Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two years in the making

Sometime about two years ago, I ordered this spindle kit from Hello Yarn. I decided to get the BFL because I had heard so much about it, and I wanted undyed fiber because I didn't want to worry about screwing up "good" dyed fiber. I began to practice and practice, and then I had my dyeing adventure.

After I spun a few singles, I tried a two-ply. It wasn't my favorite, so I tried a three-ply with the singles tightly wound on pencils dangling from a coffee cup. This is what I ended up with, after a long time:

I decided it was time to try the roving I dyed, and I began spinning that, too. That went more quickly, especially after I got Spinning in the Old Way and learned how to Andean ply. Andean plying changed everything! No more tangles or knots. I found a way to join the small sections of two-ply without obvious joins. I'm a convert!
I have now spun all of my dyed roving and have a nice-sized hank. I did weigh both skeins, but I did not write down their measurements.

I believe the undyed hank is about 9 oz at approximately 12 wpi. It seems to range from fine fingering weight to bulky, with the majority at about sport weight. The green hank is somewhere around 5 oz, and approximately 16 wpi (I think). It also ranges in size, but I think it is more even. I discovered Andean plying halfway through, so some parts are more even than others.

I can't wait to knit these up -- I'm thinking about making a cowl with the green skein and the Sheep Wrap for the white. I'm trying to force myself to finish a couple of other projects before I get started, though!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Starsky, revisited

Here's another picture of Starsky:

I actually was out with a camera and someone else to take my picture with it! That doesn't happen much.

I was taking a workshop on using community architecture to determine the history of a neighborhood. Here's one of the photographs I took the same day:
Somwhere in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I think the similar, yet different architecture is fascinating.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More Sewing

So even though I disappeared from the blog for the past month, I've been busy. I spent my week-long vacation sewing and knitting. The quilt got finished, Starsky got finished, and lots more.

Since my last bag was a little too dismal for spring, I made this:

It's the Pleated Bag from Bend The Rules Sewing. I like the pattern, and it holds a lot of stuff. The fabric is home dec weight cotton from Joann's. It had been coated with sizing to make it indoor/outdoor fabric, but after a washing it became very smooth. I even considered making a skirt with it. The bag is lined in flannel, which gives it substance without making it look too quilted. I wish I had increased the size a tad, especially the size of the pleats, but I still love it. This one even has a pocket inside it!

I've also begun to sew some clothes. My taste in clothes is getting funkier again. For a while I would only wear solids -- no stripes, no prints. I even went through a stage where I would only wear black, deep reds and white. I'm out of that, for sure. I like prints and have decided to take on an update of my spring wardrobe.
Now, I must admit I have sewn clothes before. In elementary school I made myself some outfits, and I've gone back to it a few times. I am not known to be a stickler for patterns and will adapt things upon a whim. I am getting better at flying by the seat of my pants -- I do it less frequently and with more understanding of where it will take me. This was about the 4th shirt I have made recently, and the one I am most proud of.
This shirt is made from Simplicity 6723. The only modification was to leave the ruffles off the arms. I think the tuxedo ruffles are enough. I know it would be better with a posed picture, but I don't have one yet. It fits quite well, just enough ease to be comfortable but not enough to be baggy. I wore it into work and got a compliment within the first 20 minutes!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Remember this? It's turned into this:

Honestly, I enjoyed every part except the quilting. My favorite part of it, however, is not the geometric nature, the bright colors, the layout, the zig-zag sashing. No, my favorite part of it is the quilting.

I see more quilting in my future.

A peek at the back.

To be fair, I have to admit some of my quilting troubles were magnified by this particular project. I believe some of my flying geese were not quite level, and the batting I chose was extra-thick craft batting. Not the best thing for this project, or for machine quilting for the very first time.
Specs: Each flying geese is 1.5" x 3". The brown zig-zag is 1" wide. Made from a whole bunch of 5" squares and Kaffe Fassett's shot cotton in butter and ginger. I had imagined quilting it in rays, but I realized I needed something more basic. It ended up with vertical stripes, which I'm happy with.
My husband and the dogs seem to agree.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I started this sweater ages ago -- I think in January. I began with gusto, and then wasn't sure I would like it. Things got crazy, and I didn't feel like working on the cables. The patterning every row got to me. I finished the back, and then had to recalculate the sides. Ugh. After the sides were finished, it flew by.

(Please forgive the angle of this photograph. It is really not as squat as it looks here. I promise!)

It turns out, this is the perfect sweater for the season. It's warm enough to ward off the early morning chill before the sun begins warming everything. It is a neutral color, so I can wear it over all of my new spring shirts. It's long enough to wear with any of them, and since I left off the belt, it hangs (I think) gracefully. When I'm cold, I can easily tuck the two sides together and they will stay. I've worn about 9 times since I finished it, and there's not a sign of pilling. I love it! I'm sure it will show wear sooner rather than later, but I'm very happy.

Pattern: Starsky from Knitty
Modifications: Adapted to knit with size 7 needles. I swatched here. I fiddled with the cable repeat on the back and changed the numbers around. Don't ask me what I did -- I didn't take any notes, and it's been too long! I know part of it was to knit the size XL on size 7 needles for a sweater that ended up being about the second-smallest size. I also left off the belt loops and belt, since it didn't hit me quite low enough for them.
Needles: Addi size 7s
Gauge: ?? At one point I did know, because I knit the sweater to fit.
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino, undyed.
I used yarn from 4 different dye lots. I swear, this sweater broke all the rules! I couldn't tell a difference when I held the skeins together, but I was also knitting late in the day without any natural light. I was careful when I joined skeins that weren't of the same dyelot, and alternated yarn every few rows just in case there was a difference. Then again, the sleeves were done in a different dyelot altogether. I think I was lucky.

Two things I love about this sweater:
1) The arms are roomy and LONG. My arms are very long and usually I have to add length. This sweater is designed with cuffs to turn back, and I ended up with sleeves long enough to skim my knuckles if my arms are at my sides. I love that! I forget if I measured the arms, or if I knit to the pattern. They are roomy enough at the top that I don't feel crammed into the sweater. That was one of the problems with my Central Park Hoodie -- the upper arms are very tight.
2) Mattress Stitch!

Believe it or not, I have not seamed a sweater using mattress stitch before. I've always done something or other to seam it, and it looks ok, but these seams disappear. I keep on looking at the arm seams to find them.

(It also helps the seaming process if you make sure all your pieces are the same size. I knit both sleeves at the same time, and both fronts. It was easy to make the fronts and back match, since the cable repeat was easy to use as a benchmark. I guess where I was carefree about the dye-lots and modifications, I compensated with my seaming!)

Overall, I think this is going to be well-worn in the end. I think I will wear more cardigans than pullovers, and more neutral colors than bright ones.

Up next: Quilting, sewing and more knitting! I have my pictures taken and processed already, so it should come soon!