I would have been done but …

So_other_sleeveWhile contemplating what to do about the length of the sleeve I realized that the fabric on the first sleeve felt a bit dense compared to the upper part of the body. This was reinforced by the fact that the sleeve was already about 1 inch longer than it should have been. So, I  to eventually faced the fact that the current ball of yarn didn’t match previous ones and that I would need to rip it out, spin more yarn and knit the sleeve again.

Although I need to spin two more ounces to re-knit the left sleeve,  I decided to started knitting the right sleeve with a remaining ball of yarn. You can’t see a difference in the photo but I can definitely feel it. This one turned out much lighter with the stitches looking much more even. So, ripping out all that knitting was the right decision.

Now back to the cuff.

The pattern specifies a sleeve length of 19.5 inches which is one inch too long for me so I’ll need to make an adjustment. The instructions says to stop knitting the honey yarn when the sleeve reaches 15 inches and there are 64 stitches on the needle but I stopped after reaching 14 inches and now have 72 stitches after decreasing two additional stitches at the middle of each cable.

At this point I’ll start following instructions for the medium sweater instead of the “small” one as I have been doing. This will add one repeat of the patterns on the cuff;  just six extra stitches. I’m positive that this won’t make the cuffs too big because I already attempted to follow the pattern for the small sweater and ended up with cuffs that were too tight.

All of my re-knitting hasn’t gone unnoticed. My husband commented today that it seems like I’ve been working on this sweater much longer than any other (not including spinning).

Just over an arms length to go

So_sleeveGot back on the project and managed to finish most of the left sleeve.

It’s a pretty basic sleeve, just pick up stitches around the arm hole and knit in the round with decreases every fourth row. It could however get a bit tricky if I have to shorten the sleeve but still want to used the same designs for the  cuff. The instructions say that the ecru part of the sleeve should be 15″ long with 66 stitches on the needle. It now measures 15″ inches and I have 70 stitches.

Looks like a good time to take a break and try on the sweater to see what adjustments might be needed.

Social weaver bird

So_upper_back_1Finally, I have enough time to actually post a picture of the back of the sweater.

The pattern mentions to use duplicate stitch to embroider the bird on the back once the sweater is finished but I ended up adding it using intarsia (closer view) .  Every time that I’ve attempted to use duplicate stitch the background yarn usually shows through too much, so unlike many knitters, I actually prefer to do intarsia.

I also joined the shoulder seems using the three needle bind-off even though the pattern says to use kitchener stitch. I figured that a bound off seam would be more stable.

Knitting this part has been so enjoyable that I kept on going and added the collar. Now I’ve run out of the honey colored yarn I’ll be spinning this week, unless of course, work doesn’t preempt my plans.

Total control

So_upper_frontAs difficult as handspinning and knitting might seem to be at times, it still never fails to help me unwind from pressures at work. It’s the one thing that I have total control over, can do on my own schedule and decide the level of quality of the finished product.

It’s been a totally hectic week at the office.  Instead of screaming, I knit.

The upper front is finished after having to redo the upper left side. On my first attempt I used a second ball of yarn but found that it felt a bit harsh as I knitted it because I hadn’t bothered to properly finish the skein after spinning. The yarn became much softer after letting it soak in very hot water for about fifteen minutes and then letting it dry.

Japanese short-rows came in very handy when working the sloping shoulders.

Pressing on

So_sweater_upper_body_1 The Spin-Off sweater is finally back.

It was put on hold while I waited for more of the honey colored merino/tencel fiber. Thanks to Woodland Woolworks, my spinning wheel has been busy for the last couple of weeks.

This time around I used Rita’s loop trick to constantly measure the thickness while spinning the singles. As soon as I got an ounce of fiber spun and plied I knitted up a swatch to check my gauge.

To achieve the correct gauge while knitting this part of the sweater I had to switch from size 3.25mm needles to size 3.00mm.

I know I’ve mentioned it before but, I love knitting with handspun yarn!

Paradise Lost

So_sweater_red_doneProgress on the Spin-Off sweater been halted for a couple of weeks while waiting on a order of  more merino/tencel top from Paradise Fibers.

While working on the body of the sweater I kept thinking about the merino/tencel yarn and wondering if it wasn’t just a bit too thick compared to the pure merino  yarn I had spun.  Once I finished the torso,  I paused before continuing and quickly to knitted up a swatch. The swatch confirmed my suspicion. I should have never spun all the merino/tencel top without actually making a swatch to check whether the yarn would produce the correct gauge.  At that point there wasn’t much to do but order more fiber.

So, after 1-1/2 weeks of waiting for my order I started wondering where it was. My previous orders had always been shipped out promptly and arrived quickly since Paradise Fibers is only about 380 miles away.

I sent an email on Tuesday but got no reply. I called several times today and finally got someone on the line early this evening. She said my order of needles had gone out last week! After telling her I didn’t order needles, she mentioned that she did have my fiber order and that they didn’t have it in stock. They would need to order it from Ashland Bay, which might take two months! I didn’t bother to ask why they hadn’t let me know about this and just asked have my order  canceled. All of this seemed quite odd so I asked the girl on the line if Kate Painter still owned the business. She said that the business had been sold last month.

I just placed an order for the top with Woodland Woolworks. Earlier this month I had an opportunity to stop by their shop and can confidently say that they can professionally handle the order.

While I wait for more  fiber,  I’m going to start a new project. Do you recognize it? It’s #11 from the current summer issue of Vogue Knitting.


Knitting continues

Spinoff_twospindlesProgress  has been steady.  As I get farther along it  gets harder to put down and get other things done.

Every project has it’s challenges and this one is no exception.  For the most part it’s coming along  quite well but  I have notice that  red background is  puckering a bit in the  large solid areas where  on the back side I  tacked  down  the unused  white yarn  to minimize the float. I try to monitor my tension on the white yarn, easing up to avoid puckering,  but that doesn’t seem to do much good. At this point I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that the puckering will go away once the sweater is blocked.

On my way to the NWRSA conference this Thursday I’m going to stop by Woodland Woolworks. I’ve been getting their catalogs for the past year but have yet to order from them. They seem to have just about anything a spinner or knitter might need.

Niddy noddy update

Last February I posted a photo of a unique niddy noddy that I’ve seen while attending a couple of spinning classes over the past year.  One of the owners of these niddy noddies works for the Weaving Works and said that she hasn’t been able to contact the maker for years and thus didn’t think he was still in business.  I’ve been holding out hope that someday one of these would cross my path. Well today I did one more web search and finally found a source,  Village Spinning & Weaving !

They also carry his skein winder.  While the skein winder might seem a bit pricey  it does have a built-in counter.  I’ll hold off adding to my order but will certainly add it to my “would like to have” list.

Knitting has commenced

It’s taken about a year and a half to get this far;  six months to give myself permission to buy a wheel and another year of  spinning classes and practice to produce acceptable yarn. Spinoff_start

One of the reasons I hesitated to start spinning was an unfounded fear that I would never produce yarn good enough for knitting as well as a bit of nervousness due to the relatively large investment I had to make before having much opportunity to find out whether I would stick with it.

For some folks it might be odd to hear that I  want my hand spun to look just as good as any commercial yarn, but that’s me. With any craft I do, I have this odd need to make my items as perfect as possible. I guess it come from a desire to show others that in this age of mass produced junk, that hand crafted items can be of much better quality and value than run-of-the-mill stuff  purchased at the mall.

So now that I’ve done lots of spinning and have finally started knitting with my handspun yarn, I’m so thrilled that I did eventually dive into this craft. I don’t know if other spinners/knitters feel this way, but I’m finding that knitting takes on a whole other dimension when using handspun yarn.

By the way, in a few of weeks I’ll be attending the Northwest Reginal Spinners’ Association conference . I was lucky to get all my first choices for classes – the ones taught by Rita Buchanan.  As I’ve collected back issues of Spin Off magazine, I’ve been finding her articles  the most informative for learning, so I feel lucky to actually get a chance to take two days worth of classes with her.

Merino Tencel blend spun


So this is what it looks like spun into a 2 ply. I’m pleasantly surprised at how nice this fiber mix is.  The plied yarn looks a bit stiff when if first comes off the wheel but once it’s washed it becomes soft and silky.

After spinning three bobbins of spinning singles, it became much easier to handle and to anticipate how fast the fiber supply slips through my fingers.  Now that I’ve got the rhythm down, It’s hard to stop and do any knitting. At this point I have three finished skeins and have three more to finish.

While spinning this fiber, I decided to start weighing my fiber before I spin it. I figured that this would hopefully help in getting the same amount of fiber on each bobbin and thus eliminating left over singles on one bobbin. Each of my bobbins seems to accommodate about 2 ounces of singles that can later be plied onto one bobbin.  For the most part this method works, although results do vary depending on how many self-plying samples I take while spinning singles.