Thursday

[knitting] April Hat Club: Baby Hats

We collected a total of 65 baby hats to donate to Alice Peck Day Hospital's Birthing Center:

Baby Hats!


That's not even all of them. They were all different shapes and sizes. I loved looking at them all.

I made two.

I handed out handspun skeins to the winners. I hope they enjoy working with them.

For May, the Hat Club pattern is: The Amanda Hat. I am going to use a couple spare balls of Patons SWS.

Wednesday

[misc] Scumbag

I sent a care package to a friend in Brooklyn a couple weeks ago and, having not heard anything from her, I asked whether or not she received the box. Apparently she got the box and the letter inside but nothing else. Someone stole the pint of Fancy maple syrup (from this year's season), 3 mixes from King Arthur Flour for pancakes and scones, a handspun/handknit hat, a crocheted scarf and a handknit scarf for her husband.

Handspun Tam


Handspun Tam


Annabrigo


Sinful Ribbed Scarf


The hat and crocheted scarf were both blue ribbon winners at last year's Cornish Fair.

The thief left the letter that described everything inside. I wrote in it that the handspun hat was made with merino fiber that I bought in Alaska last year and was the first GOOD skein I spun. The crocheted scarf was knit with Malabrigo and it came out so soft and nice. I wrote that since her husband is from India, I thought an extra-warm alpaca/wool scarf would be perfect for him in the winter. All this stuff was made with love and I was obviously sending it to someone I care about. The letter was open. Clearly they read it, took everything and left the letter. Who does that?

Ugh, I've been consoling myself with thoughts of Karma getting the thief back. I'm not saying they should be hit by a bus (I wouldn't wish that on anyone but the scummiest scumbags on earth), but come on. Something. Please.

[weaving] Kromski Harp

After returning from Florida, I went down to The Fiber Studio in Henniker, NH with my sister to pick up a 24" Kromski Rigid Heddle Loom. I love The Fiber Studio and they've got anything and everything you need if you're a knitter, crocheter, beader, spinner or weaver. I walked around the shop, inspecting the woven items on display with an appreciative eye. They were all so beautiful.

Saturday morning, I started putting the Harp together.

Before (morning):

Kromski Harp 24", ready to be put together.


After (afternoon):

Kromski Harp 24", warped and ready.


Here, the loom is warped and it's ready to begin weaving. I used the written instructions that came with the loom as well as the DVD, which features an actual person putting it together on screen. That helped so much.

I started weaving a bit at the table and it wasn't pretty. When I first started knitting, it was hard to remember the differences between making a knit and a purl. Now, with the loom, I have to go slow and think, "Beat the weft, move the heddle away bottom-first to the bottom rung, slide the shuttle, beat the weft, move the heddle away top-first to the top rung," etc. It's very slow going. But it should be second nature after 300 hours of weaving or so.

I put the Harp's stand together and (after many frustrating exclamations of "This loom doesn't fit in this stupid stand!") managed to secure the loom.

Later (night):

Kromski Harp 24" and stand


Kromski Harp 24" and stand


And my first woven strip (only about 3 inches wide):

First Weaving Attempt


I'm still doing all kinds of things wrong but I'll get better. The books that have helped me the most have been Hands of Rigid Heddle Weaving by Betty Linn Davenport and Weaving Made Easy: 17 Projects Using a Simple Loom by Liz Gibson.

Here we go with another fiber related hobby :)

Tuesday

[knitting] Daydreaming Noro

Here's my progress on the travel socks I worked on during the Florida trip:

Rainbow socks


Before casting on, I weighed the ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock and prepared to wind half into one ball and half into another. Then I would have two balls to work a toe-up pair of socks. Imagine my surprise when I reached the halfway point, snipped the yarn and started winding at the exact colors that I started with for the first ball: dark pink, light blue, light pink... Full of glee and chuckles, I started to wind faster: light green, yes, dark blue, ha ha ha, teal, red, ha ha h- knot.

KNOT IN THE YARN you &#^$ !%#^%! $&^%W(*^%#4!!

And were they nice enough to knot it with the same color? No. The colors started over again. I snipped the knot out and started the third ball: dark pink, you rotten stupid, light blue, light pink, almost would have had a perfect pair, light green...

I had a lot of time to think about this yarn during the many hours I worked on it in the moving van... [start dreamy harp music to signal fantasy sequence]

A YARN MILL, SOMEWHERE IN JAPAN...

A middle-aged man [NORO] sits at an over-sized desk, counting piles of money. A younger, meeker man [PATSY] enters and scuttles up the desk. He bows deeply and waits for the older man to acknowledge him.

NORO: What is it, Patsy?

PATSY: I have finished sweeping up the floor of the mill and placed what I have swept up into a bucket.

NORO: Good. What would you say the contents of the bucket are?

PATSY: Scraps of silk, bits of vegetable matter, offal and the like. It's a melange of waste.

NORO: Have it spun up with the leftover Kureyon sock wool. We will call it... Silk Garden Sock.

PATSY: Very good, sir.

NORO: Those stupid, lazy American will eat it up. Literally, I'd wager. Fat, stupid-

PATSY: Sir?

NORO: What is it, Patsy?! I have all this money to count!

PASTY: We have no one to spin the yarn.

NORO: What? What about Helen?

PATSY: You fired her.

NORO: Oh yes. [chuckles] Paul, then.

PATSY: He quit.

NORO: Well... Who is there?

PATSY: We just hired this guy, Ralph. But it's his first day and-

NORO: Have him spin it.

PATSY: He hasn't been trained. Or even used the machines yet. His spinning will likely be erratic and uneven.

NORO: Yes yes, you may go now.

END SCENE

###

It does go on from there, with Ralph (who is colorblind) breaking the yarn as it is being wound into balls and haphazardly tying knots in color sequences that don't make sense.

I'm just frustrated is all. Noro yarns are all about the color. I would say that people choose Noro based more on color than feel (have you ever had a Kureyon scarf wrapped around your neck? It's not pleasant.) and if color is so freaking important, why tie a knot that breaks the color progression like you just don't give a crap?

Why not have Noro Seconds? Here's a bin of yarn at a reduced price because these balls have at least one knot in them. HERE's a bin of yarn at full price and you can buy a ball knowing that there is not one knot in it. Am I crazy for wanting this?

Anyway, if you've knit with Silk Garden Sock, you know what I'm talking about. There's all kinds of junk in it and it's unevenly spun. The socks I'm making are dense and I hope they will last a long time because I don't think I'll make another pair with this yarn.

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

The weather has improved and MF likes to be outside. He's in charge of maintaining safety and security around the backyard perimeter.

MF Outside.


But mostly he just sleeps in a camp chair in the shade.

He occasionally gets up to scratch my shoes...

MF Scratching my shoe.

Sunday

[travel] Southwest Florida

Well, we did it. My sister and I drove a U-haul all the way to southwest Florida without any accidents or even close calls, thank heavens. It was two GRUELING days of driving. Saturday 6am - 8pm, and we only made it as far as southern Virginia. We fitfully spent the night in a Comfort Inn (paranoia periodically woke us up to go to the window and check on the U-haul to see whether or not it was being unloaded by thieves). The next day was 6am - 10pm. I swear. We really couldn't push the moving van over 74 mph without it shuddering and making the drive more unpleasant.

The first day was rewarding because the states are so small up here. Vermont... Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, etc. The next day was like, "God, are the Carolinas EVER going to be OVER? We've been driving for, like, 6 hours." By the time we rolled up to the gate at my mom's housing community and the guard asked, "Who are you?", I was ready to get out of the passenger seat, walk around the front of the van and drop kick him in the groin. And then maybe kick him in the gut a few times after he hit the ground.

Then came the rest and relaxation...

Marco Island


Captiva Beach


Shell Graveyard
A shell graveyard I made.


Captiva sunset


This was our U-haul with Champ on the side:

U-Haul


I had a very nice time. There were still come, ah, "lost in translation" moments...

###

MOM: This is the only type of grocery store I've seen here- Publix.

AMY: Uh...

SIS: I think it's pronounced puh-blicks.

AMY: [snickering]

MOM: What? What was I saying?

AMY: Pube... hahahahha... Pube-licks.

SIS: Hahahahahh.

AMY: HAHAHHAHAHAHA.

MOM: What's so funny?

###

MOM: I show you the East Day houses on the other side. They are bigger than mine.

AMY: Okay. I wonder what these East Day houses are. Must be a style down here.

the next day...

MOM: They have East Day houses there too. See?

and the next day...

MOM: Let's go look at these East Day houses.

SIS: [reading the sign] Estate.

MOM: What?

AMY: WHAT?

SIS: It's a soft E. Eh-state. Not EEE-state.

MOM: That's what I'm saying.

AMY: All this time I thought you were saying East Day, like it's a type of house down here.

MOM: Hahahah.

###

Yeah... Anyway, it was good. We flew back and it only took three hours (which somehow made the drive down more painful in hindsight). We saw the Dartmouth Coach bus outside the Jet Blue terminal as we were waiting for our bags- and then it took off. I started to freak out, not wanting to wait another two hours for the next one and luckily thought of taking a cab to South Station to catch the northbound there. Haha, tricky bus people can't outsmart me.

Now I'm home, chillaxing. Well, almost chillaxing. I bought a rigid-heddle loom so I can start learning to weave and it has been... I've been reminding myself that I was no good at and hated spinning at first too. But more on weaving later...

Friday

[misc] Lost in Translation

MOM: Call me after you load the van.

ME: Why?

MOM: I want to make sure you bring my black address book.

ME: I won't forget. I'll bring that and you Neighbors magazine.

MOM: My what?

ME: Your... Neighbors magazine.

MOM: You mean my Naples Magazine?

ME: I thought... But you said...

MOM: It's Naples. It's a magazine about Naples, Florida.

ME: siiiiiigh


Should I blame my mom's accent or my hearing? It's probably both.

Thursday

[misc] Road Trip

Things are hectic and not much knitting/spinning has been accomplished. My sister and I are driving down to Florida this weekend, U-hauling some boxes and furniture down to our mom's new home in Fort Myers. We'll spend most of the week with her and then fly back.

I called my mother, who has already been down there for a couple weeks, to confirm some addresses, directions and whether or not she needs anything else...

MOM: Bring my black address book. And my Neighbors magazine.

ME: You're neighbor's magazine?

MOM: Yes.

ME: Why do you want your neighbor's magazine?

MOM: I just want it. What's the problem?

ME: Nothing, I just... All right. Where should I get it from?

MOM: It's on my coffee table.

ME: What's it called?

MOM: ... Neighbors.

ME: OH. The magazine is called 'Neighbors'. I thought you wanted me to steal your next-door neighbor's magazine.


This is a typical conversation between my mom and I. You should have heard us on a trip down to Manchester, NH, where Interstate 293 branches off Interstate 93. "We're already on ninety-three." "I know, I'm saying two-ninety-three." "Two-ninety-three or to ninety-three?" "What?!"

Anyway... If we knew how to play instruments, our conversations would go a little something like this.

Picking up the U-hual was a nightmare. I reserved a 10' truck online but when it came time to pick it up, they told me I was getting a 14' truck. It was going to be a free upgrade but (a) we're not bringing down enough stuff to even fill a 10' truck, (b) I don't want to drive something that big, (c) considering we're driving over 1500 miles, it would cost us a lot more for gas. About 7 phone calls later (to other U-haul businesses in the area, to U-haul customer service, to the U-haul scheduling office in western Mass.), I finally finally finally got the truck I actually ordered. We picked it up yesterday and it's a brand new truck (which I believe is Karma paying me back for having to make all the extra phone calls) AND you know how the trucks have state landmarks/monuments on the sides? Our truck says Vermont and has a huge picture of Lake Champlain's Champ. I love it :)


I need to pack some more travel knitting. The chickadee cowl is coming with me, as is a ball of Noro Silk Garden Sock for a pair of socks...

Rainbow.


That sure is a lot of color. I'm not sure how the socks are going to look but I'm sure they won't match. They will be my crazy pair of socks.

I recently finished reading The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch and it was so good. The next book is on it's way to me in the mail and I hope it arrives tomorrow. I really want to bring it.

Now all that's left to do is charge cameras and phone, do laundry, pack my luggage, pack the U-haul, send off some mail, pick out driving music...

Oh, one last thing for Vermonters, Green-Up Day is coming up May 2. I've never participated before but I would like to. Anyone want to spend the morning picking up garbage with me?

Tuesday

[knitting] Chickadee in a Pool

"Pooling", with respect to knitting with multi-colored yarn, is when colors line up in a project, creating larger blobs of color. Knitters either hate it (me) and will go to great lengths to avoid it, or they like it.

Chickadee Cowl


The pattern is called "Chickadee Cowl". I chose it because of the linen stitch it employs (knit one, move yarn to front, slip one, move yarn to back, repeat), which helps break up color pooling. Only, I think the method would be more effective with thicker yarn and larger needles. I am using fingering weight yarn and size 7 needles, and the stitch pattern is still quite dense:

Pooling :(


My sister says she likes the pooling (you pool-lovers are crazy and I will never understand you), so I'm not ripping the project out. I didn't really have the heart to since the picture above shows about 10 - 12 hours of knitting. I'm knitting it Continental Style, which helps to speed up moving the yarn to the front and back every other stitch.

Friday

[knitting] Frooty Baby Hat

Baby Hat


This month's Hat Club selection is... Baby Hats! All the hats that we make will be donated to the Alice Peck Day Hospital's Birthing Center, which has a long-standing tradition of sending each newborn home with a hand-made hat.

To light a fire under our collective bottoms, I am giving a skein of my handspun to the top three hat-makers:

Hat Club Prizes


The hat above was knit with leftovers from a pair of Fruity Socks that I made last year and I still have enough to make another. Maybe the two matching hats would go to a pair of twins?

Thursday

[knitting] Purple Wimple

Purple Wimple


Pattern: Wavy Feathers Wimple

Yarn: Jojoland Melody, one ball

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Notes: I made one of these before Christmas and gave it to my sister. I liked it so much that I had to make one for me. The pattern is good, error-free and intuitive. Mine has one wave less than my sister's. I remembered that I very nearly ran out of yarn making hers.

I'm trying to think of a good name for it. I've been saying, "It's a purple wimple- it's a pimple. Wait-" I'm not sure I want to call it that.

Should I make another in gray? A gray wavy feathers wimple... Then I would call it Gravy Feathers. I do like that.

Wednesday

[knitting] I've got wood... glovelets.

Amy's glovelets.


Pattern: Eric's Glovelets

Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit

Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)

Notes: Another project knit during my Portland trip. I had a skein of Sylvan Spirit kicking around forever and recently picked up this one-skein pattern at the Spinnery. Perfect. I used US 4 needles (instead of US 3) and there was no danger of running out of yarn.

The yarn itself is interesting:

50% Fine Wool/50% Tencel® brand Lyocell- A natural derivative of wood pulp from cultivated Southern oak and gum trees grown on land unsuitable for grazing.

Half wool, half wood!

The yarn is DK-weight and very pretty. It has a pretty sheen, I'm guessing from the Lyocell. There are color neps that add to the tweedy-ness of yarn.

Having said that, I'm not sure I like the feel of this yarn against my skin. I have no wool or other fabric allergies, so I'm blaming the Lyocell. I've washed the glovelets and they are more tolerable now, but I'm not sure how much I'll be wearing these.

The pattern is great. Very clear and no errors (that I came across). I'm tempted to get the Green Mountain Spinnery book...

UPDATE

Here's more information on Lyocell:

Lenzing Fibers
fibersource.com
Wikipedia

I've mostly seen tencel associated with sock yarns. From when I've read, tencel adds strength (even when wet) and wicks moisture away. It's worth mentioning that I washed these glovelets, laid them flat to dry on my blocking board and they were nearly dry the next day. 100% wool wouldn't have dried that fast.

Tuesday

[knitting] Envy

Sinful Ribbed Scarf


Pattern: Sinful Ribbed Scarf (source) (ravelry)

Yarn: Elizabeth Lavold Chunky AL, 4 balls

Needles: US 9 (5.5 mm)

Mods: I didn't use the recommended yarn- Classic Elite Sinful, 100% Cashmere, bulky weight, retails at approx. $50 per skein. You would need FOUR for this scarf. Browsing through all the projects listed for this pattern on Ravelry, I haven't seen anyone use the recommended yarn. I don't have disposable income enough to throw $200 at a scarf. But I digress...

I'm calling the scarf Envy because it's green, envy's a sin and I'm a little envious that I'll be gifting this off to a friend in NYC soon.

This was great, mindless, stash-busting knitting. The pattern is two rows, so there's no way you can't memorize it. It helped me to keep a marker on one side of the work so I knew which row was which. This scarf was also continental-knitting practice for me- I can work ribbing pretty fast c-style now.

P.S. This scarf is the dark blob on the bed behind Murderface in yesterday's picture.

Thursday

[knitting] Sea Socks

Here are the socks I knit during my Portland, OR trip last week:

See Sea Socks?


Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet DK

Needles: US 5

Pattern: No pattern, just followed directions for casting on toe-up socks and generic short-row heel instructions. The sock itself is stockinette, so that helped make the knitting go by faster. I don't love the short-row heel. For my next pair of toe-up socks, I will try to find instructions for a heel flap. I like working from the tow-up, though, because I can use every. last. bit. of yarn.

They are a little too big around for me but they are just the right length. Dollar pulled them on and they are just right around for him, but not long enough. Where's Goldilocks when you need her? (I hope she has short, wide feet but I doubt it.)

I finished them last Wednesday night in my hotel room and wore them to the office on Thursday. My co-workers were like, "OOOoohhhh, that's why you've been hunting all the yarn stores in Downtown Portland." I think I went to all three that are downtown: Knit Purl, Dublin Bay Knitting Co., and the Knit Knot Studio. I brought back a few skeins for my sister and I (things we can't get around here) and two bundles of fiber (BFL for her, Optim* for me).

Anyway, these socks are VERY soft. I see many more Happy Feet socks in my future (I knit a pair with the regular fingering weight Happy Feet last year), in both DK and fingering.

*Optim is a mechanically stretched merino that has had some of the crimp permanently removed. During this process, the fiber has become finer and has developed a luster that is visible after spinning. The spun yarn still retains some memory and feels as soft as cashmere.

P.S. If you want to come to White River Jct. this weekend, we're having our first ever fiber retreat: Chicks with Sticks. You can just come during the day if you can't stay overnight. Which is what I'm going to do considering the hotel is less than two miles from my house. Grafton Fibers is coming up and I can't WAIT to see their batts and needles in real life :)