Sunday, November 27, 2005

And whiskers on kittens

As if a 4 day weekend were not enough, this has been a weekend of favorite things for me.
To start with, it was Leo's and my 5th anniversary this weekend. We went out for a great dinner of steak and wine.

There was, of course, dessert.

That chocolate cake was every bit as good as it looks.

I also upgraded my phone after 4 years with the same one.

On the left we have my pretty new high tech camera phone, and on the right is my old, beat up, unattractively adorned old phone. Sayonara!

I spun some more of my gorgeous roving. Doesn't she look lovely in the sunlight?

I think this is a better shot than I've been able to show you before, since there isn't much sun before or after work this time of year.

My friend Amy sent me these handmade, and beautiful stitch markers. Sorry the shot is so bad, they are more beautiful than the picture really shows.

And I got to hang out with two adorable kittens. My friend is an animal trainer and these two boys, Ben and Jerry, are headed up to Toronto to do a commercial. They've been borrowed from an animal rescue and will receive excellent care and training before being returned to be placed in a loving family. How cute are they?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In which I attempt to sound like I know what I'm talking about

Yesterday, MJ asked me
Beautiful colors in the roving! Are you spinning this from the fold or lengthwise in narrow bits?
As much as this shocked me, I knew what she was talking about AND had given both methods a try. Yah, me! The, you know, new spinner. I feel so grown up.

For those who aren't familiar with that term, I'll explain, poorly, then send you to a proper video where it'll all make sense.

I would hazard to say that when most people spin, they grab a long, perhaps thin length of roving and spin from one end to the other. Alternately, one could grab a short but relatively wide hunk of fiber, the length of the staple and spin from the side of that bundle of roving. This folds the staple in half and spins it around itself. It looks a little something like this, and this. NOTE: Those videos take for bloody ever to load. Be patient.

So lets look at my beautiful roving a little bit. Here she is all braided up.

And here she is with her hair down, flowing naturally.

If I work the length of the staple, which would be from left to right, in this image, all the colors blend together at the drafting point. Even if I were to try to carefully pre-draft out little strips, I'd probably still get a blend of colors.

Now if I were to work sideways, from the fold, I'd be working top to bottom, in this image. Instead of blended colors, I'd actually get individual shades as I moved through the fiber. At the top, I'd get blacks and green, and then I'd move into deep blues and charcoal shades and end with a vivid electric blue.

This is what the two methods look like, side by side. Can you tell which is which? On the left, I have the "from the fold" method. It's a bit dark, but you may be able to see areas of vivid color against areas of darker color. It's lovely, but, I think the right is even nicer. Here I have a more consistent color but the flecks and tweedy compliments shimmer lightly as they blend in different ways. The overall look is more cohesive, and the effect is subtly elegant.

So, long answer shortened, I'm spinning lengthwise, not from the fold.

Oh, and I knit that stuff I showed you yesterday, at least a bit of it.

I had to block it within an inch of its life to get it like that, but I think it's wonderful. I suspect that one or two of you may catch this for what it is. It's the same stitch I'm using in that mohair piece I have been working on.

What was that? You want to know how that piece is coming along?
Hey, look over there, a bright shiny object!

Ok ok, I admit it, I'm working myself up to ripping her out and starting over. It's not obvious to anyone but me, but I can tell that the stitches are slightly off and I just can't stand it. I have a few things I need to finish up so she languishes, but she isn't dead yet, I love the yarn and the pattern too much to totally abandon her.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

See, I do knit

I've been reknitting Deciduous before I finish up the pattern. Here is the front and back. For photographing purposes, white would probably have been a better choice, but for something I'd actually wear, I do so love me some purple.

I think this piece is the perfect example of why some things look best modeled. I think it's rather uninteresting in this form, but worn, well that's another story.

I'm actually playing around a bit with how the back is worked and I'm pretty sure I like my first go at it better than my second. It'll be more clear when I install straps and the lacing. If all goes swell, I might have a first draft of the pattern done over the weekend.

And guess who treated herself to a touch more roving?
If you guessed that it was me, then you are a brilliant thinker. Pat yourself on the back.

This is a lustrous and soft Merino and tussah Silk blend in a colorway called McKenzie. You can see it over here. I wasn't sure how it would spin up considering all the colors. Blues dominate, but there are purples, greens, and burgundies too.

This is what I got.

The dark black shade really dominates and shifts everything to a deep blue but the other colors shimmer like iridescence within it. It's sort of tweedy with just a hint of fuzz. I love it. I may have to switch to my 0.6 oz spindle for the next batch. The 0.9 oz works great, but still has a tendency to get away from me.

Oh, and for those who don't mind a touch of politics thrown in, it looks like someone else had the same funny idea that Leo did. Here's Leo's design:

Now check out Shirts So Good. You'll have to scroll down a bit. I might be biased, but I like Leo's design better. ;o)

Sunday, November 20, 2005

My commute just got better.

Leo recently accepted a 6 month contract at a job that is 7 blocks from where I work. So we're bussing it together these days. And despite the fact that Leo hates getting up in the moring, for any reason, I think we both enjoy starting and ending our days this way.

On Friday, we decided to celebrate, so we stayed in town after work and went out for dinner and drinks.

I believe Leo is saying "Oh, come ON, not the camera AGAIN." That's his way of telling me he loves me.

This is the view from the Bonaventura where we had dinner.

As is this. I never get tired of it.

It hasn't all been indulging, though. I've been spinning, a LOT. I love love love my new spindles. It's been pure joy to use them and I'm having trouble focusing on anything else.

I spun the very last of my blue and green roving. I'm sad to have finished it all up, but the results are so worth it.

Here's the spindle showing my freshly plied yarn to great effect.

And here, on the left is my newest yarn next to the stuff I spun a few days earlier on my heavier spindle. It's been so much easier for me to spin finer yarn on the lighter spindle.

After that, I spun up some more of my vineyard colorway.

That's some newly spun singles hanging out next to a previous skein worked on the other spindle.

Here's a spindle full of some winey goodness.

I've actually plied washed and dried it.
I've also spun up a little bit of my Karaoke roving which is also drying. Have I mentioned I've been doing a lot of spinning.

Believe it or not, there's been some knitting too, but I'll save that for the next post.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Christmas starts early at chez Marnie

My mom surprised me with these:

They are Golding Ring Spindles. The one on the left is 0.9 ozs and the one on the right is 0.3 ozs and they are amazing. I love my first spindle, it's been serving me well, but these, well, they are nearly magical. You just give them a little twist and they spin forever. I'm smitten. They came in the mail last night and I stayed up late to give them both a test drive.

For the heavier one, I spent some time with my remaining blue and green roving. I feel like I can spin so much faster now. No sooner have I started drafting then my spindle is touching the floor, and not because I've dropped it. Amazing. And with the lighter weight I can make a finer yarn.

With my other spindle I've been tackling a little of that Soy Silk/Cashmere blend. It has a very short staple and is quite delicate so this ultra light weight spindle is perfect. Did I mention that I love these spindles.

Oh and for all of you who have asked for a pattern for those little mitts in my last post, it will be available December 1st over at Spindlicity. When you see the pattern, you'll realize how absurdly simple, but I like them.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I was going to knit a scarf

I had my Barbara Walker books out, I was knitting swatches and I thought I was on to something. I was going to make a simple little scarf to wear under my beige jackets.

But, the pattern stitch pulled me other places and now I have a pair of these.

Obviously, hand spun yarn is encouraging me to keep parts of my hands warm. It's pretty rare for me to stay entirely faithful to my original vision for anything, thought this is a bigger departure than most.

I like them though, they really show off the colors nicely and they are a delight to wear against my skin.

I cranked them out in two nights without much sweat.

Here's a little close-up swatch if you like.

It's actually just 3 rows of stockinette and one row of pattern stitch. It's a modified version of a stitch I have in one of my B.W. books.

And in unrelated news, I'm really upset about this.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Caught Possessing 40 Grams

That would be 40 grams of spun roving, of course.
I've been spinning like crazy with my super yummy merino/silk blend that Julia gave me.

I decided to check my WPI and I got 16 so I guess this is about a fingering weight. It's really starting to look like proper yarn. But the bar is very high. I really aspire to spin yarn like Lee Ann does. Look at how delicate and perfect her yarn is. And since she and I have been spinning for about the same length of time, I have absolutely no excuse. If I had a hat, I'd tip it.

If you are loving my roving, you can now order some from Janel. Her site is finally up and running. I'm drooling over that Merino/Tencel blend.

Oh, and remember a few posts back when I said Panda and I modeled for Kristi? Well, we made it into the La Jolla Village News. Check it out.

We were all upstaged by pugs, but I'm really OK with that.
I'm sure my mom is very proud.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Something From the Vineyard

I just had to knit up some of my merino in the vineyard colorway. I had 22 grams and it's mostly worsted weight which means I wouldn't get much out of it. So I decided to make some cuffs.

The shot is lame because I had to contort to keep my jammies and my face out of the shot. I'm just not camera ready yet.

I wore them to walk Panda last night and they are blissfully warming. I think you'd have had to spun the yarn yourself to love these, but so be it. I love them.

I've been spinning the roving Julia got me too.

It's coming along beautifully. This is much finer than my vineyard yarn so I think the results will be more elegant. If I can get enough of it spun, without moving on to another roving, I think I'd like to work it up into a scarf. it'll go nicely with a couple of my jackets.

I'm putting the final touches on my secret project which should be going out this weekend, which means I'll be able to blog a bit more about the stuff I'm doing.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Packin' Skein

I've been trying to portion out my crafting. In the morning and during the day, I've been cranking out a mystery project for a book. If I told you more, I'd have to kill you.

I save my evenings for spinning. Remember my new roving? It's 100% merino in a colorway called Vineyard. Well, I decided to take it for a little spin.

When I pre-draft, I actually pull off a section that runs the entire length of roving so that all colors are represented. I really didn't want to have skeins with some colors and not others, I wanted to see the whole colorway worked together.

And here she is. That's about 22 grams of yarn and it's a little thicker than my previous two skeins. I would say it goes from sport weight to worsted weight in areas. I really like that the plies contrast so much. To me, that's just cool looking. I will probably knit this up at some point to see how it really looks. I'm not entirely sold on that particular shade of green, but I adore all the other colors.

But I'm not committed to just this roving, I have more, MORE! The selection is so fine, it's hard to know where to start, and even harder to stay faithful to just one.

This may look unassuming, but, wait to you hear what it's made of.

It's an airy, softer than anything blend of Soy Silk and Cashmere. I picked up a couple ounces for me and a couple ounces for Julia while I was at Black Sheep in the San Diego area.

But boy-howdy, did Julia return the favor. Look what she got me.

I can't stop ogling it. It's just so beautiful. It's a blend of 80% Merino and 20% Bombyx Silk. It's dyed by Chameleon Colorworks, though the site wasn't functional when I posted this.

As soon as I got my Vineyard singles plied, washed and hanging, I started some of this stuff going.

I haven't spun much, but what I have done looks amazing to me.

I wanted to answer a couple of readers' comments here as well.

Christine said:
Beginning spinner? Surely you jest. That yarn looks absolutely fantastic!

Well, I don't want to be accused of being disingenuous. I would certainly consider myself a novice in the same way I'd consider someone who had been knitting for less than a year a novice. I appear to have the basics under my belt but I don't have much of a skill set beyond the most basic of spinning functions. I wouldn't be able to make a "balanced" yarn if my life depended on it. Oh and *blush* thanks.

Stefanie said:
...And your yarn looks so nice, too...mine usually has too much twist. I guess it's time for me to take a class! (and spend more time spinning!!)

Well, mine definitely has too much spin, but I actually like that, again, see my novice status mentioned above. I'm sure when I get a better eye and hand for all this, I'll be displeased with my tightly spun yarn, but for now, I like its definition and it's ability to not just drift away from itself and break.

Sara said:
...your gorgeous rovings are making me pine for my very first wheel (which comes in 10 days)! i'm going to have to order some of that spunky electric roving!...

Ok, I'm jealous. I am not ready to commit to buying a spinning wheel, and heaven knows, Leo and Panda already have to step around enough of my stuff, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want one to magically appear in my living room, or heck, in my office at work, it'd make those conference calls seem simply delightful.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Roving Reporter

Since my close encounter of the spinning wheel kind, I've been binging on spinning. I don't think I have a problem, it's ok that I hide roving around the house and spin by myself, sometimes before work, right? That's not bad is it?

Anyway, this is what I did this weekend. I spun up some of the mystery roving I got from the kind folks at Greenwich Yarns.

I don't know what's in it, definitely a good deal of wool content, of a very soft variety. It spins like a dream. Even a complete neophyte like I am can spin this stuff.

I also spun some of the lovely Karaoke roving I got from Jonelle over at SWTC.

I haven't wanted to try to spin it because I didn't think I could do it justice, but I'm throwing caution to the wind and going for it. It's supposed to be spun as singles to get the self striping effect but I really prefer plied yarn so both the mystery roving and the Karaoke roving are plied in the Andean method.

Here's a wide shot of both of them for scale with my spindle. I would say that plied they are both between a fingering and a sport weight depending on where you hold the yarn. I don't spin perfectly so it's a little bit thick and thin. The top skein is 20 grams and the bottom skein is 12 grams, so they are both pretty pathetic in size but I'm still happy with the results.

Having pined over some of Julia's roving, I broke down and ordered a little for myself as well. It's from Spunky Eclectic.

That's 4oz of amazing Merino wool roving in colorway, Vineyard.

And I'm still working on the mohair. Look at her, how can you not love that fabric?

I'm about 6 or 7 inches along, so it's progress, albeit very slow.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Panda has another modeling job

Saturday, I went down to La Jolla* for Kristi Porter's book signing. Panda was asked to model one of the designs and we were happy to oblige.

The signing was at Knitting in La Jolla. The staff there were really delightful.

This is where it all took place, faux pup and all.

The puppies abounded. I didn't get all their names, but I did pet a lot of fuzzy heads.
Here's Missy. She's a big pile of love just spilling out all over the place.

I don't recal this yellow lab's name, but getting those leg warmers on was a sight to behold. Seriously, it was like nailing jello to a tree, one would come off, just as they got another on. I couldn't help laughing.

And this little spunky guy went by the name "A-choo" or "Choo-choo". I don't know if I have the spelling right. Isn't he a handsome little thing?

And a bulldog in houndstooth is a statement. I'm not sure what it's saying but it makes me laugh.

But my favorite model was Miss Panda.

This would be here "Just wait, I'll get you for this" look. Personally, I think aran cables really work for her. Being a Border Collie, it's also a very apt choice.

Here she is looking a little less teenager-ish

I was plying her with chicken and a few bits of blue cheese. And the whole adventure was followed by an extended beach extravaganza. I think it worked out well for everyone.

Next post, I promise, there will be yarn involved.

* For those of you without a strong grasp of Spanish pronunciation, that would be pronounced, "La Hoya." This is not to be confused with the Spanish language newspaper, Hoy, which is pronounced "Oy".

Off other peoples' needles

Three people recently sent me pictures of their beautiful fished items created from my patterns and I just have to share. Unfortunately, I don't have bloggy links for two of the three.

These are Bernadette's Hooray For Me Gloves. I simply love the yarn she used. The subtle variegations are delightful. The end result is still fun but with a more refined flair. Great work.

And here are Beth's Wyvern socks. I wouldn't normally think of using a non-solid color yarn for these socks but her choice is subtle and really works. It doesn't overshadow the texture at all. I think the results are amazing.

Finally, Evangeline made a gorgeous Halley's Comet hat. She says she used Reynold's Saucy for the yarn and it was a great substitution.

I'm always amazed at the gorgeous adaptations people make from my patterns. Thanks to all three of you.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


Not too long ago, my mom gave me 8 gorgeous skeins of purple Kid Silk Haze. It's been calling to me from my stash awaiting the right project. Vogue Knitting arrived at my door and I decided that I wanted to make this:

Pretty huh? I think worn with slacks and a nice shirt, it would be great for work and keep me snuggly warm in the cold office.

So at lunch on Monday, I cast on for a swatch. It was not a pretty sight. The mohair, it was very argumentative. Dropping stitches, tightening up unpleasantly at the circular join, pretending it's fuzzy bits were the actual stitches instead of the knittable core. We had words. These are not words I would say around my grandmother.

I decided to give myself a little break. Mohair and I both needed a little breather to clear our heads. While the word "petulant" came to mind on a few occasions. As did "garbage disposal" and "fire pit." I decided not to be rash.

We tried again on the bus ride home. I took my time, I thought happy thoughts about the mohair. "My aren't you looking lovely today." and "Ah, what a delightful hand you have." Working slowly and loosely, I managed to crank out a little swatch by mid-evening. We blocked and checked gauge and did not distress when we realized we'd need to use a larger needle. We did not despair that one row where we did the wrong pattern stitch. It is a swatch, after all. When all was said and done, I knew I was in trouble, I loved the swatch even more than I thought I would. The photo doesn't do it justice in the magazine.

Here's a close-up

Pretty, huh? The pattern calls for seed beads to be knit in every few rows, but that's just impractical for day wear, and it'd be hard to match the color.

So I cast on the back and have been knitting it for two days with this to show for it.

Two days of knitting and I have little more than a headband. This is the slowest knitting I've ever done. It also appears that I may have a few rows that are slightly off. This does not surprise me. Several times now I've found myself with an extra stitch at the end of the row. I had hoped it'd be imperceptible, and for the most part, it is. When I hold this up in normal lighting (as opposed to sitting on a white sheet using a flash), it appears quite uniform. I think, knowing that it's the back piece and that normal lighting is a little more forgiving, I will proceed a bit further before I start thinking about defeat.

If you don't hear back from me in a week, you'll know I'm wandering the streets of LA suffering the crushing insanity brought on by MI (Mohair Ineptitude).

And now for something completely different. I recently bought the first two seasons of Penn & Teller's BS series. If you get Showtime, you must watch it. It's wonderful. It's definitely not kid appropriate, so put the little ones to bed first.

If you don't get Showtime, then you'll have to do what I did, and pick up a copy yourself.

You can click the images to get to them on Amazon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Knitting Meme

Jody tagged me for the Knitting Meme, so here goes

What is your all time favorite yarn to knit with??
Hmm, I don't really have a favorite per se. I like different yarns for different reasons. I do not feel emotionally drawn to one more than any other. I can pick a few top choices, though
Karabella 8 (I'd like to try the finer gauge Karabella 4 at some point)
Koigu KPM

Your favorite needles?
If I could only have one kind of needle I'd choose Addis but I enjoy using my Denise interchangeables as well.

The worst thing you've ever knit?
Oh good lord, there have been some doozies. Most of my really priceless pieces were knit back in my youth. At one point there was a bikini knit in pink red heart which I could have donated as shelter for the homeless. It was huge, gauge meant nothing to me then.

Your most favorite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
I have knit very few patterns by anyone else. I guess the most well conceived pattern I've knit would be Annie's Corset Top.

Most valuable knitting technique?
Techniques all have their purposes and none except knit and maybe purl, get used in every project. But more than that, I think learning that it's ok to make mistakes is really important. You have to be able to rip things out, even whole pieces, when necessary, but you also have to be able to let go of little mistakes. Ballance is key.

Best knit book or magazine?
Despite the fact that I don't like any of the projects in the book, Jacqueline Fee's The Sweater Workshop has been a great tool.

Your favorite knit-a-long?
Hard to say, I've been a member of so few.

Your favorite knitblogs?
I'm not touching THIS one with a 10 foot pole. I have way too many in my Bloglines account to pick a favorite.

Your favorite knitwear designer?
If I had to pick only one, I'd say Teva Durham.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)

It'd have to be my Crime of Fashion scarf. I love scarves and this one is backed with fleece so it's very snuggly. Plus, it's the one item that when I wear it, people stop and do a double take and say things like "is that SUPPOSED to look like police tape?"

Who am I going to tag?
Well, I'm not one to push these things on to people, so they should all feel free to decline, but if you are game, I'd like to see replies from:
Julia, Jessica~ and Shannon


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