Wednesday, October 26, 2011

From Pause to Present

Super Bulky Clown Colored Glory

I was really hoping that my first project from handspun would be some delicate gorgeous something-or-other, but instead, here it is in it's Super Bulky Clown Colored Glory.

I started learning to spin using a drop spindle in March of this year after purchasing a Trindle. I watched some YouTube videos to help me learn what to do, and that's probably why Kelie has asked me why I spin left-handed - ha! Hey - at this point it feels right to me, and it seems to be working, so left-handed it will be.

Day 1 from pencil roving

Day 3:  Looking Better

The first fiber I had to practice with was some 100% wool Schoppel Wolle Roving Ombre in colorway 906 Multi that I won at Stitches.  The pack contained a 50g braid, and a 50g skein of pencil roving.  At first, I thought you could draft off the pencil roving skein without having to break off sections of fiber.  That obviously was way wrong.  So I put the pencil roving away and started working from sections of the braided fiber and started to get better.  I remember when I finally drafted AND had the spindle spinning at the same time - woohoo!!!  So I kept at it for a few days, and then admit that I lost interest and put it on Pause.  It wasn't looking that great. 

Practice and good roving makes a lot of difference!

Then in June, I heard about the Tour de Fleece event on Ravelry.  In this spin-along, participants were supposed to spin each day of the Tour de France competition.  I thought this would be a great way to get some consistent practice in.  I went to the LYS and purchased some Artistic Fibers roving in 50/50 Alpaca/Silk that was wonderfully soft.  I kept up with the Tour for 9 days, and then ironically tripped over my husband's bike in our garage and hurt my left wrist (elbow, hip, knee...)  That ended the Tour de Fleece for me as I needed to let my wrist heal for a while. 

This month, I've been posessed by the need to finish up some projects (love it when that feeling hits!) and I started working on this roving again, and now have half of the 4oz braid spun.  I'm slow, but happy with the results.

On Monday, I was cleaning up some project bags, and found my first spinning efforts.  I decided it was good practice, but unusable, and threw it all away - braid, pencil roving, and the fiber I had spun.  Then as an afterthought I pulled the pencil roving back out of the trash, thinking it would be fun to spin it without any drafting to make a thick 2-ply yarn.

2-Ply Super Bulky from Pencil Roving

That night, after emptying my spindle, I spun the 42g of remaining clown colored pencil roving, and then plied it.  It only took 45 minutes from start to finish, and I ended up with about 19 yards of decent looking super bulky yarn (wpi = 4).

Penguin and Alpaca House
Yesterday, I knit it into a small purse for my neice using size 13 needles, and used pretty much every inch of the 19 yards.  I figure she can appreciate the bright colors.  I had purchased two cute finger puppets at the Vista Fiber Fiesta for her, and this purse makes a perfect home for them.  I'm going to send them off to her today  :-)

Now I'll go back to spinning my pretty alpaca/silk roving, and when I make something out of it, it will be a delicate gorgeous something-or-other.


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sometimes I Am So Freaking Smart

I finished my iPhone purse today - yay!!!  What I had left to do was the twisted cable purse strap.  Since it was something I haven't talked about before, thought I'd take some photos along the way.

I read somewhere that you should start with a length of yarn about 4 times as long as the final twisted cord you want to end up with.  Now I wasn't sure if that included the initial fold or not so I decided to err on the make-it-too-long side.  I wanted my strap to be about 40" long, so I measured out 160" of yarn, folded the yarn on itself at that point, and then pulled off enough yarn to get back to the other end.  At this point, I have a double thickness of yarn, 160" long.  It seems really too long, but better that than the alternative.

Next, as I wanted to bling it up at bit, I strung 06/0 beads onto one of the strands of yarn, and spread them out so that they were spaced every 1-1/2 to 2" as shown above. 

Now it's time to start twisting.  I slipped the folded end over the leg of an inverted table so I would have something to twist against.  Then I tied a knot in the opposite end to hold the two ends together.  Stuck my finger in there, started twisting, and then had a total brainstorm.

Why not let the skeiner do the twisting???!!!  So I skootched the whole setup over toward my electric vertical skeiner and clipped the knotted end onto one of the arms.  Then I pulled the table back away from the skeiner until the yarn was not dragging on the floor.  Turned on the skeiner, et voila!

I can't even begin to guess how much arm fatigue this saved me!  I let the skeiner run for a while, checking the results periodically until I decided it was tightly twisted enough. 

Now it is time to let the cord twist back on itself, much like plying handspun yarn.  Because it was still longer than my armspan, I had Mr. Wendy help me hold the twisted cord tight while we folded it in half and let it twist together.

At this point, the cord was twice as long as I needed it to be.  I guess that original estimation of starting out with 4 times the length includes the intial fold.  So I thought what the heck - lets try twisting and folding it again. By gosh - it worked!

To finish the cord, I tied a knot in the unfolded end to keep it from coming untwisted, and trimmed the uneven ends.  Then, using thread and needle, I sewed the cord into my purse.  I'm pretty darned happy with the results!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Houston We Have Pocket!

So I got really tired of knitting the plain Stockinette lining of my Leftober iPhone Purse, and decided to take a shot at the pocket!  It's sort of the same ailment that causes us to start multiple projects at once, only I work on multiple parts of the same project at once.  I'm well known in my own mind for multi-tasking to the point of complete non-productivity.

I did this pocket completely ass backwards.  Normally when you make an inset pocket, you first knit the flap that becomes the lining of the pocket, and you leave the stitches at the top of the flap live.  Then you work the outside of the piece, and you pass over each edge of the lining flap, you grab a purl bump on the flap selvage and knit it into the outside piece.  It's very neat and tidy looking.  Then when you reach the top of the flap, you bind off the stitches on the outside piece as you work your way across, and the live flap stitches are substituted into the main piece.  OK - that was probably confusing...

Since I had already knit the outside of the purse, I had to knit the pocket onto the outside of it.  So, I picked up stitches going through the fabric to form the "seam" where the bottom of the pocket connects to the purse.  This was fiddly, but successful - it really looks invisible.  Then I knit the pocket back and forth, and on the RS rows I knit the pocket stitch together with an outside stitch from the purse.  This looks OK, but isn't as neat as it would have looked if I had done it correctly.  I added some ribbing rows at the top of the pocket to help it stay closed, and to prevent it from rolling.  As you can see, the size is perfect for me to coil my earbuds into - yay!

I've been asked to write this pattern, and when I do, I'll write the pocket part as if I did it correctly  :-)

Now back to the boring Stockinette.  Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Left-Ober Project

Our Ravelry group tries every year to pay respectful hommage to the cherished month of Socktober by doing something fun and out of the ordinary.  In 2009, we had a mini-sock exchange, in which 72 knitters from the US, Canada, Europe, and Asia sent itty bitty socks to their swap partners. 

In 2010, we truly showed loved to our WIP sock projects by having a Second Sock KAL.  In this event, over 40 pairs of unfinished socks were finished, and single socks around the world rejoiced at finding their perfect mate.

This year, we've decided to try to reduce our sock yarn stash by declaring this month to be Left-ober.  We've started a KAL thread in the Ravely discussion group, and all you have to do to play along is make something out of leftober sock yarn.  We all have some!

So far, we've seen our knitters create a beautiful and original beaded/knitted necklace, an adorable mini-sweater ornament, and a pair of cute baby socks.  Many other leftober projects are on the sticks, including mine which I'll tell you about.

Since I got my iPhone in February, I've been wanting a little purse to carry it in.  Sometimes, when I want to listen to music or an audiobook, I don't have on garments with a pocket to put the phone in and that annoys me.  So my thought was to knit a little iPhone purse, that is big enough for the phone, the earbuds, and maybe a few other little purse items.  It would need to have a long handle to wear over my neck so that the purse hangs against my chest or on my side in messenger-bag style.  I thought it should be double knit  or two-layered for strength.  Ideally it could have an external pocket that the earbuds could go in when they aren't in use so that they don't get all wrapped around everything else inside the purse.  For a secure closure, I thought a flex-frame would be perfect.  You know - the metal thingies you squeeze from the sides to open the purse.  Then when you let go, it snaps back shut.

This has become my Left-ober project.  The yarn I'm using is some Pace Step, leftober from a Think Outside the Sox contest entry from 2008.  The purse is a rectangle - I cast the bottom edge on using Judy's Magic Cast On.  Basically, the purse is knitted as a tube - and to make it pretty, I stole the beaded Social Butterfly motif from my Mystery Sock I pattern.    I knit the tube to be long enough to hold the phone plus extra length to cover the flex-frame and a little extra margin - just cuz.  Then, I did a picot turn row, and am now working the inside half of the tube.  Not only will the second half of the tube turn inside to create strength, but it will also create the casing for the flex frame.

The photos show my progress to date - I'm about an inch into the inside part of the tube.  It's super monotonous stockinette stitch at this point.  I've also shown a photo of what the picot edge will look like when turned to the inside - love those cute little girlie edges! 

When I reach the desired length of my tube, I'll insert the flex frame and then kitchener the end closed.  I probably ought to put the external pocket on before I sew it shut in case I need to stick my hands inside the tube.  Then I'll sew or perhaps crochet a seam just below the flex frame that joins the two layers to create the casing.  I-cord handle?  Hmmmm?  Sounds like I'll be hashing out those details as I go...  future posts!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Great Knitting Day!

Today I had three excellent knitting experiences, so I thought I'd share :-)

First, I attended a meeting of the local TKGA Chapter today for the first time. Why did I wait so long? Well - back when I first knew about the chapter, I couldn't attend the weekday meetings because I had one of those pesky corporate jobs. Then, three or so years ago when I stepped away from the corporate world - I just plain forgot about the chapter. Last weekend when we were at Vogue Live, a couple of the members introduced themselves to us at our booth, and asked me why I'm not a member. I had no good answer for that at all, so Voila! Today I am a new member.

Second, I picked a great meeting to attend for a first timer. This is a very large chapter with over 200 members, and they have monthly meetings that are well planned and include great program speakers. Today's speaker was Barry Klein, owner of Trendsetter Yarns. Mr. Klein and his mother started Trendsetter 24 years ago, and their products feature many, many interesting yarns in all sorts of textures, weights, materials, and colors. He gave a very interesting talk on how different types of yarns are milled, dyed, and plied, and had slides showing production equipment from the mills they use in Italy. I was particularly interested to see the methods the mills use to dye variegated yarns at commercial scale - one method uses lots of syringes to inject dye right into cones of undyed yarn! Crazy stuff :-) I got up the nerve to introduce myself to Mr. Klein after his talk - after all, we did hang out across the aisle from him at the booth featuring his yarns at Vogue Live.

The third awesomeness of my day is that I finished knitting my Siesta sweater while I was attending the TKGA meeting - YAY!!!!! As you may have heard me mention on the podcast, I decided to make it long and use up all the yarn I bought. So... I did a calculation to estimate how much yarn I would need for the icord bindoff, and wound that off the outside of my last ball of yarn to hold in reserve while I knit the sweater as far as it would go from the inside end of my ball of yarn. The result is that the only yarn I have leftover is the teeny tiny ball shown above - love that!!! The sweater fits great and is flattering - the photo here doesn't show it off very well. It's somewhere between long-tunic and short-dress in length, and I look forward to wearing it with leggings.  After I block it (just a bit to help the icord edgings lay flat) I'll post a modelled photo :-)

So that's my great knitting day so far!