Blocking party

When I moved up to Scarborough, I realised I had a couple of languishing lace projects.  Not waiting to be knit – waiting to be blocked!  Then I knit the 2010 Advent Scarf in December, so I started 2013 with three nearly-finished scarves and shawls.

The oldest was Brandywine, which I mentioned briefly here.  Knit in a much thicker yarn than the pattern called for, I realised I was going to run short for a sensible size shawl, so I started adding short-rows to the garter stitch body.  You can see the effect in the blocking shot:

brandywine_blocking

This is a heavy, snuggly shawl, and has already seen quite a bit of use.  A side-effect of the shape is that it wraps around your neck beautifully, although I do find I need a shawl pin to keep it in place.  Otherwise, its own weight tends to drag it off my shoulders if I lean forwards!

brandywine_worn

Next up, On the Wings of a Dove!

dove_2

This is a self-designed shawl, intended to showcase my own Bunnylace yarn – which I think it does very nicely!  I’d originally intended to write up the pattern, but there are a few design flaws that make it rather not-ideal in this incarnation, so it would need some thinking and a test knit if I was going to release it.  Plus, of course, I’m not currently trading, so it seems silly to release a pattern for a totally custom, unavailable yarn.

dove_1

I haven’t worn it yet; it’s big and a bit too dramatic for the office!  Besides, I’m enjoying it as an ornament in my work room…

Finally, the advent shawl.

advent1

Crikey, I don’t think I’ve even mentioned this on the blog before.  I packaged this up as a ‘new house’ project; I love Advent, and I wanted something that was light on packing, long on involvement, so that whatever happened with the unpacking, I’d have some knitting to do.

advent2

I loved working on this a little every day (well, most days).  The variety of lace patterns gives the scarf a sampler-like feel, and I got to play with some lace stitches that I’ve never used before.  Because several different designers were involved, it was also interesting to see the different ways the designers dealt with some of the recurring issues when designing lace stitches.  I started it on December 1, and finished it on December 31, so I didn’t quite finish it during Advent, but close enough for me!

advent3

The yarn is Sparkleduck’s merino/tencel laceweight, and the pattern is the 2010 Advent scarf.  I picked the pattern after seeing many finished projects that I liked; I have decided I don’t like the risk of a mystery-pattern KAL!

advent4

I actually ran out of blocking wires at this point, so the ends of the scarf are blocked using knitting needles as a substitute.  I think this is the first time in years I’ve used straight needles (other than DPNs).

It’s New Sweater Day!!

I can’t remember when I last had a New Sweater Day (Ravelry says April 2011.  Wow! And before that?  April 2010!!).  Clearly, I haven’t been finishing anything like enough sweaters for myself in recent times.

main

This, I hope, is the start of the end of that trend.    It is also the first large project I’ve taken from fleece to FO. Two fleeces actually: the really short bits from a very soft, very dark alpaca fleece (you can see it before blending here), and the random sheep’s wool that long time readers may remember was left out over an entire winter for a ‘pre-wash soak’.  By the time I rescued it, it was green in places, and smelly, and became known as ‘the pond scum wool’.  A second wash sorted that easily, though it did require picking afterwards.  I prepped this stuff for spinning in the Tour de Fleece 2011, and though I don’t remember how much I spun during the tour, I finished it in October that year.  The yarn singles were spun supported longdraw from drumcarded batts, and plied hard-ish relative to the singles twist.

closeup

I really like the fabric I’ve made: it is light and warm and tweedy, and shows up the cables acceptably well, though obviously not as well as a completely solid coloured yarn would. With the very, very short alpaca fibres in it, it will be interesting to see how well it wears.

The pattern is Drops 114-8, the long sleeved version, though I had to rework it for the gauge I got with my handspun yarn – both stitch and row gauge were off. I also modified the neckline cable to be only the first two rows of diamonds instead of four, as I really wanted a neckline detail rather than a large chest-medallion.

I also lengthened both the body and the sleeves, as I am tall with long arms.

The sleeve caps on this pattern are wide and shallow (check out the blocking photo below to see what I mean), and I thought I’d made a mistake reworking the pattern, but it seems to be just the way they are. Anyway, they work, so fear not!

blocking

I am really very pleased with this sweater, but it’s not perfect. The neckline is a bit higher than I was intending (must have had a math-fail there when re-working the cable), though it still works well, and the sleeves are shorter (optimism and long arms). I feel like it would look better with a bit more positive ease, but then I’ve gained some weight since I cast on for this in September! We will see what I can do about that this year…

Finishing Friday

Done!

This great big box of batts:

Has been transformed into this:

That’s 19 skeins, varying from 36m/12g (the last, bracelet-plyed little bit) to 230m/69g (and I have no idea how I managed to fit all that on one bobbin!  I’m usually lucky to squeeze 50g on a bobbin with this yarn!).


Preparation:
Picked and drum carded
Spinning method: Mostly point-of-twist long draw
Totals before washing:
2,746m, 444g.  I’ve averaged about 3.5m/g
Started: July 3, 2011
Finished: October 21, 2011

This really has been a long project for me; I wouldn’t normally expect it to take me nearly 4 months to spin just under a pound of fibre.  So, why so slow?  Partly, I think, because I burned out a bit on this project at the prep stage.  Prep really isn’t my favourite part of the process, but after the disappointment of the mixed dye lots, I really didn’t want to prep on the fly again, and end up with another lot of disappointingly varied yarn.  I wanted consistency.

The other issue is an ergonomic one: long draw is intrinsically hard on the shoulder, and my wheel really isn’t the best configuration for me and this technique.  I’ve built strength as I’ve gone along, and I’ve also worked on improving my setup, but there is only so much that can be done.  It may be that  a new wheel is in my future…

Finally: I’m really excited about this week’s Saturday giveaway, so do come back soon to check it out!

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