Saturday, November 22, 2008

Caturday again!

And you know what that means:
But wait, there's more (even cuter):

It's a good thing this cat is so very laid-back. Rugrat ADORES him, and he lets her pretty much do everything but drag him around by the tail. And he'd probably let her do that except for the fact that his tail got slammed in a door when he was very young and had to be amputated, so I'm sure it's a bit sensitive. He is definitely a "dog cat" though. You know, one of those cats who act like lap dogs instead of being all "don't-touch-me-I'm-a-cat" types. Like Emmy-cat. BTW, his name is Princess. It seems that Missy and her ex-husband found him as a tiny, sick kitten, and since they weren't exactly experts, they thought he was a she. Once they figured out he wasn't, it was too late. So now he answers to Princess--and yes, he does come when you call his name. Dog cat, I'm tellin' ya!

I just found a cool blog/website/vendor.  Very witty, even for a Canadian, eh?  And I want the purple yarn! And the Jeans & Coffee yarn. And a bunch of others. So I should stay away from that blog, eh?

Since I've been doing the Inventory and trying to find a better way to manage the rubble junk stash, I've been looking around for good storage. Office Max paper boxes work well, but are kinda ugly, and you can't see what's in them.  I found this in a local antique/junque shop:
Now that's what I call a Mason jar!  It stands about 18 inches tall, and is 30 inches around. I should remember how to figure the volume, but that little formula has gone slap out of my head. I think it involves Pi.
This gives a better idea of the size:
It's a bit dark, but you can see how big it is relative to our dining room chairs. Now, what to fill it with? Sock yarn? That would be cool! But I have 12 skeins of Noro that would look great too. Or, I could coil up some of my many pounds of hand-painted roving and put in there. Hmmm. I think I'll have to audition some of these things.

I really need to get off here and start the wedding dress. I swatched last night, and we agreed on what size needles I need to use, so let the casting on begin! The basic pattern is from Interweave Knits Summer 2003 (and if you have a copy you'd like to part with, I'll take it, just so I can see the article about the dress. All I have is the printout of the free pattern.) I have to cast on 150 stitches, so I'd better round up my stitch markers! And, of course, this means a temporary haitus of the "finishing" part of the blog, which, let's face it, hasn't been going so well anyway. But once this giant project is done, I'll get back on the wagon and get a new Project List going and FINISH SOME THINGS!

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Very Big (Formerly Secret) Project Begins, Part 1

This came in the mail the other day--5 cones of it. It's a cashmere/merino/viscose blend from, and it's going to be Missy's wedding dress. Guess who gets to knit it?

It's laceweight yarn, which is why we ordered 5 cones. We're not exactly sure how much we'll need. We're not exactly sure what the dress is going to look like. We're not exactly sure how long we I have to make it, as there's been no formal proposal just yet. But you know how it is--when he's out looking at apartments, that's a good sign. I think. is a wonderful place to get these terrific luxury yarns so inexpensively, but the downside is that they must be taken off the cone and washed. They're spun for machine knitting, so they have a coating of oil. So this was the somewhat daunting scene earlier this week:

 We're winding, we're winding. And one of us looks much happier than the other. (This picture also shows me in my native garb, one that would make a lumberjack blush. Missy says it looks like a plaid flannel train wreck. I say it's comfortable, so shut up.)

After a billion million couple of hours of winding, we finished two of the skeins and washed them. I'm totally convinced of the necessity of that now, though I toyed with the thought of skipping that step. I could see clouds of gray dirt and oil coming off the yarn, so we rinsed it a thousand hundred dozen times, rolled it in towels, and hung it to dry. This is how big the skeins are. I didn't measure the diameter, but that's about 2100 yards per skein.

Later, after drying. The yarn fluffed up beautifully, and the contrast of the soft cash/merino with the shiny viscose is lovely.

It's much more silvery than we expected, but since Missy wants to add ruffled accents of icy blue, it will be perfect. When it's knitted, that is...

So now it's off to swatching. I hereby consider myself officially excused from any sort of household duty whatsoever, including washing dishes (which would roughen my hands), laundry, cleaning, and cooking. If somebody wants a wedding dress, she'll cooperate, right?

Oh, and don't forget, there's another Secret Project going on right now. Can't talk about it. Shhhh.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well, Lookee What I Found!!

First of all, let me congratulate Daniele, because she's the winner of my first comment bribe giveaway. That's nice, because she's been a faithful commenter for a long time. (Of course, that means she didn't need a bribe, but let's call it a reward or something.) I should mention that the winner was chosen by the scientific method of taking five playing cards, one for each commenter, shuffling, drawing, and awarding the bribe prize to the comment number that corresponded with the number on the card. Obviously this works until you have more than 13 comments, but I'll not worry about that just yet. So thanks to all who commented, and stay tuned. I've been cleaning up the stash, so there will be more bribes giveaways in the future.

So, the stash cleaning. Wow. The original plan was not only to inventory, photograph, and list The Stash on Ravelry, but also to get The Room organized and cleaned up enough to actually walk through, instead of creeping sideways through the narrow path to my computer chair. After much moving, shifting, prying open, and dumping of boxes, the inventory commenced. I say again, WOW. I made a shocking discovery:

Eh, so what? you say. Look at this picture:

This is Missy's lace shawl--the one I mentioned in the last post that we started together because she found this faaaabulous lace yarn at Woolgathering. Compare the photos. Yep, it's the same yarn. And even though I stood there at the booth and helped her pick it out, I had absolutely NO recollection that I had bought exactly the same yarn from exactly the same booth at exactly the same fiber fest the year before! What's even funnier is that she was with me last year too, and she doesn't remember it! Scary, huh?

But wait, there's more. See this?

This is a shawl I started for the Spindlicity handspun shawl contest a while back.  (Wow, I didn't realize just how "a while back" that was until I retrieved the link!)  I loved that roving so much, and spent so much time working with it, both spinning on a drop spindle and knitting it. You'd think I would recognize it instantly if I ever saw it again. Nope. Look what I found in a box on the bottom shelf behind the loom:

Again, exactly the same roving, probably bought from exactly the same vendor. The details of both purchases are a blur, but really. Am I going to have to start carrying smidgins of wool everywhere I go so I don't make multiple purchases? Oh well, at least I'm consistent in my tastes!

That shawl never got finished because I started knitting it before I finished spinning the yarn. As I spun, the yarn got finer and finer, ending up like this: 
(Love that classy yarn bobbin!) Unfortunately, the difference was obvious in the shawl, and I pulled it off the needles because I knew it wasn't going to work out. Here are the detail pictures--you can clearly see how the yarn got progressively finer.  The center starting point:

About a billion million hundred rounds later:

I was terribly disappointed, because I so wanted to win the scholarship to SOAR, but I couldn't bring myself to finish it. I put it away until I could stand to look at it long enough to frog back to where the yarn started becoming a little more consistent, and of course, I forgot about it. I've got so much of that roving now, I could spin and knit 40 shawls with that weight of yarn!

So far those have been the worst discoveries in the Stash Inventory. I am going to get tough, and get rid of some of the leftover yarns I have rattling around. Somebody somewhere can use them. And to show you just how tough I can be...I THREW AWAY yarn I had spun and plyed on a drop spindle. It was one of those projects that was just not turning out well and I knew it, but I couldn't bear to give up on it. I had spun and plyed so much of this yarn--laceweight again--that I tried to ignore the little voice in my head that was insisting that it was scratchy. Really, really scratchy. It was a mystery roving I got from someone else who was destashing, and yesterday as I fondled the thousands hundreds ten little skeins, I realized that wearing a shawl knit out of this stuff would be like wearing an exquisitely lovely hair shirt. So it went in the trash, roving and all (though I think I spied more of that roving peeking out from under some mohair in a clear box I haven't gotten into yet. Maybe it will make a, well, it could be spun into a thick yarn for...hmm, maybe I could...) Aha! FELT!!

It's been fun (though eye-opening) to go through all my yarn and fiber, but I don't think it will all get posted on Ravelry any time soon. It's just too much! I have been writing down the bare bones information, so I'll probably do a spreadsheet just so I can see what I have and where I've stored it. Pretty much the same idea as Ravelry, but without all the pictures. Which leads me to wonder: how do you manage your stash, if you have one? (If you don't because you're one of those anal compulsive freakish wonderfully disciplined people who only have yarn for the project you are presently working on, I don't want to know about it.) Do the rest of you just toss your purchases on top of the pile, so to speak, or do you post it on Ravelry or use another organizing method? I really do want to know, because besides yarn I have needlepoint, cross-stitch, weaving, and quilting stash and UFOs, and I'd kind of like to keep track of it all. If for no other reason than that I don't need any more purple silk-blend roving!

Friday, November 14, 2008

WIPs and a Giveaway!

Even though I haven't made a new Project List, and I'm kind of on hold because of the new Secret Project(s), here's a look at what I've been working on.

The Swallowtail Shawl cast-on was my response to months of sock knitting for SOS08. I think I cast on around the first of September, and this is how far I got before relegating it to the bottom of the pile. It's not hard, and it's a wonderful yarn (Suprima by Fila de Crostura)  (Superior by Filatura Di Crosa) but I got distracted. Surprise, surprise.

This next shawl jumped on the needles because Missy bought some laceweight yarn at Woolgathering in September, and we started a KAL on Ravelry so she could learn to knit lace. The plan was for us to work on it together, row by row, but that hasn't worked out so well. She's still learning to "read" her knitting, so when something goes wrong (and you know that with lace it always does) she doesn't understand what happened so she can fix it. She's gotten discouraged and hasn't picked it up in a while, so mine has been languishing as well. But I have been able to help her fix some things when they go awry, so all is not lost. And part of the reason she hasn't been working on the shawl is because she's been making a shrug and can't stand to have more than one project going at once. If I hadn't endured 40 weeks of pregnancy (with the requisite 3 months of morning sickness) and 16 hours of labor to bring her into this world, I would swear she can't be my kid.

This shawl is a bit bigger than the picture shows, because I've had to sneak it out on occasion and do a couple of rows just for the fun of it. Don't tell Missy.

The gray sweater/coat below is a Jo Sharp pattern, and it's being made with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. The pattern calls for a tweed yarn, but I don't care for the tweedy flecks with all the cabling this sweater has. The Lamb's Pride is perfect--smooth and glossy, and the cables pop out beautifully. I'll have to make something else from it when I get done with this (stop snickering) because the stockinette on the wrong side is even more beautiful than the cabled side.

This just shows a little of the progress on this particular project. I do have the first sleeve done and the ribbing and a couple inches of the pattern done on the second sleeve. But again, it's languishing because of the SP(s). It's kind of hard to work on for a long stretch anyway, because I have to concentrate and follow the pattern carefully so I don't have drunken cables wandering every which way. An hour of working on this and I'm begging for the mindlessness of a fun fur scarf.

The color in the above picture is true--a lovely silvery gray. I don't know what happened to the second picture. I'm not much of a photographer.

Speaking of scarves, I'm ripping off  stealing  borrowing an idea from Wendy of WendyKnits and giving away a book I no longer need. It's Vogue's "Knitting on the Go: Scarves" in new condition. This is what it looks like:

So leave a comment, and I'll choose a winner at random and send this to you. It's really a nice little book, but I don't need it and I'm trying to downsize a bit. I'd rather have a reader get it than dump it off at Goodwill, and our local libraries are not accepting donations right now. Since I rarely have more than two commments on any post, your chances of winning are fantastic!  (Thanks for the idea, Wendy!!)

I'm off to have another little glass of chilled wine after my hectic day spent searching for the perfect Baby Doll for Rugrat. I've decided that there really is a seventh circle of Hell, and it is called "Toys R Us."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Exciting New Project(s)!!

I guess I should be careful not to whine about boredom with the WIPs (or the UFOs--two totally different categories.) I've obligated myself to something really, really big. Two big things actually. And maybe a third, depending on the other two things and their relative bigness vs. deadlines.

But...I can't tell you about any of them. Well, I could, but then I'd have to hunt you down and kill you.

Not really. It would be way too much trouble to try to retrace blog hits, especially for me. Besides,  I don't really expect this (these) to remain secret(s) until they're finished, but it would be nice. I'll give a little hint, though. A couple of them involve purchases from Colourmart.  I'm not saying exactly what, but cashmere and silk are two more clues. And it all has to do with a special occasion. There. That's all I'm saying. For the moment.

So although I bought navy blue and black yarns for socks for the husband, those will have to be put on hold. By the way, it was extremely difficult to track down dark solid colors for Man Socks. I kept getting sidetracked by all the wonderful handpaints (as if I couldn't stock my own yarn shop already!) But, really, all of my favorite pushers enablers shops carry very little in the way of Man Sock-style yarns. My husband is just not the type to wear variegated colors, no matter how much he may admire the hand-knit jewels that adorn my feet.

No pics this time around. I've been busy knitting. But I can't say what...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

It's Caturday!!

In honor of Caturday, I share pictures of my Emmy-cat:

She contemplates helping with the ironing...


...but decides to nap instead. It was a tough decision.


I don't like to iron either, so I can't blame her.

On the knitting front, I'm trying to finish several projects at once, and that obviously doesn't work well. I joined the "One Day a Week for UFOs" group on Ravelry, and I've decided Wednesday is the day to work on the Jo Sharp cabled cardigan. I've managed to finish the first sleeve, and have the ribbing and a couple of inches of the pattern done on the second sleeve. At this rate, though, I think I need another day for that particular UFO!

Remember this picture?

I never told you what it was. It was a cliffhanger, but given my sporadic blogging attempts, that was clearly a Fail. But one commenter did ask if it is an angora blend. Nope. It's 50% merino, 50% Tencel, and it's probably one of the most gorgeous rovings I've ever seen. I got this at Woolgathering from Carol Larsen at River's Edge Weaving Studio, and I believe Carol dyed and blended this herself. I snagged the last three rovings, so I have nine ounces to play with.

The thing is, what should I do with it? It's almost too beautiful to spin. I'm afraid that I'll somehow lose the lusciousness of the roving if I spin it. And what to do with nine ounces? The most obvious thing is to spin it fine for a shawl. Or I could do fingering weight for a scarf, but I'm afraid that neither of those options will do justice to this roving. Should I ply it, or will that make it muddy, and cause it to lose its unique shades? I'm in a quandary. Most of the time, I have a good idea of what I'll do with fiber when I buy it, but this has me stymied. It's so beautiful I'm afraid to touch it! And because it's a one-of-a-kind dye job, I can't get more. Help me! Don't let this wonderful lusciousness be wasted!

Things are changing in my life (well, when are they not? That's true for us all.) My hours at work have gone down even further, and given the state of my health, I'm not going to be able to go out and get a 9-to-5, or even a 1-to-4 job right now. So I'm contemplating doing handpainted and hand-dyed roving and yarn for my shop (which has had nothing in it for the last couple of years, since I took out the sole eyelash scarf I had listed. There were only about a zillion other fashion scarves for sale at the time.) I certainly don't expect to get rich, but I have a dollar amount I need to make per month to maintain our existing budget, and I think it's doable. So I'm going to get my dye station set up in the basement and give it a go. Any suggestions for yarn, fiber, and dye suppliers are more than welcome (even though I would technically be setting up in competition with those who are in the know. Oh well.)

Speaking of health, that last med is an Epic Fail. (I so love the "Fail" concept. It says so much with just a word or two!) It's heinously expensive, so I don't want to pay for it in the first place, and it has nasty side effects beyond the zombie-inducing ones. So I'm weaning myself off that before I use up all the samples, and starting over again. And I'm going to call another doctor on Monday, who is a fibromyalgia specialist. It's time to try something else.

It took a few weeks after the "dry" Hurricane Ike went through for us to get our yard cleaned up and the tree cut down. But it was finally accomplished with the help of friends and relatives. And overseeing it all, the Rugrat:


She did a wonderful job of directing everyone, then took the time to do a little dog whispering.

What would we do without her?

So that's the latest from chez Spingirl.  I think I'll go cast on some li'l pink socks.