Thursday, May 31, 2012

So Many Things

There are so many things on my To Do Before Being Back on the Boat list that I'm feeling overwhelmed. To ward off panic, I make lists, so here I give you the things I'd like to accomplish within the next 10 days:
  • finish and put up an updated version of my Beribboned Wrists pattern
  • finish and put up for sale the first in a series of (hopefully) five sock patterns following a particular theme
  • work out the design for the second sock pattern in the series
  • work out a non-sock pattern (gasp!) to submit to KnitPicks (my first official submission, double gasp!!)
  • clean things
  • organize my desk
  • play with horseshoe crab data/work on science publication
  • plan a camping trip with the Fiasco
  • go camping with the Fiasco
  • search and apply for jobs
  • search for a new apartment
That's a hefty list, all of those things take quite a bit of thought/effort/time. Sigh. It's true that none of them must be done before I'm back on the boat, but if they aren't done by then, odds are they won't be done until July because I am absolutely wiped out by the 14-hour field days and I become completely useless in my downtime. In case I haven't mentioned it here, the new apartment thing is because my dear Fiasco landed an excellent job corrupting enlightening the scientific minds of 7th and 8th graders about an hour away from where we currently live in the fall, and my seasonal job is over in August, so looks like we'll be moving again once I figure out where I'll be working next. (Anybody need a knitting ecologist? Talk to me!) Moving always stinks but it's a great job and I'm super proud of him, so I'm excited. :)

In other news, I've been making a concerted effort to exercise every single day, and it's been working well this week (it's only been a handful of days but it's something). I like being active but exercise is usually the first thing I cross off when I'm stressed or have a lot to do. I'm trying to change that and be better about setting aside time to work out parts of me that aren't my brain. Today's exercise adventure was a lovely little 2.5 mile jaunt in the woods for an hour or so after work:
I met a little snake friend. (That one was for you, Rich!)
I saw pretty flowers, I think this is in the laurel family? According to wiki it's toxic, and a common name is 'lamb-kill'. Not cool, pretty shrub, not cool.
I just love the light in the late afternoon...
I would've liked to have stayed out longer but it was getting dark and I was starving so I was forced to leave, but I have a feeling I'll go back there often. Then I came home and made absolutely fantastic crepes filled with asparagus and peppercorn-encrusted goat cheese. If you've never made crepes before, you should, they're super easy and delicious and make you feel like a culinary rockstar. Good times!

So, this entire random post was designed to distract you from the fact that explain why I haven't been knitting much: I'm doing too many other things! Also, the joints in my hands have been hurting quite a bit lately, even ones that weren't attacked by the blue crab, so I don't know what that's about. But I have done a little bit of knitting:
CY Traveller, colorway I-don't-remember-but-I-know-it's-the-horseshoe-crab-Bugga-equivalent
That's the start of the design I'm going to be submitting to Knitpicks. The photo doesn't do the yarn justice, there's a wonderful depth of color going on. Sadly, that's probably the last you'll get to see of this project for a while since it needs to remain a secret for now. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Inspiration comes from so many places-- nature, music, stories, crafts, artwork-- but I find that my most consistent source of soul-soothing inspiration comes from poetry. Here's a poem my anxious-for-the-future-self really needed to read recently. I love it to bits and hope you do, too:

by Mary Oliver

Some kind of relaxed and beautiful thing
kept flickering in with the tide
and looking around.
Black as a fisherman's boot,
with a white belly.

If you asked for a picture I would have to draw a smile
under the perfectly round eyes and above the chin,
which was rough
as a thousand sharpened nails.

And you know
what a smile means,
don't you?


I wanted
the past to go away, I wanted
to leave it, like another country; I wanted
my life to close, and open
like a hinge, like a wing, like the part of the song
    where it falls
down over the rocks: an explosion, a discovery;
    I wanted
to hurry into the work of my life;  I wanted to know,
whoever I was, I was

for a little while.


It was evening, and no longer summer.
Three small fish, I don't know what they were,
huddled in the highest ripples
as it came swimming in again, effortless, the whole body
one gesture, one black sleeve
that could fit easily around
the bodies of three small fish.


Also I wanted
to be able to love. And we all know
how that one goes,
don't we?



the dogfish tore open the soft basins of water.


You don't want to hear the story
of my life, and anyway
I don't want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it's the same old story--
a few people just trying,
one way or another,
to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.
And nobody, of course, is kind,
or mean,
for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to
swim through the fires to stay in
this world.


And look! look! look! I think those little fish
better wake up and dash themselves away
from the hopeless future that is
bulging toward them.


And probably,
if they don't waste time
looking for an easier world,

they can do it.

A spiny dogfish shark. Photo credit here.

I love so much about this poem: the message, the fact that I totallygetwhatshe'ssaying, the way the poet plays with line breaks, her beautiful imagery ("like the part of the song where it falls down over the rocks"; "I want to listen to the enormous waterfalls of the sun"), and how every word is so carefully chosen, specifically placed. That's part of why I love poetry: the carefulness of it. It makes you slow down, stop, pay attention, feel the rhythm of the words, savor their meaning...What inspires you?

Monday, May 28, 2012


Don't you just wish everything was easy to do over again when things get screwed up? The nice thing about knitting (as opposed to life) is that you can have such do-overs. The sucky thing is it all takes time, time, time.

VG Bugga, colorway Yellow Fringe Doris
This is the start of my next sock design and it just doesn't work. That big ol' cable in the middle is much too big, it's a pain in the knuckles to work and makes for a wonky-looking sock. I've already ripped back and hit the drawing board again. I've got a different idea now, but no will left to make it happen. My knitting finger is still a bit sore from my blue crab attack, so I'm trying not to overdo it in the first place, but I also just don't want to sit around knitting anymore. It's a beautiful Monday, I have off from work but my Fiasco does not, so what am I to do? Chores are unappealing at the moment, working at the computer is unappealing at the moment, job searching is unappealing at the moment (thought I really should be looking)... There may be a do-over possible for the sock, but not for this day, so I'm going to get up and go for a walk or something. The laundry and dishes and knitting and patterns and jobs will wait.

In other news, I've started on my second cop-full of Bugga fiber:
CY Bugga fiber, colorway Yubaba
Nothing like shiny new silk hankies to motivate one to finish the fiber that is currently occupying the spindle!

What do you wish you could do-over?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Holidays Revamped!

I finally got around to updating my Ribby Holiday Socks pattern! It now includes additional sizing information so that you can knit it at three different gauges with fingering, sport, or DK weight yarn. This came about because I decided I wanted to knit the pattern in Socks that Rock Mediumweight yarn and I realized that the stitch count wouldn't work to fit me in that yarn as written, so I changed it and finished my fifth pair of 2012 socks to boot:
STR Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill
These were my Gone Fishin' socks, and were perfect for travel knitting while I worked on the boat. I'm already planning my next pair. I revamped the layout of the pattern and changed the way the sizing works. It now includes a table in which you find the gauge that you get with your needles and yarn and the desired fit you want (in circumference around the ball of your foot) in order to figure out which size you should knit. I've often been frustrated with how sock sizes are indicated in patterns and have found which yarn/needle/gauge combos work for me only after much practice and trial-and-error, so I'm hoping the sizing table will take some of the guesswork out of the whole thing, especially for new knitters. No guarantees of perfect-sock-fit-nirvana, of course, since everybody's feet are different, but I'm hoping it will still provide a useful jumping-off point for figuring out what might work best.

Ah, gotta love eye-searingly stripey socks, no? And there's really no need to wait for the actual holidays to roll around before you knit a pair of these for yourself, you know. You could think of them as summer holiday socks, or vacation holiday socks, amIright? Anyway, I'll be spending the rest of my day at a Renaissance Faire partying like it's 1499. Enjoy your holiday weekend! ;)

Friday, May 25, 2012

SS: Finnish

Before I begin discussing the second breed of my spinner's study, let me show you the first breed I spun and finished: Polwarth.

I decided I'm going to spin each 1 oz bunch of fiber separately, so at the end I will have 16 little mini skeins. This plan works better than spinning them in one long skein for logistical reasons and also because I'm impatient and like finishing my yarn. :)

You can see in the close-up view that 1) I'm still spinning thick-and-thin and 2) the twist is not evenly distributed. There are little kinky bits in there amongst the fluff. I haven't spun a singles yarn before, so I think maybe with the next batch I will put a little less twist in. When you ply two or more singles together you want a lot of twist because during plying you lose some of that extra twist, but if you leave it as singles the extra twist becomes little kinks. Lesson learned! Onwards.

Image from the American Finnsheep Breeder's Association
This is a Finnish sheep, a.k.a. Finnsheep or Finnish Landrace Sheep, with her four adorable lambs. In other breeds, ewes tend to have just one or two lambs, but the Finnsheep are quite prolific and can have up to eight babies! Maybe there should be a reality TV show in the works for those extra-prolific ewes.

The breed originates in Finland as one of several breeds grouped into the Northern European Short-Tailed Family in the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook. Some of its cousins are breeds that have gone feral living on remote islands, which is pretty neat. It seems to be fairly well-established as a breed raised in North America. I found the book's description of their wool as "often described as silky, is more sleek than fluffy" to be entirely accurate.

The fibers have a subtle crimp and come off the bunch in long, smooth strips. Staple length is supposed to be 3-6 inches, to my hands it feels like the top I have leans towards the longer side. The average micron count is 24-31 microns, which falls solidly into the 'medium' range wools. Though this stuff is not as soft and fluffy as Merino or Polwarth, it is certainly not rough and has a sleekness to it that I like.

I am getting a really nice consistent single with this fiber, I think because it is incredibly easy to draft. The silkyness helps the fibers slide past one another and they seem to automatically draft out evenly. It's really a pleasure to work with and would probably be great for beginners, it reminds me a bit of the Coopworth wool that came with my spindle starter kit from Golding. All those little ends sticking out have the potential to up the prickly factor, but if loosely spun then it hopefully probably won't be too bad.

So there's our second breed! I'm really enjoying myself with this spinning study, I hope you are, too.

In other news, some jerkwad in the postal system stole the scarf I made for my mom out of the first really pretty yarn I spun. I sent it to her for Mother's Day and the package arrived a week late, empty, and all taped up! Crazy, right? People really stink sometimes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Guys--I pet a baby bobcat yesterday. As in a real live wild bobcat kitten! I'm still not sure what it was doing looking all angry in a box in the Marine Fisheries headquarters, but it was there and I pet it and it was superfuzzycuteomg.

I failed to take a picture but it looked quite a lot like this little fella:
Photo credit here
Except he wasn't drinking from a bottle, he was making little hissy faces and clearly didn't want to be there. I think he was abandoned and then found by one of the Conservation Officers. They're sending him to a local zoo so he can safely grow up into this magnificent kitty:

Photo credit here
Meet Lynx rufus, the largest wild cat in Connecticut! And I pet one. Sometimes, low-paying seasonal jobs are pretty damn cool.

In other squee-worthy news, I have a sock pattern currently being tested and the testers are finishing up and their socks look amazing and the pattern is getting really great feedback and I'm super duper excited about that and can't wait to release it. See? I had something knitting-related to say afterall...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bearing Gifts

Not only did my wonderful weekend involve friends and wool festivals, but it involved an abundance of yarn-y presents, too, which I just have to share:
The Sanguine Gryphon lives again!
Katy brought me some blast-from-the-SG-past skeins of yarn that I absolutely adore. Two skeins of Codex (my all-time-favorite BFL wool/silk worsted weight blend) in the colorways And Sing Myself and Ella Minnow Pea, and a skein of Bugga in one of my favorite neutrals, Lord of the Flies. LOVE! :) For someone who's been showing great restraint in the yarn-purchasing department this year (if I do say so myself), gifts of yarn-y favorites are amazing.

She also gave me a Knitzi, which I've been coveting for a while:
Oooh shiny.
This little contraption is designed to hold your sock-knitting-in-progress so that the needles don't slide out or poke through your knitting bags which happens to me all the time. They come in different sizes and in carved versions, as well. It's really gorgeous in person, a pale cherry wood that is waxed so smooth it almost feels silky in your hands... which I know is a weird thing to say about wood, but it's true! I love it. And look how well it holds my knitting:
Even prettier!
It's perfect, and would be especially great with a simple sock for which I wouldn't need to carry around a pattern because then I can just grab the ball of yarn and go, no knitting bag even required. Sigh...I love new toys.

What's your favorite knitting gadget?

Monday, May 21, 2012


A fantastic cure for a lame workweek is a fun-and-friend-filled weekend, for sure. On Saturday, my dear friend Katy arrived and we went to the Rhode Island Sheep & Wool Festival held at a really neat historic working farm: Coggeshall Farm Museum. The grounds were spacious and pretty with a few barns and a farmhouse build in the 1790s. We caught a glimpse of home life 200 years ago:
Hearth-cooked lamb stew
Salt-cured bacon and locally grown garlic

We saw lots of friendly animals:
Gulf Coast Native sheep being sheared
Fuzzy bunnies! Grey angoras, I loved them.
Not-so-friendly turkeys
And of course, lots and lots of pretty yarn:
Everybody say, "Hi, Katy!"
The really great thing about these wool festivals is that I discover yarn companies and products that I might not have come across otherwise. The Play At Life booth was my favorite of all the lovely vendors there. The colors were gorgeous and they had a nice selection of different items. I spent a solid 20 minutes hemming and hawing over what to take home with me and finally settled on this:
Silk hankie, colorway Firenze
I have played around a bit with silk hankies (or mawata) before, but have not tired spinning it yet, which is what my plan is for that lovely teal creation pictured above. (No, those mittens are not done yet...)

After the wool festival we drove up to our friend Bridgit's house for a backyard bar-b-q and lots of nice relaxing knitting time. I even (finally!) got both of them to give spinning on my spindle a try. We've determined that it's a good thing I have wholesome hobbies because otherwise my determination to get everyone addicted to the things that I love doing could be very, very dangerous. I'm a yarn-and-fiber pusher, and I am not ashamed. :-D

Hope your weekends were wonderful, as well! Happy knitting.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Miserable Week!

Oh goodness, my apologies for the lack of posting but this was a really rough week! Awful weather Monday and Tuesday lead to very trying times out on the boat. (And by "very trying" I mean unbalanced, bruised, nauseous, and soaked through. Not fun.) Wednesday was a crazy-long 14 hour day and then yesterday I pissed off a blue crab and he took his revenge:
That is a very swollen and very sore right index finger. That sucker got me right on the knuckle and wouldn't let go and by the time I got home my finger was swollen and sore enough that I went to the ER to get it X-rayed. Nothing broken, just sprained, but it is still really really lame. What am I supposed to do without my knitting finger?!

The face of my new enemy. Vicious little bastards. Photo from wiki.
Don't be distracted by how pretty their colors are. They are more than worthy of my wrath.

Anyway, at least all the time I spent risking my life on the boat this week was good for some knitting (you know, before yesterday):
STR Lightweight, colorway Lunasea
My Lunacy! socks are coming along slowly but surely. The pattern, Dusty Corners by Linda Welch, is truly lovely and looks really great with this colorway (if I do say so  myself...), although those columns of 1-over-2 cables every other round are a big pain in the butt, but totally worth it.

I hope you've all had better weeks than I had... I've got a lot of blog reading to catch up on and an exciting weekend planned full of wool, friends, and backyard bar-b-qs so hopefully I'll have more interesting things to report soon. For now, though, I'm just going to ice my finger and take a nap because this blogger/knitter/scientist/crab-attack-victim needs a friggin' break!

Friday, May 11, 2012

SS: Polwarth

As I discussed earlier, I am conducting my own little spinner's study of 16 different sheep breeds and discussing tidbits about what I learn here. First up, Polwarth!

Here's a Polwarth sheep in all its woolly splendor:
Image from the New Zealand Sheepbreeder's Association website
According to the New Zealond Sheepbreeder's website and the Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (FFSB) written by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius, the Polwarth is a "conservation breed" that was developed over 100 years ago in Australia. It is fairly common in Australia, New Zealand, South America, and the Falkland Islands but it isn't found in North America at all. It is listed under the "Other Sheep Breeds" section of the FFSB because it is bred not only for good wool but also for meat quality, which combines characteristics from a few different families of sheep breeds.

Now, the bits we really care about: the fiber! Before we dive into it, there are a few things non-spinners might need clarified about wool:
  • Staple length is the length of one wool fiber from root to tip.
  • Wool is different than hair: wool fibers are the fine, crimped, elastic, and smaller-diameter undercoat fibers in a fleece while hair fibers are straight, usually smoother, and inelastic. Some fleeces contain both type of fibers. Even the coarsest wool fiber is still about half the diameter of a human hair. The heaviest/coarsest hair fibers are called kemp, and you wouldn't want to wear them next-to-skin. Prickly!
  • Not all wool is created equal. Some is super soft, some is not. Some fleeces have long staple lengths, some short. Some have lots of crimp/elasticity, some are smoother and sleeker. These traits all affect how the wool spins up and what the resulting yarn is like.
  • There are many methods for measuring wool fineness/coarseness, but you most often see micron count (though the FFSB mentions that it can be misleading). The micron count is the average diameter of the wool fibers in a fleece. A micron count of <15 is 'superfine', around 16-21 is considered 'fine', 22-31 covers a range of 'medium' types, 32-38 is 'coarse', and 38-41+ is considered 'very coarse'. For reference, Merino wool (the stuff of Malabrigo and most luxury blend sock yarns) can have a micron count between 11.5 and 25ish, depending on the type of Merino -- so anything with a micron count in the low 20s is likely to be pretty darned soft.
Ok! There's a quick wool lesson for you. There is much more info in the FFSB, I highly recommend reading it because it really is fascinating stuff. But now for the Polwarth! According to the FFSB, it registers as a fine-medium wool, with micron counts between 22-26, which some say is harder to spin but it also has a longer staple length (4-6 inches) which helps make it easier to draft.
My attempt at demonstrating staple length.
As for my own observations, I'm finding Polwarth to be wonderful to spin (which is good, because I have a bunch of it stashed). I'm going to go ahead and very scientifically classify it as "super fluffy". :) When you hold a bunch of it in your hand, it feels puffy and the fine fibers fuzz up all over the place. During drafting, it has a bit of a crisp feel as the fibers slide past each other. They draft smoothly but also grab onto each other fairly easily when spinning them together.
Polwarth wool
I seem to be spinning up a fingering-to-sport-weight-ish single. If you look really closely you can see a bit of a halo around the spun yarn, from the fine, fluffy fibers fuzzing out:
To conclude: I really like spinning Polwarth wool. It feels soft and fluffy but also drafts smoothly and crisply. It will be great for next-to-skin wear but possibly not for really rough use since all those little fuzzies are what eventually turn into pills with too much abrasion. Regardless, I'm excited to see how it finishes up.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

May Socks

How did we get to May 9th already without discussing sock plans?!

May Sock Goals:
  • Maia socks (80% done)
  • Gone Fishin' socks (75% done)
  • Lunacy! socks (1% done)
  • new sock design?
Appropriately, the first pair I'm aiming to finish this month was the May shipment of the 2011 BMFA Rockin' Sock Club:
STR Lightweight, colorway Maia (which means May)
The pattern is Transition Point by Star Athena. It's a more complicated sock than I've been knitting recently, I have to keep referring to the charts, which is why these have been on the needles for a full year! I usually like my sock patterns to be easy to memorize, but I couldn't resist this one. There are twisted stitches and cables that travel all over the sock and seed stitch gives it a neat textural look. I think seed stitch (that bumpy looking part, for those who don't know) tends to be underutilized, especially in sock patterns. I like the look! The best part of these socks is that they're nearly done! That's the second one of the pair. :)

The next up for finishing are my Gone Fishin' socks:
STR Mediumweight, colorway On Blueberry Hill
This my own (free!) pattern, Ribby Holiday Socks, modified for sport-weight yarn. I will be updating the pattern to include this new sizing information. I'm learning a lot as I go with this whole designing thing, hopefully the patterns will keep improving with experience! I'll be on the boat for the rest of the week so I should be able to bang these out fairly quickly, as this is the second of the pair, as well.

Finally, I made a teensy tiny start to my Lunacy! socks:
STR Lightweight, colorway Lunasea
Not sure if I'll finish them this month but they're still on my radar. This is the Dusty Corners pattern by Linda Welch that I'm knitting for a KAL (knit-along) in the Socks that Rawk!! group on Ravelry. Come join us, if you're so inclined. It remains to be seen whether this pattern will be good boat/travel knitting or not. It involves some lacework and little 1-over-2 cables every other round for the whole sock... definitely need to cable without a cable needle on this one, or it would take forever!

Hmmm... that's an awful lot of STR on the needles! Clearly, it's my favorite yarn for socks. I love the colors, the feel of the wool, the twist, the weight, the drape, the stitch definition... and they hold up fairly well. I've had to mend a few socks but I don't mind that so much. It's worth it to me for a pleasurable knitting experience and result. What's your favorite sock yarn?  Why?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mo' Bugga, Mo' Problems

If anything is the definition of a "first world problem" it's this: I have way too many Bugga shawls/scarves in progress... and I want to cast on more.
So much Bugga, so little time.
Clockwise from the top:
  • The teeny tiny baby shawl is the start of my Color Affection shawl, for which I swatched earlier. The beginning of the pattern is easy peasy. I am not looking forward to the third section of the shawl when I will be juggling three balls of yarn, though. I love the look but I hate using multiple balls of yarn at once, which is why a couple of these other shawls stalled out. It's also probably why I haven't gotten too into colorwork yet. Well, that and not knowing how to knit continental style, since you need to use both hands. (Bugga colorways: Nude, Common Emerald Moth, Fierce Snake)
  • Next is my Snazzy Stripes Scarf, which you've seen before. This one is nice and simple, knit on the bias in plain stockinette, it's good to pick up when I only have time for a row or two. (Bugga colorway: Grey Scalloped Bar Butterfly, Blue Lobster, Beyer's Jewel Scarab, Northern Purple Gold Beetle)
  • The long one is my Taygete, which I've also discussed before. I started it in August 2011, but it's been stalled for quite a while. The color combo is lovely, but I think I just lost interest in it. Too fall-like, not bright enough to hold my attention right now. It's silly, really, because I know I'll be all about it again when I finally reach the lace section. (Bugga colorways: Fig Eater and Dog Days Cicada)
  • The dark green one on the bottom is a real oldie: I started it in November 2010! The pattern is EZ 100th Anniversary Camping Half-Circle shawl and I'm using Skinny Bugga in the colorway Horseshoe Crab for it. The idea was to finish the shawl so I could wear it during my master's defense (since I studied horseshoe crabs) but, like my master's research itself, problems arose and it got postponed! I screwed up somewhere in the second lace section and haven't had the mental energy/attention span to try to fix it yet. Perhaps that should be my goal for today...
  • The big brownish one is my Shaelyn shawl, knit with Bugga held double so it's extra luxurious. I started this one in September 2011 and it is nearly done, the problem is I reached what might have to be the end because I'm nearly out of yarn and I'm not sure what to do about the edging. I wish there was a magical way to know how much yardage is needed to finish. If the yarn could talk, that would really help. (Bugga colorway: Painted Damsel)
  • Finally, the gorgeous blue one (still totally digging these colors) is the Flamboyan shawl I showed you before. (This is also the one that completely matches my sneakers, which I still think is awesome!) The only reason I've stalled out on this one is because I've gotten bored and I really hate the juggling/tangling thing. The rows are longer now, they're just knit and purl, and the siren song of new colors and patterns is always hard to resist. (Bugga colorways: Box Jellyfish and Blue Ringed Octopus)
Speaking of new beauties, here are two shawls at the top of my Knit Me Next! list:
Photo from designer's pattern page.
This is Glam Shells designed by Marisa Hernandez. I think it would make a fantastic summer shawl, and the main body portion looks like great take-along knitting. I have the perfect skein of Skinny Bugga waiting for it, too. I also love her Forbidden Flowers shawl. TOO MANY PRETTIES!

And here's another one I just discovered today:
Photo from BellyLaughter's project page, love the color combo!
The pattern is Cameo by Paulina Popiolek. It looks like it's knit from side-to-side on the bias, and it would be another great one for playing with color combos. I like a bunch of Paulina's patterns, I don't know why I haven't knit one yet...

Oh yeah, maybe because I already have about a dozen skeins of Bugga being turned into shawls right now. No matter how you slice it, that's way too many! Those six shawls will be done by the end of the year if it kills me! And no new shawls until I finish at least one of them!

...Ok, maybe just Glam Shells. But after that no new shawls!

Does anybody else have this problem, or is it just me?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spinner's Study

Now that I have my brand new spindle, I can finally start playing with the fiber sampler my mom gave me from Woolgatherings. Thus, being the scientist I am, I'm going to conduct my very own spinner's study!
Who's excited?!
As I spin each new breed I will read about it in my handy-dandy Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook and share some interesting factoids as well as my opinions on how the fiber feels during spinning. I'm going to spin them in the order shown, from left to right:
  • Black Jacob 
  • Finnish 
  • Polwarth -- this one is on the spindle 
  • Grey Gotland 
  • Cormo 
  • Icelandic 
  • Brown Merino 
  • Cheviot 
  • Devon 
  • Shetland Humbug 
  • Romeldale 
  • Wensleydale 
  • Grey Masham 
  • Falkland 
  • Corriedale Cross 
  • Black Welsh
I kind of jumped right in and started with Polwarth before I planned everything out, but I can fix the order later. This project will take quite a while (that's a full pound of fiber there!) but I think it will be fun. (Right? haha) The posts in which I discuss a new breed will be tagged with "SS" for spinner's study, in case anybody would like to read them all at once at some point. I'm thinking I will spin the fiber as singles and knit some kind of sheep-tastic lacy scarf with it at the end. Hopefully all the different kinds of fiber will work well together! The nice thing is if I get bored of all the white/neutrals, I can switch back and forth with the crazy colors of the Bugga fiber that is still currently on my other spindle.
Spindle love <3
Have any of you come across a study like this? What's your favorite fiber to spin or knit?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tried and True

I think sometimes Malabrigo yarns get a bad rap for pilling and lack of strength due to their super-soft-Merino-wool-ness, and I'm here to tell you that I think that's unfair. As a point of proof, check out my Saroyan, the first-ever-shawl I finished 2 years ago in March 2010:
That's my "Yay, Malabrigo!" face.
It's a lovely pattern, a sideways-knit shallow shawl/scarf-like piece with a pretty lace leaf edging.
Colorway: Green Gray
I used Malabrigo Twist, an aran-weight Merino wool composed of 8 plies and it was love-at-first-touch. It is super soft with a nice weight and thickness, and the shawl felt like it flew off my needles. For the 25 repeats I knit, it took just a bit over three skeins knit on size 10 needles.

As times has told, it's one of the warmest things I've ever knit. I wear it constantly in the winter, wound about my face with the ends tied in front, and I've been wearing it a lot lately during chilly mornings on the boat, as well. The poor thing has been tugged on, tucked into coats, tossed around in bags, and has seen its fair share of rain, sleet, snow, frozen breath, seawater, seaweed, and fish slime.
The Saroyan, today.
After all that, it doesn't look half bad. AmIright? I mean, it's fuzzed up a bit, but not to the point where the leaf details are obscured or where there are giant pills hanging off of it everywhere. It hasn't even seen a sweater shaver/sweater stone-- the above photo shows its exact state of wear with no doctoring other than a handwash now and then. For such a short-staple fiber as Merino and for a yarn that sometimes gets a bad rap for looking crappy with wear, I think it's held up quite well to the abuse that I've put it through. So, for those who say Malabrigo pills too much, give Twist a try. I really love the stuff!