Posted in Current Projects, Spinning

Spinning, Hey Teach, and Round Toes

I spun for an hour yesterday. I really love how this is turning out! Can’t wait to ply it 🙂

Tour de Fleece: July 15th
About half a bobbin full of pink and purple fiber.

I’ve been making some progress on Hey Teach, too. Yesterday at knit night, I finished up the left front and started on the right front. If I keep going at the pace I am, I could actually get it done this week!

Hey Teach 2 - Left Front
Left Front

Hey Teach 2 - Right Front
Beginnings of the Right Front

I’ve put aside other projects until I finish this up. I really don’t have all that much left to do, so I just need to get it done already! I still need to find buttons for this, though. I can’t decide what might look good with this yarn. I was thinking maybe wooden buttons. I’ll have to see what I can find from my favorite button shop.

Recently, I’ve had a lot of questions about how I knit the toes of my socks. Many people have noticed that they are more round then most of the toes of socks they see (or knit). A long time ago, shortly after I knit my second or third pair of socks, I read on the Yarn Harlot’s blog about how she knits her toes shorter to better fit her foot by decreasing every round at a certain point instead of every other round. Most sock patterns are written that you do the increases (toe up) or decreases (top down) every other round, so every other round you’re increasing/decreasing 4 stitches. My feet are wide and my toes are kind of round (more like a slant where my big toe is the “tallest” and each goes down from there), so this method of increasing/decreasing doesn’t fit my toes the best and makes them seem rather pointy. I don’t really find this type of toe to be that comfortable, either!

Typically, knitted sock toes look like this, with increases/decreases every other round:

Fuchsia Socks

The “rounded” toe I do looks like this:

Lucky Socks

And on my foot, looks like this:

89/365: Lucky Socks - DONE!

So, taking a bit from what the Yarn Harlot did, on my next pair, I decreased every round when I got to about 30 or so stiches on the needles. This made a rounder toe and fit better. When I started doing toe-up socks, I’d been doing this “decrease every round” thing for a while, so I adapted it to toe up.

Here’s my formula for toe up socks:

Cast on 16 (4 each needle if using DPNs, 8 each needle using Magic Loop or 2 circs) using your preferred method of casting on.
Increase every round for 5 to 6 rounds (depending on how round you want your toe).
Now, do increases every other round until you are at the number of stitches needed.

For top down, I usually do this:

When I get down to 36 to 40 stitches (36 would be 5 increase rounds toe up and 40 would be 6 increase rounds), I start decreasing every round until there are 16 stitches left, then I kitchner them closed.

Pretty simple way to make a change in fit that can make a big difference. 🙂

Posted in Cooking, Current Projects, Spinning

Tour de Fleece (Spinning!), Stripes, and Cooking Class

The Tour de Fleece continues! Yesterday I spent an hour and a half spinning. I think I managed to spin up half of the 4 oz worth of BFL I’m working with, which filled up my bobbin.

195/365: Look at me go!
Pink and purple filled bobbin.

By the time I was done, my knee was actually hurting a bit. I think that was probably the first time I spun for over an hour straight! I didn’t really want to stop, but considering it was 10 pm and my bobbin was full, I set it aside for the night.

So far I’ve logged 13 hours and 55 minutes worth of spinning which averages out to over an hour per day. Last week I didn’t get in the hour per day I wanted to because I was feeling rather worn out from the week and even had a day that I didn’t spin at all. I was curious about my time and since I’ve been posting it in the Tour de Fleece group on Ravelry each day, I looked it up. Figured I’d share it here, too.

July 4th: 1 hr 5 mins
July 5th: 1 hr
July 6th: 2 hr
July 7th: 20 mins
July 8th: 20 mins
July 9th: 20 mins
July 10th: nothing
July 11th: 2 hr 20 mins –> Finished first yarn
July 12th: 3 hr
July 13th: 2 hr –> Was the scheduled day of rest, but I did some spinning since I “rested” on Friday, July 10th
July 14th: 1 hr 30 mins

A lot of days I did over an hour of spinning, but there are quite a few where I did less. Ah well, it’s been a lot of fun regardless! The best part has been seeing all my progress, getting more comfortable with spinning, and learning things as I go. Before the Tour de Fleece, I didn’t even know how to ply yarn! I got out my spinning book (Start Spinning by Maggie Casey, which came highly recommended by a number of people) and figured it out. Took a bit to get used to, but I think I did pretty good for my first try. Now I’m dreaming of all the things I want to get for my wheel, tools that would be useful, and fiber I want to spin!

I got in some knitting time yesterday, too. I’ve been working on the stripey sock during lunch this week and I’m getting close to where it’s time to start the heel.

Open Flame Sock
Stripey goodness!

The cooking class last night was pretty good. My only real disappointment was that I was pretty sure my chicken wasn’t cooked yet (it was really thick in one spot), but the instructor thought it was and told me to take it off. Sure enough, in that one part it wasn’t cooked all the way through. As someone who’s been through culinary school, I’d like to think that I know what I’m doing when it comes to cooking something. I should have trusted my gut that told me it wasn’t done yet. Half of it was edible and I wasn’t hungry enough to eat the whole thing anyhow. The class was called “For the Love of Garlic” and we had a shrimp salad with vinaigrette, stuffed chicken breast, and risotto with snap peas and asparagus. Of course all of those had garlic in them! I usually don’t care for shrimp, but it was really good and I liked the vinaigrette a lot. I just realized we totally forgot our recipes at the place, though 😦 Bummer. I’ll have to call and see if I can get another copy.

Knit night tonight! Looking forward to it 🙂

Posted in Current Projects, Spinning

House Updates, Spinning, and Socks

Since the last time I blogged, I feel like I have a ton of stuff I want to share or say! I suppose that means I should just blog more, but other things keep getting in my way lately.

This weekend was good. Spent time with friends and had a good time with that. We bought lamps at IKEA that have their on/off switch on a button attached to the cord at the base of the lamp. I really love this idea, especially for the living room where the light switch isn’t connected to any of the outlets. We bought two for the living room and one for my craft room. We use CFL’s in all the lights we possibly can, but I’m always worried about breaking them. Well, I finally broke one. I was trying to fix the lamp shade for the lamp going in my craft room and while looking for a place to set the bulb, it broke! 😦 I was really stressed out about it since Matt kept telling me horror stories about people who broke them and had to have hazmat teams come out (CFL’s have mercury in them). I quickly looked up what to do. I found this very helpful article on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Now if it ever happens to you, you know what to do! It’s really not as big of a deal as I thought it was, thankfully. I also looked up how to dispose of them for Ohio and found EPA Ohio’s website that said to throw them in with your regular garbage. I was a little disappointed that we don’t have recycling facilities for this, but we did find out after a second trip to IKEA that they do accept CFL’s for recycling there (though it didn’t say anything about accepting broken ones, so I’m not sure if they do). We have a few others that aren’t useable anymore, so the next time we go to IKEA, we’ll be taking those there for recycling.

Anyhow… enough about broken light bulbs! I now have lamps in the living room and a lamp in my craft room. I’ll have to take a picture – I love the lamp shade I picked out. I bought a chair from IKEA for my sewing table, but we couldn’t get it together. One of the bars wouldn’t allow the screw to go in. We took it back and I didn’t bother getting another. It was on clearance and I didn’t want to chance getting another broken one that needed to be returned. Oh! And blinds!! We got blinds for the house, finally. We have them up in the living room and downstairs hall. We bought enough to also put some up in the bedroom and office, but I didn’t understand how you should measure for blinds, so we ended up with blinds too small for the living room. As a result of buying cheap blinds, we have two others that need to be returned on top of the two that are too small. One of them had holes and stains on the slats (near the top, so they can’t be removed) and I can’t remember what the issue with the other one was. Slowly, we’re getting there!

I took some pictures of the backyard and uploaded them to Flickr. You can see them here.

This weekend, just as the power went on Saturday evening, I finished spinning and plying my first yarn!

192/365: First Yarn!
Yarn I made!!

My First yarn :)
All skeined up.

I ended up with about 137 yards worth. I’d say it’s bulky weight, sort of thick and thin. I love how it turned out and I’m quite proud of it! The fiber is from Zarzuela’s Fibers, BFL in the “Thinking of Fall” colorway.

Speaking of Zarzuela’s Fibers… have you seen her Luxury Sock Batts? This one was so beautiful, I had to have it! It’s BFL, mohair, and silk. I love the color and pictures just don’t do it justice. So soft!! I can’t wait to spin it up 🙂

Luxury Sock Batt

Now that I have the other fiber off my wheel, Sunday, I started pre-drafting the next thing I wanted to spin. I picked up this BFL a while back at a fiber fest and I believe it’s from Twisted Stitches. Monday I finished pre-drafting it all.

Pink and Purple Spinning
Box full of pre-drafted fiber.

Then, even though I’d said I wouldn’t spin any of it since it was the Tour de Fleece “day of rest,” I ended up spinning a little anyway!

194/365: Pink and Purple Spinning
Pretty pinks and purples.

This weekend I spent 5 hours spinning and did 2 hours on Monday. I feel like I’m really getting the hang of spinning and find that I want to do it more and more! 🙂

I’ve been working on my Absinthe sock and have started the increases. The pattern is going along pretty smoothly so far, no issues. It’s been a while since I’ve done cables, so that’s been a nice change of pace for me.

Absinthe Sock
Limey green Absinthe sock.

I haven’t worked on it much in the last few days between spinning and starting this sock…

Open Flame Sock
Vesper Stripey Goodness

It’s been a while since I knit a stripey sock and the recent sock club shipment was really calling to me, so Saturday morning, I cast on for a plain stripey sock. The colorway is “Open Flame” a four stripe colorway. I love it 🙂

I’ve been working on Hey Teach. Pretty close to being done with the left front, but no pictures yet. It keeps getting put aside for other things lately! Ah well, I’ll get to it.

Tonight Matt and I are going to a cooking class at The Learning Kitchen. The class is called “For the Love of Garlic.” Should be fun! I’m looking forward to it. It’s almost mid-week again. Sometimes I just can’t believe how fast the time goes by! Later, all.

Posted in Gardening

So Long On-Hold, Absinthe, and the Yard

Happy Friday everyone!

Remember how I started those On-Hold sock earlier this week? I got to the 3rd lace repeat and I really wasn’t loving the yarn, so it’s been frogged. It’s something about the color. I’ve tried to knit it into a sock twice now and each time the colors don’t excite me. The first time, I started knitting the Lacy Rib pattern with this yarn. I thought it was just the pattern I wasn’t loving, so I frogged it. Then I tried again with this pattern and I really love the yarn itself. It’s soft and very nice to work with, but the color just made me feel kind of blah when I knit it. I’m thinking about maybe over dying it with some Kool Aid… or just knitting a plain stockinette sock with it. I’ve been feeling so indecisive lately!

Since I frogged the On-Hold sock and nothing else in my WIP pile was really enticing me, I cast on for Absinthe.

Absinthe Socks
Lime green Absinthe sock.

I started these on US 0’s while I debated frogging the On-Hold sock, but the row gauge was off and I really didn’t want to mess with the pattern so that the chart lined up right. I decided to frog the On-Hold sock, so my US 1’s (2.25 mm) were available to use. I frogged the little bit of toe I started with US 0’s and started over. I just started the foot chart of the pattern. It’s going fairly quickly. I’m loving the color a lot more then I thought I would!

I’ve still been going on the Tour de Fleece, though not as much as I’d like. I’ve been so exhausted lately. Last few days I’ve only got as far as drafting for about 20 minutes each day and no actual spinning. Still something, though! I need to find my spinning book so that I can figure out what the next step will be after I finishing this last bit of fiber.

I’ve been exploring the things that are growing in our backyard and I found that more and more things keep coming up. First the daylilies came up and then I noticed these coming up in our yard…

Wild Onion (Allium Vineale)

Wild Onion (Allium Vineale)

Wild Onion (Allium Vineale)
Lots of these are coming up! They look like garlic bulbs before they bloom.

I asked my Twitter friends if they knew what they were and Rose let me know that the looked like Wild Onion (Allium Vineale). When I got home, I smelled them and found they smell like onions! I think they’re really pretty looking, interesting, and different. I can’t wait until they all bloom!

For a while there was a group of plants that I couldn’t figure out if they were weeds or not. I finally saw what looks like buds coming up, so I’m pretty sure they aren’t weeds, though there are some weeds coming up beside them. No idea what it is, though. Anyone have any ideas as to what they might be?

What is this?

Closer - what is this?

There’s going to be lots of garden work that needs to be done. I’d like to get some flowers for the front porch and maybe the deck in the back (potted). This summer/fall, I want to get the bushes on one side of the deck pulled up so that I can plant veggies there next year. There is a LOT of weeding that needs to be done, but I’m waiting until I have a better idea of what needs to be pulled up and what doesn’t. I need to take more photos of the backyard to share! 🙂

Last night we finally got the living room set up. It feels cozy to me! We just need some lights in there. We thought that the living room, like every room in the house without a light fixture so far, would have two outlets that have the top one connected to the switch. We tested all 5 outlets in the room and NONE of them are connected to the switch! How strange. We speculated that either there used to be a light fixture or they intended to put one in, but never did. Seems like we’re learning things little by little about the house and it’s quirks!

190/365: Living Room
Sorry for the low light photo of the living room.
We don’t have any lamps in there yet and there isn’t a lot of natural light in the room.

Have any plans this weekend? We’re going out with friends Saturday night for dinner and Sunday we’re going out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I’m sure in-between that we’ll spend time unpacking, setting up the house, probably a trip to IKEA for some light fixtures, and hopefully some relaxing time on the deck (I really need to get some candles to keep the mosquitoes away from us, though). Have a good weekend 🙂

Posted in Completed Projects, Current Projects

Cotty FO, Hey Teach, TDF Day 2, and Thoughts on Socks

Today I have an FO to share with you! I finished the Cotty socks yesterday and was able to get a few decent pictures of them despite our lack of lighting in the house. We have 7 actual light fixtures and 2 lamps for a 5 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, house with living room, dining room and den. The 7 actual fixtures are in the downstairs hall, upstairs hall, bathrooms (2 full, 1 half), kitchen and dining room. We have the two lamps in the bedroom and office. Neither give much light. We need to go on a light buying spree! I’m getting a little tired of the lack of light in the house in the evenings. Anyway… I got the best pictures in the dining room which seems to have the most light aside from the hallways and downstairs bathroom. (Have I mentioned I love this green paint we picked? I really do and green usually isn’t a color that appeals to me!)

This is my first WIP down for WIP Wrestling and my 4th pair of socks for the 52 Pair Plunge III.

Cotty, Complete
Oh, hello, we are ready to wear now!

Pattern: Cotty by Irishgirlieknits (My Ravelry project page.)
Started: June 26, 2009
Completed: July 5, 2009
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock mediumweight in Dreidel (gifted to me by Laura)
Needles: Knit Picks US 2 DPNs
Notes: I made some intentional and unintentional modifications. The pattern is written for top down with picot edge. I’ve really fallen in love with toe-up socks and short row heels, so I decided to modify the pattern to toe-up with a short row heel. I’ll admit I’m too lazy to bother with a picot edge on toe up socks because that means I can’t just do a provisional cast on and then knit the folded edge over when the time comes and that I’d have to sew it down instead. I don’t trust that I could sew it down loose enough to be able to still fit, so that went out the window and I did 1×1 ribbing instead. Those were my intentional modifications. My unintentional modification ended up being from my lack of really reading the pattern. Once you do the leg, you are supposed to have 4 repeats of the lace (two columns on each side of your leg). Well… I didn’t notice that until after both socks were done!! So, instead, I just have two repeats of the lace on the front half of the leg instead of four. Whoops. It’s alright, though, because I love them all the same! I think that if I hadn’t moved recently, these would have gone a heck of a lot faster, but there were other things that needed doing first 😉

Cotty, Complete

Yesterday I got in an hour of spinning time and ended up filling my bobbin. This time I drafted all my fiber before I started spinning instead of doing a little at a time like I did on Saturday. This made it a lot easier to keep the flow going! I noticed that it was coming out a lot more consistent this time and less super bulky/not so bulky/super thin like it was. I’m still getting bits that are really thin and a bit thicker, but nothing like it was. It’s so great to see improvement already!! It’s been keeping me motivated to keep at it.

Tour de Fleece, Day 2
Getting better!

Yesterday we went over to Matt’s mom’s to do some laundry. We did get the washer and dryer set up, but the dryer requires a gas hook up, which Matt’s dad needs to install. We were running low on clean clothing, so we brought two loads to his mom’s. Since she only has one washer and one dryer at her apartment, it took a while to do. I’m sure you know I did some knitting while waiting, right? Since I’d finished my Cotty socks by then, I was working on the back piece of Hey Teach. I got really close to being done with the back piece while there. When I got home I just had to put the 35 center stitches on a holder and knit the little shoulder bits. This didn’t take long to do and now I have a finished back piece.

Hey Teach, Back Complete
Back piece of Hey Teach complete!

Today I cast on for the left front. I think this will be the only thing I’m working on until it’s done, so I’m hoping it goes by quickly like it did the first time I knit it. I’m hoping it will be WIP two down for WIP Wrestling!

Hey Teach, Left Front
Small beginning of the left front

I’m sure many regular readers have noticed how many socks I knit. You can pretty much bet on the fact that I’ll have at least one pair on the needles at any given time. Did you notice something else? I always use DPNs. ALWAYS. I just prefer them. I did try magic loop once and hated it. Since then, I’ve never gone back to try it again and really don’t find the thought of giving it another go very appealing. I have to admit, though, that since I’ve been helping mod the Socks from the Toe-Up KAL on Ravelry, I’ve noticed I seem to be a minority! Well, I’ll also admit that this seems to be the case with most sock knitters I know, too. They all seem to prefer magic loop over DPNs. I know loads of people who think DPNs are fiddly and I’ll even admit that they can be (especially when you first start out a toe-up sock, but this doesn’t seem to deter me at all), but I just don’t get the magic loop love. I’m sure I’ll have a number of comments from folks that love magic loop and I know that many wouldn’t be knitting socks without having discovered it and I’m happy for all who love it so much – really, I am! 🙂 It just makes me feel a little “out of the loop” for not being in on this magic loopin’ love. I’m considering giving it another shot. I mean, let’s face it, had I not given socks another go, I wouldn’t be knitting as many as I do now!

Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about my first sock attempt here. I don’t even have the socks anymore and I’m fairly certain that they were lost in the move from Connecticut to Ohio, but good grief they were AWFUL. I was maybe 6 months to a year into knitting and I was seeing people all over the internet going crazy over knit socks. I wanted to knit them too! This was at the point in my knitting that I really didn’t know what an LYS was and I was getting all my yarn from Big Box Craft Stores. So, not knowing much about yarn weights still and thinking I could us any old yarn I wanted, I went down to AC Moore, picked up some US 2 DPN’s and two skeins of TLC Cotton Plus yarn. For those not familiar with TLC Cotton Plus, it’s worsted weight yarn that is 51% cotton/49% acrylic. Yeah… and I was going to knit socks with it on size 2’s!! Can you guess how my attempt turned out? The socks were knit at such a tight gauge that they were like iron. They did fit, but they were incredibly difficult to get on and once they were on, they were almost painful to move around in! Talk about a knitting fail – this is probably my biggest one! Of course, at the time I had no idea what I was doing and was just blindly leading myself into something I wanted to do, just like when I first started sewing and later when I started knitting.

That first pair was so awful, I thought all sock knitters must be crazy to spend time to knit such an uncomfortable thing that I put them away in a box and decided to never try that again. Then I kept seeing all these lovely socks. I learned about yarn substitutions, found an LYS in my area, and learned a load more about knitting. So, I tried again and I found the second pair to be much better then the first since I’d used fingering weight yarn (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock) and I think size 1’s. It took a little while longer to really get hooked on sock knitting, but if I’d never given it another go, I wouldn’t be knitting socks now. Knitting has been one big learning curve for me and continues to be. I love that about knitting!

I think the next pair of socks I knit, I’ll try magic loop again. I have a pair of plain socks on the needles right now and once I finish those, I’ll cast on for another plain pair trying it magic loop. I can’t promise I’ll like it or even finish the socks, but trying it again only seems fair. Just because it didn’t appeal to me before (and I’ll be honest, it still doesn’t), doesn’t mean I won’t like it when I try it again! 😉

What sort of knitting or crafting thing have you tried, found you didn’t like, then tried later and loved? I’m curious – leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Posted in Spinning

Tour de Fleece!

Today is the start of Tour de Fleece! This is my first year participating since I’m still a pretty new spinner. My goals for the Tour de Fleece are to: spin at least an hour per day, spin up at least one braid worth of fiber (no idea how “fast” I am at that), and to get better at spinning. I’ve already found that the more I spin, the better I am getting, but drafting is still the hardest part for me.

I wasn’t sure what I’d start with at first, but decided on a braid of BFL I purchased from Zarzuela’s Fibers in her “Thinking of Fall” colorway. I’ve never spun BFL and I absolutely adore this colorway. I had been “saving” it for when I was a better spinner, but decided that’s just silly and I will love my yarn regardless of how it comes out. Besides, I can always get more 😉

Tour de Fleece - Ready!
Fiber and wheel at the ready!

This morning I was up around 8 am and after showering and settling into the day I figured there’s no better time then now to get going on my spinning for the day. At 9:25 am I got out my wheel, drafted some fiber, and got to spinning.

185/365: Tour de Fleece 2009 Begins
Look at me go! Hehe🙂

I spun for an hour and 5 minutes today and the end result was about half a bobbin full of yarn.

Tour de Fleece 2009: Day 1
I made yarn!

It started out a bit on the bulky side, but as I went along, I got better at being able to draft a bit more as I was spinning. Just two months ago I thought I’d never get to that point, so it was really good to start to see my spinning coming together a bit more 🙂

Day 1 of the Tour de Fleece down and 21 more to go!

Are you participating in the Tour de Fleece this year? What are you working on for it? I’d love to know, so feel free to share in the comments 🙂

Today is the 4th of July here in the US. Do you have anything fun planned? We’re headed out with Matt’s mom to some get together with her family. Hoping the rain holds off, but it’s already started sprinkling here. We’ll see how it goes. Happy (and safe) 4th of July to everyone!