Down to zero

Do you think it's worrying that days – mere days – after returning to work, my Bloglines backlog is down to zero?

For those that don't already know, I've been signed off with CFS for the last few months – and when I was at home all the time, I simply couldn't keep up with my blogroll. Now, two hours at work a day (plus about another hour commuting), and it's all taken care of. Oh, and I've made a yarn purchase, too. But it was from Destash, which hardly counts, ne?

Gotta watch out for that habitual behaviour creeping in again.

Brittany Bitch

I think these things are supposed to come with a several-year warranty. I know that I am not the only person to have experienced this tragedy recently. And I'm damn sure that these needles are fairly pricey and not supposed to be disposable.

snap

They're certainly not supposed to do this only 2 inches into the second sock ever knit on them. I'm sorry about the focus and exposure issues; I was too peeved to do proper photography. And, for the record, I'm not a 'gripper' or 'squeezer' of needles, even when cabling. And I'm not a tight knitter, either – I almost always get gauge at the suggested needle size.

Meet Skinny Annie

…my tailor's dummy. She's a permanent occupant of my sewing room, and has modelled many odd things in her time. She was particularly helpful when I was selling belly dance hipscarves on eBay, and spent most of a year wearing a long, full, black skirt and a tight black top to better show the colour contrast.

very fetching

She's spent a significant amount of this summer wearing the above outfit, though the hat is a recent addition: a sundress that needs 'altering' into a skirt, and Minnie, who is awaiting fairly radical surgery. I'm not sure how she got the name; it's not like anyone ever speaks it out loud. But it appears to have stuck, in my head, at least.

But now, she is wearing my newest sweater, the Asymmetrical Rib Pullover from Loop-d-Loop. This was a fun and satisfying project, and used up the Noro Iro I had lying around from my failed Olympic bid.

The closest she'll ever get to real arms

The sweater pattern is gorgeous – the construction is fascinating and so, so clever. One thing to watch for, though – it's important to get both stitch and row gauge, because part of this is knit on the bias, and if the ratio doesn't work out right, your diagonals won't be at the right angle. I didn't get row gauge – I had 120% of the rows per inch that I should have had – but I fudged it. The shaping sections instruct you to increase/decrease on each end of every right side row – all I did was NOT shape on every 5th right side row – that way, I have the right number of shapings per inch. Make sense?

I love the finished garment – and I've had a lot of compliments on it. If I was to change anything about the pattern, I would have moved the armhole on piece 2 higher (i.e. closer to the neck). It's slightly too dropped for my personal preference, so the sleeve is a bit 'dolman' and slightly restricts movement.

The Noro Iro, apart from the row gauge issue, was a wonderful match for this project; the unusual construction means that the stripes run up/down or diagonally across the body, pointing in to the waist – all of which is so much more flattering than the horizontal lines you usually see. The resulting fabric is sturdy but not uncomfortably bulky, and on 6.5mm needles, this was a pretty fast knit.

fabric close-up

I still don't think Iro is going to be one of my first choice yarns though; it's hard work. There is little elasticity to it, and along with the bulkiness, it's quite a workout. I did acclimatise after the first two or three training knitting sessions, but it was this quality that made it an unsuitable choice for intensive Olympic knitting, and still counts against it now.

Spinning away

Oh, poot! I can't believe I haven't posted for almost a month…. It's not like I haven't been doing anything; life has been crazy-busy. Hmm, maybe that's the problem….

I have been both knitting and spinning; in my protracted absence I have both started and finished a sweater (the same one!) and finished two socks (but not of the same pair). Photos to follow.

I've also been making good friends with my new Ashford, and made a start on the six (SIX!!) monstrous chunks of Lorna's Laces roving that I bought in a fit of avarice at least six months ago. I have two in each of three colourways, and can be seen in their bags right here:

Clockwise from top left: Georgetown, Desert Flower and Lakeview (I think)

So far, I have spun up and plied a skein of roughly sockweight yarn in the 'Desert Flower' colourway. I have to say that I'm not enjoying spinning it nearly as much as my previous project (did I blog that?? Must look up…), which truly drafted effortlessly and was wonderful-squishy-soft to handle. I don't know if it's because this has been stored for a while, in somewhat cramped conditions, but the fibre seems rather… compacted. Not felted – not quite – but it grabs itself more than I'd really like, and drafts in fits and starts. Also, there are little 'neppy' fragments occasionally; these I am sure are my fault, as I think they have been caused by friction on the top at some point. I'm hoping I get used to it – or get a better idea for dealing with it – because spinning six bags of this stuff isn't particularly inspiring right now. That said, I *am* enjoying it; I'm learning, learning, learning all the time (about fibre prep and my new wheel and spinning in general), and I'm producing yarn that I'm mostly pleased with.

This skein is Navajo-plied to keep the colours mostly together; I think it would look too 'muddy' if I allowed them to mingle randomly, although I love the 'barber's pole' sections where the colour sections join.

a quick shot of the plied yarn on the bobbin

skeined up; about 140m of sock-weight three ply

The Desert Flower colourway is available in their own Shepherd Sock yarn, too, and looks like this in the skein:


I adore the colours, but really don't want to knit socks that looks like this:


I'm hoping that because I've been splitting and pre-drafting the roving kinda randomly, that any pooling that does occur will not be as regular.

But now, I need to decide what to do with this. I think I would like to knit a pair of socks in the yarn spun from this roving, but this was my first foray with the Ashford, and some of the earlier joins in the singles were very poor indeed. Once plied, they're probably structurally OK (can you feel the confidence??), but it has left ugly 'tufts' on the yarn that I wouldn't want in a sock. So I need to decide whether to do something totally random with this, as a single skein, and to spin up more yarn for socks; or to use this skein and just do one more…? I suppose I could try sampling this yarn to see what a sock would look like, and then spin two more skeins… Any ideas for what to do with 140m of colourfully variegated sock weight yarn?