Gradient in Lace

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I’ve made good progress on my Evenstar shawl in the past week.  I had a lot of hanging around time last weekend and also a lot of sitting in the car while DB drove knitting time (yes, you read that correctly, DB is driving!) If you’ve been following along on Ravelry or FB you might be thinking “Hey, you were going to make Briarcrest with that hand dyed, gradient blended, hand spun yarn! What gives?” And you would be right.

I haven’t even finished spinning all the yarn for this project.  I still have the solid light blue to finish up.  I’ve got one bobbin done and I’m half way through the second bobbin of singles and I’m trying with all my might to keep up the enthusiasm to finish it off.  I’m just so ready to be finished with this spinning project!  And at the same time I’m super excited about knitting the shawl, so you know where I’m spending my time.

I ended up with 104g and 636 meters in skein 1, and 95g and 595 meters in skein 2. That’s already going to make a huge shawl.  When I thought about wearing a huge triangular shawl, I just didn’t see it making me happy.  If I have that much gradient yarn to use up I’d much rather put it to good use in a square or circular shawl.  And Evenstar has been on my radar for AGES.  It was time to cast on.

You can see more photos of the yarn on my Briarcrest hand spun Ravelry project page.

I WILL make Briarcrest, which is really a perfect shawl for hand spun yarn.  But I will make it with some Shetland gradient that I spun as a fractal.

I’m such a nerd that I’ve made a spreadsheet to track progress of the shawl to see how I’m doing against a KAL deadline. Yes, another deadline project.  I swore I wouldn’t do these anymore for a while, but this one is fun and with fun people and it’s very relaxed with a long 3 months to get it done.  This is the Yarniacs Colors of Fall KAL (all info here). You cast on the first day of Summer and must be finished by the first day of Fall.  That’s in order to be in the drawing for prizes. But I’m really going with the attitude that I will do my best against the deadline and that’s all the pressure I’m putting on myself.  So far I’m ahead of schedule according to the spreadsheet calculations!

I’ve calculated the total number of stitches in the shawl, how many stitches I’ve done so far and what % that is, compared to the number of days in the KAL and the number of days into it we are now.  And the % of yarn I’ve used up.  This is almost as much fun as the knitting itself.

In other news, two weeks ago I painted my little Electric Eel Wheel Mini.  I used chalk board paint and then found some chalk markers to write on it.  I really love the idea of writing on the bobbins what I’m spinning. Not that I would forget.  Probably.

The bright green makes me happy.  What makes you happy?

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Summertime

Summer in the “Inland Empire” (just what makes this area an “Empire” escapes me) arrives with a sudden pop of heat leaving me uneasy for the dreaded July and August temps.  Not to mention – what is a wool addict supposed to do in such weather?

Thanks to a lovely friend and fellow Californian, who sent me this yarn, I have started a lightweight t-shirt knit, using Holst Garn “Coast” which is a blend of 55% wool and 45% cotton. It’s also very fine and light which is perfect for our weather. I’m making “Confetti” but highly modified. I’m making the neck smaller so it doesn’t fall off my shoulders so much, making some different colored stripes, and I moved the beginning of the round from the front to the BACK of the sweater, which is where any self respecting round should begin and end. Plus I’ll be making short sleeves instead of 3/4 long. The yarn is lovely to work with. So lovely in fact that I actually bought a stash of it!

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I went to the Holst Garn web site and found that there was a sale going on plus thanks to  another friend I learned that the shipping from Denmark is not so expensive and it’s very fast. Which was all absolutely true. I now have enough for 2 more sweaters and maybe a little more. Yay! It felt so good to buy yarn! I haven’t bought yarn in the last 6 months, which is very long for a knitter, even a knitter with a big stash already. Everyone needs a little retail therapy in the way of stash enhancement now and then.

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In other fiber news, today was the monthly “Spin Inland” meet up at the LYS in Redlands. One of my fellow spinners said she was going home at 2 to wash some raw fleece. That sounded like a grand idea.  I’ve been storing a Polwarth fleece that I bought from a farm in England about 3 years ago and it’s about time I washed it.  It’s a lamb fleece, first shearing, and the staple length is not terribly long.  Maybe 4″ in some places, but mostly about 3″.  I’ll have to put it through the drum carder, even though it is super soft and fine and normally I’d want to comb it, but it’s just too short for that. I can’t wait to give it a try and see what kind of spinnable fiber I get from it. What you see here in the tub is just over 300g/10oz.  I’ve got about 4 times that much in total so it will take a few weekends to get it all washed and dried. I’m weighing everything at every step along the way just to see how much I lose from raw to washed to carded to spun yarn. You know how much I like data.

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I soaked it in a tub of soapy water for 45 minutes, then soaked in plain hot water for 10 and then laid it outside to dry still in the garment bags.  Maybe I’ll have time tomorrow to do another batch. I’ll keep posting photos along the way so you can see the results.

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And now I think it’s time for a late afternoon cocktail and some outside knitting – hmmm – is that a bad combination?

Do it for Love

IMG_3367 2I have finished a sweater that is not a sample! It’s just for ME, which makes a change from nearly all the projects I’ve worked on in the past TEN YEARS. First, about this sweater, then more about MUST MAKE projects.

This little gem of a sweater is made with Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in color Stormborn. I bought it during my LYS’s Holiday Party this year. I fell in love at first sight. The pattern is Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, which has been in my queue list for years. I’m wearing it with a fantastic dress from Uniqlo, my favorite clothing shop. My gauge was different from the pattern so I made the 42″ pattern size to end up with a sweater of 40″ around. I also did a 1-1 rib for the collar instead of just stockinette stitch because I didn’t want it to roll. Lastly, I used needles 1 size smaller for the last 1″ if the sleeve ribbing, which just seemed neater. It’s really the perfect summer sweater. I could use another one in a less warm yarn, like a wool/cotton blend or cotton/silk blend.

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I made this sweater to go specifically with this dress to wear specifically to a wedding at the end of June. While it is not a sample for my shop, it WAS deadline knitting, and had a purpose and date stamp on it. So, while it is just for ME, it did have a bit of stress built in to the project just because of the deadline.

In the past week I’ve been thinking about my next knitting project, with a particular KAL in mind (the Yarniacs Colors of Fall KAL) and I realized that here again I’m getting ready to sign up for a deadline project. But what struck me most is that I have been so focused on making projects to use for shop samples, and event deadlines, that I no longer know how to pick something JUST FOR FUN. I have a house full of beautiful yarn and still I just kept turning things over in my head and couldn’t get excited about anything.

Looking back, since opening my first web shop in April 2010 (which I closed due to work changes) and then starting to dye fiber and selling it in November 2015, nearly everything I’ve made has been for a sample of some sort.  And that doesn’t count the patterns that I started writing in 2008 and needed samples for. Or projects for gifts.

Since July 2008, when I wrote my first little pattern, I’ve finished 145 knitted items and 15 official spinning projects (as opposed to small spinning samples – again with the samples!).  Out of all those projects, the ones that were not for samples, or gifts, but were just FOR FUN FOR ME number 36.  That’s 22.5% of projects, for myself without strings attached.

And like the nerd that I am, it’s probably seeing this in black and white, as a hard number, that makes me say “oh that explains why I feel the need to stop with the web shop and dyeing business”.  It’s also that I don’t have the energy to work full time AND try to keep up a dyeing business, but when I see this written out I realize too that it’s because I’ve spent YEARS doing what I love for reasons other than love.  I need to find the love again.

It’s no wonder I don’t know how to get excited about a project just for me, just for fun, just for the love.  In fact, the project I’ve chosen to start for the KAL that begins on June 21 is actually a SAMPLE for a shop I’m going to CLOSE.  But I am still going to finish spinning the yarn and knit the shawl that my talented friend Christopher designed for Ply magazine (Briarcrest Shawl), because it’s lovely, because I’m almost finished spinning the yarn, and because I said I would. And it won’t be because it was supposed to be a shop sample, but because I love the colors and really want to make it.

And after that I want to spin some yarn for gifts for friends, which is also for love and all the best reasons.

And I will cast on a new knitting project just for me, just for fun, without a deadline or obligation. I wonder what that will be like!