Revenge of the 80s

Do you remember the just slightly slouchy hat with the handspun yarn from the other day?  Well, I had some yarn left when I was done with it. To be specific, I had a whole pile of the handspun (the goal of the exercise was to use all the handspun) and just a tiny (no, really, 30 grams tiny) bit of the main yarn.  So, after cursing my inability to judge how much yarn a project will take when I first imagine it, I did the natural thing.  I divided the main yarn exactly in half (I love my jeweler’s scale) and set to work making some mitts to match the hat.

That, my friends, is what 36 yards of the main yarn and about 6 yards of the handspun (per mitt) will get you.  Simplest thing ever, but comfy and quick and I love them.  And while I show them here with a thumb in the thumb hole, I’ve taken to wearing them slouch sock style.  That is, I just jam them on my wrist and let them crumple up and hide the thumb hole.

Now please, at least some of you, tell me you’re of about the same age and you remember spending time before school making sure your socks were scrunched up just so (or even layering your socks to get extra volume).  Please?  Don’t let me be alone in this, the 80s were a dark time for us all…

Just a Little Slouch

Hat’s done!  Started by worrying I didn’t have enough handspun…then moved onto worrying I didn’t have enough of the main yarn (Vally Yarns Sheffield).  Turns out I had enough of both, and so now I’ve cast on a pair of tiny mitts to go with it.  And now, of course, I’m worried I don’t have enough again.

So, I’m thinking it really is reversible.  Here it is knit side out:

And here purl side out:

And here’s the crown with the knit side out.

And yes, yes you do need to weave the ends in neatly if you want it to be truly reversible, but there are a few tricks for that, and I’m happy with how mine came out.  I know this is hat is easy as pie (stripes people, it’s stripes, it’s not hard), but it’s such a knitterly thing, and it’s a perfect excercise in using a few of the tricks that make knitting more fun and easier that I’ve found it delightful.

Some day, if the weather and my hair cooperate, I may even take a picture of it on me as opposed to on Esmerelda.

More Like It

I’ve recovered from my lying swatch incident (never a pretty sight) and am now no longer despondent.  The yarn is back on the needles, and I have a plan. This will be one of those slouchy hats…aka, one of those hats that looks like crap while it’s in progress.  I’ve got great faith though.  I think it will be suitably nifty, and it’s totally doing its job and showing off the (little tiny bit of) handspun I had available.  The real question is do I like the inside or the outside better?

What do you think, here’s the outside(maybe):

And here’s the inside(maybe):

Or do we just call it a tie and pretend it’s reversible?

Mix and Match

As explained the other day, I’ve only got about 70(ish…the ish is important) yards of the handspun pseudo-yarn.  I want to pair it with something else to sort of stretch the goodness.  I actually have a plan for (more or less) what I want to do.  And do feel free to remind me of this supposed plan and laugh loudly when I get stuck and change my mind.  I just need to decide which of these three yarns I’ll use for the extra bits.  What do you guys think?  Purple, green, or blue?

Not Totally Un-Yarnlike

It certainly doesn’t look like the stuff you’d buy in the store, but it does have many yarnlike qualities.  Remember, I am a rubbish spinner.  I am, somewhat surprisingly, fairly comfortable with that.

It’s about 70 yards in sort of a sport to dk weight.  I’ve got some solid color yarn that matches the green in there pretty well that I will likely combine it with.  I’m envisioning some sort of cuff.  You’ll doubtless hear all about it when it leaps on the needles.

Oh, and this is just me being smugly pleased with myself.  Check this out, it actually hangs straight.

I think (and again, rubbish spinner so I could be wrong) this means it’s fairly well balanced.  Normally when I hang it up to dry it goes curling up on itself.  This time, pleasantly (and surprisingly) chill.

Not a Complete Failure

You guys are awesome to offer suggestions, thank you.  Let me see if I can explain my thinking just a bit.  When I decided to pick this particular bit of fluff back up, I sort of needed to get reacquainted with it.  One of the things I wanted to know was how long each of the pieces I had was.  So I wound it off onto my swift, and counted the number of revolutions.

Turned out the first skinny strand was 40 turns of the swift, the second one was 60, and the third (fattest) one was 30.  But, I had as many grams of fluff left unspun as in the fattest strand, so there was hope yet.  I spun up the rest of the fluff onto the end of the fat strand, and got to 60 turns of the swift when I was done.

Then came the (possibly ill-advised, but not disastrous) soak and dry.  I didn’t weigh it down or prevent it from twisting as it dried, so I don’t think I took all the life out of it.  Then it was time to get the strands wound up.  Good news bad news here.  The good news, is that the longer skinny strand and the fattest strand went onto their tubes just fine.  The bad news is that shorter skinny strand just broke and broke and broke.  Not sure why, don’t really care.  I made the executive decision that I’d just use the two long ones and consign the short breaky one to some sort of facility for recalcitrant fiber.

So here, making their debut on the blog, are some lovely toilet paper rolls.  They totally belong on the list of ‘stuff I never thought I’d show the internet.’

And here, is the gizmo I concocted to hold them while I worked.

Maybe saying lazy kate made it seem too grand (or maybe there’s something more to those I don’t know about yet so it wasn’t the right term?).  In any case, this is a plastic storage bin that usually holds my hair stuff, two straight needles, and two hair elastics.  Takes about 30 seconds to slap together, works great.

And finally, more or less proof that this worked.

Yeah yeah, it’s lumpy bumpy crap, but that’s ok.  I sort of wanted the fat and the skinny strands to have a greater difference between them.  The fat one uses twice as many grams of fiber to make the same length of strand, but apparently that’s not quite enough of a difference.  I may try it again with a greater delta.

I think this should end up giving me about 80 yards or so, and I have a solid color yarn that picks up one of those colors, so I’ll likely combine the two to make…something.  Not quite sure what yet.  But first, I have to finish with this.

And dude…does anyone else get a sore shoulder from doing this?  Because, um, ow.

Rank Amateur

I am a crap spinner.  No, really.  Crap.  I have no skill.  I have put in very little practice.  My approach to date has been ‘pretend…I’m sure if I just pretend, I’ll grasp it by instinct without the application of any effort.’  So far, not much success, but it is amusing.  This usually does not bother me much.  One of the benefits of this method is that I don’t spend any time spinning, so my deficiencies don’t have much opportunity to trouble me.

But this Saturday I decided to clean out the stash.  One of the things uncovered in the stash was some spinning fiber (really rather a lot of it, given that I don’t spin).  The vast majority of it went right back into the stash to continue lowering at me from the corner of the closet.  But there was one wee bit I couldn’t resist.

I think I bought this back in 2009 at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet festival.  I don’t remember who sold it or precisely what the fiber content is.  The only thing I remember is that the label said the shimmery bits were milk fiber, which I thought was hugely amusing.

So what I found in the closet were two singles already finished and sitting on toilet paper tubes (I put them on my ball winder and wind off my spindle onto them…keeps tension in the center when I take it off the ball winder), and one partial one that was spun…differently.  It loooooks (and really, this was years ago and I have no memory of doing it, so I could be totally wrong) like I divided the fiber into quarters, spun two of the quarters into two skinny(ish) singles, and intended to spin the other half into one fatter single.  I was half way through that fatter one.  I wanted a distraction from the final steps of the stash clean up, so I thought I’d give it a try. This was the remaining fluff.

It was oddly easy.  An hour later, it was done.

I took it all of my spindle and took the other singles off the toilet paper tubes, just to get a sense of what I had.  I gave it all a bit of a soak and a hang (no idea if it’s ok to do this with singles, but since this had just been taking up closet space for years, I’m obviously not all that invested in it).  Now it looks like this (still slightly damp).

That’s two skinny (ish) and one fat(ish) strands.  I’ll jury rig some sort of lazy kate (no really, it involves a plastic storage bin, knitting needles, hair elastics, and toilet paper tubes, that’s the kindest term you could apply) and see what happens.  I’m predicting heartbreak and profanity, but it should at least be amusing.

Well Dressed Pumpkin

Why yes that is a pumpkin.  Three of them really.  Well, I’m not actually sure if the white one or the green one are technically pumpkins, but they’re playing the role of pumpkin for me this year.  And yes they’re still on the porch.  As far as I’m concerned the pumpkins can reasonably hang out on the porch and be considered ‘festive decorations’ rather than ‘signs of terrible yard maintenance habits’ until Thanksgiving weekend or until the squirrels devour them — whichever comes first.

Why do you ask?  Oh, you were surprised about the neck warmer on the pumpkin.  Well, that’s slightly more reasonable.  Really though, do you have anything better in your immediate vicinity around which you could drape a woolly scrap of fluff for a quick photo?  Because the pumpkin was the best I could manage on short notice.  The cats weren’t going to cut it, and taking a picture of your own neck is more challenging than you might think (and it’s a really really unflattering angle if you get it wrong).  I may see if I can co-opt a photogenic friend into modeling it for a proper photo next weekend.

I’m still under-buttoned, but the bone skewer is growing on me.  The wrap is too.  It’s more or less a one row pattern.  It looks almost exactly the same on the front and back, it doesn’t curl, and it’s super lofty, which means its warm.  You could make it just about any size you wanted and it’s soothing to knit while not quite being totally mindless.  Perhaps most importantly, it matches most of my pajamas, which means I can convince myself it’s fine to wear it around inside when I’m cold.  It was the perfect thing to do with a shortish skein of somewhat…eclectic…yarn.  What more can you ask of a quick knit?

Just as important, this means I’ve finished Heather’s socks, the tentacles, and the neck wrap all in the space of a few days.  This feels like progress, like getting things done, like ticking things off the dread and dire list, which is spiffy in all ways.


See those dots?  Those giant, fluffy, white dots?

Those are snow flakes.

There are not many of them there in the picture (it turns out there is a distinct limit to how long I’m willing to stand barefoot in the snow in my pajamas waiting for snow flakes to alight upon my knitting in a picturesque fashion), but quite a few in the yard.  It’s our first snow of the winter and it’s a good one.  It’s coming down hard as I type this.  The grass is covered and it’s starting to stick to the sidewalks.  I wholeheartedly approve.  I will be making soup and bread and maybe a pie to properly mark the occasion.  All of you thin-blooded types who take unreasonable delight in the scorching soul-crushing heat of summer?  This is pay back.  It’s my turn to flit about like a deranged elf informing anyone within earshot that it’s snowing and I’m happy about it.  I won’t be quite this enthusiastic come the end of February, but for now?  Unrestrained glee.

It was snowing when I woke up, so (after doing the requisite first snow dance of joy and informing The Boy of the important event) I grabbed my little neck warmer and finished the last half a dozen rows, bound off, rolled him up, and took him outside to introduce him to his nemesis.  He fared quite well.  He’s off for a bit of a soak and block now, but will be ready to report for duty by tomorrow.  All I have to do is find buttons.

Bits and Pieces

Having the furnace on is lovely.  It is definitely warmer with the furnace on, but it’s not exactly warm.  We have an old house (built in 1920), and it has the original windows and absolutely no insulation in the walls.  We love it, it’s beautiful, but it is more than a bit drafty.  We also have an old furnace.  It’s not quite as old as the house, but is still rather elderly as these things go.  The combination of old furnace and drafty house means the gas bill gets rather staggering if we set the heat above about 58.  So we spend the winter well wrapped up.  Now please don’t worry that this is any sort of a hardship.  We’re both wired for the cold and are likely to start cracking the windows if it gets much warmer than that.  We’re totally fine.

The only time it’s a problem is if I have to sit still for a long time.  Say, to work on the computer.  Or knit.  Or read.  The obvious solution is to have lots of little bits of wooliness about to wrap up in if I happen to be sitting still for a while or sitting somewhere exceptionally drafty.  I’m almost always wearing woolly socks, and I’ve got fingerless mitts scattered all over the house.  I also have a little mini scarf/neck warmer thing I made with some of my earliest handspun, and I love it dearly.  Last night, instead of, say, working on any of the zillion other things I really should be knitting, I cast on for another one.  Now the yarn I’m using is like my second handspun ever.  I know it’s more or less crap.  I did it on a lousy toy spindle, and I had no idea what I was doing (not that I know much now, but I know enough to know this was not done well).  I’m pretending the whole project is an experiment in making the best of a yarn with some…erm…challenging characteristics.  It’s bulky, there’s not much of it, and it changes in thickness rather dramatically from one spot to the next.  But it is soft, and it’s one of the very few blue things I like (the roving was the colorway Superstition and came from etsy seller Fiber Optic).

And thanks to everyone who likes my I’m-sick-and-can’t-be-bothered-to-do-anything-hard socks.  While they’re super simple to make, they’re oddly challenging to write up.  I’ll probably do it eventually if enough people are interested, but it will have to be some time early next year at the soonest.  There are just too many other things going on to get it done any sooner.  The next thing I finish will be Heather’s sock (likely done tonight).  Then my friend’s hat.  And I may need to make an extra tentacle for another project.  Then I’ve got some birthday socks I really should make some progress on if they’re to be for this birthday.  I think I really need to institute a moratorium on casting on until some of the current projects are done.  I’m not usually prone to such scattered knitting, but lately I’ve been helpless to resist.