Celtic Cable

Celtic Cable

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

What to Knit Next ...

This is (most of) my sock yarn stash. Okay, this is half of my sock yarn stash. Well, really, it's just -- you know, it doesn't matter how much I have, does it? Joanne's was rearranging their entire store, and they kept having sales, and I kept stopping in "just to see what was there." Like I don't already know Joanne's stock like the back of my hand.

Anyway, I finished the button socks:

I didn't remember to take a picture of them outside until it was dark, so here they are in the unflattering glow of the murky twisty-light-bulb lamp. They're awesome ... and too warm to wear in July, so off to the closet they go until October or so.

I can't wait to cast on another pair of socks. Hopefully by the time it gets cold again, I'll have a nice fluffy pile of socks to choose from, in a lovely rainbow of colors.

Tour de Fleece didn't go as spectacularly as I had hoped, but that is mainly because my thumb became too sore to spin. I didn't want to push my luck, so I backed off. I spun every day, just not much. The best part of TdF has been the two new techniques I learned; spinning with beaded fiber, and cable yarn.

Here is the orange-and-yellow I mentioned last post ... the yellow is Merino, and the orange is Corriedale.

 It really isn't quite right, though; I need to give the 2-plies a LOT more twist, to get that "beaded" look that true cabled yarn has.

 I love it anyway, though. It reminds me of this:

 There are tiny orange sunflowers coming up underneath these lovelies. Once those are visible, it'll be even more wonderful to look at!

I swear the package said they would grow "3 - 5 feet." If I stand level with them, they are over my head, and I am 5"6.

Since I'm talking plants ...

Up until two years ago, I grew tomatoes here in the front yard. But they were so messy, and so many fell into my neighbor's yard, that I started growing them only in the back yard. Of course, you know what happens, though; every spring, a hundred or so tiny tomato plants come up here from all the fallen tomatoes. I pulled up some, re-planted some, but decided to let this one grow.

My, it got big. 14 lb doggie shown for scale.

Isn't July fabulous? Gardens just grow themselves.

Regardless of my love of gardening, I'm still looking forward to Autumn. Autumn is my favorite ... perfect knitting weather!

I can't wait to get out my handknit scarves and socks and hats and sweaters and head off to the woods for a chilly walk.

Molly Cat does not agree with my love of cool weather ... but then again, she doesn't know how to knit. 
Happy Fiber Arts Friday, everyone!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Have You Seen My Stash?

I thought that the end of the Tour de Fleece would be an appropriate time to show my stash. Clockwise from the very top: Merino, merino, merino, merino, BFL, and alpaca, alpaca, alpaca. The green/blue and brown ball are Wonder Why.

I seem to have a merino problem.

Well, I suppose as long as I don't run out, it's not a problem.

Here are some bits and pieces, the odd stuff I started off spinning. One day I'll make a really weird lap blanket or wrap with all this.

My last posting was about spinning cable yarns. I really enjoyed doing this -- now I want to do it with everything. I'm considering cable plying these two colors ... what do you think? Too much? I want it to be two very different colors.

In other news, I've become a beading addict.

Purple beads on green Meriboo.

I got the idea from Dutch Hollow Acres
and Wind Rose Fiber Studio.

In true Spinster Beth fashion, though, I went overboard:

There's a bead about every 12".

The only addition I made to the tutorial was to use a crochet hook to reach through the needle threader.

I'm spinning right from the beaded fiber tufts, one after the other, joining them up end to end.

I leave you with two stacked cats. Saves space, you know.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

You Learn Something New Every Day!

Okay, it's new to ME, anyway. I happened to be walking through Joanne's today, not really intending to buy anything, when I saw this book ... I've heard it mentioned in glowing terms, and decided I would buy something after all.

So I rearranged everything I was already carrying and added it to the stuff in my arms that I wasn't going to buy, and continued on my way. I browsed through it at home, and found it very interesting. I was intrigued by the section on cable plied yarn -- it's just two-or-more-ply yarn plied with other two-or-more-ply yarn, plied in the opposite direction.

So you spin your singles clockwise, then (for example) make two-ply yarn spinning counter-clockwise. Then you take two or more of the two-ply yarns and ply them clockwise. It makes a sharp, defined yarn, and I really wanted to try it.

 The book says "make sure the yarns that you are using have been overplied...(94)."  So I dug up some blue merino, and re-plied it to tighten it up. I ran it all through my new yardage meter, and got 130 yards of each shade of blue.
I swear I ran each through the meter. My math skills are not great, but I promise you I can count to 130. I have no idea why there is so much more of one. 

I can't explain it.

Anywho, I plied it as tightly as I could bear ... it was difficult. I had to fight my natural tendency to ply loosely. 

The darker blue took a much tighter twist.
I loaded them up on the Lazy Kate, and took off. 
I could tell immediately that I was going to like this yarn.

It has a lot of energy. And I'll say this, when the bobbin started getting full, I had a hell of a time. The 4-ply kept leaping off the bobbin. I kid you not.

(See the flip-flop there? I can't spin while wearing shoes. Is that weird?)

I had two major tangles -- I took my eyes off the bobbin for two seconds, twice, and both times, calamity resulted. I should have taken a picture of that. It was Epic Snarl. I even had trouble wrapping it around the niddy-noddy, that's how energetic it is!

Anyway, 4-ply really fills up a bobbin fast.

And here is the reason I usually use the Lazy Kate on the wheel, and not the free-standing one.

(Ignore the wine cork on the floor. The cats are heavy drinkers.)

Here is some of the finished product! I love it! I haven't washed it yet ... It's so springy I'm afraid it will leap out of the bath and knit itself.

I want to try this next with four different colors of yarn, or two 2-plies, like orange and yellow, that are different enough to really stand out.


Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Summertime Blues Here!

Ahhhh .... mid-July is the best part of gardening. All I have to do is go out every day and water and harvest!

Oh, and here's some knitting:

A finished Button-up Sock on my new sock blocker, and a small project that I hope will work out to be a backpack or shoulder bag. The other sock is as far as the post-gusset decreases, so it doesn't have far to go.

The yarn for the backpack is Lion Brand Wool, which I dyed with black cherry Kool-aid. There's a neat cable design going up the middle. I think this might be smaller than I wanted, but I really don't feel like frogging it!  This is my typical July knitting conundrum. It's just too hot to knit!

Tour de Fleece is going very slowly, I'm just spinning about 15 minutes a day. My left thumb is just not cooperating, and I don't know how to work around it. So I am taking it easy!

Happy Fiber Arts Friday, everyone!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Sweet Temptation

I received a lovely package in the mail today, from KnitPicks. Sock yarn, sock blockers, a yardage counter, and a darning egg. 

This yardage counter is great. It is mechanical, not even battery operated, so it didn't cost too much.

Isn't that neat? I have always wanted a yardage counter, but I didn't want to spend a lot of money. I got the KnitPicks catalogue in the mail a few days ago, and the counter jumped right out at me. So did the darning egg. And I'd been wanting sock blockers. And as I was paging through the catalogue, the sock yarn in the middle, the greeny-purply skein, literally leaped off the page at me! Literally! It wrapped its tentacles around me--okay, now I'm exaggerating. But it did catch my eye. 

I filled my shopping cart with the darning egg, sock blockers, 1 skein of yarn, and the yardage counter ... and that was where the trouble began. Because I saw, written above the shopping cart icon, these fateful words: 

$8.77 more and you qualify for free shipping!

Really? Free shipping? FREE shipping? So, guess what I did. I spent another hour browsing the webpage, trying to spend $9. Thus the extra two skeins of yarn. They get me with that every time. I suspect even if it said another $435 and you qualify for free shipping! I would still convince myself that it would be a bargain to get free shipping. 

I am sorely tempted to start in on that skein of yarn, the lovely purply-green one. Even though it's Tour de Fleece, even though I have three WIPS, even though I have one sore thumb and a slice on the other (Yes, Melissa, next time I'll believe you when you tell me the mandoline is sharp and I ought to use the safety holder), I still want to cast SOMETHING on with that lovely yarn! It's practically shouting to be a lovely Autumn wrap of some sort. I'm trying to resist, but it isn't easy.


Side Note: Yesterday, my friends' 2 month old baby was formally baptized into the Orthodox Church of America, in a lovely fourteen hour ceremony. 

Just kidding. It was only an hour. It was a Greek Orthodox Church, so it was an ancient ceremony ... casting out the devil, spitting at the devil, full body immersion (not the face), and the priest, godmother, and candle-bearer (Melissa, what is the formal name for M.'s role in the ceremony?) dancing triumphantly around the silver Baptismal font afterward. William Henry, after baptism, was put into a lovely white suit and we all went to dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Baltimore City. I don't think that's necessarily part of the ancient tradition, but the restaurant was nearby and we like to eat with our fingers every now and then ;-)

Other news: High yield in the garden!

This was a hard picture to take, because Edgar Allen Poe Cat decided that the green fringe around the sunflower was meant to be eaten. I had to take the sunflower head away from him three times. He's a funny kitty, he will eat any plant (except African Violets, phew). If I put lavender in a vase, he pulls it out and eats it. I sprout grass for him all the time ... he likes his weed, he really does.

Happy spinning/knitting/gardening! 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On the Straightaway ...

Tour de Fleece Day Six ... I've hit the straightaway, just easy coasting.

The past three days I've taken it pretty easy (after my mammoth 4 ounce Monday).

For Team of Wonder, Wonder Why Alpaca on the Kromski (formerly on the Zebisis Spindle, moved to wheel)

Team Kromski: Also the WW alpaca!

Team Bring Me a Shrubbery: Meriboo in a nice shrubbery green, on the Trindle (Also Team Trindle)

And the tangerine Corriedale for Team Spindle.

I have 3/4 of a pair of socks finished:

The Button Up Socks. I have the leg of the other one knit, so I still have to do the heel flap, heel, gussets, foot, and toe.

They look kind of odd. The ones in the book looked different. Perhaps my gauge was off. Anyway, they fit! I have to get buttons for them still. I love to buy buttons. I don't mean a can of buttons, I mean taking my project to Jo-Anne's and searching the buttons on the cardboard backing until I find the perfect ones. I need ten for these socks. And they're functional buttons, too, not just decorative!

I enjoy spinning a little each day, and the variety keeps it interesting, but my left thumb is really sore. I'm not going to overdo it again!

Happy Tour de Fleece, and Fiber Arts Friday!

Monday, July 4, 2011

I Can't Believe I Spun the Whole Thing

Ok, I actually spun HALF the whole thing ... this lovely merino was already half spun from earlier, and I finished up the other half, about 4 oz, all in one sitting. It took me two episodes of Bones. My thumbs are sore, and I actually started using the pinky and ring finger on my right hand to pull the draft, instead of pinching it. It spared my right thumb, but the left one is sure sore!

Here is my day 3 Tour de Fleece total:

Saturday was Team of Wonder day, so I spindle-spun some Wonder alpaca on my Zebisis spindle (the light green fiber). This lovely alpaca, a native of Michigan, traveled again to D.C. and back to Baltimore, so it has been around!

Sunday was Team Trindle day, and I spun some natural alpaca I've had as a WIP for months. It's from Pacific Wool and Fiber. I spun two spindles-full yesterday, and plied it today and gave it a bath.

And then today was Team Kromski day, the blue merino. It was not my intention to spin so much at once, but I really didn't want to stop. I have lots more for Team Kromski, so I'm not too worried about running out.

Here, the Trindle ogles his fiber while it takes a warm bath.

Full disclosure: I didn't ply on the Trindle, I put the singles on bobbins and used the wheel to ply. I know that's lazy but I just didn't feel like fighting with the cats. Yarn unspooling rapidly from toilet-paper tubes just about makes them insane, and it's tough to spindle and fend them off!

I know I only made such great progress because I was off work today, and the tour has just started so my enthusiasm is high. I'm a bit more concerned about the amount of yarn I'm going to have piled up, waiting to be knitted --When's the next Knit Olympics? Crikey!

I'm off to roast some garden fresh vegetables for dinner!

(Not roasting the cucumbers, obviously, they just happen to be in the shot!)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Smithsonian Folk Life Festival 2011

Today, my friends and I went to the annual Smithsonian Folk Life Festival. The focus country this year is Colombia, the music was soul, and the organization celebrated was the Peace Corps. There was more to see than I can describe, but I will include what caught my eye. There was a lot of weaving, both plant and wool. Lots of mats, bowls, hats, etc, and the yarn weaving was rugs, bracelets, tapestries.

Rather than go through and describe everything -- which I can't because I didn't take notes, just pictures -- I will just present the photos and you can enjoy them :-)

My friend Melissa-of-the-Five-Children wrote up a  blog post with a slideshow from her perspective.

I did a little spinning for Team Of Wonder. In the car on the way to the Metro station, on the Metro, and on the Mall after lunch. I will do a bit more tonight, but today's totals aren't much! I was coated in sunscreen, and didn't want to get any on the fiber.

Happy Tour de Fleece, and a belated Fiber Arts Friday to all!