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. 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 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'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...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cotton Knits

I've been working on some red cable knits, but I was getting some sort of startitis, so I dug out an OLD OLD unfinished object (UFO in knitting lingo):

Pattern:: Cable & Lattice Poncho by Alison G. Will from Vogue Knitting on the Go: Ponchos
Yarn:Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Cotton DK in #245
Yardage:~650 yds knitted
Needle:JP6 straight
Date started:circa June 2007
Mods:Wouldn't wear it. This was my "on the bus" knits while I was in grad school. Knitting complex cables and lattices with tired brain and a cable needle at 8 in the morning just didn't cut it. When I found out that there were errata in the pattern, my motivation melted away. No wonder my knitting looked wonky!

As of today it's going to be this:

Pattern:: Lotus Blossom Tank by Sharon Shoji
Size:Small (33.25" bust)
Yarn:Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Cotton DK in #245
Yardage:~130 yds today
Needle:US6 & 5 Circ
Date started:May 14, 2010
Mods:I was inspired by modifications by Licketyknits. I think I'm going to follow her advice on making this into an empire waist top instead of a hanging tank top. I also plan on adding short row to shape the bust better.

Meanwhile the postman delivered this:
Boye Knit Mates Interchangeable Knitting system Needlepoints doesn't handle any mail orders. They only take orders online. That was swell, because I placed the order on Wednesday (5/12) and my package arrived today (5/14). I think this was the fastest delivery ever. Now I can return to this hat which is another cotton project. Hope to not run out of cotton for the summer!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


My colleague Linda was kind enough to share a nifty youtube video about how a mundane 'waste' has great potential to solving one of the problems we face today as earthlings. I am very impressed.

I save my hair and give it to the birds for making nests. Same can be done with scraps of yarn. I can see how the sheep industry can be a great asset; just think of all the second cuts, belly hair, and the skirted fleece!

Please pass it on!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Little red cables

I've been looking forward to Cookie A's Sock Knitters Anonymous Mystery sock since it was announced in fall of 2009. After freeing up my favorite sock knitting needles, I cast on for the first clue:

Pattern:: MAY 2010 SKA Mystery Sock by Cookie A
Size:Large (9" circ)
Yarn:Lang Jawoll Superwash in color #932
Yardage:Hopefully less than 412 yds
Needle:US1 DPN
Mods: The pattern called for 450+ yards, so hopefully I'll shorten the leg and use smaller needles to compensate for the yardage. Otherwise I'll just have different color toes. I'll keep up with the yardage used for each clue.

Clue 1: used 4g.
Clue 2: 1st repeat used 5g (above photo).
What lovely pattern!

My cable needle is actually bigger than my #1 needle, so out of necessity I've been working without a cable needle. It's not so bad so far since most cables require only 1 st on the cable needle.

I started on my other red cabled knitting: glove #2 of Meisi that I started last fall out of my handspun red yarn.

I have enough tiny cable projects, eh? :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tabi socks

Long time ago, we dyed some sock yarn with tobacco. On Friday, I cast these off:

Pattern:: Shur'tugal by Alice Yu
Size:Large (72 sts) Mens 10 1/2
Yarn:Valley Yarn Franklin dyed in tobacco (find out how it was dyed here)
Needle:US1 DPN
Mods:Modified the toes so it's tabi style. Tabi is written "foot bag" in Japanese. This I find amusing. Big toe is 28 sts around with 2 sts cast on using backwards loop. The other half is done much like a regular wedge toe. I decreased only on one side (2 sts) every other row until 20 sts remained on both sides, then decreased every row until 8 stitches total remain. Kitchner off. If I were to do this again, I'd make the toe a little bit more roomier. I gave it 0 ease, which probably wasn't the best idea.

Tabi has split toes so you can wear geta (sandal style shoes). Here's another take at taking advantage of the split toes:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Maryland Sheep & Wool 2010 Part III: Goodies

I had so much fun at the festival this year! I think as I learn more about knitting and spinning and so forth, I have more questions to ask about different sheep wool, hand, etc etc.

This year I bought a wonderful collection of different sheep breed wool in their natural beauty. Take a look:

Dark Icelandic roving 2 oz
Three shades of Jacob Roving 2 oz each, 6 oz total
Shetland roving 4 oz
Polwarth roving 4 oz
Falkland roving 4 oz
Coopworth roving 4 oz
BFL roving 4 oz
(I had so much trouble finding natural colored BFL!)
And a lovely circle of natural colored roving.

One of my goals this year was to find myself a nice multi-colored fleece. I was hoping to get some colored shetland wool, but couldn't find any. Fortunately I chatted with a really lovely lady and decided to get 1/2 fleece (2.75 pounds) of her Border Leicester wool. Take a peek.

It's a lovely multi-colored wool with rich lustrous locks. She said since it rained 4 days straight right before shearing, there were some tough tips, but they should wash out. I hope so. mmm stinky. It lives outside on the balcony right now.
I also got a flicker from Carolina Homespun.

A Louet high-speed bobbin.
When I showed the man my bobbin, he let out a sigh and said, "wow, that's an old Louet!" I heard that three more times and ultimately decided that the new bobbins should fit on the "old Louet" (approx 50-60 years old). It works wonders on the wheel, and looking forward to spinning faster and finer.

Oh yes I almost forgot:

I got 6 skeins from Old Mill Yarn. This is Davidson Domy Heather, a wonderfully affordable shetland wool yarn. I want to dye some of it and make a nice fair-isle cardigan/sweater out of it. Funny, this is the only yarn I got!

Let's get to some spinning!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Last minute, as always

Sheep and Wool season again! Yaaay!

This year I invited my grad school classmate Ammon and his family to the festival. When I learned that they could come, I decided to knit their baby #3 a pair of booties.

I've been eyeing Duck Socks in the new Knitty, and decided to give that a go. The instructions said it takes one skein of Shibui Sock (~200 yds), so I religiously followed it and dyed up about 250 yards of Valley Franklin:

Recipe for 250 yards: 60 drops yellow; 2 drops red; 1 drop green.
splash of vinegar (1/4 cup or so)
Dipped kettle-style in turkey pan.
Cooked in oven @ 250F for 2 hours.

So cute!
Ta dah!

Pattern:: Duck by Jeny Staiman
Size:one for 3 mo.-6mo.
Yarn:Valley yarn Franklin
Needle:US1.5 DPN
Mods:none really. I used DPNs because I don't have circulars that small. My turkish cast-on was little wobbly, but it will do. Next time, I'm going to study the youtube video that accompanied it in ravelry. I think there's enough yarn to make another pair.

Juliana (mom), Ammon (dad), and Ryley (big sis) were pretty pumped. Jensen (big bro) was indifferent. I think Evelyn (baby in photo) was upset that her feet got really hot all of the sudden.

It was so nice seeing them! We need to hang out more often!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maryland Sheep & Wool 2010 Part II: Sunday

Sunday I went alone. It was really nice to have company on Saturday, and it's also very nice to go alone so I don't feel like I'm boring my buddies to tears with hours of staring at wool.

I returned to the skein and garment competition, and took photos of great projects for inspiration.

Gorgeous aran sweater
Stunning Fair-Isle Cap
There's my shawl on the left. It looks so small!
The shawl is the only entry that didn't win a ribbon. Boo! Must knit better next time!
Best of show shawl. Sigh. Beautiful.
Best skein spun on a spindle
Handspun so incredibly fine
Stunning colors!
Very nice socks!

Then I strolled to the sheep to shawl competition. How fun. Now that I know a little bit about weaving, I know why they can put designs on their shawl even though they are spinning white fleece.

So this is how it works (in my limited weaving knowledge): One can choose to have the warp (the vertical) thread be dominant and the weft(horizontal) thread hide beneath the warp. It's called "warp-faced fabric" . That's how they can make the shawls work. That was a big mystery to me when I saw it for the first time.

I also succeeded in getting full attention of the alpacas. I love how they make little mumbling sounds! Cute! I like their padded feet too.
I always wonder what it's like to be surrounded by food.

Sunday was the blade-shearing competition. The ultimate winner (on the left) shore two sheep before the other two were still working on the first one. Pretty impressive.

Let me go!
Noooo don't shear my belly!
OK I'll let you shear my belly.

I find this strangely unsettling.
This sheep wouldn't stop bleating.

Hi little curious ewe! How are you buddy?

This one really wanted my attention.
but not this one.
That's not your food. Stop eating your friend's food.

More musicians. It was very nice and hot and sunny!

I find these puppets both fascinating and intriguing.
When I returned to the shearing competition, it was still going on, and there were lots of naked sheep.

This one is next in line.
Nice 'fro and bell bottoms.

Again another day full of fun things to do! I definitely bought more on Sunday, and will post my new addition in another post.