Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chihuly Update!

Hooray, the significant other finally got our photos from the Chihuly exhibit at the De Young posted on Flickr! He took most of the pics, but I did snap a few of them (although darned if I could remember which ones...)

Oh, and since this is still a knitting blog, if you look through the set you can see my Honeybee stole out on its maiden voyage. Nothing makes a girl feel fancy like wearing a lace shawl to an art museum!

Color and Cardigan

Hi everyone, sorry it's been such a long time between posts. This month has been busy-busy-busy, and not just for me! Seems like the autumn is just slipping away from everybody I talk to. It's definitely getting a little chilly in the mornings around here, and the ground at work is covered in oak leaves, which makes me smile.

Pacific School of Religion

So Saturday was Color: Fall 2008, and it was another beautiful day in the East Bay. Wow has the festival grown! See how we have TWO tents for the spinners in the picture? There were also double the number of vendors, and it definitely seemed like there were more people floating in and out throughout the day. I took two classes, which left me a little more time to sit and chat and browse the market, and I wasn't nearly as brain-dead by the end of the day as I was in April. I took Spinning from the Lock with Maia, where we basically learned the various ways to spin fleece directly from the lock (without turning it into a carded batt or roving or combed top). We spun some basic wool (no particular breed), some Romney, and dyed and undyed CVM (California Variegated Mutant), all still in lock form. Here's the plied results:

Spinning from the Lock Class

The Romney was fun, I don't think I'd spun that one before. I also took Kristine's Fiber Prep class, where we looked at handcards, combs, and drum carders. Kristine brought her drum carder and a bag full of random fiber, and let us all make batts! Super-fun. These were not huge, thick batts, maybe an ounce (or less) each, but I had SO much fun spinning mine up later that evening. I was so excited about it I forgot to take photos of it before spinning, but it was some black BFL fiber along with some green wool/silk and mohair locks. I can see why people go all crazy with their drum carders, there is a sense of adventure when you're using one (is it shiny? Sure! Throw it on the tray!)

Fiber prep class batt

So we were essentially playing with different fiber prep techniques, and I had enough foresight to bring along some of my clean locks, so I got to try out the combs! Yippee! Here's the comb set-up, along with a little cloud of my combed Cormo and the pile of waste fiber (yikes!).

My combed locks!

We had stations set up to use the drum carder and two sets of combs, and just spent the last 45 minutes or so playing with fiber!

Fiber prep class

I really wanted to try every different hand-produced prep method I could before deciding how to process my fleece, and I feel like I accomplished that goal during this festival. So now I have little samples of yarn, all spun from the Cormo, in a variety of different preps and spinning methods. I did two yarns that were combed, one spun worsted on my Maggie, one spun woolen on the Mt. Rainier; one yarn spun woolen from a carded rolag, and one yarn spun worsted from flicked-out locks.

Worsted-Woolen Prep Rainbow

The picture doesn't have my worsted-spun combed yarn, because I spun it after taking the picture (oops)! I knit them all up into a little sample (pictures later), and I'm stuck between the true worsted and the yarn spun from the lock. Surprisingly, the lock-spun yarn feels rather slick and nice, even compared to the combed fibers. I can't tell if that was just part of the fleece that perhaps didn't get quite as clean as the rest, or if the different texture is a result of the prep method. The true worsted yarn came out very very squishy and just looks more like a sweater yarn than any of the others, but I also spun it on a different spindle than the others, so I might just be biased because it's a thicker yarn. I definitely didn't like the carded rolag yarn for the kinds of projects I have in mind for this fleece, though. I've had one of the cabled sweaters from the book A Fine Fleece kicking around in there for a few weeks now, so I picked up a copy of the book from the marketplace after classes. Some Ravelry folks did a potluck lunch, and man did folks bring the tastiest food! It was a very long, very fun, very fibery day. I came home exhausted, with my name tag still stuck to my shirt and my addi turbos around my neck for safe-keeping, and wanted to stay up and spin all night long. I can't wait for the next one!

In other knitting news, the Rivendell socks are on hold since I got to the boring foot part. I also need to figure out the length of the potential recipient's feet before I go on so I don't put the toe at the wrong place. In the meantime, I have been itching to cast on another sweater since I finished the Tangled Yoke to such great success.

The February Lady sweater has been all the rage on Ravelry (up to nearly 2500 projects!), so I picked up some yarn and, like a very good and patient knitter, made a nice big gauge swatch. I swatched in both garter stitch and the lace pattern in three different needle sizes (US 8, 7, and 6), and even washed the swatch again and double-checked my measurements before casting on. Even though the pattern recommends US 8's, I got gauge on my 6's, so I dutifully trusted the swatch and worked on the raglan increases all this week. Last night, after trying on the nearly-completed yoke for the sixth time (first two try-ons in a cafe in public with other knitters, the rest at home) I realized that the neck is actually too small. My brain had a very difficult time accepting this state of affairs. It whined at me: "But we got gauge! And it doesn't look like it's going to choke anyone else on Ravelry, even when they knit the size small! And dammit, I want to knit on the stupid thing after I did all that stupid math to figure out how to spread 47 yarn-overs evenly over 219 body stitches!" I might have stamped my foot in girlish petulance. I'm sure I dreamed about this sweater, agonizing in my sleep whether to bravely trudge on or rip it out and try a new needle or pattern size.

Finally, after a (not so restful) night of sleep, I decided to hang the gauge swatch. The thing is too constricting about the neck, and I need to go up at least one needle size for this pattern size. Still struggling over how it came out wrong when I did everything right, I had an epiphany while brushing my teeth. I grabbed the half-ripped-out yoke and snatched up my tape measure. My heart pounding in my chest, I picked a random spot on the yoke I'd just spent the last 12 hours agonizing over. I laid down the tape measure, lined it up with a garter ridge, and slowly counted stitches. I counted twice, people, just to be sure. And then compared it to my gauge swatch. These are the following results:

Gauge swatch: beautiful, even, LYING 18 stitches per 4 inches

Sweater: lovely, squishy, DECEITFUL 19.5 stitches per 4 inches

They were both knit with the same exact needle, my beloved addi natura US 6 (4.0 mm) 24-inch circular. The swatch was knit back-and-forth, and so was the sweater. I was dumbfounded that my gauge swatch could so easily have led me astray, but also relieved to know that I'm not bonkers and can still do basic arithmetic. I have learned that maybe (just maybe) if the sweater looks great on everybody else, and everybody else knit it on needles two sizes bigger than yours, and you sweater is a little small, it's okay to trust your instinct and go up two needle sizes. Especially if that means that you 16 stitches per 4 inches in the gauge swatch might translate to 17.5 stitches per 4 inches in the sweater.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Drive-by Blogging

Oh man, the weekend sure got away from me! I guess that's what happens when you work all day on Saturday. The significant other had to go in, and I hung out and did a major stack of work in solidarity and/or on the principle of misery loving company. And on Friday, when I typically start my blog posts, I had a few one-time important meetings to attend, so the blog just slipped away from me. So today you get the quickest of updates while I bolt down my breakfast before work.

Last weekend we went to see the Yarn Harlot, and her talk was absolutely fabulous as usual. The ladies who run the Knitmore Girls Podcast were there collecting audio from folks standing in line, and we each gave a little blurb. I knit on the Rivendell socks while we were there, but had to put them down when I got to rearranging the stitches for the heel flap- there was just too much counting for me to be able to hear Stephanie at the same time. They're coming along nicely now, I just need to figure out the length of the recipient's foot so I know when to start the toe.

I've been spinning some pin-drafted roving I bought at Boonville from Merry Meadows Farms this week (4 ounces each in white and naturally brown colored), trying to work on getting more even singles. The brown is finished (a nice fat 245 yards, 2-ply), and I'm about a third of the way through spinning the singles for the white. My goal is to get a more consistent yarn instead of just letting the fiber go through the wheel willy-nilly, to get some practice for spinning my fleece. If I really want to do a sweater, I'll need to be able to make a consistent yarn.

Ah, the fleece. Through some strange alignment of fate, I managed to wash a double batch this weekend (hmm no wonder I didn't have time to blog) and now it's almost finished! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. For some reason I was sure I wouldn't have the entire thing washed for months, but I only have one more washing batch before it's all done. Last night after everything was dry I poured out all the locks to look at the colors and just squish huge handfuls of sheepy fluff in my hands. Yum! I also prepped some locks in a few different ways with my handcards to see what I like and what I'm willing to live with. I like getting all the little neps out of the fiber before spinning, and even though I'm getting better and better at making rolags with the cards, I don't think that's the way I want to go with this fleece. It's a pretty fine wool, and I think the neps will make the yarn too lumpy for my tastes. Which brings us to upcoming events: this coming Saturday is Color! I'm so excited to see my favorite local vendors and fiber friends all in one place. I'll be there all day, and I'm only taking two classes this time. Last time I did three, and it was a little ridiculous. I'm registered for the Fiber Prep class and Spinning from the Lock. Can you tell I'm getting ready to spin this fleece?

Sorry for the lack of pictures, but the camera has been stranded and hasn't been hooked up to a computer for a week! I'll take pictures at Color for y'all, and next time tell you about my new project (I know, I'm weak).

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blogging in the Wild

This morning I'm writing from an internet cafe with reasonably good hot oatmeal down by the ocean. It's been foggy and cooler in the mornings over the past few days, signaling the end of San Francisco's late-clinging summer season. It's not quite cold enough for me to need my sweater indoors, but if I decide to take a stroll along the beach after finishing this I'll need it to keep the chill off.

Looks like once a week is pretty much the norm for blogging while school is on, huh? I guess I should just try to accept the reality of my schedule, now that I'm almost halfway through the semester. It's been crappy picture-taking weather, too, but I don't have all that much to show you guys anyway.

Tigget's Hollow Wensleydale

I love the colors on this yarn! Yummy yummy yummy. The wensleydale is still waiting for its bath, and I didn't start a new spinning project this week, mostly because the rest of the weekend slipped away from me. If you're not up to date on the latest San Francisco news, this past Saturday was the grand re-opening of the California Academy of Sciences. The new location is in Golden Gate Park, right across from the De Young museum and really close to lots of other fun places like the Japanese Tea Gardens, the Rose Garden, the Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Shakespeare Garden (man, we like us some growing things in SF, don't we?).

We were insanely lucky and managed to get tickets to the Chihuly exhibit before it closed at the De Young, and it was just incredible. The significant other was in charge of the camera, if I can find the photos I'll share some next time.

And then on Saturday, we went out for our usual brunch and decided we would go look at the spectacle around the new Cal Academy. Entry was free on Saturday, and it seemed like everyone in the city descended on our little corner to try and find parking. There was a line of cars extending out to 19th Avenue (the entrance to the park is at 9th Avenue, for comparison). It was just a little ridiculous. We already had plans to go with out-of-town friends on Sunday, so we didn't hang out too much in the crowds. On Sunday things were much more chill, and the new Cal Academy is really wonderful. It was still too crowded for us to get into a planetarium show, but we will definitely be going back, and probably soon. The exhibits are well-done, I love watching the penguins, and I really did learn new things during our visit.

The rest of the week was so crazy that I barely had time to pick a new project for Purl Jam on Tuesdays (link is to Ravelry group). I pretty much grabbed the first project on top of my "didn't get to over the summer" pile: Rivendell socks in Sundara sock yarn, color Evergreen over lime.

Rivendell Sock

These might end up being a gift as well... we'll see how it goes! I learned my lesson about sock sizing on my last pair of Jaywalkers, and I'll be doing the leg on size 1.5's and the heel, sole, and toe on size 0's (both sets of two addi turbo circulars). I got a surprisingly large amount of knitting done on Tuesday night, but I haven't had time to touch the socks since then. Now I'm off to wash some fleece, since it's Friday. Catch you all next week!