28 September, 2009

Finish and Begin Again

Sometimes my knitting seems like a burden. I know, what an overdramatic statement, right? Perhaps it is, but everyone with a creative passion knows what it's like to hit a place where you can't begin something new because what is nearly finished is hanging over your head.

I hit that point with both the Honeydew BSJ for the Murloc and the Shield of Bees. On the former I ran out of yarn and had to wait to buy more down at the (no longer) LYS in Los Altos, and the latter hit a point where it was too complicated and gigantic for company knitting.

Thanks to a trip down to San Jose for Jer And Eliz's Murloc shower, I grabbed another skein of yarn for the BSJ. The knitting part is now done, it's been washed and dried, and it's waiting on just the adorable duck buttons I bought for just this purpose:

Baby Surprise Jacket
Nashua Creative Superwash, 377 yds.

The Shield of Bees - in addition to being completed about 3 months later than I anticipated - took a bit more time. I enjoyed knitting it, but towards the end... whew. It seemed to grow faster than I finished repeats, and now if I hold it doubled it's nearly as long as I am tall. That puts it at around 10 feet long, unblocked. Oy! It's difficult to photograph by myself, but here's as much as I could cram into a photo:

Honeybee Stole
Knit Picks Shadow, 1681 yds.

The color is horribly off. It's actually green, not grey, but my camera doesn't seem to like this particular shade and I haven't been able to get a proper picture yet! My T-pins are hiding in a safe place somewhere in my garage, probably with the pegs to my swift. I had to email the nice lady at Knitting Notions, who quickly sent me replacements at an extremely reasonable price. The bonus here is that I'll have an extra set of pegs when I find the originals! I did dig through the garage and put all my knitting books/magazines/patterns on a bookshelf; I'm trying to do a little every day to get the garage tidied and move my things into the house, but it's definitely a touch-and-go process.

I'm stoked to add the yardage to my 12-Mile Quest total; these two finished projects put me less than 1 mile shy of my entire total for last year, and I've still got 3 full months of knitting and spinning to go. I may actually accomplish my goal this year, but it'll be a tight squeeze. Perhaps finishing projects that are already started would help...

And speaking of progress, I've started an adorable Berry Tart hat (Knitty, Winter '03) and discovered almost immediately that I detest making bobbles, despite how perfect they are:

Yep, that's a pie crust on the bottom and the beginnings of a gigantic pile of berries on top. Just the thing for an October baby, don't you think? I've decided to force myself to complete one repeat of bobbles every day until the darned thing is done. It's just a baby hat, thank goodness. Hopefully it'll only take a few more days!

And lastly, I started a new lace project:

This is the "Scarf with Center Pattern" from Victorian Lace Today (page 16). It's just faggot stitch for miles, and then a knitted-on border. I'm about 20% into the center panel already, thanks to Juliet Stevenson's masterful narration of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. I'm trying very hard to dig into my entire stash to find project yarns, as I have a tendency to put the newest stuff on top and then only use that. When I packed my bins full of yarn, I knew what was where and which skeins were with which other skeins. However, I'm super-visually oriented, and now that I'm in a new space, it's hard to remember what is where (except what's on the edges, of course, since the bins are clear). I decided that I need to number each bin and mark what is in each one - possibly in Ravelry, as there's a place for "location" in the stash listing. Does the attempt to organize a large collection ever end? Someday, I'll be successful. Really!

In other news, there isn't much news. Today is the last day of my first 101 in 1001, and while I didn't accomplish everything on the list - far from it - I did do the Big Stuff: graduate from college, buy a car, pay off my MBNA loan, and save over $1000 in a bank account. That last, I am extremely glad of, as I'm currently living off of what I saved over the summer!

I'm working up a recap of the 101 in 1001 for tomorrow, along with my new list. Some of it is carry-over and some of it is new, but I'm hoping to both accomplish more on the new list and keep more on top of it.

16 September, 2009

The Lee of the Stone, part 2

All right, where did I leave off? Oh, right - Lacis and a hint of what was to come after Cynthia and I oooh'ed and aaaaah'ed over all the antique lace and clothes.

We went straight to A Verb for Keeping Warm and ooooh'ed and aaaaaah'ed over Kristine's gorgeous colors.

Up until we showed up at Verb, I was doing fairly well. I hadn't bought anything at Lacis, despite being sorely tempted by some Yarn Place Gentle. But blood will out, as they say, and I lost all my resolve in the face of the naturally dyed temptations offered by the girls at Verb.

I ended up with four skeins of coordinating sock yarn for the Verb mitten contest (now over, ahem) and several skeins of this amazing stuff:
The picture doesn't pick it up very well, but it's a 50/50 merino/baby camel split in this aMAZing green. I bought... all of it. I think there were only 3 left, so it wasn't a crazy splurge, but I now have 6 oz of the stuff with which to make something phenomenal. Now I just have to figure out what it is!

In addition to the trip to Verb, I had visitors in town in early August. This is General Leigh and his girlfriend, Kickass Kate:
Leigh and I were an item six years ago for about five minutes, and we've been good friends ever since - maybe because we only get to see each other infrequently, as he lives in Jersey. Anyway, Leigh decided to bring KKate out to see Cali for the first time, and boy did he do it in style: they showed up in San Jose, then took a week to drive down the PCH and end up at his brother's house in San Diego. While they were in SJ, we took them to Bill's Cafe for breakfast and then went with one of Leigh's high school friends to her glass blowing studio called Art Object. The entire set of images is here, but I'll give you a couple because I can't help myself; I took some damn good pictures if I do say so myself:

After Leigh and KKate left, it was time to buckle down and start getting ready to move in with THB in Roseville - but not before I took FULL advantage of the final days of the Louet anniversary sale and bought myself this little beauty! Now I'm fully stocked, as far as wheels go; I have the Schact for at home, and the Vic for out and about. Neither of them have taken a spin since I've moved, but I'm making good progress on moving in this week so hopefully things will be chill enough for spinning sometime soon!

I've made some serious progress on the Honeybee Stole with only a few interruptions to knit on a Baby Surprise Jacket for The Murloc. She's due in the middle of October and I'm planning a few little items for her; they're slowly coming together. But in the mean time, the Honeybee Stole is a mere 34 rows away from completion - and not a moment too soon, as the damn thing is significantly longer than I am tall. I'll take a picture before I block it, but suffice to say that if Ann Hanson ever gives a tall and a petite version in her patterns, I will from now on be choosing the petite.

August flew by in a flurry of moving, and September is flying by in an equal flurry of job hunting and video games. Up until this last weekend's visit to San Jose to attend the Murloc's baby shower, I had hit a bit of a knitting rut: the Honeybee Stole was too complicated to work on in company, and I ran out of yarn on the BSJ about halfway through. But I've fixed everything to my immense satisfaction by starting a new audiobook to help with the one (JA's Emma) and stopping at Uncommon Threads in Los Altos to pick up another skein of yarn for the other. Cynthia and I spent a good deal of time arguing over how much of her stash I was going to abscond with, and in the end I managed to make off with a TON of beautiful stuff that will be turned into beautiful shells to wear Out. I'm super-excited! I also made off with about 1000 yards of lovely periwinkle superwash that will be used to make still more baby clothes. Seriously, my friends need to stop breeding. Or at least stagger it out!

The amazing sockpr0n sent me a package in the mail - is there anything better than getting presents from fellow fiber people in the mail? - that included the loan of her super-low speed whorl for the Schact (for learning to spin core-spun yarn) and a gallon bag of fleece "for padding." But not just ANY fleece - oh no, she sent me Henna. I swear to you that it's a good thing she put something in that package for padding because I was so surprised when I opened it that I dropped the whole thing right on the floor! The bag of fleece is sitting next to my computer as I type, looking simply stunning. She's got beautiful honey-colored tips that will make the yarn a gorgeous heather, and I'm excited to see how it all plays out.

For now, I'm going to go work on all those knitting projects. September is half over and I'm still slogging through Mile 7 of my 12-mile quest!

05 September, 2009

The Lee of the Stone, Part 1

Well, I've moved. I'm not necessarily moved IN, but I'm moved. However, I'm going to try to take things in the order as they've occurred since the last time I posted anything actually informational.

First, the Tour de Fleece ended in July (ohmygoditsseptember), and I managed to make more yarn than last year with less burn-out. Success! If you recall, I finished the Asti yarn near the beginning of the Tour and started on a Crown Mountain bump called She's Like A Rainbow 3.2 oz. bump of BFL in Harvest from Pigeon Roof Studios. (I can't believe I forgot an entire skein of handspun. Clearly it is time to start using it, if I can't remember it all! Thank goodness I have Flickr to save me.)

Now that I recall it properly, I am totally charmed with this yarn. It's thin and even and soft, and I daresay that if it were a full 4-oz bump, I would have topped 400 yards. Lately, that's been a challenge, so I'm quite pleased with it.

"Harvest" BFL, 340 yds., 2-ply
Pigeon Roof Studios

AFTER I finished the Harvest yarn, I started on the Crown Mountain Farms SW merino She's Like A Rainbow.

Seriously, this stuff spins like butter. It practically flies out of your hands, and I just love it. I love it so much that I may have bought another box during the summer sale and had it shipped to my new house - but I get ahead of myself. Ahem.

When I pulled this bump out to spin, I decided that I would chain-ply it to maintain the color distinction from the original dye job. That meant that I didn't have to weigh it out before I started, which was nice. It also meant that there was no inevitable little bit left over on one bobbin from traditional plying.
Unlike a lot of people, I enjoy chain-plying. I've never struggled with it and it's never hurt my shoulder - a common complaint. Maybe it's the nearly endless crochet chains I made as a child; my muscles know the gesture by heart and just make it a bit bigger. After spinning nearly two full bobbins of singles, I managed 633 yards of a respectable 3-ply:

And that's it for the Tour yarn! Overall, I made 1286 yards of yarn and used up 17.7 ounces of my fiber stash. And in addition to that highly respectable yardage, I am also not burned out on spinning like I was last year. Go me! I like making progress. But don't worry too much about whether I'll run out of fiber to spin on my fancy new wheel (I know SOME of you were worried, and you will be compensated appropriately!) I fell down the rabbit hole known as Laurs' Etsy shop, Bee Mice Elf. Go ahead, say it out loud to yourself; I'll wait.

Is that not the cutest name for a shop EVER? Also, she quoted me a price right off the bat for my special order and told me exactly how long it would take to get to me. And when it got here, everything was perfect and just what I wanted. I highly recommend Laurs for both her professionalism and her niceness - which is apparently a word, as Firefox doesn't put that annoying red line under it.

Since the Tour, I haven't done a huuuuge amount of spinning, but that's due in part to the move. I did start on the gorgeous Pigeon Roof Studios Falklands wool that Wise Colleen bought me at Stitches West. She told me that the colors reminded her of me, and I couldn't agree more. They're just my favorite greens, is all:
"Verbena" 8.2 oz (!!!)

I'm spinning it as thinly as I can, which is pretty thin, actually. It's mostly the Falklands wool though - this stuff seems to desperately want to spin into a super-fine single, and really, who am I to disagree with wool?

It is, however, slow going. Between the move and the fineness of the yarn, I think I've spun up maybe 25 grams so far. But that's a-okay with me now that I've got internet on my computer and can watch Netflix Instant Watch while I spin!

In addition to spinning like it's going out of style (oh, wait...), I've been doing a fair amount of out-and-about fiber exploration. At the end of July, my good friend Cynthia and I took a day to head to the Lacis Textile Museum in Berkeley. Oh, wow. That place made both sides of my heart - the historian and the textile nut - go pitter-pat.

Here are just a few of the pictures I took:
Both the clothes and the wax mannequin head are authentic to the late 1800's

Can you imagine getting married in this? How delightfully you would rustle down the aisle!

Something about all these crinolines floating in the air made me think of jellyfish

I'm telling you, that place is a-MAZ-ing; the rest of my pictures from the trip are here; they didn't turn out too badly, if I do say so myself. And I do, so there.

So that's about it for part 1 in our series of catch-up posts! There is at least one more to go, if not two; the month of August was a little thin on the ground in terms of crafting, but so many things have happened - and more importantly, so many good pictures have been taken! - that I just have to share anyway.

Here's a teaser!