth edge. I wanted to pick a yarn that would be big enough for people to see the stitches easily while I was demonstrating, and this Geologie yarn from Nashua fits that bill, plus it’s got that beautiful slowly-shifting-colors thing going on. Also, I’ve always wanted to try knitting with some mohair, and this yarn is about 1/3 of the crazy-fluffy goodness, along with some regular wool and acrylic.

It’s just going to be a scarf, and it will make a good sample for my classes at the store to show my students that yes, this can make a very nice scarf with a lot smaller of a time commitment than my crazy-ass blankie.

The second new project is this slip-stitch hat in Malabrigo Worsted. I’ve got it posed here next the the baby version of the hat knit in Koigu fingering weight. Again, I wanted people to be able to see the stitches as I demo’d, and my mind clicked right over to the Malabrigo wall at the store. The best part is that you can cast on the same number of stitches as described in the baby pattern and end up with an adult-sized hat! And it’s buttery-kitten-puppy-soft Malabrigo!

I already have an adult version of this pattern on the market, but it is written for the fingering weight yarns. I love that hat, but this version is making me super-happy.

And finally, one cone of new yarn followed me home from the Mall. I’d read about Lion Brand’s new collection of fancy yarns in the blogs a month or so ago, and checked them out on line. (clicl through to the link, and then check out the yarns labeled LB Collection.) I knew from talking to the Lion Brand staff at last year’s knit-out that they have several of the new breed of yarn-snob knitters working there, but I feel like they really hit a home run in bringing these yarns out to the mainstream public.

Well, at the end of the day after I’d packed up all my samples and junk, I was headed out towards my car and I passed the Lion Brand booth. They were handing out all the display sample skeins of yarn so they wouldn’t have to cart it all back home with them. I managed to snag a cone of this wool-stainless steel super-skinny laceweight yarn.

Sorry for the horrid picture – the true color is actually a bit lighter. I think there’s enough here for a narrow, lacy scarf I can’t wait to give it a whirl and report back. I have to applaud this big company to paying attention to the desires of real knitters and producing a higher-end product like this – and at only ten dollars for a 273 yard cone! They also have a very nice-looking cashmere at what seems like a very decent price – $14 for a 25 gram, 82-yard dk-weight skein. Nobody is paying me to say this. I thought it looked cool when I saw it on other sites, and now that I’ve seen it in person, I’m tempted to order some more off their site despite my current attempts at yarn-buying self-restraint. I’m still trying to decide what to do, actually. Because as I was leaving the booth, the nice lady handed me a whole stack of coupon-cards to use at their website for 15% off purchases through March 15. I think it’s fair for me to pass along the code to you, my loyal readers – MOA209 to be entered at checkout. Go buy some of their new collection of “designer” yarns and show these big-business yarn companies that we knitters will seek out and pay for good quality!

Oh, and finally, I wasn’t able to give people exact details on my upcoming mitered-square classes. We don’t currently have another one scheduled at the Yarnery, but I talked to my boss this afternoon, and we’re going to put one on the calendar probably on Sundays in the next month or two. It’s just a two-session class, so hopefully that will work out for some of you. I’ll post the details when I have them.

In the mean time, I can tell you that I’ll be teaching a shorter version of the class at Shepherd’s Harvest in May. (Mother’s Day weekend.) I don’t know exactly what day and time I’ll be teaching, and it’s not posted on their website yet either, but I think that information will be out soon, with sign-up information. If you haven’t been to this festival, it’s well worth checking out. It’s at the Washington County Fairgrounds, which is less than an hour’s drive from my house in St. Louis Park, shorter if you’re starting from St. Paul. They have lots of spinning fiber and demonstrations, but there are also many vendors that sell awesome yarn, and Jennie the Potter will be there, and there are farmers who sell sheep cheese and meat and they have musicians and people making kettle corn, and sheep dog demonstrations and more. It always makes for a fun day out, and if I weren’t teaching there this year, I would plan to take my girls for a whirl around the barns.

I have one other exciting bit of news from today – a new something that I saw that I think I’m going to buy. It’s so exciting it makes me a little faint just to think about it. But I’ll tell you about it when I have a little more information. You’re going to be SO JEALOUS! :-)

Breaking Radio Silence

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

I’m sorry to have been away from the blog so long. I don’t have a good reason – I’ve just been struggling to break the silence despite so many fun things to share. Perhaps it’s because I do have so many things to share, I don’t know where to start. So I’m just going to do one of my signature photo-dumps. I’m starting with the kids and housewifey stuff, knitting and spinning at the end.

First, though, I have to mention that the Knit-Out event is this weekend at the Mall of America. It’s always a good time, if a bit crowded. My strategy is to look at the schedule on the web site ahead of time and pick a couple of the demonstrations to check out. I also like to make it in time for at least one of the show-and-tell sessions, and in between I walk around and look at the booths. Here’s the catch, if you’re going to go: Don’t get sucked into any of the lines. The last few years, I’ve seen people standing in long, long lines waiting to pick up freebies from the sponsor booths. It’s not worth it! Who really needs a free light-up knitting needle, a random pattern flyer, or a skein of crappy novelty yarn? Not me. There’s lots of interesting stuff to see and people to meet instead.

Oh, and the other thing that I keep in mind about the Knit-Out is that it’s a great opportunity for us capital-K Knitters to share our portion of the knitting world with the knitters who have dabbled in the craft via big-box stores and haven’t experienced the wonders of LYS shopping and classes. So if you’re there, and you’re hanging around in the crowd, strike up a casual conversation with a stranger and compare notes.

And because I’m excited and need to toot my own horn a bit, I’ll be demonstrating on Sunday from noon to five at the Yarnery’s booth. I’ll be showing off my mitered square blanket and my slip-stitch hats, and how easy they are to do. If you’re there, stop by and say hi!

On to the photos…

The girls have started swim lessons at our local Foss swim school. I was too late to get them signed up for standard classes in the current session, so they are having semi-private lessons together till the Spring session starts. So far, so great! They’re loving it, I sit there and watch and am amazed at how well they are doing. Their teacher is making it a lot of fun for them, and they both love the water.

So much better than the nightmare of ballet classes we’d been going through for the last year and a half.

Julie was at the easel one day last week, drawing pictures. I had the camera out for some reason, and she turned to me and asked me to take her picture, posed like this. I think it’s hilarious. Most of the time she won’t let me take her picture at all. I only wish I knew what’s going on in her mind half the time.

Another random bit, this one from the kitchen. I was digging through the freezer trying to figure out what to make for dinner a couple weeks ago, and found a package of hamburgers that needed eating. We had everything else to make a meal except the buns. Doncha just hate that? I really didn’t want to drag the girls out to the store for a package of buns, so I whipped some up…

They turned out pretty good – no worse than the ones I would have bought at the store. I feel so empowered now that I’ve been baking bread for a while that I can just whip up some burger buns at the drop of a hat. The one with the burn on top slid off the cookie sheet and landed on the bottom of the oven before I was able to fish it out, but it still tasted fine.

The same night, we introduced the girls to steamed edamame in the pods. I love those things, and I hadn’t cooked them in the past because of Julie’s food allergies, and then it just didn’t occur to me to start making them again until recently. They went over pretty well.

Okay, and another random photo-op: I needed to take a shower one morning, and wanted to make sure it happened before breakfast. So I brought up a couple of bowls of dry cereal, raisins and little snack crackers with some juice for the girls. They set up the picnic, and were playing some imaginary game that only they could understand while I got ready.

Sophie’s turned three on Sunday! Three! I really wanted to do a whole post on this, but I’m just going to roll it all in with the rest. Here is my first attempt at frosting for her cake:

She asked for a “pink Elmo cake”, and I put too much food coloring in on my first try. Luckily, I tasted it before I put it on the cake – it had that horrible medicine food-color taste and looked like Pepto Bismol. Yuck!

We had a little party at the local bowling alley – it’s so much easier than trying to host it at our house, and the kids had fun. Uncle Dave got right in there and helped out too.

We invited our favorite neighbors, our favorite Canadians, and some close family.

Here’s the cake with the second batch of frosting on it. I didn’t do a very thorough job of flouring the pan, so the edges of the cake were a bit messy. Oh well. It tasted good.

I made sure to get strawberry ice cream to match the pink cake

There were many presents, and Sophie did NOT want any help opening them.

Oops – sideways picture coming up – one of her two gifts from me and Joe was this little dog toy that walks and barks. It’s not too annoying, and it’s been quite popular around here this week.

I can’t believe my little one is three already. I mean, I can believe it. I love this stage. She’s getting quite grown up, and I realize that she has definitely moved from the toddler to the bona fide preschooler category.

On to the knitting, I’ve been trying to decide on a sweater pattern for this merino-silk yarn I spun up a while back. I wanted something simple, with a little bit of interesting detail, but mostly mindless knitting to balance with the other more complicated projects in my at-home-knitting queue. Flipping through Custom Knits again the other day, I remembered the Ingenue sweater and knew that this would be a perfect match.

I took this picture before washing the swatch, and the swatch is even prettier after washing. I’m going to have to knit another swatch as a reality-check, though – I know I measured 5 sts per inch exactly before the wash and now it’s measuring only 3.5 sts per inch! The drape of the fabric is fine, but now I’m not sure about how the ratio of rows per inch will change pre-and post-wash, so I’ll need to measure more carefully before washing the next one. I did the first as a fake in-the-round knit, with lots of long floats across the back, and the next swatch will be a true in-the-round one just to be sure.

I like the way the colors play in this yarn as it’s knitting up. The roving included several separate colors from pink to green to blue and yellow, plus a good amount of silver and white. I think it’s turning out as a nice pastel neutral, and it brings out the pink in my skin rather than the sallow yellow/purple. I can’t wait get started on this project, but I’m afraid it’s behind a couple other things in the queue. Actually, I’m going to use it as a prize for finishing a couple of things.

But first, let me show you some spinning! (I did warn you that this was going to be a long, random post, right?) The first project I’m going to show you feels like very old news, and I’m too comfortable on the couch to get up and find the details, so I’ll just share the pictures.

Merino roving from some etsy seller. I can’t remember who off the top of my head, but this was another one of those rovings that was a bit felted, so I’m not sure I want to plug her anyway.

I pre-drafter it all before spinning, but it was still a bit of a bear to spin.

I was trying to practice spinning thicker yarn again, and I think I’m improving on that a bit. I ended up with two full bobbins, and they made a nice barber-pole two-ply.

It’s a bit thick-and-thin, but pretty just the same.

I think I might have enough here for a sweater for one of the girls. I wonder if they’ll actually wear it? We’ll see. This one is going to marinate in the stash for a bit.

I’ve already moved well into the next spinning project. I bought 24 ounces of BFL from Crown Mountain Farms a while back, with the idea that I might spin enough yardage for another sweater for myself.

I haven’t done a very good job capturing the colors, but I love this roving. If you haven’t ordered from Crown Mountain yet, go get some of their roving now!!! They have beautiful colorways, very nice prices, and the wool drafts like butter. I’m not even done with this batch yet and I want to go buy a ton more!

I’m on my last third of the wool now, and I’m planning to make a 3-ply out of it. I know my singles are pretty darn inconsistent here, so maybe they’ll average out over a 3-ply enough to make an acceptable sweater. If it’s looking like the yarn is too variable, I’ll do a lace shawl project, which will be more gauge-forgiving.

Birdie’s blankie is coming along, kind of. I’ve got three of the six seams done. This is one of the two projects that I’m going to make myself finish before I start the new sweater. It’s just that seaming is so not my cup of tea, and each seam takes up most of my knitting time for an evening.

And meanwhile, I did start another new project. This has been calling to me since my neighbor started a scarf from this pattern in some of my handspun, which made me realize that I needed to do one like it too.

I kind of wanted another mindless-knitting project to keep around, and I figure that this will make a good present either for Christmas or some other future holiday. It sure is yummy-soft!

Oh, look. A pile of weaving books followed me home from the library. Don’t ask. (Except that of the ones I read through, I like the one on top best.) And, um, does anybody have any special recommendations on resources to learn more about rigid heddle weaving? Yeah, don’t ask.

Socks. Another new, boring pair off the needles.

(Yawn) – we’re coming up on the end here, I promise!

The Bacchus socks are almost done. They look ridiculously long and skinny in this picture, but that’s because of the ribbing. I really love the way these are turning out – I think they’ll be State Fair quality, which means that I won’t wear them till next fall, and also that I’ll definitely be putting them on the sock blockers to make them presentable.

The colors in this flash-lit close-up are closer to true than the natural-light wideshot above. I am such a sucky photographer!

Finally, a quick update on my current boring on-the-go socks.

Only they’re not at all boring to me – it’s my own handspun, and they’re knitting up like lightning considering how much time I’ve spent actually working on them. The way the colors change here? That’s one of the main reasons I took up spinning. This yarn was also from Crown Mountains fiber, by the way – their Superwash Merino, which is also an incredible joy to work with. It’s a good thing my credit card is in the other room, or I’d be ordering more now.

Good night, and see you again soon!