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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A First

My first handspun yarn that is. I broke out of my sweater-knitting box this week to try something new. From Sunday's post, I showed you the Schacht drop spindle I purchased at Woolbearers with this roving. It's Romney hand-dyed.

And by Monday night, it became this...soaked, stretched, dried and skeined. Obviously, this is my very first attempt at spinning so there are thick and thin parts. I think I understand the technique, but I need to become more coordinated with pinching, drafting, and keeping the drop spindle going clockwise at the same time. My first try on Sunday probably resembled some sort of fiber train wreck. I persevered.

It kind of reminds me of the thick/thin slubby texture of Manos del Uruguay. I was aiming for something around worsted for my first go until I could get the technique down. I must say I am proud at my novice attempts. I guess my non-existent level of patience lately had me wondering if I would be frustrated within the first 5 minutes. I was actually very intrigued and was anxious to have something to skein. I can compare my future spinning activities to this to see how I've improved. In other news, I have been extremely monogamous with the February Lady Sweater. It's flying off the needles so this is a relatively quick knit for me. Monogamy to the project may have something to do with it. I also continue to gush how much I love this yarn with unabashed passion. I'm fighting the overwhelming desire to horde it just to have for a whim project. I don't normally horde, but goodness this stuff is sweet.

Well, I must get to bed. I have to run an early meeting. Toodles.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Great people, a stash excursion, and fiber enabling

Today marked a day of fiber therapy and enabling of epic proportions. My friend, Sairy, and I met up today and headed down to Woolbearers. I hadn't been there since they moved to their current location so I was extremely overdue for a trip, and Sairy is still learning how to get around to places in New Jersey. What better way then to make a trip to a LYS, right?
We each realized we had been wanting to learn how to spin. I have been quite inspired by Jessica and Bea's lovely work and felt the need to explore. Meeting up at Jessica's last weekend (yes that is me on the left in the pic on Jessica's blog) and watching my friends spinning away had me enticed by the fluidity of the wheel. I became more intrigued over the last week to learn. My hope was to learn a little more on our excursion to Woolbearers today, knowing that they had spinning wheels and roving.
After fondling EVERYTHING in the store, we came to the far wall and spotted some drop spindles. Suzie, one of the two lovely owners, offered to give us a quick lesson on some purple roving. Hooked and inspired, we made it over to the roving cabinet. We both grabbed some lovely aqua-ish Romney roving processed from their own flock of sheep. I think it's safe to say there may be another addiction in the making.

Of course, there is more. Would I disappoint you? I picked up this lovely hank of Woolbearers Hand-dyed worsted 50/50 mohair/wool in the "softball" colorway. I envision a lovely cowl to match my winter, brown peacoat. The color is hard to photograph, but there are golds, greens, and purples.

The next one may shock some of you. I had some Heritage handpainted sock yarn by Cascade sing its siren song from across the room. This yarn didn't speak to me, it "yelled" at me "I am going home with you and I WILL be a pair of socks". So a year since my miserable failure with the Monkey socks, I am back in love with socks again. This time, I am using the magic loop with some instruction from Sairy until I got the hang of it. This is a much faster method for me and I am already sailing along the leg past the cuff. I think I may actually get two socks instead of one sorry sock with no mate. Who knew? :-)

The picture does the color no justice, unfortunately. This is a very dark blood red with some purple and navy blue.
I have lofty ambitions once I am inspired and picked up a skein of J.Knits Superwash Me-Sock in colorway "Boulder". This one is in cream, peachy-orange, and green.After oogling over the Kauni and showing my sweater inspiration for using the Kauni for the Autumn Leaves cardigan, the discussion turned to the February Lady Sweater by Pam Wynne of Flintknits. I happen to have mine in the car so I ran out and brought it back in to show the knitting group in the store. You can say there was some enabling on both ends. I was enabled to spin as much as I enabled folks to try the February Lady Sweater. Poor Suzie broke her no more WIPs promise to herself crumbling under the peer pressure. LOL. What squishy Dream in Color Classy in a happy, bright green will do to folks, right? My enabling is discussed on Suzie's blog here. You will see Sairy and I standing together clutching our drop spindles and practice wool kindly provided by Suzie. See the crazed look of future addiction in our eyes? Scary, I know. Sairy had a small skein of purple wool before she left my house, all soaked and stretched.

As far as my sweater progress, the sleeves are off and I am plugging away at the lace on the body. For some strange reason, the color looks very washed out as this is a very bright, yellowy-green. I smell an FO coming on very soon because I like parading around in wool sweaters after the first of summer. That's how I roll, don't you know?

Thanks to Sairy, Suzie and all the ladies at Woolbearers for a fabulous end to the weekend. After the last week I've had at work, this proves the point that fiber is way cheaper than therapy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When life hands you them for chocolate

Hands down, this has been a work week that would make the late, self-proclaimed "ice queen", Leona Helmsley cry. Or weep bitterly and breath in a paper sack is more like it. That's been the equivalent of my coping skills since last Friday. I can't get into details, but let's say there was an review of internal files that did not go well. Could I have done anything about the outcome? Well, no. Could I have prevented it? No again, not my area of work. The problems resulted more from internal side of things, but part of me still has to deal with correcting the outcome. It was ugly and we now have the attention of folks in the company so high on the food chain that I resemble something on the lines of plankton or other one-celled critter. Smell what I'm cookin'?
To liven things up a bit, I attended an external training in Philadelphia today that had been planned since March. I wasn't in the least bit thrilled for going with my mental state, but I was pleasantly surprised at my accommodations and I met 3 lovely ladies that share the same job as I do. I stayed at the Penn's View Hotel in Philly which is right across from Penn's Landing. I grew up in Jersey so I knew this area fairly well having come here with my parents as a kid. I never even knew this hotel was here until today. I ended up with a top floor room. The decor is all colonial with shaker-style furniture and cherry hardwood floors. See that door to the left there?

Step into my office. It's my very own deck complete with a cafe set with a view of the Delaware River and Ben Franklin Bridge! SWEEEEET.

I decided I had had enough of breathing into paper sacks and weeping bitterly this week so I went with another coping mechanism. Yes, an ice tea and a chocolate ganache cake will go swimmingly with my knitting and view on the veranda. I always say, "When life hands you lemons, trade them for chocolate." One of my favorite snarky comedians, Ron White of Blue Collar TV fame, said, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. Then you find the person that got the vodka and have party." That's not such a bad idea either really.

The knitting is my February Lady Sweater. The pattern is by Pamela Wynne of FlintKnits. It pays special homage to the February Baby Sweater or Baby Surprise Jacket, depending on which EZ (Elizabeth Zimmerman) book you have, but in an adult size version. According to Pam, "to fit a grown-*ssed woman." Gotta love that. Oh the yarn? Yes, I switched from having a major crush on Malabrigo to my newest crush, Dream in Color Classy. The colorway is "Happy Forest".
It's squishy and soft. It has a good twist to the double-ply so it has almost and elastic, springy quality. And the colorway, is right up my alley. Yes, I know we've seen a lot of green on this blog lately, but there has to be a reason for it. It's the heart chakra and for the last month I have been heavy-hearted for a good friend with terminal cancer. The cancer is located in the chest. Green, with the secondary color of pink, are the healing colors of that chakra in reiki so I must need it. When this chakra is blocked, we can experience emotional instability, sorrow, and a sense of loss we cannot get past. I think that's where I am right now. Unconsciously, I am probably working toward giving myself enough green as it is the color of balance and peace, two things which I feel that I cannot grasp in the last month or so. I suppose I will need to get back to practicing Reiki on myself and get this chakra open again.
Sidebar, my SIL, Tammy and I are Reiki practioners. I don't think I've mentioned that here before. She is a higher level than I am and is more dedicated to practicing than I have been. Someday I will get to level 2 and master level, but I believe it will speak to me when I am ready for the next level. I mostly Reiki myself, the dogs, or people who come to me and ask for it. My dad had me work on healing his shoulder after his surgery 2 years ago. My parents have come a long way with opening up to the prinicples of eastern medicine and I'm pretty proud of them.
Hello lover. I am squishy and greeeeeeen.
Well if you will excuse me, I'm going to go out and enjoy my view of the Ben Franklin before I call it a night. My sleep this week has been minimal and I worked 40 hours by Tuesday. Please send out your positive thoughts for me so I can make it through this week. It's been a rough one.
BTW, thank you for the kind comments on the Bed Jacket. I really appreciate it. If you haven't rec'd a reply from me on your comment, it's because I don't have your email or know where you are on Ravelry. The naughty blogger systems doesn't give you the email addys of the people that comment for some reason. Drop me your email so I can respond to you when you comment in the future. The email is around my flickr badge. You can't miss it. Drop me a note.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Finished Object Friday- Bed Jacket

I am having a cruddy day at work today so my only enjoyment is to post an FO on my lunch hour. The Bed Jacket, in purgatory from last year, is finally done.

Pattern: Bed Jacket from Knitting Lingerie Style
Designer: Joan McGowan-Michael
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes from stash (long time in the stash, actually)
12 skeins in color Tan
Needles: Size 10 Addi Turbo and Size G crochet hook
Started: June 2007
Finished: June 12, 2008
Recipient: Me
Mods: I left off the chain stitch embroidery because (1) I was lazy and (2) didn't think it really needed it. I knit the rest to the book. Overall, I like it, but alas, into storage it goes until the Fall b/c it is too dang hot for wool right now in Jersey. As I also said before, read the directions first, especially if you hate finishing. There is a lot of finishing work on this one, but I think it is elegant and well-worth the effort.

The button is a mother-of-pearl daisy purchased from The Woolly Lamb.

WWKIP (WorldWide Knit in Public) Day is tomorrow, June 14, 2008. Get out your needles or hooks or plastic canvas. Whatever it is that you do with yarn, get out there and stitch proudly in public tomorrow. Show the masses how we are preserving history and culture. Needlework is a universal language bringing many countries and people together by a common thread (no pun intended).
In other words.....STITCH PROUD!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Avast me hearties, surrender yer yarn!

Me yarrrrrrrn world and pirate world have collided, mates. What ye think about the purdy new threads, lovelies? Now where be the me precious "Pearl" and witty Captain Jack?
Hello. I am a giant dork in my new pirate shirt, savvy?
Aye lovelies. Should have known he'd be out pillaging for yarrrn. That be a nice lot of merino golllld. Cursed I say it is. Once ye put yer needles to it, ye needn't be tryin' out anything else. Cursed for life, I say with it's kettle-dyed siren song. 'Tis the Kracken of the knittin' world. Forever in the depths of The Stash Locker, ye never to be seen again.

What say you Captain Jack Sparrow? Ye be a marked man soon enough with that Malabrigo Gold.

That be me Jack likeness that me sister-in-law and mother-in-law pilfered (bought. ahem pirate talk, mates) from the Disney store that be closin' at the Tortuga Mall. Strappin' pirate, that Jack Sparrow. The cursed Malabrigo be in the colorway Vaa for the February Lass (Lady) sweater. The knittin' be better with a bottle of rum, says I. "Where's the rum gone?"
"Yo ho, yo ho a pirates life for me....
Now mmmMalabrigo, show me that horizon (knit stitch)".

The giant dork will now go back to playing with her pirate dolls and yarn, savvy?

Good. We have an accord.

Monday, June 09, 2008

I'm melting....

Ugh. 94.6 so far and rising. The gauge for this satellite weather monitor is on the the shade. My car is reading 101F. I melt in temperatures over 85F. Yuck. It's sticky and gross and I still insist on playing with wool.

Bed Jacket Progress:
I told you I had some pretty lofty ambitions for finishing this thing. Seaming up 9 pieces is no easy task considering the placement of the edging is crucial for how it will lay in the end. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from knitting this. It is a well-written pattern, but it's not an instant gratification process. If you don't like seaming, you can try to modify it to one piece as some have done either successfully or not so much. I chose to knit as it was written.
So now all I have left is to block the body so I can do the picot edge, pop the sleeves in complete with cuff detail and picot edge, embroider a chain stitch, and sew on a button. Somehow, writing that out makes it seem that I haven't gotten too far with it this weekend. I'll be glad when it's done.
This family will be hiding in the AC for the rest of today. The deck shot in the sun nearly burnt my feet through my sandals. Enough of that. It will be ice teas and air conditioning for the rest of today.
Annie and Cartman concur with that plan.
Despite the heat wave, my Clematis went nuts this year in a profuse explosion of pink and white.

My double-flower Columbines are also fairly happy. I really like this color. It's so dark red that it's almost black.
Ok so I'm going to go hide in the AC with my ice tea now before I spontaneously combust. Tomorrow, I've taken the day off to hang out with a friend and we're taking a Peyote beading class at a bead studio in Pennington. Then we might head over to New Hope for the day to have some mojitos and tapas at my favorite eat there. BTW, the bead studio's right next door to Pennington Quilt Works and The Woolly Lamb. Have mercy on my soul. I have gift certificates burning a hole in my pocket. :-S

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I went to the darkside....they had cookies

Scrumptious wool/silk, handpainted laceweight cookies. I am about to explore uncharted territories here at Chez Knitballs. In a moment of weakness and oogling at all the pretty lace yarn on Ravelry, I succombed to the curious power of the Mystery Shawl. I joined Goddness Knits Mystery Shawl group on Ravelry and yahoo. This design is in honor of Goddess Knits's 3rd Anniversay! (yeah! waves wildly at Goddess Knits). This round is a pi shawl construction. The inspiration comes from Mandelas and we get to choose from a bunch of clue charts each week when the clues are loaded.
This will be my first major lace project. I've knit lace panels in sweaters and such, but never a full lace shawl. This should be a new experience for me on tiny, wittle needles. For my project, I've chosen Schaefer Yarn Company Trenna in a purple, pink, gold, and green colorway. The yardage is a generous 1250 yards which is enough for my entire project! I purchased it from, who are the exclusive distributors of Trenna. The colors! *swoons* I've got my eye on the Ingrid Bergman and Wendy colorways also. Another surprise this week is the resurrection of a project in knitter's purgatory since last year, the Bed Jacket from Knitting Lingerie Style. In a burst of stitching vigor post Green Gable, I went to town finishing up the 9 pieces that constructs this thing. Yes, I said 9. That would be the back, two fronts, two sleeves, top band, lower band, and 2 sleeve cuffs. This is also not one of those sweaters where you sew up some seams, pop your sleeves in and your done. This lovely little sweater is much more work than you would think on first glance. There is a picot edge around the entire edge and sleeve cuffs and some embroidering at the band joins to the body. I think it will be worth it. I'm so close to finishing and it would be great to get this one off the WIP list. Wish me luck. It's going to be a finishing party weekend on this one.
And sadly, I have no restraint and cast on for Wallis with my Debbie Bliss Cathay lingering in the stash forever. I didn't get too far since I have renewed interest in finishing the bed jacket. I just might have a FO to show for that by next week I hope and before the mystery shawl begins.
TTFN. I have a week's worth of finishing to do now.