Friday, January 23, 2009

When do you give up?

Or do you?

I have finished the left and right front panels on my Celtic Cardigan. I have also knit the entire back, joined the side seams, managed to graft the knot-work at the back of the neck and joined the shoulders and collar in place.

The knot in the center of the back looks amazing! It worked fabulously and I'm thrilled I finally found Continuous Cables and bought it. However, I can't seem to photograph this yarn to save my life. It is so dark I just can't figure out how to get enough light on it to show the detail without washing out everything. Either the pictures are so dark everything is lost in shadow, or they're so bright you can't see for all the light bouncing off every single stitch in the project.

I love knitting at my gym. They have a nice lobby with huge picture windows and a couple of chairs right where all that wonderful light spills right down onto your work. Even on an overcast day there is some of the best lighting available. It gives me enough time to wind down from my run and for my daughter to finish up at her preschool. It's perfect. As I was working the last of the knot-work up the front and extending it so it would go around the back of the neck, one of the women with which I frequently chat came up to look at the project in progress. She looked over and admired my work and then very kindly clucked her tongue, shook her head and informed me, "I think it will be too small." We debated this for a bit, mostly because I've been a bit concerned the whole time while working it. I chose the Medium over the Large size with some trepidation. It's right on the edge for me, but I have lost a lot of weight and am still loosing more.

Her comments spurred my efforts to seam everything I had done together and try it on. I finished this afternoon and tugged it over my shoulders. I fear she was right, but it's so hard to say. I haven't washed or blocked it at all yet. It could stretch out a little. Maybe. My yarn is alpaca, but I did strand it with lace-weight merino to give it a little extra "memory". There is a lot of give in the knit cloth I could exploit, but it doesn't hang with any positive ease right now.

I'm down to three-and-one-half balls (out of ten) of the alpaca yarn, which is just over 300 yards and I fear I will run out before I finish both sleeves. I fear the whole thing is too small, even after some judicious blocking. I just don't know if I should back out of this project now, or see it to its very end, be it bitter or sweet.

I think I'll persevere, but boy, am I ever nervous!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The post in which I show marked improvement!

Spinning improvement
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Practice, and you ought to get better, right? It's so nice when that works out! Here is my second go at my brown roving. See the strand? It's that thread-like line across the dime. Now that is some thin spinning!

Dusty Road Handspun
The first skein dried and fluffed up into a gorgeous yarn that is, in fact bulky. The upside of it being bulky is that it is two-ply yarn. So at least I spun half as thick as I ever had before. This next step is even more exciting.

Now I have to decide how to ply it!

In the meantime, I have completed another six pattern repeats on the left front of my cardigan, so progress is happening there, too. Unfortunately I have been ill, the children have been ill, and DH has been ill as well. So, there is not as much progress as I'd like, and pretty much everything around the house has come to a grinding halt. It's a little worrisome because I'm participating in sweater KAL starting in February. Wish me luck getting done in time, 'cause I'm going to need it.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sidelined by Spinning

Bosworth Midi 23g
Originally uploaded by Project Pictures
Once upon a time I promised myself I wouldn't take up spinning. I had just finished a very nice class on drop-spindling at my favorite LYS. We covered every step in hand-spinning yarn, starting with the fibre. Our teacher had several unprocessed fleeces and discussed the merits of each. We picked, carded (into rolags) and spun on heavy Ashford drop-spindles. We plied our singles and washed the resulting yarn free of lanolin and dirt. We also got a chance to sit down with roving at a wheel and give that a whirl.

It was fascinating and I really felt it expanded my understanding of yarn, and wool but the process was just too intensive to be practical in my lifestyle. Picking and carding wool wasn't my favorite activity (okay, I flat-out didn't like it much other than the lovely lanolin smell and soft hands afterwards) and I couldn't see how to fit it in around a rambunctious toddler.

It was two years later that it occurred to me that since you could wheel-spin roving, you could drop spindle roving, too! That idea stuck with me and I finally gave in to the urge with some gorgeous wool/bamboo blend roving.

My Christmas gift from my mother this year is a spindle. Actually it's two spindles (one for spinning fine, one for medium/plying). I also received a lovely gift of roving from a good friend. Since I want to see this roving become something between lace and fingering weight, it became very necessary that I get more practice. But my spindle is amazing and a lovely and functional tool that I just like to pull out and rub a little!

I bought myself a Bosworth (also known as a "Bossie") spindle. It's cherry wood and I love the way the grain lights up when it catches the light at just the right angle. It spins like lightning! At only 23 grams, it's pretty light, but still just what I wanted. So far I'm only "park-and-draft" spinning, which means you get a lot of spin in your single and then stick the spindle between your knees to work on drafting out the fiber to put spin into it. I managed a little bit of suspended spindling, too. I can tell that will work easier as I get faster at drafting. Right now I take too much time to move between getting up spin and drafting the fiber to get very far.

This week's project is 8oz of beautiful latte-colored merino roving (actually it's only 50 grams of that 8oz, plenty left!). It still has just a wee bit of lanolin in it (because I can smell it, and LOVE it). It is undyed and probably won't see dye from my hand. It's working wonderfully for practice. I have successfully spun up 75 yards of 2-ply yarn. It's drying now so I'm not certain of the WPI, but it is much loftier than I expected. I think it's somewhere between DK and worsted.

I'll have to find a project for it as-is, or spin more, because it's just lovely. I'm really excited about it! But I need to get back to my Celtic Cardigan so I can be ready for a KAL in February.