Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happiness is a scarf

Yay for a pretty yarn and a nice pattern! As promised, here's a visual update on the progress for my scarf. I think this photo captures the colorway of the yarn much better than the first one.

I am proud to point out the even edges, the straight lines, the inability to see where I had to fix several rows by ripping them out and getting them back on the needle... A very good beginner project, if'n I do say so myself.

My first official knitting class is this weekend. I have no idea exactly how that shall progress. I think I've got most of the basics at this point down - I can knit, perl, k2tog, knit behind, do a long-tail cast on, and a simple bind off. There's ever so much more to learn, of course, I just don't know where my teacher will start!

In other news, I sent 2 of the 4 balls of angora yarn off to Scotland. It was actually cheaper than I expected to send it international first class - only about $7! I now feel less silly about the whole thing - the recipient totally couldn't get this yarn for $7, and I doubt I could get the nice mohair yarn she's sending me for that amount. So, all is right again with the world.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

You know it's not going to be a good day...

You know it's not going to be a good day when the day starts off by messing up making coffee. Did you know that different coffee filters have different flow rates, and that a particular coffee grind (fine, medium, coarse) may work great in one filter and clog up another?

No, I didn't know that either.

Suffice to say, we ended up stopping by a bakery so we could get drinkable coffee on the way to work.

In other "well, this wasn't the best day of the week" news, I found out my newest drop spindle is back-ordered, my roving package didn't arrive today, and no one showed up to knit night. As my mother would say, it was all just pitiful!

The good news is ('cause really, there is always good news if you look hard enough) I'm that much farther along in the scarf I'm working on and it really does look great. I'm still puzzled by the loose loop that follows me around the scarf and I have no idea what will happen when I get to the binding off stage, but for now, it is all I had hoped it would be. I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Oh, and one other bit of fun - I'm trading yarn with someone in Scotland! A scottish knitter put out a plea for some extra angora yarn, which I happen to have and decided I don't much care for. Or, more specifically, I don't care for how much the cats DO care for it! So, I offered to send it to her, and she's going to send me some mohair yarn she has extra of. Yes, it would probably be easier for both of us to just buy it local (angora can be bought in Scotland, can't it?) but it's nice to just trade! It's like getting an international care package. I'll be shipping that out tomorrow, and I will look forward to my care package in a few weeks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Beautiful yarn and a beautiful pattern

Finally, after dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I found a nice and simple knitting pattern that I can a) follow and b) like the end result of! I'm using a skein of the Martha's Vineyard brown-orangey yarn and the end result will be a lovely fall scarf.

One of the reasons I'm focusing on scarves at the moment is so I can get lots of simple practice on how to hold the yarn, which is harder than you might think, and get my hands used to all the small motions. I'm also learning to be comfortable with the saggy stitch that follows me around the pattern - turns out it gets absorbed into the work when you get to the point of binding off. Scarves are good practice. Hats are next! And maybe a coffee cup cozy. :-)

In other fiber-y news, as of yesterday I have even more lovely yarn to play with. My order from Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm for Avocado and Blueberry colorways yarn came in - 2 skeins of each. I'd have gotten lots more if I could have afforded it! I very much want to dye yarn just like Susan, the owner of the farm, does! I'm thinking hat and scarf, and maybe mittens, with this yarn. :-)

Tomorrow is my second knit night, yay! I am looking forward to showing folks my scarf, and maybe talk about spinning.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two new things learned today about knitting

Today was a quiet day. I didn't do much in my fiber creation frenzy, just some shopping and some general practice. I practiced spinning - getting better, but it's still a bit uneven. I worked on my crochet - about 1/4 of the edge left to do! Yay! And I worked on some basic knitting skills - this time, felting and picking up dropped stitches in my work from yesterday.

I'm pleased with the new things learned, but wow do I have a long way to go! So, in the spirit of getting there from here, I took another step in my knitting commitment - I bought some double-pointed needles to work on a hat. I'm told one has to do the first stitch as you switch from needle to needle very tightly... Can I possibly do stitches any tighter than I do them now? Anywho, I now have the yarn, the stylish button, and the needles. Now, to find the time and the skill. I wonder if I should take this to Knit Night this week, or my crochet project. Hmmmm.

Also on my ponder list: what project shall I take with me on the plane in November when I fly out to New Hampshire? I will be done with this particular blanket by then, and the yarn for the last baby blanket may not be here by then. I haven't been all that successful in doing any significant knitting projects yet, so I don't know how well I'll do with 6-8 hours of travel time with nothing to do but knit or crochet. (I don't think spinning will work all that well on an airplane.)

That's about it for now. Tomorrow if my sweetheart and I get home from work early enough, I'll take pictures of my yarn stash and post them up on Ravelry, maybe with an interesting picture or two here. The yarn for the hat is just too darn cool!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

About last night...

So last night went something like this:

I shall figure out this pattern! I shall figure out this pattern!
OK, got the cast on - thank goodness for long-tail cast on, it's so darn easy
Next, purl the foundation row. I love purling, but I bet I'll make it too tight. Again.
Now on to the pattern itself! And just as I thought, that foundation row is too damn tight.
Ow! Ow! Hand cramp! *grumble grumble*
OK, got that row with all it's slip stitches and yarn overs and knit togethers; let's do it again!
Why is this next row so much easier than the row before it? Ah, well, I'm on a roll now!
Uh oh. It's the dreaded ... third row. This is the row that has defeated me twice before. But not this time!!!
Ugh. Argh. Are these stitches supposed to be this loose? I wonder if that's what happens when you knit in to the yarn-overs of the previous row. Oh, well, let's just go with it and see what happens.
HA! I did it! I got the third row! Hmmm. Doesn't look all that great. Maybe it will get better as the pattern repeats.
Lala, repeating those first two pattern rows. I like this part. Why isn't the whole pattern this easy?
And now, that third row of the pattern again. Can I do it? Will it work?
It worked, it worked! I so rock!
This is really an ugly pattern. *knit, knit, knit some more*
This is a *really* ugly pattern.
Wait. Why I am I doing this again? Oh damn! I messed up a stitch on this row ... somewhere.
I could try to fix it.
But this is a really ugly pattern.

And so went my evening. I've put the knitting needles away for now, and today took out the crochet and made progress on the edging for a baby blanket I'm working on. I'm really very happy with how that's turning out!

For the remainder of the weekend, when I'm not doing my chores, I'll finish up that blanket, work on a seed stitch iphone holder for a friend, and practice spinning with my drop spindle. And speaking of spinning, I ordered another drop spindle, somewhat lighter. It's to spin the absolutely fabulous dyed roving a friend of mine makes. I better practice more to do that wool justice!

And with that, I'm back to my frantic fiber weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rats, foiled again!

I didn't have much time to work on my knitting last night. Just enough time to start that scarf again with the increases and decreases... and then have to frog it again. This has definitely become personal!

Have you ever noticed that when you frog a project a time or five, the yarn gets more difficult to work with? I hate to have to cut a few feet off the end, but grrrrr.

Here's another thing I've noticed - seed stitch is infinitely easier than stockinette stitch because the tension between purl and knit stitches totally balance out. Which, while nice, makes me despair of ever getting my tension right! I am the boa constrictor of knitting.

Next weekend I have a private knitting class, which I can't wait for! I had to choose between a knitting class or a spinning class. It was a really tough choice. I will get to the spinning class someday.

And last item of interest for me - why aren't there any fiber festivals in the winter? There seemed to be lots that I missed in September and October, but then nothing until February. What's up with that??? In February, tho', I'll get to go to STITCHES West 2009. There is a thread on Ravelry regarding what people intend to buy, and I'm excited and intimidated! Sounds like I shop til I dropped, getting yarn, roving, fancy needles, and who knows what else. I want it all!!! And I want it now! Which means it's probably good I have to wait until February. :-)

Tonight, it's back to that scarf. I may post pictures if I can get to row three so that someone can say "oh, that's what you're doing wrong".

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Knit night in Palo Alto was a blast! Lisa and her almost 2 year old Darwin, Hilary, Katya, Stacy and I all hung out at Printer's Cafe and admired each other's work (especially Lisa's socks) and talked about everything from the CalDAV standard to the difficulty of finding Irish wool yarn in Ireland. I worked intentely on a gauge swatch (and boy was it tight - perhaps I'm still a bit too anxious about my knitting?) and displayed my almost-done crochet baby blanket. Fun was had by all.

With the gauge done and yes, a bit too tight despite already going up a needle size or two, I went home with my sweetie and started work on the actual object - a scarf that will let me learn more about increases and decreases. The first two rows went fairly well, and I was quite tickled with myself. Then the third row happened, which somehow caused the second row to ... disintegrate, which then had me trying (and failing) to repair it, and then I frogged the whole darn thing. It was only three rows, after all.

I have no idea what I did wrong, but at that point it was time for bed. I am going to be twitchy and anxious all day today at the office since what I _really_ want to be doing is working on figuring out that pattern! ARGH! Fortunately, I did bring the yarn and pattern with me so I can work on it after business hours, but it's going to be a long day waiting for that point.

I'm looking forward to getting out again next week to meet with the Knit Group, and next month, it'll be time to branch out to the Black Sheep Handweavers Guild meeting and see what's happening with fiber fanatics over there!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tonight is my first group knit night

And while some people may stress about what to wear, I'm trying to figure out what project to bring!!! Do I bring the yarn and pattern to start my first scarf and hat set tonight? Or do I bring the baby blanket I've been crocheting for a few weeks in the hope of getting it finished?

It's a tough decision. I mean, I could use all the pointers I can get with my knitting, but on the flip side if I want to be able to actually talk with these people it would be better to have something my hands already know how to do. What to do, what to do...

I'll post back tomorrow with a report on how it went, and most importantly, which project I pulled out of my bag!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's a swatch!

I did my first cast-off last night. I can see why folks say they tend to be _really_ tight! Next time I'll do that with a larger needle. And from here, I'm going to see if I can felt the thing. I'm not sure how I feel about felting. I love seeing the intricacy of stitches - probably why I started with crochet a few years ago! But I want to see first hand what felting does, if it hides the occasional mistake, if you get any texture from the stitches after felting, and so on.

Tonight, however, I'm going to start knitting something - I don't know what yet - from my MV Fiber Farm stash. Susan, the owner of the MV Fiber Farm CSA, won a great "tech makeover" prize that I and hundreds of others were voting for so we could see live, webcam action at the kidding barn. So tonight I celebrate her victory and my impending waste of time watching sheeps and goats from 3000 miles away by drinking a nice glass of wine and knitting.

Maybe ... a scarf!

Monday, October 20, 2008

is it a swatch, or is it a proto-scarf?

So as I was working on my pretty orange something-or-other, it occurred to me that since I'm working on this as a learning experience, maybe I should limit it to a swatch and do things like learn to bind off and try my hand at felting. (Can one even felt in a front loading washing machine?) Decisions, decisions. I shall have to take the question to Ravelry and see what folks think!

In other news, my favorite Yarn CSA (well, the _only_ Yarn CSA!) is opening up another farm in Hudson Valley! Wheeeee! I splurged and got a share at that farm too, tho' I'm debating whether it should be roving instead of yarn. I have some time to decide - I'll see how I'm doing with this spinning stuff.

That's it for now. It's back to work for me, so I can support this fiber habit!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Beginning knitting - the new way to hand pain

One of these days I'll finally understand the concept "too much of a good thing." Last night and this morning, I played with drafting and spinning until I strained my back from holding my arms straight in front of me as I was working the drop spindle. My sweetheart suggested that today I work on knitting, since that's something I've been teaching myself. So, I pulled out my happy yarn stash and started working with my MVFiber Farm sport-weight wool.

At first, I tried a 4x4 ribbing stitch (4 knits, 4 purls, lather, rinse, repeat) but I kept losing count. So I ripped that out (twice) and then switched to a seed stitch (1 knit, 1 purl, never the same twice). And that looks fantastic!

Of course, what you see in the photo is only about 3-4" tall and it took me about 5-6 hours. That's the downside. Well, that and the joints in my hands swelling up a bit (can you say "too much tension"?). The upside is that the stitches are very even, not too tight, and that 5-6 hours including ripping out a row and figuring out how to get all the stitches back on the right way. You (mostly) can't tell which row was frogged!

I want to keep going - this is a very meditative process - but I think I would lose all use of my left hand for a few days. :-\ So instead, I'll blog about it! But tomorrow, I'm going back to that proto-scarf.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My drop spindle is here!

So what if the yarn is probably overspun? So what if it's only single-ply? I swear I saw something just like it in the store that I thought would be fabulous for a scarf!

This is being done on a 1.6 o top spindle with 3oz. wool top roving.

Oh, and I have a spinning one on one class scheduled for Nov. 1. I'll follow that with a knitting class - who knows? Maybe I'll learn to knit using my very own yarn!

What is it about yarn, anyway?

Once upon a time, I got this hankerin' to work on doilies. Don't ask me why - I just wanted lace doilies. But to get there, I needed to teach myself to crochet. And in learning to crochet, I found out about purses and sweaters and scarves and fingerless gloves... oh, and doilies. Time past and I sort of stopped crocheting in favor of commuting and kayaking. But with the invitation to create baby blankets for premie's at the local children's hospital, I found a book with nifty baby blanket patterns, which had me suddenly creating baby blankets for all the people around me deciding to have babies this fall, and seeing more people knitting as well as crocheting. Wait, there's more! Then I find out a friend back east is doing all sorts of cool things with spinning and dyeing, and I got on to Ravelry, and now I'm teaching myself to knit, signing up for a spinning course - WHERE DOES THE MADNESS END???

I love it, tho'. So many fun things to create! So many ways to freak out my cats by having all this fiber around the house which smells like something they should eat (but the can't - yarn is bad for kitty innards)!

Thank you, CrazyCatLady, for truly triggering the craving for yarn in my world. I'll get you for this someday. ;-)