November 2007


I went to SnB Newington this evening and had a lovely time, but the highlight was getting my hands on this!

Jasmine in Mocha from The Painted Sheep

It’s lusciously soft and shiny laceweight merino/silk, hand-dyed by Kris of The Painted Sheep. The subtle color variations are just gorgeous. I think anyone who looks at my wardrobe or my Ravelry stash can guess that brown is my favorite color. As Kelly was able to quote from my Ravelry profile the second time we met, brown is my basic “black!” My hair is very dark but not quite black, so brown shades complement me much better. After my holiday gift knitting is done (which will probably be late January), this will become a lace shawl for me me me! I haven’t decided which one yet, but there are plenty of beautiful patterns for 1250 yards out there.

Later in the evening, my mom and I were talking about textiles, and when the conversation turned to silk, I decided to break out some silk hankies I bought from SakinaNeedles. This was also to show off my Lendrum wheel to her. 🙂

Silk hankies from SakinaNeedles

Since I had never spun these before, I used an article on spinning silk hankies from knitty.com for reference. We started out by separating off a single hankie.

Single silk hankie

I tried to photograph the separation of one hankie from the stack, but it actually turned out to be two! So that’s something to beware of. It’s helpful to look closely at the edges and make sure you really have a see-through piece of silk. You can’t see through this as well as the picture above.

Separating silk hankies

The next step was poking a hole through it and pulling it into a circle. My mom modeled these for me.

Opening a hole in a silk hankie

Then we stretched it out some more..

Stretching out a silk hankie

Until it was about the thickness I wanted to spin.

Predrafted silk hankie, modeled by Mom

Then I broke the circle and started spinning from one end. I found that spinning silk was quite an adjustment from spinning wool. Because of the long, sticky fibers, I had to keep my hands very far apart while drafting, and it was still tough to pull the fibers out. I found it easier to predraft as fine and even as possible, and just avoid having to do much drafting while spinning. After about 8 hankies, this is what we had. I let my mom pick the colors.

Silk hankies with handspun

It’s a single ply, thick/thin with some nubbies, but still nice and shiny. It’s a little late right now but tomorrow I’ll figure out if it needs any finishing. Maybe not, since it looks quite knittable already!

Handspun from silk hankies

In addition to delightful Thanksgiving family time, I had some good knitting time. My sister Pat is the one who bought me yarn and needles with the Knitting for Dummies book, and taught me to knit for Christmas in 2005. Since then, she had a baby, and her life has been very busy, so she hasn’t knit as much as she would like. So it was nice to be able to sit with her for some fiber time. I brought a spindle and some roving to continue our spinning lessons, and she did great once again! She spun a 2-ply from hand-dyed Corriedale, then swatched it up into a lovely fabric. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo but I’m hoping she will take one soon! While she was spinning, I made some progress on Chris’s hubby sweater.

Hubby sweater detail

I think the dragon scales are turning out nicely. Soon I’ll have to decide on the upper body construction. As for the Clapotis, I didn’t work on it during the break because my mother was around, but I’ve made some progress in secret.

The Clap grows!

I wasn’t paying attention and increased one repeat too many, but that’s okay. It’ll just be a tad wider than it’s supposed to be. But I was very excited to start dropping stitches!

First dropped stitches

The bamboo yarn is nice and drapey, and the stitches dropped nicely, as expected!

Also, my sister gave me this from her stash:

Malabrigo stash from my sister

Some luscious Malabrigo worsted merino in Verde Azul and Brown Berries. Two sweaters worth! Actually, she was intending to use the brown berries for me, but she doesn’t foresee enough knitting time to make use of it. So after all my holiday knitting is done, I’ll find something fun to knit with it. Thanks, pal!

We spent Thanksgiving weekend with my sister and her family, along with my mom visiting from Thailand, and my dad from New Jersey. We ate lots of food and had lots of fun. Here’s part of my contribution to dinner:

Cupcake!

Tim has an egg allergy, so in addition to my pecan pie (which looked like the usual pecan pie and thus was not photographed), I tried an eggless cupcake recipe which used water and cornstarch in place of eggs. I used Ghirardelli chocolate, mmmmm! The icing and sprinkles were store bought, but a big hit with Tim. The outer parts of the cupcakes turned out a little crunchy, but the insides were nice and moist and tasty. He loved them!

Tim loves cupcakes

Tim also had lots of fun with cousin Andy and Grandpa:

Fun with Grandpa

Diaper box bumper cars:

Diaper box bumper cars

Here’s Tim with Auntie Pat. This is his version of “smiling” for the camera:

Timmy and Auntie Pat

Little Andy Man in his tunnel:

Andy's tunnel

There are lots more cute Andy and Tim photos from Pat’s camera, which are posted on her blog!

Okay, I realize this thing is really old, but I thought it was so funny because I’ve always loved Neville, and especially the way he steps up in the later books (no spoilers, of course). And this describes my personality pretty well.

 
Harry Potter Character Combatibility Test
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Neville Longbottom. You come across as shy, quiet, and reserved. Underneath, you are deeply caring of your friends and/or family and would put yourself at risk to defend them, even though you would usually exclude yourself from arguments. You don’t care much for competition or glory. Maintaining peace and justice are much more important to you.

Neville Longbottom
 
84%
Hermione Granger
 
69%
Remus Lupin
 
69%
Harry Potter
 
59%
Luna Lovegood
 
59%
Albus Dumbledore
 
56%
Severus Snape
 
50%
Bellatrix Lestrange
 
47%
Sirius Black
 
41%
Oliver Wood
 
34%
Ron Weasley
 
31%
Draco Malfoy
 
31%
Lord Voldemort
 
28%
Percy Weasley
 
25%

In other news, my mother is coming to visit from Thailand, and I’ve been wondering what I could knit for her that would not be overwhelming in the tropical heat and humidity. After listening to Stash and Burn‘s Wildfire episode which included an interview with Kate Gilbert, I decided to do the ubiquitous Clapotis. I thought this bamboo yarn from Mystical Creation Yarns would make a nice, drapey fabric that’s not too warm. Plus, the stitches should drop nicely.

The Clapotis grows

I’ve never knit a sweater for my husband, Chris. Not because of the “sweater” curse — I’m not afraid because we’ve been happily married for 5 years, together for 14 years, and at this point it would be ridiculous to break up for any reason, let alone a sweater! But he is a really big guy (6’3″), as you can see in previous posts (for example), and he dislikes bulky sweaters. I’ve never had time to knit a big sweater in non-bulky yarn, but now I do, and since his birthday and Christmas are coming up, I thought now would be a good time to do it.

I’m posting it here because it’s not a secret. He helped me pick out the yarn, color, and pattern. I didn’t want to spend all that time knitting something he might not like in the end. So here’s my initial swatch:

Hubby sweater swatch

It’s Cascade 220 in Cordovan, a lovely heathered brown with reddish undertones. I’m using a size 7 needle, and have come up with 48″ around. Chris is on a diet and has had some initial success (sorry for broadcasting it, but yay for you honey!), so I’ve decided to forgo short rows in the belly area. I don’t have a specific pattern but am using the Dragon Skin stitch from Barbara Walker’s Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and am using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s construction for in-the-round sweaters. I haven’t decided yet what kind of shoulder shaping to use, maybe raglan. Here’s what it looks like after one pattern repeat.

Hubby sweater beginning

There’s a loooong way to go, but hopefully I’ll finish it this holiday season!

I took my llama down and spindle with me when we went to visit my sister and her family in MA over the weekend, so I taught her how to spin with it. She got a kick out of it, and was very natural at it too. There are some thicker spots where she played with it, but they’re not really noticeable. Considering that she had never spun before, she did a great job! Today I spun up some more, enough to ply and see how it looks after finishing.

Llama down cop

I used a center-pull ball to make a 2-ply:

Llama 2-ply

This is how it looked before “finishing.”

Llama mini-skein prior to finishing

According to Teach Yourself Visually Handspinning, yarn spun woolen needs to be fulled. So I soaked it in hot water with some wool wash and smushed it around with a large spoon. The book suggests using a plunger, but I don’t have one that hasn’t been used in a toilet.. the spoon worked fine, I think. Then I rinsed it in cold water and repeated the hot-cold cycle, toweled out the excess water, and thwacked the yarn on the counter several times, which was very satisfying! All of this supposedly evens out the twist and allows the crossed fibers to bloom, which results in a softer, airier yarn.

Llama 2-ply after fulling

It really is delightfully soft. I wish I could capture that in photos. Tomorrow I’ll swatch it and figure out what to do with it. I have ideas, but again need to keep it secret because it will be involved with my holiday knitting. All of my super secret knitting will be on Ravelry, since none of my recipients are there.  If you’re not on there yet, sorry!  I’ll reveal everything after gifts are given.  🙂

I finished spinning my Prairie Thistle superwash merino roving from SakinaNeedles. In my previous post about this, I talked about manipulating the color changes. So I spun half of it using the whole width of the roving for one ply, then a 1/2 width, then a 1/4 width..

SakinaNeedles singles for Fractal Stripe

Then an 1/8 width to get progressively more rapid color changes in the other ply.

Rapid color changes

Unfortunately, I spun the second ply somewhat finer than the first and ended up with this much left when I plied it. Oops!!

Oops

So I wound it into a center pull ball and finished it up. It will mess up my Fractal Stripe a little, but hopefully not too much. I was impressed that I managed to fit the whole 4 oz onto one bobbin!

It all fit on the bobbin!

On the niddy noddy:
On the Niddy Noddy

Yarn spaghetti before finishing:
Yarn Spaghetti

Skeined up after soaking and blocking:
My 3rd handspun skein!

A penny for scale:
A penny for scale

Now, what to do with this?

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