Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Sparkly: Snow Dancer Gloves

This beaded snowflake motif has been so popular with the Snow Dancer Socks, I couldn’t resist putting it on gloves, too! The resulting effect is rather elegant, I think :-)
I’ve had this pattern almost ready to release since November. I really hit a roadblock trying to come up with a way to make a glove pattern photo look wintery here in SoCal - then I just finally gave up on that notion. Now that good weather is upon us, here it is - LOL! My timing is definitely no textbook case of marketing genius, but I guess it is a nice small lap project to work on during the summer.  Boom! There’s my marketing genius!

This pattern, shown in the Campfire colorway, is written for two sizes, Ladies Medium and Large, using recommended needle size US 1.

Sizing: Two sizes: Ladies Medium (Ladies Large)

  • Ladies Medium: 6.75” to 7.25” Hand circ. at knuckles. Wrist circ.: 5.5” to 6.5”
  • Ladies Large: 7.5” to 8.5” Hand circ. at knuckles. Wrist circ.: 6” to 8”
  • Finger length is determined by knitter (and there is a tip-less option, too).

Kits Include:

  1. One skein of Sock-aholic® Serene yarn.
  2. A cute commemorative stitch marker that is guaranteed not to melt!
  3. Sparkly silver-lined crystal Czechoslavakian 06/0 Rocaille beads.
  4. and… The Snow Dancer Glove Pattern pattern by Wendy Gaal.

Friday, March 2, 2012

New Base Yarn Has Landed!

As if Fridays aren't good enough already... our new base yarn completed it's long journey and arrived in our warehouse today!!!

This exclusive new fingering weight blend is 50% FS Alpaca/30% Fine Merino (22.5 um)/20% Lyocell (Tencel). It’s a 4-ply yarn, and is just slightly lighter weight than our original Sock-aholic. Best of all, it is VERY soft :-) It’s going to make great socks, shawls, scarves, and gloves! Each 100g skein will contain approximately 480 yards of yarny goodness.

We now have a ton of work to do to get it dyed and photographed and ready to launch, but I expect we’ll be ready to launch in April :-) Stay tuned!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Dying and Spinning Success and a New Shawl

I am really enjoying the process of becoming friends with my new spinning wheel! I finished spinning and plying the fiber I dyed (see two posts ago), and it turned out pretty cool if I may say so myself.
Skeining to measure after plying

This fiber was split in half for dying, with half being dyed an eggplant color, and the other half dyed in a progression of eggplant to olive to dusty pink to vermillion. I spun those two halves separately, and then plied them together. The result is a skein of yarn that is one long color gradient, as planned, which I think would be awesome on a shawl. I got 394 yards of the two-ply (70% Merino/30% Silk). It's certainly not the most evenly spun and plied yarn you've ever seen, but it averages about 17 wpi and has that rustic beginner charm. I don't have a pattern picked out for it yet, so off to Stashville it goes!

I really want to get another order of fiber placed, and I need to talk to our suppliers to see if they can provide us with fiber on a larger scale. After dying this fiber, I have lots of ideas about how to work variations on this full-skein gradient concept. And, of course, the color combination possibilities are endless!

Right now I'm spinning some 50/50 Camel/Silk that I bought from Red Fish Dyeworks at Sock Summit. I just love those ladies, and they dye the most beautiful array of silk yarn I've ever seen.   The 4 oz braid I'm working on has lots of colors in it, and it's spinning up very fine, so it ought to keep me quiet for a while! 

I've also been watching some Judith Mackenzie DVDs about spinning.  Just fascinating!  I'm making notes of exercises I want to try to improve my skills.  She makes it look so effortless.  Someday...

In anticipation of our new yarn arriving in early March (!) I started a new shawl design for it!  Kelie has been doing the test knitting, and so far it looks really pretty.  I'm also finalizing the new striped sock pattern that will be our next KAL - stay tuned!


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fiber Dyed, But No Wheel Yet!

My new spinning wheel will be arriving next Tuesday - I can hardly wait!  And, its lengthy delivery time from Canada has allowed me to be super prepared for it to get here.

First, my WooLeeWinder and bobbin set have arrived.  Now I can spin pretty, even bobbins full of singles and plied yarn without having to stop and adjust the feed loop.  I have to admit, my Midwest value system has been whispering to me that this was a bit of a luxury purchase ($359 for the spindle and four bobbins).  Fortunately, the "you work hard so you deserve a treat" and the "it's a one-time purchase so you should start out with the best equipment" voices in my head (and heart) have been speaking much more loudly!

Second, I took a shot at dying some fiber to spin.  I ordered some bare 70% merino/30% silk from KnitPicks.  It's quite a deal at $6.19 for 3.5 oz.  They have a couple of other wool blends, too, but the shiny silk sold me.  It's the equivalent of their Gloss yarn, which I used to make some gloves several years ago and liked. 

Eggplant and Vermillion - forgot to soak first!
My inspiration for this dye job is the poster at the top of this post.  I bought this several years ago when Mr Wendy and I went to Italy.  We were staying in a Tuscan farmhouse just a few miles from this city, and it always has comforting memories for me.  I caught a bad case of sinusitis/bronchitis on this trip, and of course hadn't studied the Italian words for "exhausted", "head drainage", or "hacking up nasty goo."  This was making it difficult for me to purchase medicine, in a country where they tend to sell fewer multi-symptom cold products - and you have to buy them from a pharmacist.  In San Gimignano, I found a kind pharmacist who was able to translate my hand waving into a product called Solvi-Flu which was a miracle drug.  The box he sold me should have lasted for two weeks, but I was back again 4 days later for more.  If we ever go to Italy again, I'm going to buy a case of the stuff!

Now some green...
My concept for this project was to split the fiber in half.  One piece will be dyed eggplant.  The other piece will be dyed in four colors from the poster - first the vermillion, then the smoky pink, then a smoky green, and then eggplant.  My idea is to spin the two pieces separately, and then ply them together so that I get a gradient through the entire skein that goes from vermillion/eggplant through to eggplant/eggplant. 

I probably should have done some reading online about how people go about dying fiber, but instead I just pretended like I was dying yarn and jumped right in.  I mixed up bowls of dye, and then, being so excited to see what happens, I put the fiber in without soaking it first!  What a blonde!  How many thousand skeins have I dyed without making this error?  It wasn't a fatal error, but I did have to do some squeezy squeezy action on the fiber to get it to absorb the liquid quickly and stop floating on top the dye.

Because I was using acid dye, the silk did not take the color as vibrantly as silk can be dyed.  It's OK for this project though.  Since I was making smoky colors, I like the fact that the overall affect is muted.

Test nukage
The dye requires steam to set the colors.  The fastest way to get steam is to microwave the fiber in a plastic container.  I've never nuked silk before, however, so I did a little test to make sure it didn't melt down first.  This was Kelie's idea.  She's such a voice of logic during these times of creative frenzy.  The test came out fine, and even put a little curl back into the wool.  Had it not worked, I could have steamed the yarn over boiling water on the stove, but fortunately, I didn't have to resort to that.  (My mind is wondering what would happen if I used the pressure cooker... future experiment!)  I nuked my two halves of dyed fiber, and let them cool - trying not to handle them hot to avoid felting.  Then after a little rinsing I hung them to dry.  Done!

The finished photo shows the two pieces twisted together to give a hint of what this will look like when it is plied.  Is it Tuesday yet?!!!

In other news:
-  We launched Mystery Sock Clue 3 this week and the resulting feet are looking great!
-  I have 10 rows left to knit on my Ethereal Shawl, but will have extra yarn, so I'm going to do more rows.
-  I worked on another pair of travelling socks for AMoschel.  I used a textured stitch pattern on these, but the dark yarn doesn't show it off very well.  Actually got to start the gusset on these!  This pair, along with the previous pair I posted, are now winging their way to Pennala in Canada.

Cheers -

Monday, January 23, 2012

Another Toe!

This Travelling Sock KAL just continues to be so fun!  I've just received my 3rd and 4th pair of socks and they are just too cool!  Each pair truly has a unique personality stitched into its patterns and colorways. 

This pair belongs to GmaX4.  It has a nice warm color theme going, and looks great.  I put the teal cable rib part on, and Khalila did the variegated Hourglass pattern before me.  We've gotten to the point in this exercise where we need to assess the status of each sock before we start knitting, so here's what I assessed on this pair:

1.  The wearer has a 10" foot and wants a 6" leg.  That's 16 inches of sock (plus the heel turn) divided by 11 knitters, which means each knitter should do about 1-1/2" on each sock.
2.  After three knitters, the sock is already about 6" long, so we're ahead of the game on length.  Consequently, I'll do less than 1-1/2".
3.  Based on our formula in the pattern, we need to start the gusset rounds when this pair is 7" long.
4.  Therefore, I decided to knit 1" on each sock, and that means the next knitter, Pennala, will start the heel gusset.

I still have to do Sock 2, so these aren't ready to fly to Canada just yet!

I also wanted to share an update on my Ethereal Triangular Shawl.  So beautiful!!!  I just love knitting with my handspun.  I don't think I mentioned in the blog that I ordered a wheel last week - YAY!  Got a Louet Victoria with a carrying bag AND a WooLee Winder and set of bobbins.  I am going to be stylin' while I spin.  But... back to my shawl.  I have about 20 rows left, and I've gotten to the point where they take me 30 to 45 minutes to do (depending on how many yarn overs I've screwed up in the previous right side row).  I'm sure I'll have extra yarn, so toward the end I'll start weighing my ball after each round to help me assess how many additional rows I can put on this shawl to consume all the yarn.  It's so pretty, I must use every drop!

Until I have more to show off  :-) - Cheers!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spinning for Joy! (And More Toes)

My beautiful handspun
I certainly had some fibery excitement this week!  Kelie brought her spinning wheel, a Louet Victoria, over for me to try.  I'll admit I was quite intimidated by it at first, and watched her set it up with cautious optimism.  She gave me a brief tutorial, and told me to have fun - knowing full well that spinning is the kind of thing that each person just has to get a feel for.

Because it was early on a workday, I told myself I had to be somewhat disciplined, so I allowed myself an alternating schedule of 15 minutes of wheel time and 30 minutes of work.  After the first 15 minutes, I was a little frustrated and ready to walk away from the wheel.  After the second 15 minutes, it was going better, and I told Kelie that I was now motivated to finish my drop spindle project so that I could start the next braid on a wheel.  She asked me why I didn't just finish my current drop spindle project on the wheel, and I replied that I couldn't possibly get the fiber to look as good on the unpracticed wheel as it did from my spindle.  Yeah, right.

After the next 15 minutes of practice, I transferred the section of spun fiber off my spindle onto a wooly winder bobbin, and said goodbye to the spindle.  I recommenced work on the fiber spinning project I started last summer during Tour de Fleece, which had stalled out due to my waning interest in the drop spindle.  Between July 2011 and the magical day I tried the wheel, I had completed 2.5 oz of the 4 oz of fiber I purchased.  By 10pm that night, I finished the remaining 1.5 oz, and it looked every bit as good as my spindle-spun singles - and had a tighter spin to it.

The next day Kelie gave me a tutorial on plying, and I took to it with great resolve!  By 10pm that night, I had finished plying all my singles.  Final yardage tally:  484 yards!!!  I was hoping to get 400, so I was really please to have as much as I did. 

Ethereal Triangular Shawl (Rav: sarahboirin)
Yesterday I perused patterns, and decided to use the handspun yarn to make an Ethereal Triangular Shawl by Lakshmi Junega.  I think it's so pretty - and it requires around 430 yards, so it's perfect for my yarn.  To prep for cast on, I soaked my yarn, blotted out the excess water, and hung it to dry overnight to set the twist.  Today I cast it on, and I'm absolutely mesmerized by the way the colors are knitting together - it's going to be be-U-tiful!  I wasn't going to cast on until we go on vacation next month, but who was I kidding?

Needles' Travelling Socks
Also today, Kelie delivered more toes for me to work on!  This Travelling Sock KAL is just so much fun!  This round of socks belong to Needles, and they are looking really cool!  I've finished one of them - couldn't wait to start (I sure don't seem to have much willpower today, do I?)  I used the Gingerbread Rib pattern from the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book with Sweet Teal yarn, and I think this pair is looking super cute!  Kelie is the one who put the sparkly second section on, and really did a great job coordinating color with the original toe color.  I'll finish sock 2 this weekend and have them ready to ship to Penny in Canada on Tuesday.  As of today, she hasn't yet received the two pair I sent her previously.  Hopefully soon!

So it's Friday - almost 5 o'clock, and that means happy hour knitting in my book!  I'm trying some sugar free margarita mix...


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Resolving Woeful Neglect

I couldn't have picked a better New Year's Resolution for 2012.  It came to me as naturally as yarn wraps around my right pinky, and I've faithfully executed it all week.  Resolved:  spend at least 30 minutes outside every day, preferably doing yardwork. 

When I drafted this resolution, my purpose was three-fold.  First, I need to take a break from the computer during the day.  I tend to start work before 7am and stay at my desk until 6 or so - working, writing, playing on Ravelry, knitting, whatever I need to do to ensure the day's business is conducted properly.  Second, I need to move more.  My hobbies (knitting, and....  uh...  knitting) and my vocation (knitting) tend to be pretty dormant on the activity scale, so my body gets a bit stiff over time, and really does show appreciation when I move more than just my fingers.  Third, the yard really needs some help.

I didn't realize how many positive benefits there would be from this resolution!  In just a week, I've grown to look forward to this daily "time out" of mine, instead of viewing it as the chore that it is.  I've declared outdoor time to be electronic-device-free-time, so instead of listening to a book while I pull weeds, I'm forced to listen to my thoughts for a change.  Darned if I don't have a couple of good ones left in there!  My jeans are actually a tad bit more comfortable today than they were a week ago, and I attribute that to the daily stretching and squatting that comes with yardwork.  I've felt muscles, especially in my legs and rump, that I haven't felt in a long time.  It's good to know they are still there!

The best benefit has been the daily sense of putting a little part of my world back into order.  Because I tend to be a fairly structured person, my head goes to a really happy place any time I get to make order from chaos: whether it's creating a new system to manage data or inventory, cleaning a room, organizing a drawer, or pulling weeds from a flower bed.  The success of my daily outdoor work has actually spread to the interior of my home, where I'm also trying to knock something off my indoor Woefully Neglected list each day, too!  I won't go into details about that list, but let's just say that yardwork and housework really took a back seat to workwork over the last couple of months.  Although the number of tasks on my WN list is truly overwhelming, I find that most of them really don't take too long to resolve, and thus provide some fairly quick gratification. 

Bottom line:  I'm starting 2012 off in a productive way, and am feeling super happy about my daily accomplishments.  And yes, writing in the blog has been neglected, too!  I'll see what I can do about that  :-)

I also wanted to share the first pictures I have from the Travelling Sock KAL that started this week!  In this KAL, there are two circles, East and West Coast, each with 10 or 11 people in them.  Each knitter started a pair of sock toes for herself, and then mailed them to the next person in the circle.  As we receive each partial pair of socks, we work on it for an inch or two, and then mail it on to the next knitter in the circle.  Eventually, each person will find their beautiful, colorful, and unique pair of socks in their mailbox, and it will have been touched by 10 other knitters.  How cool is this concept?!

My toes are made from Sock-aholic Sweet Teal.  Nothing fancy, just the standard increases up to a 64 stitch circumference.  This KAL is a great way to use up stash, as you only need a few yards for each sock you work on. 

Kelie's Toes
Kelie is in the circle position prior to me, so I've already received her toes, and added knitting to her pair.  She made toes from sparkly Kraemer yarn with silver flecks in it.  She dyed this yarn a really dark blue, and it looks like the nighttime sky.  I added a slipstitch pattern to each sock using some Pace Step in light blue along with some variegated yarn from Jolly Jumbuck called Helios.  A little more stash gone - whee!

Both pairs are winging their way to Penny in Canada now who is next in our circle.  Hopefully the border crossing will be swift, and Penny can start to add her creative touches to the WIP!

I have nine more pair to work on, and I'll be sure to report on each one as they arrive!