Archive for April, 2007|Monthly archive page

Good things come of spinning disasters too

Part First: The Purchase of the Disaster-Inciting Fibers

Last May I got to go to the Great Lakes Fiber Festival. I had been looking forward to it for months––it was a rough quarter (ain’t they all, honey)––and I fully intended to smother my sorrows in wool. The day’s greatest triumph was five lbs. of soft, white, fluffy, beautiful, soft, inexpensive alpaca. That purchase necessitated hand cards, and as for the rest of my purchases, I can’t recall how I rationalized the 4 oz. of superwash merino, few lbs.(!) of merino roving, 4 oz. of tussah and merino blend, and 2 oz. of tussah silk, but I obviously managed it with some skill. Being surrounded by massive amounts of beautiful fiber tends to make me lose perspective.

Part Second: The Initial Enthusiasm and Inability to Think Properly Make for a Bad Yarn

I was very excited to spin the silk, but I wanted to make it go farther, so I plied it with a strand of the alpaca. Then I spun a 2-ply alpaca of the same weight, and decided to try to make a cable yarn (oh, beginner’s arrogance!). I got one cabled yarn plied together, and then my drive band broke. Silly silly me, I didn’t realize I could fix it myself, so I ordered a new one. After it finally arrived, and I finished kicking myself in the pants for realizing I’d paid six bucks for a piece of twine, I fixed the old one and plied the other two 2-plies together…

…except it had been so long since I’d done the first one, I forgot to reverse the twist (it was about a month, with a trip and some house guests in between. Even still, I am fully aware how pathetic this is). Another kick in the pants, and the resulting yarn (?) went to live in a dark, dark drawer.

Part Third: The Return to the Site of Spinnerly Humiliation, and Subsequent Reconciliation

But I couldn’t give up on it. Months later, I kept thinking about my defeat at the hand of a yarn made from an animal I’d touched, and whose every fiber had passed through my fingers several times. So, I did the only logical thing: I unplied both cabled yarns. I don’t even remember how I did it. I think I used my homemade racecar wheel spindle to untwist the 2-ply strands, and then wound them onto bobbins on my Lazy Kate. I remember being in a very bad mood for some reason––also forgotten and I’m sure that’s a good thing––but whatever it was, it inspired the heightened degree of self pity necessary for such a tedious task. The end result was a few hundred yards each of 2-ply alpaca and 2-ply alpaca and silk, full of the, ahem, character common to the bronze era of my spinning career, that were welcomed once more into the light.

Part Fourth: All’s Well that Keeps my Hands Warm

Finally, inspired by cold fingers at the keyboard and many many blog posts about handwarmers, I started knitting. I thought about using Eunny’s handwarmer pattern, but it just wasn’t quite right. The yarn was too hairy and inconsistent to show the pattern. Instead, I Kool-aid dyed the silk/alpaca yarn this and started a winding, stranded rib-ish pattern. The end result is that I got me some of these, and I love ’em. I’m especially proud of the way the pattern shapes the thumb gusset. I made up the left hand on the fly, and then had to figure out how to reverse it for the right hand. Given the tale we’ve just been through together, I’m sure you can understand the mental triumph this represents for me.

Please pretend both handwarmers are occupied.


Salina and Forecast- BFF


Good things do come of weekends with lots of work…two finished projects! Shown here in their lazy blocking state (otherwise known as lay flat to dry), they are obviously as enamored with each other as I am with them. Modeled shots will follow. Both are modified quite a bit from the originals, though, and I didn’t exactly record all of the changes I made. Any details will be a little sketchy, like “I kept going until I stopped.”


(Other potential post title: “Finally, my beloved washer and dryer make the blog. If only they hadn’t eaten one of my Embossed Leaves socks!”)


Insanity is hereditary


My dear mother MADE all of these purses (plus one more that I swiped pre-picture; that’s 30 total) in the past few months on a whim. Makes me feel downright normal, in spite of the awe of her talent in choosing the fabrics, making up the pattern, and of course sewing them all. I am working hard to inherit the fabric genius, but that will be a post for another day.


Who has to go away so the cats can play?

This is the scene in our kitchen upon arriving home from school.

How, I ask you, is the open cabinet accomplished without opposable thumbs? And by a cat who still stands directly behind the door when trying to go out? Need I point out the spilled catnip?

Note the escaping orange: Vada is not as innocent as she’d like us to think she is.

“That was a good trick too!”


(El Guapo to Lucky Day, after shooting him in the foot and before kicking the bucket)

Salina is coming along! I finished the fronts and did the collar yesterday, and today started a sleeve. Here is a brief glimpse into the thought process that went into all of the crazy modifications…

superego* (a long time ago): I wonder if it would fit better if I skipped the bust increases?

ego: yep.

superego: since I’m using a cotton/acrylic blend yarn, and am desperately in need of summer clothes, maybe I should make this with short sleeves.

ego: yep.

superego (upon finishing the fronts and three-needle BO to the back): How long are short sleeves anyway? And how wide? And gee, I wonder if my wacky stitch count will mess with the sleeves?

ego: yep.

superego: hmm, what do I do about that… brooklyntweed! Jared! Top-down, set in sleeves! link to tutorial! Go for it!

ego: yep.

Thus far I’m very happy with my sleeves. We’ll see how long they get!

*I have absolutely no idea if I’m using these terms correctly. Let’s just pretend I am…

Favorite sweater

vogue 19 view 2

I had originally envisioned this, my first handspun sweater, as a toss sweater: tossed on when working at my computer or just toodling around the house, tossed aside when leaving the house.

What ended up happening is that I love it, and wore this 100% wool marvel all day, even though it is the first day to hit 60 in quite some time.

vogue 19 view 1



pattern: Cabled Cardigan, from Vogue Winter 2007, #19

yarn- homespun Coopsworth, around 1 1/2-2 lbs. 9 hanks, approx. 130 yds/hank= 1,170 yds.


needles- size 6

18sts/ 4 inches
28 rows/ 4 in.

mods- obviously yarn and gauge, I made the sleeves and body shorter, picked up less sts around the neck, did a three-needle BO for shoulders, and messed up one of the cables. The world will never know.

sneak preview

only the ends remain…

Silk garden chevron scarf

Yarn: 2 skeins Noro silk garden; color no. 84 and something else (helpful, ain’t I?)
Needles: size 10 1/2 (I knit reeeeeally loose)
Model: the tree, of course!

“Pattern”: CO 32 sts
Row 1 (RS): K.
Row 2: P.
Row 3: K1, k2tog 5 times, (k1, yo) 10 times, k2tog 5 times, k1.
Row 4: K.

Story: 1 lone ball of silk garden has been haunting me since August, when it failed to fulfill its potential of becoming a purse to carry with my most elegant and loved dress. $11 balls (skeins? What do you call that Noro roll of yarn, blossoms?) of yarn are not seen often in these parts, and I wanted to make the best of it. I also did not want to buy more $11 skeins to make this best. Then, thanks to the joys of knitting blogs, two forces collided: the silk garden mini clapotis and the chevron scarf from LMNG. When my LYS didn’t have the original colorway, I opted for this darker one (good call, I think) and ripped out my “swatch,” knitted from both ends of the original ball. That was very annoying. The knit was fast and fun, the yarn softened after a soak, the whole thing stretched to a respectable scarf length, and I am very very pleased.

my favorite things:

the concave end

the way these greens and reds met

leaves on the tree!

Happy Easter!

Good things in life

Studying all the time can be tough, unless you’ve got good company…

(above: Cherry Tree Hill potluck sock yarn, aka NYC 2006 yarn waiting patiently on my desk for TOP DOWN socks!?; left and right: Vince & Vada being helpful, as always.)