Archive for the “stash” Category

I’m making slow and steady progress on the Dancing Cranes stole, and last night I finished the leg of the second Cakewalk sock whilst watching the Cowboys make up for last year’s losses against the Giants. (Wooo! How ’bout dem Cowboys!) I’m planning to get a lot of knitting done on Sundays for the next few months now that the football season has begun! Football and sock knitting go together so well. It may be 90 degrees today but I’m already thinking about cozy afternoons by the fireplace, flannel shirts, warm knit socks, the colour of autumn leaves, and bowls of stew…

I’ve been thinking about something else, too, as the year comes to a close: writing up new patterns. At the end of last year I set a goal to design and publish at least two, so I’d better get working on that!

Yesterday I sketched out the designs for two stranded colourwork hats from this Lang Merino Superwash. I love these colours! I have two skeins of black as well, but no pictures of them all together. I should have enough for two hats here. A third hat design is tying my brain into knots and I think I’ll just have to knit it in order to understand it, but the armwarmers I’ve dreamed up should be easy enough for me to chart and knit up. I looked up stitch patterns and started to draw them together for a scarfy-shawl, but that one will probably need to be swatched so I can see how the different stitches go together; my mind’s eye can’t quite visualize it.

The yarn that I’ll need for the armwarmers and scarfy-shawl (stole? shawlette? wide scarf?) is already in my stash, so making up these designs will also help with the goal of using up more yarn than I bring in this year. I’m not quite sure I’m going to meet that goal… but I’m trying!

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Now, I know some of my Tygershark crew-mates read this blog, and I know how quickly word gets around, so I’m only going to say this: I bought the yarn for a secret project. I’m not going to say who it’s for – but the yarn is black, with real (!) silver plied into it, and that should give a big enough hint to those who know. I’m not going to say what the project will be or when I’m going to be able to knit it up, because at the rate things are going it might be two years before I get the chance. But I bought the yarn, and I have a plan for it.

While I was at it, I bought some solid Cascade Heritage sock yarn in navy, which I will need for heels and toes on at least three different pairs of socks which are coming from short-yardage balls, and in white, which I will need for the heels and toes on my tiger-striped socks. And, because I’m a sucker for Cascade Heritage is my favourite sock yarn, and because one more skein of yarn would push me over into the 20% discount territory and therefore make everything cost less than if I didn’t buy it, I got a skein of Heritage Paints too.

I could not resist that colourway. It’s called “Olympic Forest” (Can they use the forbidden “O” word? Will they be sued by the IOC? Will this be a limited-edition run of a colourway name, or is it okay now that the Games are over?) and it is so very me. Now, I just have to carve out some serious knitting time… more on that tomorrow.

(Pictures are from WEBS, since I don’t yet have the yarn.)

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I had a doctor’s appointment on Thursday that took me right by a Jo-ann, and so of course I stopped in, and of course I had a 50% off coupon with me, and of course I had to buy some sock yarn. Darn it. The Kroy line has such good colourways!

On Saturday I went to MD Sheep and Wool intending to buy only one or two things, and I was able to keep to that goal. I wandered around for much of the day without buying anything. When I was about ready to head home, I walked past the Fold’s booth and was surprised to find it empty-ish… and doubly surprised to find a skein of Socks that Rock that I wanted to bring home with me. It’s called “Smokey Mountain Morn,” and looks very much like the view from my front window on a foggy day.

Then I was convinced to buy this rainbow-y braid of superfine merino from Woolgatherings. I don’t yet know what I’m going to make with it, but it sure is pretty!

I took lots more pictures of the festival and will be sharing them throughout the week. Hooray for the new camera!

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I totally rocked my Saturday.

There was a lot to do: garbage dropoff, a trip to the hardware store, grocery shopping, fishpond maintenance, cat brushing and yardwork. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming to face a day like this for the first time on my own. But I sat myself down with a cup of coffee (which I made without any sort of coffeemaker at all, because all the coffeemaking devices left with Pirate-Ex, but which was awesome nonetheless and possibly even more awesome for not needing a specialized device) and told myself, “Self, you can be anyone you want to be. Do you want to be someone who goes wah wah wah I can’t do this it’s too much, I hate being a girl in a hardware store and I know nothing about fishponds or do you want to be someone who goes HECK YEAH (I may have used a stronger word than ‘heck’) I can TOTALLY do all this! RAWR! I am going to STEP UP!

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one who knows me, I chose RAWR over wah wah. (Useless trivia: my desktop computer is named RAWR.)

And to reward myself for being RAWR I stopped at the local artsycrafts store and bought the sock yarn I’ve been ooh’ing at – do those stripes say “I want to be Jaywalker Socks“? Maybe! or maybe they’ll just be plain socks! – as well as three colourways of Sugar and Cream for washcloths and a new swiffer mop cover as the old one doesn’t fit quite as well as I’d like anymore. The mere thought of knitting anything else in cotton makes my fingers seize up in protest, so I’m going to make up a crochet pattern for it if I can’t find one I like.

(Conveniently, I had a 20% off everything coupon for the artsycrafts store in my pocket.)

I expected the cats to get between my camera and the yarn, but for the most part they were quite well-behaved. Kipling snuck into the frame once or twice…

Anyway, it was such a successful day. I tossed garbage bags and didn’t hesitate to ask for help in the hardware store and bought only healthy groceries within my budget, and I fixed the fishpond all by myself without even getting too wet, and raked leaves and cleared two flowerbeds and I even ran up the driveway, and despite (because of?) all this activity my back isn’t even complaining too much. Also, I brushed the cats, since they’re shedding for springtime. One cat absolutely loves being brushed and the other only barely tolerates it. Can you guess which cat is which?

Oh yeah, so making coffee without any coffee-making devices! You’ll need a heat-resistant glass measuring cup (I’d say a Pyrex, but mine’s actually Anchor Hocking. Either way, one of those.) and a good strong paper towel, like Viva. Add the right amount of boiling water into the measuring cup. Now, you don’t actually want your water to be boiling when you put the coffee in; you want it to be a few degrees less, but when the water hits the glass it’ll cool down just enough. Then put coffee on top of the water. The general recommendation is for two tablespoons of coffee per eight ounces of water (about 240 ml). Don’t stir for 90 seconds, just let it float and bloom on top of the water. Then stir and wait another 90 seconds or so. The coffee shouldn’t be in the water for more than four minutes total, or it’ll get bitter. Pour through the paper towel into your mug; most of the grounds should have already sunk to the bottom of the measuring cup anyway. Et voila, coffee sans coffeemaker!

I bought more coffee at the grocery store. I’m determined to perfect this method. My first attempt was strong but sour; the suggestion I found was to use *more* coffee rather than less to avoid sourness.

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This is the official end of the year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2011:
33.5 ounces fibre acquired at Maryland Sheep and Wool

Outgoing fibre in 2011:
Er… I spun a little bit. Not a lot. Way more came in than went out.

Incoming yarn in 2011:
7 skeins of Red Heart for my first crocheting project
1 sock yarn for Michael
3 Lang Merino DK for Winterlude-inspired colourwork hat and armwarmers
1 skein sock yarn at Rhinebeck
2 balls Patons Kroy Socks FX
5 balls Sugar ‘n Cream for washcloths
1 ball Serenity Sock Weight in navy for heels and toes on socks
4 balls Elann Silken Kydd for shawl

24

Outgoing yarn in 2011:
1.5 – Baby Surprise jacket
2 – Michael’s Fleeps
3 – Winterlude Hat ™
2 – time traveling Jaywalkers
7 – Hexagon blanket
6 – Sweaters for the twins
1 – gave a ball of sock yarn to Mom
1 – white washcloth
1 – blue washcloth
1 – argyle washcloth
1 – greens washcloth
1 – Quick Relief socks

27.5

There are some fair amount of leftovers from the hexagon blanket and the twins’ sweaters, unfortunately. On the other hand, the leftovers may come in handy for swatching, experimenting, or knitting little toys. Still, more yarn went out than came in, and I’m pleased with that!

The Year in Knitting (and Crocheting):
2011 Projects

Favourite project:
I think that prize would have to go to the Winterlude Hat(tm), for being the only thing I knit this year of my own handspun. Between the wool and the fleece lining it’s a super warm hat, even if I think I made the lining a little on the small side. It stays on just fine when I tie it under my chin!

Least Favourite project:
Unfortunately, it was the Presto Chango sweaters. I am a little sad that I didn’t put as much love into my niecelets’ sweaters as I wanted to. Had I used a different yarn, I might have felt differently about them. The pattern was great, but the KnitPicks Swish and I didn’t get along very well.

Patterns Published:
None. But I have ideas! Many, many ideas…

For Next Year:
I know it’s a mistake to make too many resolutions, so here are the things I *want* to do, and if I get some of them done I’ll be happy!
– spin more
– knit something with handspun yarn
– design and publish two new patterns
– try a new sock architecture
– finish Napramach and the Stripy Socks
– finish the Dancing Cranes stole in time to wear to a wedding
– cast on for fancy cabled knee socks
– use up more yarn and fibre than I purchase
– get some stock in the Etsy shop

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After I’d taken pictures of many sheep, I met up with friend Holly at The Fold’s booth, where we tried to resist buying every single skein of Socks that Rock. The colourway that I was looking for was nowhere to be found, unfortunately.

For the next several hours we perused as many of the vendors’ offerings as we could. Despite my best efforts to buy nothing, I had gone into the day knowing that I would probably buy something, and indeed I did:

Two braids of Blue-Faced Leicester in the “Stone House” colourway from Three Waters Farm. I’m not sure what I’ll make with this yet, which is why I went for two braids instead of one – I’ll have more options that way. BFL is great for socks, and with eight ounces I’d surely have enough for some nice tall socks. If I made regular-length socks, I’d probably have enough yarn left over for a second pair, or maybe armwarmers. When I unbraid it, I’ll decide whether I’m going to do a three-ply or a chain-plied yarn. I like the barberpoled look of a true three-ply, but then the striping of chain-plied yarn is tempting.


Two ounces each of Ashland Bay’s merino-silk blend in McKenzie, Concord and Sea Lilac will eventually become another colourwork hat. The spun-up samples of the two darker colours were nothing like what it looks like now; they were lovely heathered shades without any hint of striping at all. I’ll have to sample to see how to get that effect. While I do generally like to buy hand-dyed fibre from small companies or individual fibre artists, Ashland Bay’s fibres are always appealing not only because the colours are beautiful, but because the prep is so consistent; every piece of fibre is just as smooth-drafting as the next. The first real usable yarn I spun was from Ashland Bay fibre, so I guess I have a soft spot for it.


From Little Barn, eight ounces of unbleached tussah silk and eight ounces of silk noil for carding into blended batts. The drum carder is set up in its new station and I’m excited to get started on producing some beautiful batts. I have about 14 ounces of Corriedale top in a variety of solid colours, some undyed mohair and nylon that can be added in for sock blends, quite a bit of alpaca in natural shades, and now the silk.

Then, Holly gave me a bag full of Cormo locks that she prepped. I’ve never spun Cormo before and I’m really curious to try it! She warned me that while it’s clean, it does still have a bit of lanolin in it. I think I’ll try spinning it as it is, and then wash it in hot water with dish soap after it’s all plied up.

Being around so much fibre has gotten me anticipating this year’s Tour de Fleece, a spinning challenge that parallels the Tour de France. I’ve already joined “Team Kromski” as I’ll be spinning on Grace the Sonata. So far I haven’t set any goals for myself other than “spin daily, and spin more”. Last year I left the wheel out in the living room and was reminded to spin daily. This year with the cats I don’t think that would be the wisest of ideas. They think that Patience the Traditional’s drive band is a great toy and I can only imagine what damage they would do to any fibre I left unsupervised.

The only problem is that the Tour begins on July 2, and I’ll be out of town until July 5. So I won’t be able to start until the fifth day, and that puts me in the “Lantern Rouge” group of spinners who can’t quite do the whole thing but participate as much as possible. Will I be able to catch up and match last year’s spinning if I start late? Will the cats begin to hate me if I spend nearly three weeks locked away from them with my wheel? Will I actually set a real goal or will I just leave it as “spin daily, and spin more”? Time will tell…

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You know what this weekend is? The Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I’m going to head up there on Saturday morning.

You know what I’m going to buy? NOTHING. Last year I came home with two and a half pounds of fibre that I’d bought, and then I was given another three and a half pounds of wool roving and a goodly amount of alpaca fleece. So this year I really don’t need anything.

You know what else? I’m a big fat liar. I can’t go there and buy NOTHING. That’s just an impossibility. But I’m not going to buy a LOT, okay? The only really splurgey thing I might get, if I find one, is a box picker to fluff up the eight pounds of alpaca fleece that’s too compacted to run through the drum carder the way it is. One day I’d like to have a triple picker and a supercard, but that day is not today.

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Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.
How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

Once upon a time, my entire yarn stash fit into this picnic basket. The top tray held all my tools, needles, and the ball bands from yarns I’d used. Underneath, I put all the yarn I owned. These days I laugh at that. The top tray of the basket still holds tools, but the main compartment is now completely reserved for handspun yarn – and it’s filling up!

I bought a bunch of large plastic totes at Costco, and sorted my yarn into them. One holds only sock yarn. Two are stuffed with raw alpaca fleece waiting to be carded and spun. A third has my collection of dyed fiber and a fourth has batts that I’ve carded and haven’t yet gotten the chance to spin. Yet another tote is for heavier yarns and leftovers from previous projects. I don’t have a picture of the totes, because it’s not really that impressive.

Right now all of this resides in my loft room, but the plan is to move them downstairs when Pirate-Husband and I finish building out the craft room in the basement. That should open up a lot of space for me upstairs. Who knows, I might even start letting the cats go in there!

Almost every yarn I own has been photographed, and each one has a listing in my Ravelry stash. That helps me to keep track of what I own, and when I’m having a bad day I can pull up the stash photos and think about the different projects that I’m going to make with all that beautiful yarn. I like making lists, so I’ve crosslinked my yarns with the projects in my queue. Of course, I don’t always work from my queue in order… but at least the organization is there.

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Once again, I visited my sworn-sister the Knitting Ninja (along with a bunch of other friends) in her hometown of Ottawa for the annual Winterlude festivities. In addition to the usual things we do there – eat stew at the cook-off, drink lots of beer, buy fancy cheeses and make a meal of them, watch the Super Bowl – we visited two yarn stores.

Our first stop was the new Yarns Etc., where I acquired a skein of Cascade Heritage Paints in the understated blues and grays “Thunder” colourway. Understated blues and grays… if you’ve been following along for a while, you may have guessed that this is going to be socks for Michael. (And if you haven’t, now you know!) I have no idea when I’m going to get to them, and first he has to tell me where the last pair of socks could fit better, but eventually there will be a new pair of plain ribbed socks for him.

Since it was within blocks of our hotel, we walked down to Yarn Forward. Last year I’d gotten two skeins of Lang Merino 120, a smooth DK weight superwash yarn, in black. This year I supplemented them with three more skeins, one each of cream, green, and blue-ish. The colours aren’t exactly wintery, but somehow they remind me of winter. Blue and green are more springlike, but with the cream in there they make me think of ice. So I’m thinking of designing a Winterlude-inspired hat and armwarmers set to be my very first for-sale patterns.

To that end, I wandered around the ice sculptures in Confederation Park looking at, and sneaking pictures of, people’s hats. There was lots of inspiration to be found, since of course in February in Ottawa it’s cold enough for nearly everyone to be wearing a hat, and many of them are hand-knit.

Many of them also have earflaps, which was my motivation last year to knit the hat that I didn’t want to buy. I finished sewing the lining into my Winterlude Hat(tm) just a day before leaving, and got the cords in with some help from Pirate-Husband, and was quite pleased with how warm it was while I traipsed around Ottawa. There are a couple of things that I would change, if I were to be making it again: first, I’d make the earflaps wider. They are wider than my ears, but still let wind in unless I tied the cords under my chin. And second, I’d make the lining a teensy bit larger, because it felt as if the hat kept riding up on my head unless I tied the cords under my chin. So third, I’d make the cords a couple of inches longer, because it was hard to tie them while wearing gloves. Even without those things, I absolutely love my new hat. Wearing something made of yarn I spun myself is so gratifying! The polar fleece lining kept me from having a terrible case of hat hair, which is definitely a good thing. (I know I’m squinty in this picture. It was very bright out.)

Speaking of gloves, there’s another finger to repair on my Fleeps. They still kept my hands warm, though I can definitely feel that they’re getting thin. Maybe I can wear them for another year, but then it will be time to make another pair for myself. Meanwhile, Michael’s new Fleeps made their debut and did their job wonderfully. He says he’s going to show them off to everyone, and I totally believe him. The magnet-snaps that I sewed in are seriously awesome. My next pair will definitely have those included.

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End of year tallying-up post!

Incoming fibre in 2010:
3572 grams / 7.8 pounds – some handpainted top, some natural roving. Nearly four pounds of wool and one pound of alpaca were unexpected gifts to me! And I won a lovely 4 ounces of combed top in the Tour de Fleece, pictured here. It’s the brightest fibre I think I’ve ever owned.

Outgoing fibre in 2010:
Spun 450 grams / almost one pound. Participating in the Tour de Fleece sure helped with that number, but I’m hoping and planning to spin even more next year. Knitting with handspun yarn is a wonderful thing, and therefore I must make more yarn so that I can knit with it. This three-ply Corriedale would make great thick armwarmers, and I have some foresty green and gold merino/silk that would be wonderful as gloves or socks, and some bluesy-green Falkland that would be perfect as a hat.

Incoming yarn in 2010:
28 skeins in, which seems high, except eleven of them are small skeins for the twins’ sweaters.

Outgoing yarn in 2010:
19 skeins out, if I include the almost-done projects in my count. That might be cheating a bit. Twelve, if I only count 100% finished projects.

Here are the things I knit this year! Five pairs of socks, three of which were gifts. One pair was made from my very own handspun yarn. Two baby hats and a pair of baby booties, and an adult-size hat. Three more projects – Michael’s Fleeps, a hat and a secret baby gift – are very close to completion. Wow, I only finished two things for myself this year? Crazy.

Favourite project:
If I have to pick a finished project, Pirate-Husband’s Paraphernalia socks were the most fun to work on. Keeping them secret was part of the fun, and so was modifying the pattern to fit his feet.

If it’s not cheating too much to pick a project that’s not 100% completed, I’m going to say the Winterlude Hat(tm). It’s knit from two-ply Jacob yarn I spun myself, it was a fun challenge to do the colourwork and get it even, I learned how to do a crocheted edging, and it’s going to be the warmest hat ever after I line it with polar fleece.

Least Favourite project:
If I have to pick a project that I finished, I think it would be the Gnome Hat and Booties. Not because there was anything wrong with the pattern, but because the yarn was no fun to work with.

Since I liked everything I finished this year, I’m going to go back to an unfinished project and say the Kureyon socks. I love how they look, but knitting with the Kureyon sock yarn is no fun for me at all. Perhaps I will buckle down in 2011 and get them done, already, and never buy this yarn again. Some people really like it, so I’ll leave it to them.

Patterns Published:
Two! First the Sibling Socks, a fine-gauge sock that grew from the need for a suitable pattern to use with Trekking XXL at 45 stitches per four inches. Then, in a more sensible gauge, the similar Cakewalk Socks.

I’d like to release at least one new pattern in 2011, and maybe even two of them! I’ve got plans in mind, it really will just come down to having enough time to sit down and work on them.

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