Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Work-In-Progress Wednesday #18

It's been quite a while since I've participated in a WIP Wednesday! My dear friend Katy has been complaining about the lack of knitting content on this blog lately (so demanding! haha), so let's catch up with what I've got going on...

Festooned Joy:
BMFA Socks that Rock LW, colorway Comfort and Joy
I'm easing back into sock knitting with this simple pair of festive, waffle-knit socks. I modified the pattern to make it more to my liking and am just about ready to work the heel, if I can find a minute to focus on it.

Fierce Fracas Cuffs:
The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, colorway Fierce Snake
This is a sadly belated x-mas gift for my mom, the only one I failed to finish. It is a set of Fracas cuffs from Hunter Hammersen's fun little Rabble Rousers collection of patterns. I think the Fracas cuffs and matching hat are my favorite from the book but all of the accessories are quite sassy and sweet.

Itty Bitty Baby Booties:
Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorway Blue Ringed Octopus
A good friend of mine is having a baby in a couple of weeks and I cannot wait! These little booties are getting me even more excited. I don't think there's anything more adorable than itty bitty footwear, except perhaps the tiny human it will eventually adorn.

Handspun Chai:
Cephalopod Yarns Bugga Fiber, colorway Yubaba
This is a handspun sample of one of my secret designs for the Afghans for Afghans e-book of patterns so I can't really show it all, but just look at the colors in that handspun! The way they shift and change is delightful, if I do say so myself. :)

Handspun Hat:
The Wacky Windmill, Merino wool handspun
This is just a simple, basic hat I started with some crazy cabled handspun yarn I finished on my wheel. I like the way it's knitting up, I just hope I have enough of the bits with the white mixed in to knit the whole top of the hat!

Alright, I think that's everything I've been busy with lately... Be sure to check out the other WIP Wednesday posts by clicking the image below.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Visits and Yarn

Thanks for all the lovely comments on the quilt my Fiasco made, your kind words made him very happy. :) I hope you all had a lovely weekend. My parents were visiting so mine was really nice! It's awesome finally living in an apartment that is large enough to have visitors. We did quite a bit of shopping and now that my mom is big on crocheting, that shopping involved yarn! The highlight was when we went to Slater Mill to visit the market for the knitting weekend event they were hosting. It was basically a mini fiber festival with just a handful of vendors held within an historic cotton mill.

How I love these yarn wreaths!

Colorful rope

Rope spinning contraption


Big ol' bale of cotton

Cotton carding

Lots of bobbins!

Spun cotton

North Light Fibers
North Light Fibers is a yarn company on Block Island, an actual island off the coast of Rhode Island (not an actual island). They sell handwoven garments as well as luxury yarn and spinning fiber. My mom generously purchased me a tiny bit of brown, fluffy gold:

This stuff is unbelievably soft!
While crazy expensive, I've been wanting to work with quiviut fiber for a very long time. Softer and warmer than cashmere, it comes from the undercoat of the muskox and has an incredibly short staple length. This is only a tiny bit but I am going to blend it with some merino/silk and try to spin it finely to stretch it a bit. It is going to be glorious! 

Since it was my birthday weekend, I also splurged on a little bit of pretty, pretty yarn:
from Play At Life Fiber Arts
These yarns are both made from Blue Faced Leicester wool. The top skein is a 3-ply DK weight and the bottom is a 2-ply fingering weight dyed in a gorgeous dark teal to bright blue gradient (check out her website, she'll dye to order!). I've been wanting to work with a gradient dyed skein for a while and I have yet to knit with such thin BFL wool so I'm really excited to give this one a try. In fact, I think I might need to cast on right away. This little gem is going to become a Harmony Shawl, I just need to decide whether to start the shawl with the bright part and end with the dark or vice versa... I think I know which I'm going to do but how would you knit this skein?

Friday, January 25, 2013

IS #8: My Makin' Man

I'm posting my Inspiration Saturday post a bit early this week as my parents are visiting for the weekend and I'll be busy... plus I couldn't wait to share it with you! My birthday was this week and my dear Fiasco made me a beautiful and thoughtful present. He kept it a complete secret and I really had no idea what was coming. It was this:

A handmade quilt!
When he was a hyper little kid his mother sat him down and gave him some fabric to sew to keep him occupied... and it stuck. Over the years he's made beautiful quilts that he's given to various family members. He prefers to create quilts that portray pictures  or scenes rather than just repeating geometric shapes. This one was inspired by a marshy spot in one of our favorite places to hike in Connecticut:

He put so much thought into his gift, it is amazing. He had two of my favorite quotes from chapters of Kahlil Gibran's book-length poem, "The Prophet", embroidered and added them to the water and a cloud:

Each of the plants uses a different patterned fabric and he used light and dark green thread to create shadows and depth... and the cattail heads are even fuzzy!

 He used silvery yarn that picks up on the silver flecks in the water fabric to create circular ripples coming out from the quote like concentric rings:

He chose a flannel backing in my favorite blue-green color with a neat woven look to it:

And finally, because he knows I'm a stickler about this stuff, he made sure to use only 100% cotton fabrics and natural cotton batting! I'm certainly a lucky girl. Even though I'm a knitter and a spinner, I can't imagine having the patience to carefully and meticulously cut out strips of fabric of the correct size, iron them, pin them, zig-zag stitch them, add batting, put a back on, and quilt the whole thing together. I just can't, I'd quit at the first mention of 'iron', honestly, so it inspires me tremendously that he doesn't... that he continues on and makes something beautiful just for me!

What's inspired you lately? Link below and share!

P.S. Don't forget! All my patterns on Ravelry are 28% off through Monday with coupon code 'bdayweek'!

P.P.S. And thank you for all the birthday wishes! :)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Dissipative Release!

Drumroll please... here's my new design for the Malabrigo Quickie series: Dissipative!

The large size is a long cowl that can be wrapped twice around the neck or worn scarf-like. It uses less than 2 skeins of Malabrigo Twist and is designed to play nicely with variegated colorways.

Dissipative beaches are composed of fine sand with gentle slopes that cause high energy waves to break in a spilling, washing motion over the wide beach face. I tried to mimic this idea in this cowl, which begins with long, undulating waves of a contrast colorway that wash their way up onto the textured shoreline of the variegated main yarn. And get this: the reverse side of the textured section is even called 'sand stitch', is that perfect or what?

The pattern includes a small size for a more standard cowl as well as a little trick for knitting garter stitch in the round without purling, in case you're anything like me and love garter stitch but hate purling. It can be purchased for $5.00 through paypal by clicking the button below, or it can be found on Ravelry, Craftsy, and (soon) Patternfish.

BONUS! Since it's my birthday this week, I'm running a promotion on Ravelry for 28% off (not like that's my age or anything...) the price of any and all of my patterns when you enter the coupon code 'bdayweek' at checkout. The coupon is good through Monday 1/28/2013. I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Glorious, Glorious

Friends, yesterday was glorious. The Fiasco was out all day and I spent nearly the entire time relaxing on my own here:
My happy place. Picture me there instead of Calypso.
 Glorious. Don't get me wrong, I love my Fiasco and I love being social and having busy weekends, but I don't think I've had a day to myself since we moved almost two months ago! I needed a day to just zone out, to ignore the chores and the bills and the phone and the computer and even the obligatory knitting. I need to get down with my introverted self and just make something for no reason whatsoever. And it was awesome. I baked some cookies, caught up on about half a dozen episodes of Grey's Anatomy, and I spun my little fingers off.

The Beginning
First, I broke this blue-purple-green gradient braid into three sections and carded and spun each section into singles. I wanted to experiment with chained yarns, which take two plied yarns and then ply them back onto each other. So I turned the blue into a 2-ply yarn and then plied it with some 2-ply white wool I had spun from the fiber that had come with my wheel.

First chained yarn.
 It made a very thick, very springy yarn that I swatched a bit:

Eek! My eyes!
Plying such high-contrast colors together makes a marled yarn that can be a bit difficult on the eyes in certain stitches. For instance, the bottom of that swatch is garter stitch and it pains me, I hate it. The stockinette is a little bit better and the ribbing (I think) looks best of all. I decided not to ply the rest of the braid with white and just wing it. So I spun the purple and green as singles:

So pretty, so quick...
Then I went crazy with the plying. I plied some of the purple with some of the remaining white. I plied the rest of the purple with some of the green. I plied some of the green back on itself and had some of the original blue 2-ply left over.

So many bobbins!
To make a chained yarn you need to make sure your 2-ply yarns have lots and lots of extra twist, so I ran them through the wheel again (you can see how the blue bobbin has a tighter twist than the rest, it had been through twice already) and joined the purple-green and all green yarns into one continuous strand and the purple-white and all blue yarns into another. FINALLY, I plied the two strands of 2-ply yarns together in the opposite direction. So the singles were spun clockwise, the 2-ply yarns were spun counter-clockwise, and the final chained yarn was plied clockwise.

Isn't it cool looking? All that plying made for some really interesting color combinations in the final yarn. I especially like the sections that are purple-green-white! Now instead of being overpowering the white is a neat accent. I ended up with about 99 grams/ 116 yards of bulky yarn (7ish wraps per inch) that I think is going to make a fantastic winter hat to coordinate with the new purple coat I received for Christmas. Yay for handspun! Yay for wheels! Yay for alone time on the weekend! :)

Have you tried making or knitting with chained yarns before? 

Oh! I almost forgot! The winner of the little sampler of longwool fibers is Ivy from Pumpkin Spins. Email me your address and I'll mail them off straight away!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

IS #7: Larger Than Life

Today's Inspiration Saturday post is coming to you from the world of art-- handknit art, to be precise.

Photo credit: Karen Philippi, from here.

That is a gorgeous, gigantic sculpture entitled 'Tiger Lily' knitted and created by a local Rhode Island artist, Tatyana Yanishevsky. Isn't it beautiful? I love the way the cables define the curved surface of the petals, they add such wonderful movement. Tatyana has an entire collection of knitted plants, all of which are incredibly detailed and anatomically correct, which really appeals to the biology geek in me.

Photo credit: Megan Jones, from here.
This one is 'Anatomically Correct Passionflower'. Once again, I love the details on the petals: the lace patterning provides great texture and movement. It makes me feel like actual passionflowers should have lacy petals. I also like the way the fuzzier, haloed nature of the petal yarn contrasts with the yarn used for the rest of the more solid, structural parts of the flower. And this picture is great for providing a sense of scale.

Photo credit: Karen Philippi, from here.
This one, entitled 'Letting Go', is particularly awesome. It's showing a flower in its senescence, slowly dying. I love the way the petals are falling, the holey bits in the leaf, as well as the tiny green shoot coming up from the rhizome, like the plant is getting ready to start again. I can't see the details well enough to tell what's going on with the knitting in this one but it has a lovely overall effect.

Wanna know something else cool? The artist, Tatyana, works in my office! What are the odds of that, right? I encourage you to check out the rest of her work on her website, which includes a working knitted set of lungs as well as some interesting portrayals of sea life.

What's been inspiring you lately? Link along below and share!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Secret FO Friday

This is all a bit of a tease, but I have four finished objects this month so far and I can't really show you any of them! They are all for designs but at least one of them will be released shortly. Secret FOs 1 & 2 are for the Afghans for Afghans e-book that Cephalopod Yarns is putting together. I'm not sure about the publication date yet but once I know it, you'll hear about it, because it's going to be a fantastic collection!

Secret FO #3 is my newest design, to be released on the 22nd as a Malabrigo Quickie pattern!
And secret FO #4 is another version of my new pattern, in a different size. I don't have a photo of the FO yet but I can show you what I used to knit it with:
Malabrigo Yarns Twist, colorway Teal Feather and handspun
I used a bit of my first wheel-spun handspun for the contrast color, which I don't think I've shown here yet either:
Handspun 2-ply Merino wool
This was spun from fiber that came with my wheel, I think it is Merino but I can't be sure. I spun two singles semi-woolen (unknowingly on different sized bobbins, with screwed with my tension) and then plied them together. The resulting skein is perfectly fuzzy and lightweight with great bounce. The yarn is quite thick-and-think but it it's roughly the same thickness as the Twist in most places so it worked well in the design, though it only used a little bit so I'll have to figure out what to do with the rest!

Also--fun fact--the photoshoot for the new pattern took place here:
Rhode Island kinda rocks.
Spending a gloriously foggy and freakishly warm winter day on the beach taking photos of knitwear was probably more fun than it should have been! We have the Fiasco to thank for being a good sport and playing along. I can't wait to show you guys the pictures!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Itty Bitty Knitting

Let's start the week off adorably with tiny knitted things!

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller, colorway San Francisco Bay
This is a wee version of my Beribboned Hat pattern that I whipped up in an evening for a dear friend's baby shower. I love the soft aquas with the contrasting coral pink, it is feminine and sweet without being overly so. As soon as I finished it the Fiasco declared it the cutest thing I've ever knit. The recipient will be the first bqby born within my circle of friends and I do believe that she will be well and truly spoiled! She is due to join us in just about a month and I am ridiculously excited to meet her.

Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorway Ghost Moth
 I was in a bit of a pickle about what to lace it with, though. I knew I loved that color combo but when I knit i-cord with the fingering weight coral yarn it felt too thick and clunky for a little baby's head. I didn't have the right color ribbon hanging around nor the right color thicker yarn. So, I bust out my trusty spinning wheel and ran a length of the fingering weight yarn through in the same direction it was plied to give it a bit extra twist. Then I used my spindle (I couldn't wrap my head around how to do it with the wheel!) to chain ply it in the opposite direction, creating a thicker 3-ply yarn from the one strand. It made a nice, bouncy chord that worked well for the lacing and the bow, and I felt a little bit like a yarn-y genious. I'll have to make some more more to lace these up:

Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga, colorway Blue Ringed Octopus
Wee little booties!!! This whole knitting-for-babies thing is going to be all sorts of (miniature) fun. What's your favorite pattern for little baby girl items?