Monday, December 29, 2008

Mmmmm ... Butterscotch

You've likely all seen the Lace Ribbon Scarf from the Spring '08 issue of Knitty. It seems to be quite a popular pattern with 2,585 projects posted on Ravelry as of this morning. It's easy to see why it's so popular when you see Sonia's lovely version.

Sonia knit this with FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in the Butterscotch colorway.

Here's a closeup while it was still on the sticks, where you can really see the detail. The color is perhaps a bit truer in this photo as well.

You can see more of Sonia's beautiful work on Ravelry where she is smaksimo.

Thank you so much to Sonia for sharing her beautiful work! Happy Monday to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tat Softly

For today's customer project feature, I have another lovely tatted piece by Pam.

Pam made this Victorian collar using FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in the Speak Softly colorway.

Pam sells her amazing work in her Etsy shop (beware a visit ... you could get lost for quite a while browsing the beautiful and unusual pieces there!).

A big Thank You to Pam for sharing her work! As much as knitting will always be my favorite, it's so much fun to see the occasional tatting, crochet, and weaving project. Such diverse talent out there in the yarn-loving world.

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season!

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I promised last week that I would post the results of my first attempt at drop spinning. It causes me some pain to follow through with that, but I'm a woman of my word and so here it is:

I call this pyarn. You know, like "pleather." From a distance and perhaps to non-yarn-lover eyes, one might think this is yarn. On closer inspection, it is clearly just a sad substitute for yarn. It is pyarn (pronounced with a hard p).

The links and tips about park and draft really did help a great deal. At least I was able to come up with something! And in the process, for an occasional split second here or there, I got a bit of a sense of how it's supposed to work. For a few fleeting moments while creating this monstros ... I mean this pyarn, it felt right. The fiber briefly moved smoothly through the drafting process. The spindle turned and the twist traveled up the fiber in a way that felt right. Those moments were quite fleeting, but I got a tiny taste of how it is perhaps supposed to work.

Many of you recommended spending ten minutes or so a day practicing and that makes sense in theory. The thing is, I find this to be more of a messy business that I anticipated. I need to change into "spindle clothes" (that is, clothing that I am prepared to have covered in bits of fiber) and the vacuum must come out after my little endeavor or I'll be dealing with flying bits of fiber everywhere. None of that will deter me from continuing to work on learning this, but it will likely be in longer sessions spread out over time when I can squeeze it in. Of course, that may make it harder to develop the feel and rhythm for it, but that's alright. I never imagined becoming a spinner. Just thought it would be fun to give it a go.

In the meantime, there's also some knitting going on here. I finished the front, back and sleeves of the sweater I've got on the sticks. All that remains is a broad neckband that travels the length of the V-neck and around the back. It's done in an allover cabled fabric, so it's going to take some time, but I have another project that's taking priority. I know that goes against my one-project-at-a-time rule, but this new project is not just for me. It has a purpose and a timeline. Something very special is coming. But you will have to be patient and wait a bit longer to hear about that. More info will be coming soon.

Great weekend to all!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Beautiful and Practical

You know how I love projects that use leftover yarn and today I have a great one to share with you.

Tina made this lovely cowl using about a quarter of a skein of leftover FF Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn.

The pattern is the Good Luck Cowl by Christianne Gerstner, available free on her blog. The colorway is the old favorite, Midnight Passion, which is now discontinued (or at least on the backburner for a while). I think this may perhaps be the all-time best selling of the FF colorways and I finally put it aside some time back after it seemed to have run its course. I still get an occasional request for it though, so you may see it again some day. It certainly does look lovely in the product of Tina's skilled hands!

Great project! Gotta love a practical use of leftover yarn that yields something so beautiful. Thank you so much to Tina for sharing her work! You can see more on Ravelry where she is misplacedpom or on her blog. (Seriously ... go take a look. She has some really gorgeous things that are sure to inspire you to get the sticks flying!)

Everyone have a glorious Monday. It's bitterly cold here in Oregon, which is quite unusual. Add to that the fact that we actually got snow here yesterday and my plan is to stay safely indoors, perhaps curled up at least a portion of the day with some knitting.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

More Spindle Talk

I just had to drop a quick post here today to thank you all so very much for your words of encouragement, useful links, and general support for my little toe-dipping venture into spindling! Your words have inspired me to give it another whirl this weekend. I promise you . . . no matter how pathetic my attempt may be, I will post photos next week.

I've also gotten a few comments and also e-mails about the possibility of carrying roving in the future. So here's a little secret: I've got about 70 pounds of undyed roving that's been patiently waiting for an absolute eternity.

There is both an Australian wool there and also a superwash merino. I bought it long ago, with the plans to add some roving to my line, but after a bit of dyeing experimentation and more thought, I felt as though I could not do it justice since I'm not a spinner myself. I don't think I need to be an expert spinner to dye roving, but I feel as though I need to have a greater comfort level in handling the beast, as well as a better sense of how the dyed roving will look when converted into yarn.

For those of you who have been around forever, you may remember this:

That is handspun by Anne Hanson, using some of the roving I dyed. I sent her a few ounces of a couple of colors and fabulously wonderful gal that she is, she sent some back to me as gift, all spun up into the most glorious yarn! I still haven't used it. It spends most of its time sitting somewhere in plain sight so that I can gaze at it.

Anyhow, a big Thank You for all of your support! You guys are the best!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Instrument of the Devil

Remember the play The Bad Seed? Several movies were made from it as well. You know the one, with the little girl who looked so angelic and sweet but who was evil to the core?

Well, my own little bad seed has crept into my happy home:

It looks so inviting and lovely! What could be better than a bag filled with fiber and two drop spindles? Ahhh ... looks can be deceiving! This is no doubt an instrument of the devil.

I don't know what possessed me to buy this. I've never spun yarn before, either on a drop spindle or a wheel, and never really had a great desire to learn. It always seemed like it might be fun, but with limited time for knitting I just never saw the point in learning to spin. It would just eat into my knitting time. So why, oh why, did I suddenly decide to make this purchase?

The spindles and fiber came with a little instruction handout. It's a one-pager that uses words like carded, combed, and draft (which, of course, is a foreign language to a non-spinner). I found myself completely unprepared to even give it a whirl (sorry for the pun ;) based only on the instructions and so I set about doing some online research. After watching a few video clips, I was ready to give it a try.

The result was a half hour of frustration that yielded zero of anything that could remotely be called "yarn." I did, however, produce a wonderful array of little bits of fiber clinging to every nearby surface, including myself.

It's quite clear that I'm not a natural at this! The part that I find problematic is this whole idea of "drafting." In the videos, it looks so simple. Left hand holding right below the "draft zone" and right hand moving upward after giving the evil device a spin and then drawing the fiber down from the draft zone as it takes the twist. Well, it just didn't work out so easily for me. I thought the fiber would pull and stretch out of the draft zone easily, but I found it to be more of a game of tug o' war. The stuff just doesn't pull apart the way I imagined. I suppose that makes sense and is a good thing, as if it pulled apart that easily the yarn created likely wouldn't have much strength.

I also found that the sites I reviewed didn't address at all the question of how much fiber should be worked with at any one time or how thick the little strip of fiber being worked should be. I know that probably depends on the thickness of the yarn one hopes to create, but a little hint or clue would have been nice. I tried different quantities and widths, all to no avail.

Yes, I think this thing is an instrument of the devil. Rather than the pretty picture above that looks so inviting, I think this photo comes closer to the true nature of the beast:

In this photo, it looks more like what it is: some sort of torture device designed to inflict great pain.

For now, I've set this aside and am allowing it to look pretty in its little plastic bag. I'm sure I'll take it out again soon and give it another go, but I'm not feeling very confident that I'll be able to master this particular skill. I could take a class and I'm sure that would help, but that would cut into my knitting time, right?


Monday, December 08, 2008

A Taste of Spring

As we head toward winter, I have a couple of projects to share with you that will bring cool Spring evenings to mind. (How can I be longing for Spring already when Winter hasn't even started yet?)

First up is Marjorie's Bee Field Shawl knit with FF Laceweight Merino in the Notorious colorway:

The pattern is by Anne Hanson and includes a variety of bee-themed stitch patterns.

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! You can get a taste of more of Marjorie's work on Ravelry where she is primetimeknitter and on her blog.

Next up is Vicki's lovely rendition of the Old Shale Shawl (pattern by Evelyn Clark).

Vicki used FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Wool Yarn in the Chocolate Pink Cherry colorway. Vicki is Redtabby on Ravelry and has plenty more lovely projects posted there for you to peruse and enjoy.

A big Thank You to Marjorie and Vicki for a much-appreciated infusion of springtime goodness on this gray December morning!

Friday, December 05, 2008

I'm Not the Only One with FO's

With the holiday last week, I took a break from blogging other than my usual Monday post. When I returned to it this week, I found myself scratching my head and wondering what to post. I haven't done much knitting this past week or so, although I did break my "one project at a time" rule and set aside my sweater-in-progress for a moment to crank out a quick hat. It's about the cutest little hat in the world, but for the life of me I can't get a decent photo of it.

You just can't see the stitch pattern in the pictures. Ah well. Trust me. It's very cute. I used my Alpaca/Wool Yarn for this, with the plan of sending it to my mother, but it turned out a bit smaller than I expected so I'll probably just keep it for myself. (My head is the size of a peanut.)

As I thought about what I my blog about this week, it suddenly occurred to me that I never showed off my husband's recent FO: the bathroom vanity he built for us.

Ta da!

I love this piece so much it hurts a little. The design worked out just as I hoped, with the recessed tower cabinets on each side serving as great storage space in lieu of a traditional medicine chest. For the mirror, we bought a simple beveled mirror that hangs free a few inches away from the wall. The wood piece above from which the mirror hangs is where the eventual light fixture will mount. (Right now, we have the old lights that were in the bathroom when we bought the house. Very ugly and cheap looking.)

I also love how the materials work together. The rectangular shape of the sink carries the feel of the right angles that you can see on the trim of the doors of the cabinet in the photo above.

My love for the faucet borders on the ridiculous. How can one feel such affection for a faucet? The lines of the faucet just appeal to me enormously and I love the brushed nickel finish. The faucet also works so nicely with the warm green of the marble tiled counter and coordinates splendidly with the narrow backsplash tiles. Both my husband and the salesperson at the tile store gave me odd looks when I chose those backsplash tiles to go with the marble counter tiles. They both thought it would perhaps have an overly busy look, but I trusted my instinct and insisted. Again, I love the result!

Bruce has earned many good-husband-points with me on this project! Now, if only I can get him to finish the base molding for the bathroom, do something about the ceiling fan, and finish building the new bathroom door, he'll really accumulate some points!

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday last week!

Monday, December 01, 2008

It's Monday Already?!

My apologies for the late posting of my Monday "project feature" today. I hadn't forgotten it was Monday (well, not entirely anyway). It was just a busy morning that tore me away from my usual routine. The final shipment for my current sock club went out today, so it was a morning full of packages and paperwork. Which leads me in nicely to today's special project feature . . .

This is the Vine Leaf Sock, designed and knit by Tess Mattos of Polar Bear Patterns. The yarn is my FF Lightweight Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn. The colorway is, however, nameless. That's because it goes by the simple name of "Sock Club Color Choice C." The colorway is exclusive to sock club members, but the pattern is now generally available in my shop.

The sock features toe-up construction and a vine and leaf motif with just a touch of elegant lace.

This was the second of the sock club patterns. The third, which went out today, will be generally available in a few weeks.

A whopping big Thank You to Tess for her lovely work and participation in the club!