Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Comedy festival knitting

The comedy festival started yesterday and I'm really excited about it. The last two years Leon and I have spent a week in Adelaide attending the Adelaide Fringe festival, and both years I have knitted ( knit, knat?) Leon's winter scarf while there. This year we didn't go to Adelaide, and so are seeing a LOT of shows in the Melbourne Comedy Festival. It's pretty much going to take over the next month, but who can complain about that much fun?
What this means though is that I will be catching the bus to work more often than usual, and hanging about in pubs, queues and various venues. So I cast on for the Lettuce Pullover. It’s a very simple stocking stitch in the round jumper, a relief after all the lace I have been knitting recently. What makes this special is the yarn - Malabrigo lace, in a colour called polar morn, which is blue grey with a pink tinge. Stunning. This mindless knit should be the perfect project for the next three weeks of comedy madness. Don't expect any finished projects for the next month or so, it's going to be all about the funny.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sharon learns to double knit, and doesn’t like it.

I named myself Sharondoubknit on Ravelry three years ago. Basically I knew that doubleknitting is what English people call 8 ply, and I was doing most of my knitting in 8 ply at the time. I vaguely knew that there is a knitting technique called double knitting, but I didn’t actually know what it was. Mainly I thought the name sounded good. Yesterday I cast on for a knitting project that used the double knitting technique. I have 40 stitches on the needles, and for each row you slip every second stitch, with yarn forward. So it’s slow like ribbing, and twice as slow because every stitch is moved twice to make a single round. After progressing with painful slowness for a couple of hours I had a good look at what I was doing – I was creating a double layer of reversible fabric. And then I realised I could do that by simply knitting in the round. I was working on a long circular anyway, switched to stocking stitch in the round and now the project is flying. Double knitting may have some application I’m not aware of, but right now Sharondoubleknit says no to double knitting. I’m considering changing my name.

FO - Pointelle Socks

Just a quick catch up post, as Leon and I were away in Ballarat for a 30th birthday party and to see his folks, and now are cleaning the house and getting things ready for the week.

I finishing Pointelle, another Cookie A pattern from Knit Sock Love. Its a fairly complex pattern, with every stitch charted. no pattern repeat at all. While I enjoyed the first sock, the second one gave me grief. I was knitting drunk, but that still doesn't explain how my stitch count ended up 12 stitches out: and the pattern was still intact. Very odd. I also knew, from the third inch, that this was a bad yarn / pattern combination. I forged ahead anyway, since I really wanted to knit with this yarn, because I dyed it myself and I am really in the mood for green. The pattern shows up a bit better in real life, and they are super comfortable.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Things I bought

I went online shopping a little while ago, and everything came in the mail yesterday. This is what I bought:

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock in the colours: Thraven, Lover's Leap, Manly yes but I like it too, Rosebud Grimm's Willow Wren.

All Socks that Rock Lightweight, except the one on the far right . Which is Socks that Rock Silky, and it's incredibly squishy and lush.

The dark grey is for a pair of socks for Leon. The rest is for pulling out when I feel sad, or when I want to plan a project, or when I just need some colour in my day.

Then I opened my second package, from Etsy seller One Fat Slug. This came wrapped in pink tissue paper. I was in love before I even saw the yarn.

2 skeins of 50 percent wool, 50 percent silk, dyed with walnuts. These are going to be knee high Lissajous. I think I'll knit them for socktober this year.

Also some cashmere sock wool. I haven't decided if I want cashmere socks or a cashmere shawl.

Then I went to a real bricks and mortar shop and bought shoes to show off my socks:

This is the first pair of shoes I have bought specifically for hand knit socks, which is all I wear these days.
Doc martens, my first pair for ten years!

I love the way they show off my hand knit socks. I love the way they feel, they are super comfortable. I love the way they are silent when I walk. I feel like ninja in sneaky silent comfortable shoes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

FO- Twinkletoes

Anna is one of my best friends, and someone I knit for quite frequently. Knitting for her and her two kids is the gift that keeps on giving back to me. Like the baby blanket I knit for her now three year old, which I noticed in her car last week.Like the time Anna drove me to Wondoflex, and her baby was dressed in the jumper I knit her. Two Christmases ago I knit Anna a pair of Twinkletoes . A couple of weeks ago Anna was driving me to Shepparton - although we did stop at the Bendigo Woollen Mills, just because we could. Did I mention Anna doesn't even really knit? Anyway, she mentioned her grandmother, whom I have met a number of times, is in wheelchair now, and she can't wear shoes, because her feet are all gnarled up. The nursing home had bought her some slippers, that Anna described as incredibly ugly. Could I knit her some shoes, like the one's I knit Anna? Of course:

I used left over Collinette Art from my February lady sweater, which is a beautiful soft, yet reasonably strong, singles yarn, and I knew these will not be worn in the same way as if she was walking. I quite like the way they came out, in the end.

But I really didn't enjoy knitting them. I don't like short rows, and these are basically a short row toe and a short row heel, with a few rows of straight knitting in between. I did something weird with the provisional cast on. I think it looks fine here, but I'm going to have to learn how to not twist the stitches in a figure of 8 cast on. They looked terrible until they were finished, which may be the nature of the design. Until I had done the finishing I thought they were going to be ungiftable. Now they are done, I think they look nice, and I hope they give Anna's Grandmother some joy.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

FO - Accidental BFF Jumper

I had such a glorious 4 day weekend. I spun for Leon's next jumper, I spun pussmerino and on Monday night I finished Leon's jumper. I'm really pleased with it, particularly the way the details that I designed came out. I love the shoulder line with the raglan cable.

I didn't initially plan to include the cables in the raglan line - it was an inspiration that came to me in the shower at work. Why do all my best thoughts come to me in the shower at work? I adore the line under the arms, onto the body, and the delightful way this souvenir yarn has knitted up with the cable pattern.

When Leon tried it on, the first thing he said was "At least there is an opening for my head". He reminded me that the first jumper I ever knit him, another Elizabeth Zimmerman, was initially too tight to go over his head. I had to reknit the entire neck. I offered to keep this one, if he doesn't like it, but Leon did not have to consider long to decide that this jumper was all his. Even when he is wearing it though, he will always be reminded of me, because I twisted my initial into one of the cables:

Technical specifications: Elizabeth Zimmerman Raglan, from Knitting without tears. 220 body stitches, arms started on 40 stitches, increased to 70. Pattern is a knit 2 purl 2 cable 4 back every 4th row, purl 2.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I own a yarn beast!

No, I didn't buy a sheep. Today I was brushing Princess Daisy, and she provided a pile of fibre. I carded it with some merino,
and got some lovely rolags, probably the best blending I've managed on the hand cards,

spun it on my favourite drop spindle and now I have 20 grams of merino / domestic short hair.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spinning and indecision

I finished the silk and wool for my 198 yard of Heaven shawl although for some reason in my head I keep thinking of it as 198 yards of happiness. I actually have 239 meters of wool plied with silk, and another 15 meters of Navaho plied silk, which may be enough for the cast off, as I plan to modify the pattern a little to make it larger and use up all the wool.

I'm working hard on spinning the corriedale that I cleaned. It spins like a dream, but the preparation takes longer than the actual spinning, so I have to allocate time to that. Luckily flicking the locks is nearly as much as fun as spinning: I take a clean lock, flick it with the little flick carder and FLUFF, a magic puff of easy to spin fibre.

I am actually going to leave the house today, I'm meeting a friend down the beach. This will give me a chance to keep working on Leon's jumper. I've finished the body and one sleeve up to the point where I need to join and have about half the second sleeve, so I think I will be joining tomorrow.

My indecision though is what to knit next. I want to knit everything, at the same time. I really want more green socks, and I dyed yarn for that last weekend. I really want to knit the shawl using the yarn I just finished spinning, because I so love knitting with my handspun. Leon would be gratified if I knit him a bow tie (don't ask) and Anna has asked me to knit her wheelchair bound grandmother a pair of slippers that look like shoes, as she can no longer wear shoes and Anna thinks she should have some decent footwear.
And now I put it down on paper I realise that certainly the slippers must come first, and I can worry about what comes next after that.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

On Saturday I went around to Jen's and dyed some sock yarn and fibre, using acid dyes, rather than the food colouring I usually use. I overdyed some boring beige Tofutsies, and am very happy with the result.
I also dyed some white alpaca I was gifted: can you believe that these were dyed using the same colour?
Then I painted all the left over dyes onto some plain sock wool I bought for this very purpose.

This is the front of the skein:
Turned over it looks like this:

And the answer to the question I led off with is: there aren't, but I've had Kermit singing that song in my head since Saturday, and now you do too.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An unintentional BFF jumper

When we were in China Leon and I stumbled across a yarn shop around the corner from the Forbidden City. The guy working there didn't speak any English, but, when I picked up this lovely dark grey wool he indicated it was sheep, by making horns with his fingers and and baaing! I bought 750 grams of wool in dark grey.

It looks like an eight ply. I'm pretty sure it's pure wool, because it felts, which is good, because I will be doing felted joins. I bought it in 2 big skeins, but when it came time to ball it up I discovered that within the skeins the yarn was divided into 50 gram lots, so I have 15 little balls of wool.

I was originally going to make a Jo Sharp cabled jumper for Leon, but I discovered the smallest size would give him 9 inches of positive ease. Also, it was knit in pieces, which really isn't as nice as seamless, and he thought the cables were too chunky. So I headed back to the inimitable Elizabeth Zimmerman. I decided to make a cabled seamless raglan. I'm hoping that I've done the maths right and the shoulder decreases will line up nicely. Only time and knitting will tell.

I designed (or thought I had designed) a cable and rib pattern that is, I think, pleasing to the eye. I was knitting happily away on it at knit night, when I looked over at Nicola's BFF sock. I looked back at the jumper sleeve I was working on. I realised they have a lot in common. I have unintentionally used the cable and rib pattern from Cookie A's BFF sock pattern. Still, it means if I have any yarn left over I can make him a pair of matching socks.

In other fibre related news yesterday I took a very long lunch break and went by the Spinners and Weavers guild shop. I bought some green dye, some more of the red silk so I can actually finish my red wool and some bright green silk thread, which I am going to experiment with plying with some army green I have. But first I am going to actually spin that beautiful Corriedale I have prepped from fleece. I'm not sure if I keep putting it off because 800 grams of three ply double knit weight is an intimidating amount of spinning or because I want to be spinning the pretty shiny colours.