Spring is in the air

Before I start talking about what I’ve done the last few days I’d like to point out I’m working some things out on the blog. I find the blog is really slow to load and it can (sometimes) take a very long time. One of the things I’m working on right now is self-hosting my images instead of linking them from Flickr. I’ll see how this goes, and feel free to comment on the loadingspeed (or lack thereof).

So off to the knitting. I’ve had the truffle cardigan in my queue for a very long time but while working on it several times, I found I wasn’t too happy with the yarn choices I had made. The first one was too ‘loose’ and drapey for a cardigan such as this one, and the second one looked great as a skein but turned out to outshine the cabling because of the many colors. I’ve chosen a new yarn which, in my opinion, looks a great deal better.

It’s the same yarn in a different color. As you might already know (if you read this blog) I’m a big fan of the TLS method, because of the simplicity and the great results. I used this method to  be able to knit set in sleeves without having to sew. I started out with the first sleeve and picked up about 10 stitches, then I kept doing the short rows while picking up 1 stitch each time until I had 24 stitches (for the first sleeve). Once I had both of the sleeves done the knit had lost it’s roundness and the rows were even (note: the picture doesnt really show this on the front side).

As you can see I’ve separated the right sleeve. I felt the backside was a little empty so I added two repeats similar to the cabling in the yoke. It’s a great project to work on because there’s really not much of a difference between the RS and WS because of the moss stitch. If anything the WS is a more comfortable knit!

While I’m talking about this cardigan I might as well show you how and under what circumstances I knit. This is Kiwi attacking the crap out of my cable.. Everytime we sit on the couch (covered with the couch blanket because this house still lacks a good afgan..), Kiwi jumps on our lap and goes to sleep. She usually doesn’t when I knit or spin, but the cable… if it, by any chance, dares to come in her reach she will kill it… it just will have to die.. but only if it comes close enough 😛

I’ve also been working on some fresh rolags for the tomten vest I’m apparently going to finish somewhere in the summer of 2014.. I’m going to spin up two bobbins worth of singles this time because I don’t think I can stand it if I run out of yarn again.. In the future I’ll spin first and knit later…

I’ve been doing some spinning on the couch and even tho I can see the little cop growing, I’m not sure it shows on the pictures…

I’d like to end this post with something I’m very happy about. When I opened the windows this weekend the smell of early spring was in the air.. let’s celebrate 🙂

FO: handspun girasole

Here it is. It’s finally done! My first ever project from raw fleece to finished object and I’m absolutely loving it! I’m posting this as I’m wearing the shawl around me like a featherweight blanket and I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something big and important haha.

I felt like there was no good way to take pictures of the thing on my own so I might add some pictures later on, but for now these will have to do. I’ve been working on this project since March 2011 and I really don’t feel like waiting any longer with the FO post. This project started out as an experiment in spinning and excercise to prevent RSI, but it became much more than that. I have learned a great deal since I started on this project and now that it’s finally done I can appreciate the learning process. I actually believed 500 grams of raw fleece would be enough for a blanket as huge as this one…

It’s huge. With a diameter of 60″ it’s almost as big as I am (almost but not quite). I knit this project with a 5.0mm needle because I wanted the blanket sized one. I already have the shipwreck shawl and the new EZ anniversary half-circle shawl and I feel I’ve got enough round(ish) shawls in that size. I was missing a huge blanket sized shawl for the spring and the dry days during the fall. When you’re wearing a lighter weight coat/ jacket but still need something nice to keep you a little bit warmer during the windy/ chilly days. Something to wear any way you’d like in that moment without the ‘boo-it’s-too-short’ feeling.

If you’ve clicked the link you may have already read about it, but one of the main driving forces behind this project was the annoyance I felt when I was knitting the first girasole for my MIL and I ran out of yarn. I was so annoyed at myself (and at the universe), because I frogged the edging and reknit with smaller needles but still was short of yarn. So I started this project because I guess I wanted to prove to myself that I could spin extra yarn if I ever ran out of it.

I guess if you’ve read the previous post you might know that I did actually run out of yarn – and fleece. Halfway through the edging and I’m stuck with unmatching fleece in gray and about 80m of 2ply in brown. I tried some different things but I ended up unplying the brown yarn and plying it with the new gray wensleydale I had bought. So here’s the moment I notice I’ve learned so much since the first time I processed raw fiber. The new batch of wensleydale was perfectly clean. No traces of VM or lanolin left and it carded and spun fantasticly.

The great part of it is that you can’t even see a real difference. I really didn’t want to have a silvergray edging on a warm gray shawl because of the color difference. I believe the edging would take away from the lovely warm color of the brown fleece, and after working on it for so long I couldn’t do it.

Nothing says it like ‘kitteh’. I feel like I have nothing more to really say about the project so here’s some pictures.

tea time..

there’s absolutely nothing like tea time. I’m a big fan of coffee but the coziness that comes with tea is different.

ginger and cinnamon tea
I love this tea pot and I love the tea in it (cinnamon and ginger tea). I need this kind of tea and coziness because I’m really sick and I’m really not feeling too well to be productive. I haven’t been really sick for quite a while so it really sucks.  I started this post yesterday but felt too blergghh to publish it so I’m finishing it today.

Handspun girasole
The shawl pictured above is the girasole I’ve been spinning/ knitting on for nearly a year now. It’s one of my favorite projects because it’s a series of firsts. It’s the first time I processed raw wool, the first time working with wensleydale longwool, the first time spinning on a turkish spindle, the first time plying on a golding, the first time spinning ‘laceweight’ yarn and the first time I’m able to create more yarn when I run out!

Needless the say this project means much more to me than just another shawl. For me, as a new spinner and still relative new knitter it’s an accomplishment and I’m intending to finish it ‘the right way’.

Last post I mentioned I was about to run out of yarn. To be quite honest I never expected to even get to the edging and this is what really bothers me. I started this project with the idea that I had enough raw fleece to make this work.. I never expected to run out of yarn on the exact same moment I ran out of yarn the last time I knit the girasole.

Nevertheless it did happen, and I was left with not enough yarn to knit the edging and this..

Handspun girasole
isn’t it pretty? It’s a 100 grams of raw wool from Klei en Draad. The picture shows the brown wensleydale after a good wash… turns out it’s not brown at all. I don’t mind at all because when I got the package the wool *looked*  brown! It’s not their fault it became gray after washing. Even tho I love the fleece and the color, it’s, unfortunately, not a match for my shawl.

Handspun girasole
So after some panicking and posting on Rav I decided to do the following. I frogged the edging and unplied the yarn. I’ll spin another single with the gray yarn and I’ll ply it again with the brown yarn. This way I’ll have enough yarn to finish the edging while keeping the color difference to a bare minimum.

Before reaching this conclusion (one I can live with), I tried some desperate things.. like spinning a new gray two-ply and dying it with walnut shells… or food coloring.. I never opted for the gray edging because it was too big of a transition for me.

One of the most silly things I considered was knitting the edging with the castemilk moorit I got from the Klei en Draad webshop.

castlemilk moorit
It’s pretty isn’t it!? i love the color and the texture of this fleece. In the end I decided not to do it because the two fleeces are fundamentally different. It’s just the color that’s similar.

castlemilk moorit
When I first started processing the wensleydale I had no idea of the qualities of such a fleece, but now that I do I can’t mix it something like castlemilk moorit. I’m really glad I used the wensleydale for this shawl because I’m lookijng for something that’s pretty, warm but also strong and durable. I’m really looking forward to finishing this shawl now.

not enough…

Another day, another dilemma. I’m still finishing up ye olde projects and I ran into this problem.

handspun wensleydale

Last time I blogged about this project I mentioned something in the line of ‘the end of my stash’ and ‘need more yarn to finish this project’. It turns out I don’t have enough yarn and I don’t have enough fleece either. So I’m having a bit of a dilemma. I want to finally finish this shawl, but I think it will kill me if I don’t finish all the charts and repeats…

I’ve been knitting and spinning on this project for nearly a year now and it would be really nice if I could finish it before the 1 year anniversary 😛

BF Tomten
Instead of just having the same problem once I’m having the same problem twice. I knit twice as fast as I process wool. I’m mainly talking about fiberprepping because the spinning, even tho my wheel is trying to tell me it really wants to retire, is going just fine. The problem is that I’ll probably end up finishing one sleeve before running out of yarn, but I’ll need to start processing and spinning again if I want this vest to be done before spring/ summer….

BF Tomten
I really like the textured fabric it’s creating and I simply can’t wait for it to be done! (it looks really nice on the BF and it’s really warm and cozy…)

BF Tomten
This is my first time knitting sleeves like this and I’m really excited! It’s a great way to knit sleeves! I guess I’ll have to start processing some more fleece soon because I really can’t wait for this one to be done!

FO: the unnamed first design

I don’t know how to start and what to say. This FO post is really meaninful to me because of the following reasons. It’s the first ‘pattern’ I’ve actually designed with sketches and ideas and swatches etc. I’ve made rosalie and jailbird too, but those were different. I guess they were more experimental. I count this one as my first actual design and I’m really pleased with the results.

This is my favorite way to wear it. It’s supposed to be a little airy (hence the holes) and short. It’s intended to be worn over either panty’s, tights or skinnyjeans. It’s a tunic after all, not a miniskirt. I haven’t found the right sew-on buttons yet but it doesn’t matter because I intend the buttons to be invisible.

I  love patterns and garments that make me feel feminine and bring out my natural shape. I’m a little rounded and curved and I like that about myself. I haven’t always been happy and I’ve always felt I was too chubby and too flabby, but to be honest, the older I get the easier it becomes to accept myself. What I mean is that I don’t mind working out to get healthy, but I don’t feel like I should look like Cindy Crawford either if you know what I mean. Girls like me look at Kim Kardashian (lolz).

Wearing this tunic with a broad belt makes the whole ensemble look more like an hourglass.

It can also be worn without a belt for a more relaxt feel. Sometimes you want to just be comfy 🙂

Like I already mentioned: I don’t have the right buttons yet so the vest is being held together by safety pins (which make the edges ruffle a bit). At the moment I’m not sure if I’ll actually want to sew buttons so I’m leaving it this way for this blogpost.

What I like about the process is that there’s a difference in the way you think about a design and the way it turns out IRL. I like the product more than I liked the design and the wip. The yarn has become much more relaxed and soft since the washing and it’s not as stiff anymore. What I also realized is that it might function very well as maternity wear. I’m not sure because there’s a lack of pregnant ladies in my  near vicinity, but if I can get one to pose for me I’ll do that!

The final picture shows me wearing this creation while trying to pose nonchalantly. Obviously it didn’t go too well, and at this point I’m wondering if i’ll ever get good at using a tripod and a semi-broken camera to take pictures of my later designs.. 😛

finishing up

The spring is in the air. Not really and not even close actually but in my head it’s already spring. The sun in shining out there and the skies are blue. The roofs are white of snow, but I’m willing to unsee that for the time being. I’m working on the last bits of my graduation project and I’m slowly but surely starting to feel like I’m actually beginning to settle in Utrecht. I wasn’t ready to move when we moved.. but I feel like I’m really happy now and I also feel like this spring is the beginning of a new era. A time where I can venture into the world of creativity and awesomeness! In this light it’s the most logical thing in the world that I feel like ‘cleaning out’ my wip list. There’s projects on there that really should’ve been finished a long time ago. So before I continue working on the other things I have in my (mental) queue list I’m going to finish the older projects one by one, starting with my unnamed first design.. O guess what, I’m already there! It’s done and I couldn’t be happier with the way it turned out! I washed it so I’m waiting for it to dry before I make some nice FO pictures (now you know the next post is going to contain an overload of pictures..), but I still like to show you what it looks like already. I started out with these four design ideas and let my mom and BF choose which one they thought was the prettiest. They both chose the second (from the left) and I went with it. I liked the first one enough to base the design of Jailbird on it. I still don’t know what kind of buttons I’m going to use but I don’t want them to be visible from the outside because I’m afraid it’ll be too much. The handspun and the ‘lacey’ pattern give it feel already and I’m afraid to overdo it. This is the amount of yarn I had left after casting off. I’m happy I didn’t take any risks because you never know when you’ll need a little bit of yarn.. I don’t know for what, but things might happen.. it’s knitting after all. I’ve also been spinning the last few days. Somewhere in December I decided that I should blend and card some rolags for me to spin, but I never got to it. The fleece is still difficult to work with sometimes and me being impatient isn’t much of a help. So I made a rather larg amount of rolags and then I forgot about it. A few days ago I decided to spin the rolags and to finish the yarn. By this time I had completely forgotten about the way I had started spinning (last year, on the golding), and it makes me feel like I’ve been spinning this yarn for at least some years instead of months. Working on the wheel is much faster in this case because it’s a true 4-ply. I love my spindles but it really sucks that I’ve already spun 2720m but have only 680m of yarn to knit with… 😛 (it’s still quite a lot tho, so I’m not complaining). I plied the sucker and it turned out like this.. what the what..?! it’s eating my wheel… Thankfully, a little skeining later and the mad yarn is tamed and ready to go. I’m not sure if I should wash the yarn first or just go ahead and knit with it. I’ve washed the other hanks before knitting but I’m not sure if it really matters or not. If I wash the yarn I can’t knit with it until tomorrow, but if I don’t wash it I can start knitting right now.. choices choices… I don’t want to sound too happy with myself, but I’m really happy with the way this yarn is turning out and the way it makes the fabric look. The rough and rugged feel of it.. the nice soft bfl.. the ‘tweedy’ feel of the nepps.. *drool*. This is what makes spinning worth it imho. I love having this much control over how my knitting looks, and I know I can tell I’ll probably never stop doing this. This is what I have left in singles. I’ll use these when I start spinning for more, but until then I’m saving them like this and I’ll store them in my knitting/ spinning basket. As a little something in between I’d like to show you what I have to deal with on a daily basis.. This is my kitteh Noodles. She wants to go outside and hang out with in the neighbors balcony. He doesn’t mind, and neither do I. The only thing I have a problem with is the subzero temperatures we’ve been having the last week. I keep my thermostat between 19-20C and it’s not really helpfull to open the door when it’s -15/-10 outside. I tried to explain but the kitteh doesn’t take a no for an answer, after which lots of meowing ensues. I open the door for her and this is what happens: But the meowing stops! So she’ll go and sit in between the door. Not outside but not inside either. As soon as I close the door (and she’s outside), she’ll  run towards the door to be let in. I know silleh kitteh.. it’s cold out.. 😛 *sign* So.. back to the  knitting. The tomten for the BF isn’t the only thing I’m spinning/ knitting at the moment. There’s also the case of the huge wensleydale 2ply handspun girasole I was knitting (and spinning). So I’ve already spun 833m of 2ply, which I’ve completely knit up already. I have 16 rolags and a little bit of fleece (32 grams of rolags and about 4 grams of fleece). I started out with about 500grams (of unwashed) fleece. I’m going to need more because there’s absolutely no way that this cute little pile of rolags is going to become 400m of plied yarn. This is about where the yarn ran out. I still have to do two repeats of the last chart and then I still have to do the edging. I’m really not going to have enough yarn, but on the other hand I’m really really not willing to make less repeats. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what comes out of these 16 rolags before I can get me some more fleece. Thankfully the fleece is from De Weidonk, which is a (somewhat) local hobby farm, and they usually do have some brown wensleydal (or so it sais on their website). So I should be in the clear. Either way, it’s handspun so it’s not going to end up like it did last time… (no link because I’m trying to forget what happened last time…)