Thursday, May 17, 2012

Merino and Silk

You may have noticed in my last post that I had a little spinning on the wheel.

This is a white merino/silk blend from Knit Picks.

It starts out like this.

It unravels into a long strand of roving, which I seperate into pieces, like this:
Silk has a really long staple length and is pretty slippery, so I have been "spinning from the fold."  I started doing this accidentally before I knew it was a real thing.  But you basically fold your piece of fiber in half,
And let the fiber draft from the fold rather than from the end.  It seem less likely to draft too quickly/get too thin.

I've been practicing "long-draw" drafting where you control the amount of twist with your front hand while drawing the fiber out with your back hand.  This lady does a really good demonstration of what I'm trying to accomplish.

She is a lot better at it than I am, but I'm getting better.

I am also spinning this purple silk/merino I got from the MD Sheep and Wool Festival last year. 

I am sad I didn't get to go this year, so I am celebrating from afar.

I plan to ply the two together when I'm done.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Color Wheel

I got my spinning wheel, put it together immediately because I was too excited to wait, and then decided I wanted it to be a different color.  I got the unfinished version so that I could do exactly that, so I don't know what possessed me to wait until after it was all put together before going to the Sherwin Williams.  My brain doesn't always make sense.

But off to Sherwin Williams I went.  I walked in, a very nice man asked me how he could help.  I explained that I wanted to stain my spinning wheel.  Without batting an eyelash he asked me if it was finished or unfinished, new or used, and if I had already put it together.  He treated spinning-wheel-painting as if it were completely commonplace.  Which makes me want to know who these other spinners are and what color they painted their wheels.

Let me tell you, staining an assembled spinning wheel sucks.  There is not a lot of space between the different parts and you have to wipe the excess stain off as you go.  Even worse, after you stain it, you put a coating on it, let that dry, sand it and reapply another layer of coating.  What a pain in the ass!

For the time being, I left the flyer week and bobbins stain-free.  I wasn't sure if the yarn would rub the varnish off over time and if that would be a problem.  I didn't want to turn all my yarn pink. 

Now that I am typing that, it seems like an unreasonable fear, but that it why some of it is not purple.

The thing I like best about the paint job is the little Kiwi on the pedal.

I took a black marker to it before I varnished the pedals so it stands out pretty strongly.

Painting the wheel also gave me the excuse to unhook the pedals and oil them better.  They had been squeaking something terrible and driving me (and my roommate, I'm sure) completely nutter.

But now it is quiet and purple and very fun to spin with.

Monday, May 14, 2012

My Greatest Masterpiece So Far

I spent the last week working for the law school.  300 second-year students were learning how to put on trials in a week long program.  Lawyers came from around the country to teach them.  The first years, like me, worked the event as videographers, baliffs, and escorts to the several hundred high schoolers that served as jurors.   Throughout the week, I had LOTS of knitting time during cross examinations and closing arguments to finish my purple sweater.

While I've made other cool things in the past, sometimes they didn't fit perfectly, some didn't need to fit, and some where downright disastrous.  This time, I think I've made something to be proud of.

Awesome, right?  It fits like a glove (or rather, like a well-fitting sweater).  The only problem I can see is that the left sleeve appears to be slightly longer than the right.  Or my right arm is longer than the is unclear. 

Both sleeves grew quite a bit in the washing anyway, so I think I will just redo the sleeve on the left one to make it the same length as the right.  Or I will just leave it as proof that it is handmade when people don't believe it isn't store bought.

Me celebrating the fact that everything I own is purple.

Booty shot.  Look at that fit!
One of my co-workers told me, "It looks like you bought it at a store."  I told him to bite me.  My million-hours-to-make sweater looked way better than store-bought.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Merit Badge

I found this little pattern on Ravelry called Merit Badge.  Essentially, you knit little octagons,

take old buttons you have

Cover the button with the fabric and sew it tight around the back
And then decorate the front with anything you like.
I sent this one to my mom for Mother's Day (in addition to other things, don't worry).  It's kinda awkward-looking, but she was kind and said she liked it anyway as is the tradition of the day (I think she was just pleased it wasn't a macaroni necklace).

I am in the process of making about a million of them because they are a quick and easy way to use up yarn odds and ends.  I am not very artistic, though, and don't really know what to decorate them with.  Here is one I found online that I like:

Designed by AMANDA OCHOCKI, &
Taking suggestions.  A cow, maybe?  Hmm...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adventures in Silk

I showed you the mawata (also known as silk hankies) I got from Stitches South a couple of weeks ago.  Essentially they are square, thin layers of silk.  I decide to knit mine without spinning them first.
I had four different colors of hankies, each without about 15-20 layers.

This is what a single hankie looks like.

I gently stripped off each layer of silk.

The layers are very thin (see the layer on the left).  You can see right through them.

I poked a whole in the center of the layer and started stretching them into a thin loop.
When the loop was the thickness of about a worsted weight yarn, I broke it to make just one long line of silk.  Silk as very long and very strong fibers.

I rolled the strands up into a little multi-colored ball.  It is alarming how small the ball is, but if I did the math right, it should be enough for a pair of adult mittens ( I hope...)

Here is what I started to knit.

Pretty colors, yes?

This was a very fun if slightly frustrating project at first.  You have to keep your hands really smooth and moisturized or the silk catches on them:

My picture is sideways  but you get the point.  Sticky fibers.
I sent some silk hankies to Porpoise as well.  She said she is going to spin hers, so it will be interesting to see the differences in the way they knit up.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One Third a Lawyer

I'm done with the first year of law school!  Every time I say I am "one third a lawyer" I start singing this song:

Not yet a woman?  I obviously need a nap....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Leaves

I started this project last summer, but finished it just in time for this one.

The Leaf Paneled Sweater by Karapetyan.  Not entirely what I pictured (it is in the book Runway knits, so maybe I thought it would make me look like a runway model?), but pretty darn close.  I like the peek-a-boo lace down the front, even if it makes it completely inappropriate as work apparel.

The only problem is that is is a smidge, just a scosche, bigger than I would like it to be.  I have flirted with the idea of getting it wet and throwing it in the dryer to shrink it.  I even went so far as to make a swatch and dry it.  But something about this mercerized cotton seems to be impervious to my dryer no matter how hot I make it (that said, I am sure if I ACCIDENTALLY threw it in the dryer, it would come out barbie-sized just to spite me).

I've decided the only solution is to eat more cookies and/or grow a larger bust.  I think these are wise, practical plans.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Arrivals

I've had several new arrivals lately.  This one is from my friend Pete at the DOT who takes a trip to Iceland each year to take amazing photos of the 24-hour daylight.  He picked me up some lovely Icelandic yarn.
Three skeins are Alafosslopi  a bulky weight.  The fourth is Lettilopi in what appears to be a light worsted (DK maybe?).
Also, I heart the bag it came in.  Viking Sheep.
It is a little scratchier than the yarn I usually tend towards, so I am not entirely sure what to make with it.  Something felted?  Mittens?  More sheep like I did with the last Icelandic wool I got?  Suggestions?