March 2006 Archives

Cardigan Trim


I have been working on the trim for my machine knit cardi, for a couple of days. I started by trying to pick up stitches around the whole piece but found that none of my circular needles were long enough. Next, I tried crochet, but I couldn't quite get the effect I wanted. Crochet just tends to be denser and less drapy, and I wanted to keep the trim soft.

So today, I went to an LYS and picked up a longer circular needle. It's funny, really, while it only took me a couple days to knit the piece on the machine, it's taking me much longer to actually finish it.

Not much to look at, really, though I tried it on before picking up to knit and I am very happy with the fit.

When I'm not working on the cardi, I've been spinning up more of my sunflower colored roving

I've spun just over half of the 4 ounces that I bought. The left skein is my first and the right, my most recent. It's a little finer than the first round but not by much.

I've also made one last addition to the shawl.

It's a little rose crocheted from the same yarn. I think it'll be a nice way to close shawl without tying or holding it.

Moving on


The shawl has been so much fun and I'm very excited about it but I'm pretty sure I cannot maintain a knitting blog on that one shawl alone. So I was sitting around, trying to decide what to knit next and what yarn to use. I definitely plan to do more with my handspun but I wanted to work on something a little different.

So this weekend, I knit this:

But I didn't knit it by hand, I used my trusty knitting machine.

The yarn is Silk City Soft Stretch which is a cotton yarn with 4% Elite.

It's hard to see what's going on, because the yarn is a bit dark and everything is curly, but I've worked up the main pieces on my machine and am sewing them together. It's a very fitted cardigan, with a deep v-neck and a hem that descends from the natural waist to just about the hips. What got me thinking about this design was Jody's post about this design. I love the hem and I think the piece is lovely and flattering on the model, but having read Jody's description of the construction, I wasn't sure it'd be something I would be able to use a lot. Like Annie's Vogue Knitting cover design, the basic construction is that of a circle, which forms the front, back and collar. I'm oversimplifying here, but you get the idea. While I think that's a brilliant idea, knowing my body shape and what I like to wear, I wanted to mimic that curved hem, but I wanted it to be a bit more fitted throughout. So this piece is basically a hip length cardigan, fitted, set in sleeves, very simple overall. The only difference is that the front hem starts at around the natural waist and slopes to the lowest point, center back.
It's worked bottom-up, in separate pieces. The front pieces curve with a series of increases, while the back gets a very gentle curve by way of short row shaping.

Once I'm done piecing the main bits together I'll work all the edging. With my knitting machine, I find the cast ons and bind offs sub par, so everything was done with a provisional cast on and bind off and all live stitches are held on waste yarn. I'll be playing around with different treatments, but it will probably be one of a few ideas I have.

  1. A simple ruffle that runs all the way around the edges, including the sleeves to make a simple bell at the end.
  2. A crochet border, very simple with a delicate picot detail for interest
  3. Lace, much like the ruffle idea but much lighter
  4. Shawl collar and i-cord bind off, for a more classic and simple look
  5. Whatever else comes to me in a fit of inspiration

Shawl Project Notes


All the notes after the bump

I'm knitting with sunshine


I just think you need to see how beautiful that Almost Solid Roving is when spun and knit.

I knit this while commuting, just trying to think of different stitches off the top of my head. That's why the lacy bit at the top is kind of wonky. I think I'm going to have to spin up more and see if I can come up with a cute scarf pattern. My gut is to go with a mitten/glove/mitt sort of pattern, but I have so many of those, it feels like a bit of a cop out. I can't really do a hat, because that color looks pretty bad right against my face. I'm sure a scarf isn't really better, but since I have this scarf already, and it's never bothered me, I figure another yellow scarf won't hurt.

In case you are wondering, I've also spun up that other Almost Solid shade I bought. It's drying now.

Upgrading to Marnie 2.0


I got word, yesterday, that starting Monday, I'm officially promoted. Yay! I had been vying for a couple open supervisor positions at my company and both managers had told me I was their top pick, but last minute I was asked to decline those positions in exchange for equal title/pay/grade level and remain in my current role, at least long enough to complete a large project I've been working on. In essence, it means better pay and I appear more qualified, on paper, but in truth, nothing much will change about my job. I have asked to be able to attend management training courses, as they are made available, so that I will, at least, be able to beef up those skills in some way.

So to celebrate, here are some more pictures of the shawl. They still aren't quite what I want, picture wise. I'm hoping to actually don my handmade apparel, to get a better picture, sometime soon. But these are definitely better than the blocking pictures.

This picture really shows the stitch pattern well, but doesn't really show the color, because it's backlit.

This is the best representation of the color, but is a little soft in the details.

I see it worn over a black dress, on a mild spring night.

Taking it for a whorl


Since finishing my shawl, (pics coming soon) I've been spinning a lot. It could be the influx of new roving that has me excited or maybe it's seeing something I've spun worked up into something I'm proud of, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to stop.

First, I spun up some of the merino/tencel I got from Janel. The colorway is called "Indian Wedding." It beautiful, though I found it harder to spin than some of the other fibers I've used. I want to try again with a different spindle and see if that helps. The final product is so soft and the sheen is so nice, I know I'm going to want to spin it all up.

I also got my order from Spunky Eclectic. I ordered two batches of Amy's Almost Solid Series.

I. Love. This. Stuff.

It works up into a yarn that looks a lot like the Twisted Sister Monochromatic Variegated yarns.

I got myself a batch of Corriedale in Sunflower.

And worked it up into a big ol' skein. My new spindle has allowed me to make much larger quantities of yarn in a go. Why on earth I chose yellow, I don't know. I certainly can't wear that color alone and the other colors I have don't really go with it, but it makes me so happy to look at it. Don't get me wrong, I think yellow is an amazing color, I'm just not so sure it's a logic choice for me.

I also bought myself a batch of Merino in colorway, Red Maple. I think the color is really more like Plum. It's got a warm red undertone, but it's a pretty deep purple overall.

I'm spinning this much finer than the yellow, which is between a sport and worsted weight. This is going to be more like a sock weight, once plied.

From some of the sweet comments I've been getting, I am starting to think that we might need a "Knit Your Handspun Along," because there are a lot of you who don't seem to ever do anything with the yarn you create. Julia suggested that to me a while ago, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I'd love to know what folks think.

What a lovely Cliche!


Yesterday was St. Patrick's day, which means clovers, leprechauns and lots of green beer. To be honest, I'm rather indifferent to the holiday. My MacLean ancestors are Scottish, if you were wondering. But it's not even a matter of lineage, as I've been assured that I do, indeed, have some Irish blood coursing through my veins. There's no real reason, per se, I just don't feel any huge draw towards the holiday. But, yesterday, I got myself a little holiday cheer.

Leo and I both had a long week at work and we decided to try to find a new sushi restaurant near work, seeing as I'm right next to Little Tokyo.

On our way there, between light bursts of rain and sunshine, we saw this.

It's no four leaf clover, but it was definitely a visual pot o' gold.

Guess who's blocking


It's only about 4 feet wide, so it's a mini-shawl, but it's my first and it's made from my handspun so I'm as happy as can be.

Leo said "It looks like it could fall apart, like it could break." I informed him that the term is "delicate" and that, for lace, that's a good thing.

It should be dry tonight and I'll be able to get some better pictures, but for now, this will have to do.

And boy, Panda has been in belly rub heaven. She loves the love, so thanks to all of you who sent her some. For those who asked, yes, she is getting cuter and yes, I'm a complete sucker for her big brown eyes and yes, she knows she's working it.

Work has been interesting, lately. We have a set of conference rooms that used to be the senior management's offices, back in the company's more opulent days. They are now a lovely set of rooms, perfect for holding one's various meetings. Skylights and lovely views offer that little flash of daylight that can make an otherwise dreary day, a touch less so. However, they are all booked this month. Apparently, Beyonce is shooting a movie in or amongst them. Now we are faced with a constant scrabble to compete for the remaining conference rooms, peppered about the building, in corners unknown. Working in downtown LA, movie shoots are not a new inconvenience in life, and we have had our conference rooms used for filming before, but never for quite so long. Such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. I wanted to show you a little bit of the plying I did this weekend. Remember the sage colored merino/silk I spun up into singles recently? Well, it's plied now.

I wish you could see it in person, it has a beautiful depth to it. Most of my other spinning has been for the shawl, so it's more of the same. Speaking of which, I will hopefully finish it up this weekend, and will post pictures as soon as I can. Send your good shawl vibes my way.

Finally, Panda would like to thank you for all the love.

We have an agreement that for every sweet comment you leave for her, she gets belly rubs. It seems only fair.

Life's a beach


We took Miss Panda to Ocean Beach where they have a lovely stretch just for dogs.

It's about an hour and a half drive for us, so I did a bit of knitting on the way.

That's the unnamed shawl I've been knitting with my handspun. You can really see how, from skein to skein, the tonality of the yarn changes, but I like it. It might be because, having spun the yarn, designed the piece and knit it, I can't bear to NOT like it, yet I truly think that once it's blocked it will look good.

But you don't want to hear about the shawl, do you? You want to see some fun Panda pics, which I'm here to offer, after the bump.

The spin zone


While at Stitches, I got myself some lovely light sage green merino/silk blend roving. I bought it from the Angora Cottage booth. The first day, they had a sale and I got this roving for a great price.

I've been spinning it up on my 0.9 oz spindle, working the singles into about a fingering/DK weight with hopes of having a light worsted when I'm done.

I am finally feeling comfortable spinning slightly thicker weight yarns. I'm not sure I could do a big chunky yarn yet, but it's getting better each time I try.

Let me tell you, though, I've been acquiring roving at a pace I can't imagine ever catching up to with my lovely little hand spindles. Janel of both Spindilicity and Cameleon Colorworks fame, sent me 3 gorgeous servings of her hand dyed roving.

I got two of the Merino/Silk dyed in colorway "Catalina".

This was the same colorway I used for this pattern.

And then there's this:

The colorway is Indian Wedding and the fiber is Merino/Tencel. I'm not sure why I've been so drawn to warm tones lately, but this color is decadent. I've never spun a Tencel blend before, so we'll have to see how that goes, but if it's anything like spinning a silk blend, I think I'll like it.

And if that's not enough roving to add to the bunch, I'm awaiting an order I just placed with Amy for some of her Almost Solid Series roving.

What did you call me?


Now that Leo is working downtown, we spend a lot of time together. We commute in together, eat our lunches together and commute home again later on. Even with all that time together, we still find ourselves touching base throughout the day. Both of us use our IM accounts to do actual work (who'd a thunk it?) so it's easy for us to write each other, throughout the day, when things come up.

But every once in a while, I have to call him at his desk. Whenever I do, he answers with a chuckle. Why? Because his caller ID sees both my cell phone and office number as follows:

When I call, I'm announced as "SUPERTRUNK." Being she who bears the interloper, aka "Junk in the Trunk" I'm rather shocked to hear that it's detectable, even by a phone system.

Now, the past couple of months, I've certainly been given said "trunk" a bit of extra exercise. Whenever Leo and I meet for lunch, I scale the 2nd street hill of doom.

Trust me, it's doomier than it looks.

And then I climb two flights of stairs up to MOCA

And I'm a brisk walker indeed, no breaks along the way.
So while I'm amused, or perhaps even flattered that Leo's phone thinks I have a super trunk, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised.

And if conversations about my derriere are off topic for this blog, well, so be it. I'm a bit loopy from work exhaustion. Perhaps, if there is not a mass exodus from my blog after this post, I'll introduce you to the mutant flowers near our favorite lunch spot.

Ah, my beautiful new spindle!

One of the reasons I asked for a heavier spindle for my birthday was because I wanted to start spinning different weights of yarn. Of course, any of my lighter spindles can be used to spin chunkier yarn, but I think the extra weight is helpful. So, after practicing with some spare merino, I pulled out my gorgeous olive green Corriedale and I tried spinning some thicker yarn.

The singles are about a DK weight, it's much thicker than I usually spin, but by the end, I was getting pretty consistent results. Since I use the Andean Plying method, my most even bits are plied against my most inconsistent bits so the overall effect doesn’t look so great, but I can live with that.

When plied, I got something around a worsted or a little thicker weight. Actually, fresh off the spindle, it was more of a chunky or bulky weight, there was a lot of loft, but having washed and hung the yarn, I’ve still kept a bit of loft, but the yarn is closer to worsted in weight. I still love the finer weight yarns I’ve spun, but it’s good to practice spinning a bit thicker.

As for the spindle, it’s working beautifully. A couple people asked if I had noticed a wobble or any other problems, and I have not. This is a beautifully balanced spindle that gets enough momentum to keep spinning and spinning. I would guess that people who have had problems may be using a design without as much symmetry, which could throw the balance off a bit. That’s just my guess.

Wednesday was a long day. It wasn't a bad day, but it was long. Leo and I left the house at 5:15 AM, so we could make some early morning work obligations, and we didn't get home till almost 9 PM, because I had a beginner knitting class to teach that evening. That's a long day. But, awaiting me, when I returned home, was a big package with a little surprise inside.

It's a belated birthday present from my step father, a brand new spindle from Golding.

I now have four wonderful spindles in my collection.

From left to right, their weights are:
1.9 ozs, 1.3 ozs, 0.9 ozs, 0.6 ozs

I've been spinning some merino and I think I'm getting a feel for the heavier weight. It's been a nice match and a good chance to practice spinning some thicker gauge yarn, though I have to admit that my left arm gets tired more quickly. I can see myself using this spindle a lot. The larger whorl means I can use it to ply my finer yarns and the weight is a nice match for roving that tends to be grippier (technical term).

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