Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lunchtime knitting...frogged!

The past few of my knitted goods have been stunning successes; I have become smug. It didn't help that I dyed this beautiful foliage colored yarn for a gift for mom's birthday.

Anyway, I've been smoothly chugging along the gusset and heel of the pomatomus socks until I noticed a weird pucker.

What? I kept going.

When it came time to k3tbl instead of k2tbl, my stitch count was off.


Then I went for another round until I took a good hard look at the chart. Well, I haven't followed chart B at all! I didn't do the uneven chart thing that happens once in a while that shifts the pattern left/right.

Yarn spaghetti.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Knitting with handspun!

I've been knitting with my handspun yarn!

The first project is a vest. The yarn was spun from 8 oz of coopworth purchased at MDS&W in 2009. It was my first ever big skein of handspun yarn. I spun about 410 yards.

Then, I had the inspiration to make a striped vest by combining my uneven handspun with rustic noro kureyon yarn.

I looked at few vest patterns, both free and for purchase. There were universal things I did not appreciate: vests should not have any sleeves. When there's no shaping to the armhole, you end up with a funky triangle thing resting on your front shoulder like this and this. It's personal taste, but I find it sort of getting in the way. Also, without shoulder shaping, the vest will fit sort of awkwardly because a person's shoulder is not a straight line. There is curvature on the top of the back. There is a gentle slope from the neck to the arm. All that had to be incorporated.

I had this all worked out: the shaping, the math, everything. I'll do a provisional cast on, so if I do run out of yarn, I'll just do an extra-long ribbing at the bottom. I made 180 sts, and knitted in the round. After few hours of knitting, I tried it on. It could fit another me. Waaay too big. So measured how long I knitted and weighed how much yarn I had used. The calculation came out that I should have enough for the whole length of the vest.

I recast on 160 sts and instead of stockinette st, I worked in k3p1 rib using #5 needles.

That's looking better.

I did not want to interrupt the gradual color change of noro yarn, so I decided to add 5-stitch steeks for the front, back, and the armholes. Basically, you pretend like the 5 stitches aren't there, and work the decreases just like you would for a vest shaping. When I got to shoulder shaping, I used short rows so I would be able to use a 3-needle bindoff. That is way stronger, neater, and easier than seaming.

With the steeks worked in, the vest looks like a cone: Here it is from the front

and back.
Here you can see the steek stitches--it's the five stockinette stitches in the middle. I saved one stitch from the body designated as the center stitch for the rib edging.
I chose to use the crochet steek technique, described in great detail by Eunny Jang here. The grey yarn is the crochet chain I made. I'll be cutting between the two crochet chains.

...and..cut! Now it looks like a vest!
Whilst knitting the body of the vest, I was pondering about the rib edging. I knew I wanted a k1p1 rib, but nothing else. Should I use some commercial yarn? I didn't think I would have enough coopworth for the entire edging. I wanted something darker.

I searched through my fiber collection, and found just enough of the border leicester fleece in dark chocolate. Perfect!

I flick carded all the dark chocolate fiber, and spun it up in sport/dk weight yarn. In the previous photo there were 56g of fiber, but after flick carding and spinning and plying, I only had about 46g. It must have been dusty!

Here is the photo of the yarn spun-up. It was late and dark when I finished, so the colors came out all weird.
Anyway, I spun about 80 yards, and picked up the stitches for edging. For some reason I was listening to the BBC documentary on history of Scotland, so seeing this makes me want to talk in my best Scottish accent.

For the edging, using #4 needles, I picked up 4 stitches every 6 rows. I then worked 6 rows of k1p1 rib. on the 7th row I decreased by 10% , then used the tubular cast off technique to retain elasticity of the ribbing.

And here it is! Take a look:

I'm so happy with this! It fits perfectly, and it's super duper warm. I mean, it's warmer than normal knitting. I'm cold natured, but this vest kept me piping hot with just a tshirt underneath.


The next one up is this handspun: Merino/silk blend and Corriedale plied together. The fiber was from Eatonton when I borrowed the spinnning wheel. I managed to spin the merino silk using the wheel:

...but only could spin corriedale using my home-made spindle.

Anyway, I plied it up in October 2009, and it sat waiting for its turn. Plied, it was about 300 yards and 2oz.

I wanted to knit the Annis Shawl from knitty.com for a while, but wasn't sure if I wanted to use my wollmeise yarn or not. I looked at the yardage again, and thought maybe this yarn was the better option.

So I casted on using the knitted cast on with size10 needles and worked one row of knit to make a sturdy edge:

Then worked the rest using size 7 needles. See the brachial plexus illustration on the book? I've been illustrating that for few months now. When not illustrating, I worked on the shawl monogamously. Few days later, I had this:

I had about 2 feet of yarn leftover. Asher keeps making fun of me for worrying that I will run out of yarn, but I can't seem to get rid of that fear. Maybe it's a phobia...like subyardagephobia or something. :)

I love the result! Lovely color, and wonderful drape. It can only get better with blocking!

Again, this shawl is super duper warm. When I had the shawl resting on my lap, I could feel the warmth oozing out from the fabric. I can't wait to knit some socks with handspun yarn. Hopefully they will finally keep my feet warm!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Knitting Season is in full swing!

Wow I haven't blogged in a long time. Work got busy and it was ridiculously hot. Around Labor Day, the weather was starting to cool off a bit, just to make it hot again. Now I'm in my cozy knitted sweater I knit a long time ago (first knitted sweater I think).

So here's what I've been doing:

1. Lots of spinning: from about August to now, I've been working on my little bags of wool from different breeds of sheep. So far I' ve spun:

Blue Faced Leicester:






I only have 3 more bumps to spin to complete my spinning project! Very exciting!

From the drop spindle, the fiber I got at SAFF last October is finally all spun up:

From this 4oz bump:

To this:

To this.

So exciting! I think I want to knit the Leaf & Nupp Shawl from Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia.

I'm going to write about my knitting another day. Now, back to work.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ran my first 5k...6k rather.

Our good friends Juliana and Ammon invited us to their church's fundraiser 5k last month. Since we were secretly doing the couch to 5k, I figured that it was a good goal for beginner runners like myself.

We drove up to Bel Air, and found the beautiful park with a pond with very blue water (which had HUGE catfish) and a nice running trail. So off we went.

I wasn't running to win, but wanted to run the entire thing. My personal goal was to do the whole thing under 30 minutes.

I took care to not run too quickly at the beginning and went at an easy pace. This was a family friendly race, so there were lots of kids running too. Actually Juliana and Ammon were in a category called "men and women pushing strollers". Well, they are super athletic and tough, so after Juliana passed me I couldn't see her anymore.

So I ran and ran. Eventually I couldn't see anyone anymore ahead of me. I guess I look to my left when I'm not thinking (perhaps I'm right brained when not illustrating. I don't know. that's weird.), so I totally missed the right turn into the finish line. I ran about extra 500 meters until I realized that I must have missed something.

I made some sad gestures trying to get an attention of a cyclist coming my way, but he ignored me. All sad, I turned around and jogged back. Fortunately by that time, I saw another runner that was in the same race as me, so I followed her to the goal. Not climatic.

So both Juliana and Ammon won prizes for their fast running. Yay! I told them that if they had an age bracket that was specific to my birthday, I would've won. Or I could get the "special runner award" for running the extra kilometer. Not that I'm into winning or anything. :)

So I did my first 5k! I even photoshopped my T-shirt to reflect my achievements:

Oh, and my time running the 6k? 38:49. Not bad, but can do better.

Monday, June 7, 2010


but first I have to dye yarn for my skin color. I'm definitely not sheep colored. ;)

Some of my dear friends have done it and I just love them. They are so cute! OK, so dye yarn, spin yarn for clothes...uuummmm get little me to London by June 25th. Right. Go soak yarn. Now.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wollmeise is here!

Wollmeise is here! Yaaay! I had to go pick it up at the post office since the package required a signature receipt. Very carefully, I took my surgical scissors and cut open the bag. Well, I was too careful.

After I cut through the outer package, a very cute paper bag appeared. It has graphic representation of stockinette stitch, and on one side there is a list of knitting terms in German and English. I really like the titmouse's footprints.
Get ready...

...And here it is! So beautiful! I'm very impressed. The color is very beautiful and I'm happy with it even though I was not quite sure what I was getting. It's mostly warm red with very subtle purple and orange. The skein is put up so neatly.

What a gorgeous skein of yarn. Also it's very generous. The tag says 150g, but when I measured it it was actually ~165g. Asher asked me if the yarn was for his socks. I laughed. Well, if he wants a pair of wollmeise socks, he should stay up late on Friday and pick out his own! I'm not sure what it should be...knee high socks maybe? Or a scarf/shawl?

On the other hand, I wonder if Rohrspatz is an iron-working wonder as well? They must be superstars.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brownie Beach Fossil Hunt!

Happy Memorial Day!

Today's adventure was to go look for shark teeth fossils in the Chesapeake Bay. We did some research and decided to visit Brownie Beach, which is just north of Chesapeake Beach. It was about an hour drive from our house.


It was a beautiful day, so naturally parking was tricky. We did succeed and walked through the woods to get to the beach.


The exposed cliff you see is from middle Myocene period, which is about 22 to 8 million years old. That boggles one's mind.


We got to swim too! The ocean floor was bit silt like and felt like clay, but it was all right. I promptly found a crabby friend.


Blue crab female. I love the scientific name, Callinectes sapidus, which translates to "Beautiful swimmer who is tasty". mmm.

Then we dug. and swam a bit. Then dug again.

メリーランド州で有名なこのブルークラブの学名は”美しく、美味しい泳ぐ物” と言う意味です.ふーん。



And here are the find! 23 in total. Most of these are shark teeth, and the rectangular-ish ones are fragments of skate teeth.



Fun day! Then we went into a restaurant in Bowie and had a pound of shrimp. mmm. shrimp.


Friday, May 21, 2010

I got wollmeise!


As I sat (not knitting!) in front of the computer and waited and looked at ravelry's wollmeise forum, the screen turned grey like this. The time stamp is 1:54 EDT.

Apparently the thing to look for nowadays is lace yarn, so I must have had less competition. I got a skein of 100% superwash sock yarn in aurora colorway, which is red.

35 minutes later, the shop was empty. Intense!

I had little trouble getting through, but fortunately no one took my yarn, and it's on its way to me. It wasn't as hard as I was imagining. Now I get to wait for yarn! yay! Good thing I held back last night. :)

Any chance for a wollmeise?

Something my dad says in Japanese:


Which roughly translates to: If you're eating poison, might as well eat the plate it's on.

...so if you're going the distance, go all the way.

After spending gobs of money on yarn and fiber, I am strangely attracted to seeing if I can wrestle other knitters from around the globe to get my knitting fingers on that famous wollmeise yarn. It's sort of scary...to me it's an apex of yarn collecting. I felt like a champion when I squeezed through to get some socks that rock at MDSW last year. This seems far more intense.

People seem to collect it and not knit with it as much. On ravelry, there are 2500+ projects on the 80/20 sock yarn, but it's stashed 14,000+ times. For comparison sakes, one of my favorite workhorse yarns Cascade 220 is used in 51,000+ projects and stashed 30,000+ times. Heh.

The wollmeise store is always empty, and folks speak of cartjacking (taking someone else's yarn in their cart and purchasing it) and stalking the website for updates. Now that's hard core.

So I did my homework and found out that the store is updated late night on Thursday and Friday EDT.

I'm staying up to finish some rush jobs anyway, so why not give it a shot? I'm not familiar with the colorways, and not too concerned since I'm sure all of it is just plain gorgeous. I want to see the colors and the hand of the yarn in person. One person in my knitting group got it, but I never saw the skeins.

Wisconsin motto: Forward!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Fun Time Sit N Knit!

Cookie Socks update! I finished clue #3 on my left sock.
Heel: 4g. took surprisingly little yarn.
Gusset: 6g for picking up and working 30 rows.
And tonight I picked up my right sock and started working on the third repeat of the leg.

I had a chance to sit and knit with wonderful ladies that gather at A Tangled Skein in Hyattsville. There was another pair of Mystery Cookie on the needles, and there were lots of interesting conversations from WWII to childbirth to Local politics to family values. I live in a little illustrator bubble, so all was very interesting. There was even a little dog who joined us.

Connie brought her fleece sample and Idaline (her fleece) was so soft and was such a rich color! She said it was a Border Leicester and Romney cross, and I definitely could feel the silky BL that I was enjoying in my unnamed fleece. Maybe I'll name mine Bailey.

I had to resist hard to not buy any yarn! We sit right by the lovely sock yarn, and I always enjoy touching Panda Silk yarn and Lang Magic Stripes yarn.

Needless to say, I knit 8 rows in 1.5 hours. At least I didn't have to frog anything. :) yet.

After the knitting session, I went to CVS and Target to pick up supplies for Sheep camp. I'm most proud of my lazy kate, which works wonders and I know I can fit more than 3 bobbins if needed. It's a plastic basket, and I put my straight knitting needles through the holes and held the bobbins. I'm so tickled.

It was $5 for two baskets, and a lazy kate costs at least $20. For my Louet bobbins, it would've been like $140. Sometimes I'm not sure why some spinning supplies are so expensive. A lazy kate is a stand with few sticks. A niddy-noddy is a stick with two more sticks positioned orthogonally. A nostepinne IS a stick. Knitting needles are pointy sticks.

I suppose people want beautiful tools when making beautiful things. Right now, I'm more interested in getting more beautiful materials (yarn & fiber) rather than to spend money on beautiful tools. I'll probably change my mind later like I did for socks, but not yet.
Alternative DIY lazy kate spinning

Pull out a plum and say...

What a good boy am I!

I'm swatching and making test skeins!

This is knit from my handspun Coopworth roving I bought at MDSW last year. I spun about 400 yds in worsted/aran weight, so I'm thinking to combine with Noro Kureyon to make a stripe vest.

I'm pretty excited about how plying covers up some irregularities of the yarn you spin. The irregularities further disappear once you wash/set the yarn then knit it.

Now to my 2# merino roving that I'm going to make a guernsey sweater out of: I spun about .5 ounces and plied with my previous attempt. I spun about 30 yards here.

I did the Wraps Per Inch thing. It's about 12 WPI, which puts the yarn in worsted weight category. It's a bit thick, but I think it will be all right.

And here is the swatch...I screwed up the knit column before the purl recess. I need to tug more yarn to make it even. Again, the irregularities have been nicely hidden for the most part in the knit fabric. This is knit in US2 needles (2.75mm)

Here are some attempts to spin the flick carded border leicester fleece. This fleece wants me to spin it worsted. That's fine by me. First attempt came waaaay too underspun.

Second attempt was a better... I like how the sheen of the silky fleece is maintained in the yarn. I think I like the plies with more twist like this...it's bouncy. I thought I overplied this until I washed it and it was all soft and happy.

Third attempt I was trying to make it thinner. It came out little wiry and uneven, but I'm pretty happy with this too.

And here it is in order of my attempts from left to right. My third attempt was longer, so it's shown twice on right.
Last batch of fleece is soaking in the sun. aaaah...