Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Year-end FOs

I've fallen out of the photo-taking habit. Actually, that's not altogether true. I take photos, I just leave them trapped on my camera because by the time I get home most nights, all I want to do is spin. Yup. I have a problem.

First FO to mention: 4-ply handspun hat. I used Spunky Eclectic's Fiber of the Month for October. I split the roving length-wise into 4 1-oz sections and then spun it to about heavy-fingering weight. I plied it and managed to preserve most of the color changes. The resulting yarn knit up nicely on US10 dpns. Here's a shot of the hat as it blocks on my alien head:

FO handspun goblin eyes 4ply hat 3

And here's a wistful shot:

FO handspun goblin eyes 4ply hat 1

The next FO is the Natalya Gauntlets by Jody (she recently redesigned her site and I can't find the pattern!!!). As much as I loved knitting this pattern, I loved working with the yarn more! I used Mission Falls Merino Superwash, and my stars, am I ever in love with that yarn now. It is the embodiment of smoosh.

FO Natalya Mission Falls superwash merino

The only modification I made was minor--I mirrored the cables so that they would twist complementary to each other. My favorite part of the pattern was the thumb gusset--for whatever reason, that detail just made me happier than happy. Neither of these details is readily evident given the sumptuous darkness of the yarn.

FO Natalya Mission Falls superwash merino 2

More later--I'm battling Flickr and the home PC to get all of my stash shots uploaded before week's end.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Knitting (and spinning) resolutions

A little late, but better than nothing, I've been musing on some crafty resolutions. I'd drawn up a big, overwhelming list and then realized that everything fits into one of four categories (LOL, I started with two...), which I've detailed a bit more below.

First, challenge myself to learn new techniques.

  • Afterthought heel - I'm working on a plain ol' toe-up 2x2 ribbed sock (Austermann Step, yarn I fondled thrice before making it mine). To make it a little more interesting, I thought I'd give the afterthought heel a try. I've read some stuff online and it seems easy enough, plus if the heel wears out (I haven't had that happen yet on any of the hand-knit socks I wear), I can replace it.

  • Intarsia - I queued Buster a couple of months ago and haven't gotten much further than the preliminary color decisions. Part of this is because I've become more of a spinner lately, part of this is because I'm a little timid to try colorwork, and part of this is due to the fact that I'm still having issues with properly finishing sweaters, which leads me to my next goal.

  • Finishing - whether I try to finesse something ala over the edge or just want to knit and finish something that actually fits in all respects, I still need to work on finishing a garment and having it work. I'm not asking for perfection or store-bought replicas, but I would like to be able to wear the sweaters I knit rather than stare at them in the closet and scoff.

  • Spindle-ply - I can spindle-spin a pretty fine single, but when it comes to plying, I either turn to the wheel, or leave the singles as is. There's no reason for having not spindle-plied yet other than I just haven't done it.

  • Spinning, general - I want to spin more consistent singles. I'm good at this with the spindle, but on the wheel... Well, sometimes I just go a little nuts and let the fiber go where it takes me. That's great for practice, but not necessarily for practicality. So, I'll eventually order a spinner's control card so I can better manage the width of the single as it's spun. The Woolery has one for about $10.50; I'll get on that soon enough.

Second, I want to spin to knit. Any fiber that isn't married to a project (even as vague a project as "socks"; it doesn't have to be a specific pattern, though that would be helpful) should either get hitched or get lost. Some of the projects in mind include:

  • Spin up the Coopworth I bought at Rhinebeck and make it a two-ply. It might be pushing it to also expect to knit socks from it, but that's the plan down the road. I actually bought this with the intention of making socks for Mike, so this will likely be a subdued pattern.

  • Spin up the gorgeous merino and make a vest out of it. (See resolution about finishing techniques above...). The vest I'm planning on right now is the XOXO vest from TKBOY.

  • Spin the STR silk/merino (LOCH NESS!) as finely as possible, make a snuggly scarf.

  • Card, spin, dye the locks, bamboo, and rayon. The different fibers will take the dye at various levels, which should create a lovely semi-solid skein in the end. All told, I'll end up with about 4 oz of this blend. I think in and of itself, the yarn will be the project.

  • Finish spinning the two plies for Brooking. Make Mr. Greenjeans.

Perhaps the hardest task I've assigned myself for the year: fix what I knit. Part of this relates directly to the issues I have with properly finishing a sweater (I rush the body, I think blocking will perform an incredible miracle...). Part of it is related to the fact that sometimes, sometimes, I can be st00pid.

  • Fix the Wicked sweater I bastarded from the good folks over at Nashua. This may involve simply picking up the bottom hem and crocheting a round to help things lay flat. Or, it may be a frog candidate.

  • Fix Anastasia. Is she a sweater? Is she a vest? Sit down, calculate the sleeves, and make the damn thing work already!

  • Fix the top-down raglan turtleneck with cabled details. Provided, of course, I have enough yarn--I think I need a skein of Malabrigo Pearl. Ravelry tells me I don't. Ravelry can be a big ol' liar-head. If I don't have another skein, then I'll just have to frog the sweater AGAIN and make it into something that frakkin' works once and for all.

  • Fix the Shapely Tee I made for my mom--I have half a skein of that Jo Sharp and I need to fix the armholes. Knowing now what I do, this should be easy-peasy. I'll get to that next month. :-P

  • Fix the RPM socks I made for Mike... They're not for me, they're not for me, they're not for me... EVEN IF THEY DO FIT!!!

Lastly, organize the stash and its related stuff. Ravelry is my friend, right?

  • Inventory the stash: yarn, fiber, and handspun (which *is* yarn, but it's also special...)

  • Inventory the books. I have nearly purchased an already-owned book on more than one occasion.

  • Inventory needles. Why do I always seem to buy the same size? Also, what size DON'T I have?

  • Keep a running list of what I don't have and think I need. Evaluate that list periodically and shop from it wisely.

  • Keep my notebook over at Ravelry up-to-date. I've really not used the site to its fullest. I need to take photos of my stash, keep projects updated, and mingle with the other Ravelers.

I'm hoping that by 2009, my little hobby will be less like Audrey II and more under control. It's not so much that it's out of control now (some might argue otherwise), but the semi-stress of managing things bothers me. Some projects I don't even tackle because it would just be too much work to even start them. With the exception of the last category, these resolutions should be fairly fun to keep. I mean, I've basically just resolved to knit and spin more. What's so bad about that? And, if I'm going to be completely honest, the prospect of whipping my (I nearly called it collection) stash into shape is actually quite appealing. If nothing else, I'll gain an idea of what I don't have and what I might be able to get.

This weekend coming up is a long one for me (sweet honey and sugar, I cannot wait). I'm hopeful that I can start tackling the organizational goals then! Stay tuned...