Friday, September 28, 2007

Give Me Gauge (or give me death...)

Desired gauge: 4.25 st per inch, 6 rows per inch

I started swatching for the Central Park Hoodie during spring break of this year. As we drove around the Oregon coast I dutifully cranked out four swatches... one to try out combination ribbing technique/cable chart reading, one on size 8's (too big), one on size 9's (oops, brain malfunction), and one on size 7's. Although I washed and dried the last one, I never got around to taking its final official measurements.

So now autumn rolls around and I am back in the mood for a sweater. I measure my size 7 swatch and discover that I have stitch gauge, and am not too far from having row gauge. Good.

Since I didn't take notes (doh!) I decide to redo my ribbing swatch, just to be safe. The technique works, but the ribbing looks looser. Hmmm... then I remember that during that trip I experienced some hand pain (just from swatching, mind you), because way back 6 months ago I was using my patented "pinkie death grip" to tension my yarn. Since then I have switched to looping the working yarn around the third finger of my right hand.

So yesterday I reswatched on size 7's and waited 24 hours for the swatch to dry. I was getting 4.5 st per inch and 6.25 rows per inch before washing. After washing, 4 st per inch and 6.5 rows per inch.

I'm sure I could solve this using *shudder* math. Or I could finish that size 6 swatch and hope for the best...
Let's think about something happier shall we?

How about this yummy hand-dyed, BFL roving from Flawful Fibers: (Sorry for the poor color here. The top is bright orange, bright green, yellow, and purple/grey-ish)

It's turning out something like this:

This just goes to show that I have no idea what a top will do when I spin it. I would not have guessed that it would get almost pastel in places, or that the grey would look so lavender. Maybe I'll call it "Underwater Sunset." Besides keeping me at the wheel with its ever shifting colors, it also captivates me with its softness. It keeps telling that it wants to be knit into something right away :) I'm not sure what I'm going to do about plying. With these colors I will be treading that fine line between "spunky" and "clown barf."

Friday, September 21, 2007

Pay It Forward

Flowers from Mr. M

I was lucky enough to get in on loribird's post, and now I'm going to pass it on, just as I promised. If you are interested in participating in the Pay It Forward ring of expanding light and crafty goodness read on :)

The whole thing is "...based on the concept of the movie Pay it Forward where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return... just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness continue to pass it along as well. Here’s how it works: I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog."

If you want to participate please leave a comment here AND email me at englishmajor AT hotmail DOT com with your information (mailing address, blog address, ravelry/flickr ID) so I can send you something great!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Weekend In Review

I started off the weekend by going to lunch at the local Thai place with my neighbor. When she and I were talking last, we had discovered that we were both interested in trying the food there - and that our husbands were both NOT interested - so a plot was hatched. We were delighted to find that the menu was quite extensive and the food was incredible. I had chicken in a sweet red pepper sauce, garnished with cilantro, cucumber and pineapple. Yummy! And made all the more fun by the opportunity to just sit and chat with my neighbor.

After lunch, we went to the U-pick organic blueberry farm. It was so picturesque I was sad that I forgot my camera. They have a rustic little stand equipped with a scale and old coffee cans with twine. I hung the can around my neck and was tickled (in a silly, but absolutely down to my toes way) to find the first few berries going ker-plunk, just like in Blueberries For Sal. Hey, I've never been blueberry picking before.

I also kept my promise about the wheel. I finished spinning this on Saturday afternoon and was able to contain myself until Sunday night... when I gave in a plied it. (I don't know how long singles are supposed to "settle" but I think it is probably a bit longer).

The technical rundown on this one:

I have changed the way I hold my hands at the wheel and I am seeing improvement in the consistency of the yarn. When I first started, I imitated someone I had seen who held her hands very close (3-4 in) to the orifice and very close to each other (3-4 in). I don't know why (fiber qualities, personal preference, different wheel?) but for me it works to draft out 8-10 inches of yarn (treadling v-e-r-y slowly) and then work the fiber from there. I have been alternating between actively drafting with my back hand and then feeding the yarn in... and sort of pinching with my left thumb (front hand) and holding the fibers a bit with my back hand (hands maybe 4-5 inches apart) and letting the tug of the wheel do the work. This is possible, in part, because the fiber I am working with is very clean and even, and I'm predrafting it using harlot's method, except I put my hands closer together and "snap" the fiber the first time (can't remember where I read about that one or I would link...)

One thing I am enjoying about the wheel is that it is much easier to avoid over twisting than it was with the top whorl spindle. When I swatched the last yarn I got a much more squishy, soft fabric. So I've decided to jump in and spin up the last of this natural wool blend for a secret project (shhh). Maybe after that this blog will stop being the all cream/grey/brown channel :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Easy As Pie

Huckleberry & blackberry - my signature pie... wait, is that pretentious?

I've always wondered about the saying "as easy as pie." Did the coiner of the phrase remember what it was like to learn to make pie? Simple - yes. Easy? No. I remember when I was first learning to make pie solo (ie without Mom). The crust in the helpful Better Homes and Gardens book looked as supple and smooth as Angelina Jolie's skin. My crust reminded me of Frankenstein's monster. It was impossible to transfer the thing to the dish in one piece.
I tried a floured towel. I tried a different kind of rolling pin. I tried a different a different recipe.

Like many things in life though, learning to make pie wasn't about finding a certain trick. It was about practising and learning how the process works.

A kind woman in the local spinning guild has loaned me her Ashford Traditional

Until now I've been putting the perfectionist on hold when it comes to spinning, but all of a sudden I want 200 yards of fluffy, worsted weight yarn. Now. The desire to turn my beloved fiber stash into only really amazing things has also been holding me back... So I hereby resolve to just play with the wheel this weekend and quite worrying.

Remember how I couldn't get going on a lace shawl earlier this year? This new WIP is proving that I can knit from a chart!

So maybe this spinning thing isn't too pie in the sky (forgive me).

Edited: fixed blogger timestamp (which seems to malfunction most of the time)
Edited (again): it ate half my post!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

The Ends of the Earth

First, the new place.

The living room/dining room/office as seen from near the front door.

A better look at the kitchen...

which is currently fully functional.

The best thing about the new place? 5 minute walk = beach.
Coming soon - house decor, new adventures in spinning, and a previously unblogged wip.