Wednesday, July 30, 2008

County Fair time!

Fair time is here, and last week I went through my basket of finished items and came up withThis isn't all of the items in the basket, but it's the 'neat' ones, or ones (like the socks) that I really needed to include to add some balance to my entry form. There are 12 or so categories for knitted items at the fair, and one of them is "Gloves/Mittens/Scarf". That pretty much covers what I knit, excepting hats, for which there is no category. So that little pair of baby socks needs to be in there for balance. Don't you think? (Notice that I'm not trying to bring balance to my knitting. I'm bringing balance to my entry form. Maybe?)

Finished objects dropped off my needles like flies this past week, and some of them were so unexpected that I didn't enter them in the fair. I could add them, I suppose ... but I don't think I will. They would add nice balance. Have you ever seen anything less like a mitten than the below-pictured stashbusting compilation of yarn?

Such a pretty thing. The menfolk in the house use it as a football. Each point has about 3 grams of sock yarn in it, and the free pattern is here

I also finished up the Southwestern Latvians. They are cozy, and if I didn't already have a pair of mittens I loved, these would take up residence in the drawer of winter wear. But I do, so they won't. The pattern is from a graph in Latvian Dreams.
After finishing these, a tea cozy, plain vanilla hat, and felted slippers dropped off my needles in short order. (Really short. One pair of slippers = 4 hours of knitting.)

Coming up next month in the Puritan Reading Challenge: Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices. I'm ready for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mending and doodling

This has been a week of small things. And some not so small. For one, I no longer have a digital camera. Filia has been afflicted with Shutterbugitis, and I have bequeathed the camera to her. Most of the photo credits must now go her direction.
One thing a fledgling photographer has to deal with is cantankerous wildlife. Our dog has a homing beacon for anything laid on the floor. So, after the cardigan above was mended (I think a small child with scissors may have experimented a bit. Small child is now wielding the camera. The cardi has been in the mending pile for quite a while), we plopped it down for a good photo. Voila ... dog! If anyone recognizes this pattern, do let me know. It's from 1994 or so (at least, the knitting was) and I have no idea where the pattern came from.
I needed some basic knitting for the ride to church on Sunday. Voila, mittens. Stashbusting mittens, nonetheless! I still have two more balls of this, which will probably become a hat, or perhaps another two pairs of mittens.

The Shetland Shopper bag. Market bags have intrigued me for a while, so I put one on my list of things to knit. It stashbusted 74g of Cotlin.
And here is the fingering weight stash that needs busting. Actually, the non-sock, non-coned, wool yarn that needs stashbusting. This is what I studied and contemplated, along with Latvian Dreams, before diving into the Southwestern Latvians
The Bug Mittens. The Bugged Bug Mittens. Bleagh.

Fair time is rolling around, and today was preregistration day. I am definitely holding up my end of knitting in the county, and the display case will not be scantily populated. Some years, especially when the children were little, my entries were the only ones in the knitting category. The State Fair is another matter entirely, and I learned that they will only accept ONE PAIR of stranded mittens. Or any mittens with a color pattern. That will be a serious thing to consider between now and entry time.

I am delighted so many of my four readers are thinking about joining mom and myself for the Knit from Your Shelf 2009. (Perhaps followed by Knit from Someone Else's Shelf 2010, but that's planning TOO far ahead.) The rules are entirely flexible, but must consist of knitting things you haven't knit before, from bound printed matter in your house you haven't worked from before. For myself, I am excluding magazines. You can include them if you like. You do not need to set a goal of knitting something from EVERY book in your bookstash. The goal can be anywhere from one book to all of them. I think I have 7 or so books that need attention on my shelves. Off the top of my head, they are:
  • Knitter's Stash
  • Armenian Knitting
  • Meg Swansen Knits (or something like that)
  • Ann Feitelson's Fair Isle book
  • Fair Isle Sweaters Simplified
That brings me to an abrupt halt. The technique taught in the last book is a pet peeve of mine. Thus, let me footnote right here that, although one is to knit from the book, one must not knit ACCORDING to the book. I will use my own Fair Isle technique which I much prefer.

And you know, I think that's it for books I haven't used. Nope ...
  • Sally Melville's Color book
Now, THAT's it (after a cursory inspection of the shelf.) It looks like three sweaters, a vest, a hat, and I'm-not-sure-what will be coming off my needles next year.

Reference books need not be used, except as a reference. If you've got a stitch dictionary you've never used before, do something (a washcloth?) with a stitch from it. If you've got Knitter's Handbook and have never used some of the information in it, do so. Expand your horizons!!!

But not for another 5+ months.

Long before then, the fairs will be over. Time to go finish off a pair of mittens that will be getting entered in 7 days or so.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Plotting and Planning

I am, by nature, a plotter and a planner.

This does not mean I never fly by the seat of my pants. That happens quite often ... I will go smile at my stash, select some pretty colors, snag the ubiquitous set of 2.75 mm needles, look over a few graphs, study the corner of a doorframe, and cast on. One reason I knit quickly is self-defense. Without writing anything down, how will I make a second just like it? (Speaking of which, I really should cast on for Bug #2 tonight before I forget anything important.)

I plan globally, I suppose, and then wing the rest of it. So, although I know what we're doing this year in school (Henle Latin 2, NEM 2, Traditional Logic 2, Physical Science, Diogenes: Maxim and, um, something like a Humanities), that's about as detailed as it gets, and by mid-November will probably be as detailed as it is. Early September will have the most organization.

But the point of this post is, while I sit and knit (by the seat of my pants), I am plotting. And planning. And have you noticed, the Year of the Monthly Mitten is more than half over! I am keeping up with my goal of a pair of mittens per month. I am also being a good destasher and destashing each month. I may be overachieving a bit. Consider my project between needles right now ... the Bugs are destashing the yarn leftover from the Tour de Fleece mittens which were themselves a destashing of my fiber stash. So, not only am I destashing the destashings, but on a second pair of mittens in the same month. Don't think about it too hard, though.

My gaze looks forward to January. What will I do then? A year of shawls? Or sweaters? No, too big. I can knit a sweater a month, or a shawl a month, but the kind of sweater and shawl I delight in require DEDICATED knitting for a month, and I have no desire to spend an entire year making a scant 12 projects and doing so in a highly focused fashion. I like the freedom to make small things. Like a market bag. But another year of mittens seems unwarranted (any bets I'll be mitten knittin' anyways?) and socks aren't calling my name.

What about hats, you ask. Hats are a pretty canvas, and small. True, they are. And a year of tams would work nicely with destashing, but it does not inspire me. Nor does a year of baby stuff.

And then, I had an idea. A poll! Write down a lot of ideas, share them, and let my four readers vote. Being the dutiful daughter I am, I ran this idea past my mom. She liked it, listened to my options, and then told me which one I was going to do. (Well, not really, but by the time I finished discussing the options with her, it was the only one that sounded appropriate) And, because I can never sit on surprises, and love knitting company, I am going to toss the idea out here so you can think about it, let it stew, and perhaps join us.

2009: Knit from Your Shelf

The rules are flexible and fuzzy at this point, but here's the general idea.
  1. Look at your shelf (pile, bag, stack, tower, bookcase) of knitting books.
  2. Ask yourself if you have knit at least one thing from each book.
  3. If the answer to #2 is 'yes', invent your own rules.
  4. If the answer to #2 is 'no', consider these rules:
  • Start with the leftmost book which you have not used. Pick a project from it. Make it.
  • Move on to the next book on the shelf which you have not used. Pick a project. Make it.
  • etc.
There's no 'monthly' thing about it. That will allow me (and you) to pick Gorgeous Humungous Adorable Projects that will take most of your knitting time for 2 months, and not feel guilty. If there was a time limit, I'd be making the dishcloths from Knitter's Stash instead of one of the sweaters in there which is the reason I got the book. And I still may make the dishcloths, but only because I didn't want to buy the yarn for the sweater.

You need not include books you get during the year. Set your own goal. I think I have 7 books on my shelf in an 'unknit' condition, and I'd like to make something from each of them. My mom has a few decades worth of Workbaskets on her shelf, and I think she'll have a different goal.

Time to go cast on Bug #2. And think about what I should do for vacation knitting and hospital knitting. I've less than a month to plan the first!

Monday, July 14, 2008

You'd Think I Was a Shoemaker

Isn't it the shoemakers children that are supposed to go shoeless? I make slippers, true, but this is getting ridiculous.
Especially for 20 mile hikes.
The pair of shoes with attached soles, cushioning, and no drainage at the toes lives in the closet. Can anyone tell me why? Actually, I think I know the answer. It's three letters long, and is something like B-O-Y.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries

Something for you to feast your eyes on, Rachel! Either the birds are ignoring the tree this year, or we are staying one step ahead of them by the grace of God.

Here is our garden's "semi-bush" acorn squash. I had no idea that anything semi-bush would grow to four feet and threaten to take over the pear tree we planted last year. The watermelon are underneath the squash, and it seems to have designs on the tomato cages around it as well. I just hope we get some squash off it!
Tomatoes. Green. Unfried.
Tour de Fleece Latvian Mitten, ready for top decreases. It's 6.5" in circumference before blocking, so I'm guessing it will be just right for a young girl. Although with the colors, a discerning boy of the right age would work as well. I know one thing--it's going to be TOASTY WARM.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Knitting After 9 PM

But first, a note about plying. (And even before that, about wool balls. They can be used as pincushions, cute decorations, children's toys, pet toys ... or stuck in odd places and left there forever.) Plying, however. My lovely gray yarn almost plied itself. I knew I wanted a high speed whorl so I didn't have to sit and treadle forever, and so I set up my wheel accordingly. I treadled, let the twist accumulate, and then whooshed the yarn onto the bobbin. But it didn't whoosh. The whorl and bobbin were too close in size to whoosh properly.
So, I experimented. I discovered if I just let the bobbin pull the yarn in, the plies were nicely twisted. And that left me with nothing to do but treadle and hold the yarn loosely in my left hand, so.
With my right hand, I wielded a camera, and then the book of the month for the Puritan Reading Challenge. I've never read while spinning before, but in this case, there wasn't much else to do. One hand was occupied, so I couldn't really knit, could I? Besides, I needed the yarn I was pling for the next round of the mitten.

I also had time to think, and I discovered (by consulting with various sources) that spinning wheels aren't supposed to go 'clunk' when one treadles. Stuffing a tissue between the crank and the footman helps temporarily, but I will keep an eye out for a longer-term, more elegant solution.

But now, the mitten. May I present Latvian Mitten from Graph 97, at 9:05 PM?
And then, the same mitten at 10:01 PM. Following Rachel's Rules of Knitting, I did have to frog the mitten a bit in there -- something about the pattern being different from what I had imagined it to be (ahem.) It still went along quite nicely, and I think it will be me-sized.
I'm not sure if I'm a Tour de Fleece dropout - my spinning wheel is ready to be put away for another season - or if I was a sprinter that finished early. 100 grams of fingering weight, spun and plied in 3 days.

Monday, July 07, 2008


Double-Bordered Scarf.

Next, one Wool Ball stuck on one of the maidens, and the current state of my spinning wheel. (The gray is what I'm working on; the white is left over from days gone by.)

Then, there's my two Stashbusting Scarves. Cotton Color Scheepjes,anyone? Or Bernat Renaissance?

Lastly, we have the current state of the Latvian mitten (artfully posed with a mug of tea and an experimental stash-busing doily in their natural habitat) and an even more artsy photo of "Dog in Window through Foreground of Harp Strings and Shawl during Summer."

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tour de Fleece ... the second day

Wool Balls are made by something like this process. I put mine in a mesh bag and tried hand-felting. It yields a ball with Great Crevasses ... rather like the last time I tried it, with 200 or so ends from the Fair Isle Mittens

I'm whizzing along on the Tour de Fleece. No pictures yet ... but today's progress includes finishing the spinning and plying of 48 grams Chocolate Brown, casting on and knitting the first 11 rounds of a mitten, finishing off Portable Project #1 (cotton scarf of donated Scheepjes slubby stuff), then starting and finishing off portable project #2 (scarf of Bernat Renaissance, 'Opal' - 40% mohair, 29% acrylic, 12 % Metallic Polyester, 14% W(ool?)) The yarn is so old that Ravelry doesn't know about it. And I have a label!

In addition, I have half of my gray fiber spun, and am ready to start bobbin #2. Can't do any more mitten knitten until I get the next color ready to go. And oh, does it spin like a dream! I love this stuff. No bugs, no casings, no little noils. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

No photos, of course. I've been too busy spinning it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Tour de Fleece ... begun!

I learned about the Tour de Fleece the same way much of the knitting world did ... from Stepahine Pearl-McPhee. Being in a destashing year (have I any other kinds?) I thought a fiber destash was a good idea. Little did I know HOW destashed my fiber would get from this.

The first thing, obviously, was to contemplate my fibers. And, being the knitterly kind, in a mitteny year, the most reasonable thing in the world was to contemplate my fiber with an eye to making a mitten. Or rather, two mittens. So, I trotted me off to my craft room to consider fiber.

A moth larva carcass got in my way. Or something close enough to one that it makes no difference.

I now have four batches of fiber (one of which I have NO idea where it came from) sitting on my front porch, far far far away from my yarn stash. I only saw one live critter, which was unwinged, and just a smattering of carcasses. But still ... why spin pre-chewed fiber? Especially if the bottom of the boxes and bags looks like someone spilled some yeast in there. That really narrowed down my considerings for the mitten, and I am happy to report my Tour de Fleece goal.

  • One pair of Latvian mittens, a combination of two patterns, in chocolate brown (as opposed to chocolate green, of course!), cream, and something in the middle I can't quite describe. Blue-gray? Fawn gray?
Progress to date: 50 grams of the first and latter fibers weighed out and sitting next to my spinning wheel, all happily set up downstairs. 40 grams of chocolate was spun today. The cream was lurking in my spun stash.

But now, what to do with the carcass'd fiber? I think I may play with felting it into balls. I've always like those wool balls, but never felt like buying one. Now, I have oodles of fiber (some of it already in ball shapes) that has an excellent reason not to be spun. Not wanting to let a good idea pass, I turned a beige ball of roving with a carcass or two in it into a wool ball today. I think the washer will do a better job ... hand felting leaves deep crevasses in the surface. But I have to more balls, then two batches of batts, and then all sorts of little cream colored locks to play with.

It is fiber destashing ... just not spinning.

When I was not spinning today, I was correcting teh to the, marveling at the ways the colon (punctuation, not body part) has been used and misused throughout the ages, reading Sayers' Strong Poison, doing other normal tasks (including the Killing of the Cucumber Beetles), and pitting another 7 lbs of cherries. That makes 14 lbs from our tree this year that have gone to US and not the birds. Not bad, considering that there are still cherries to ripen, and we don't have a ladder tall enough to pick from the top third to half of the tree. Today's lot turned into a double batch of pie filling and the leftovers are making a second batch of ice cream as I type. (crank twice, type three sentences, repeat)

The scarf is all nicely blocked. Photos will be forthcoming, one of these days. And one of these days, I *really* need to block some mittens and wash some socks. I have a small laundry tub full of such things to do. Originally, I was waiting for warmer weather. It's not March any more, so this may be the week. This has got to be the month, since several of the things will be visiting two fairs in August.