around n round she goes

A blog for my knitting, spinning, quilting, violin-playing, or whatever else floats my boat

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Location: Texas

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Blocking Fair Isle

Basted both sides of the button band closed to help it uncurl and to support the cardigan during blocking. I used a smooth sock yarn to make it easier to take out later. Gave it a nice warm bath with just a bit of dishwashing liquid. Rinsed in warm water. No agitation, no wringing, no direct pouring of water onto the wool. After all this I'm not about to risk felting it. Rolled it in towels a couple of times to remove the extra water and then strung it up on the wooly board. Foam board cut to shape is a good alternative - but the wooly board sure is nice to have! Being an open framework, the air can flow through and the cardigan dries much faster. Other alternative is to pin it out on a padded surface to the dimensions needed.

Final details on this tomorrow!

Mail Call!

My Frangipani gansey yarn got here yesterday. That's fast service from Jan in Cornwall. This yarn color is well-named - Claret is a deep wine color, just what I was looking for.

Traditional fisher ganseys are knit very tightly with this 5-ply yarn so I'm probably going to use a 2.25 or 2.5mm needle to get the effect (and gauge) I want. Gauge should be 7 or 8 stitches to the inch.

I'm writing my own design and using Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting book for inspiration. The only break with tradition will probably be with the neckline (maybe - I haven't decided yet). I may put in a placket and collar instead of the usual plain ribbed crew neck.

This got here, too! That's 800 yards of 100% cashmere 2-ply laceweight from Jojoland. I cast on last night - it is totally yummy. I'm debating whether to post progress photos of this, since it is for gifts. I'll decide later.

The lace patterns I got from the same source are very nice, but aren't charted. I spent some time charting both of them using Stitch Maker so I wouldn't go insane trying to follow the line-by-line instructions. Guess I'm spoiled - so many designers use both the line-by-line instructions and charts, or charts only. At first I found charts confusing, but now they're much easier for me to follow.

Only thing I'm waiting on now is the Shetland yarn for my swatching exercises. I've been working on my Pictish Fair Isle design; the main design is fine, I just keep fiddling with the background design that goes with it. I'm also fiddling with the dimensions and general shape; this is the more non-traditional of my two Fair Isle designs and I'm trying for a definite look.

The bottom of the jacket, the sleeves and the front and neck openings will be faced rather than having bands and I'm wanting a v-neck that echoes part of the central design. I'm debating whether to use a drop shoulder or a more fitted shaped sleeve....The fitted sleeves will probably look better (but require more arithmetic to figure out, darn.)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pssst! .....I've escaped from Sleeve Island!

Can you feel the excitement? At 11:01pm last night I cast off the last stitch! See me doing cartwheels? (ok, maybe not cartwheels)

And now, on to finishing - which, thank goodness, will not be much. I'm going to tack down the ends of the button band to neaten them up a bit and then I'll start blocking.

Meg left a nice comment on my entry for the sweatshirt jacket -the blocking photo - but didn't leave me an email or website address. She was asking for blocking information for jumpers.

Meg - I'm probably not the best one to ask, since I rarely block my sweaters. If they're Arans or otherwise highly textured, I leave them strictly alone. I find most of my other knitting doesn't seem to need much blocking either - my tension is usually pretty even and things usually hang together well enough. There are lots of good resources out there on blocking, though.

The sweatshirt jacket, being made out of my own uneven handspun, definitely benefited from a good blocking and Fearless Fair Isle is screaming for it, too. I'll document the steps and photograph everything so you can see, Meg, but a lot of it depends on what you're trying to block.

Marina, uhm, I, uh, may have borrowed your sleeve mojo to finish my last sleeve ... by accident, of course.... I'll give it right back... sorry....

Friday, September 22, 2006


De-lightful and De-licious, too. (I watched that movie about Cole Porter the other night - can you tell?)
I'm really liking this Spearfish sock pattern. Following my own 'guide to finishing socks', I cast on for sock #2 as soon as I grafted the toe and wove in the ends of sock #1.

Don't worry, though. This weekend it's Fearless Fair Isle on all channels all the time! I'm so determined to get this sweater finished. It may not happen this weekend, but it'll be a lot further along, I promise.

Besides, I've got an order of J&S (and a little bit of Jamieson's) coming soon for those swatches I need to do. And an order of Frangipani's 5-ply gansey yarn (in color claret) that Jan tells me is all packed up and on its way this morning. And secret patterns and yarn for Christmas knitting that I ordered yesterday.

And I may want to go ahead and cast on for that Circumnavigated Cardigan a little early (but not before I finish Fearless - I remember my vow to Marina.) I made the mistake of getting my swatch out and doing the calculations for this thing last night. So now I want to start knitting it.

Speaking of Jamieson and Smith Shetland Wool Brokers and Jamieson's Spinning, Anne has a wonderful entry from yesterday about the history of the two companies. I've only used J&S so far, but will probably be adding Jamieson's to the mix as I do more Fair Isles.

Looking at the list realistically (well, maybe not) it looks like I've got enough knitting planned for the next year. That still doesn't include the Tina shawl and a few other projects that have yarn and patterns waiting for them.

Oh well, it's better to have too much to do than too little!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Since I'm anticipating finishing Fearless in the next week or two, I'm already champing at the bit to start something new.....

1. UFO - Tina Shawl (started Spring 2005). Look at the picture. See that little square in the middle? I've got that done, along with about 8 rounds of the first border. Obviously, this is going to take awhile.
2. Lochleven Fair Isle - my own design, charted but not yet swatched. A fairly traditional Fair Isle cardigan in greens and blues.
3. Pictish Fair Isle - my own design again, charted but not swatched. A non-traditional overall Fair Isle with two large figural panels in the front. I see this one as a cropped jacket in shades of red (not sure yet what my contrasting color is - maybe a mossy gray-green).
4. Fisher Gansey - A traditional fisher gansey. I'm using Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting book as inspiration for this. This, too, will be red.
5. The Circumnavigated Cardigan - the DHKG knit-along with my stash yarn in oatmeal heather.

Brigitte, this is the best on-line picture I can find of the Circumnavigated Cardigan by Medrith Glover. Not a photo, but a line drawing that shows the actual construction of the cardigan. Apparently, this pattern is a favorite for knit-alongs and knitting classes (judging from the Googled list I looked at). There's no seaming - when you're done, you're done.

Oh, just found a good picture of one from Spinning Jenny's Knitting Pages (scroll to the middle of the page)... looks similar to the sweatshirt jacket I just finished, doesn't it. Apparently, it uses lots of neat techniques - short rows, fused pockets, etc. and uses any yarn, any needles, any gauge.

Notice that there are two Fair Isles on the list? Remember my quandary when I said my designs were starting to talk to me? It's because I was trying to push two sweaters into one. Once I saw the light and realized that they were really two completely different designs everyone quieted down.

I'm going to order some yarn so I can swatch away on the two Fair Isles and the gansey. When I finish Fearless, I'll get back on Tina and see if I can get her revved up again (You notice that I make no promises of finishing her, just getting her started again). Swatching for three sweaters will probably help me decide which sweater to tackle next - if I'm still bamboozled by the whole thing, I'll just poll everyone and let you all decide for me!

Of course, there's still the charity knitting. I found this adorable baby sweater at DogsStealYarn. And I just happen to have lots of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in the stash.

There's also the Christmas knitting - yes, only 3 months to go! I've got several projects planned for that but I can't talk about it here. Suffice it to say that I've got more projects than time right now. Especially since violin lessons started back up after a summer hiatus and I'm studying for a management course for work. Oh, and there's work, too. You know, that activity that means that I can afford yarn?

And just so I don't forget... the Spearfish sock has finally reached the foot! I've discontinued the lace pattern on the foot (a common tendency of mine - I often prefer plain sock feet). Things should go faster now that I'm not having to refer to a chart.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Stash busting exercise - part 3

I must really want to use this yarn. That's the only reason I would do this....

........lots of yarn taking a bath

Out to dry.......

And measured and tagged.

After all that? 1417 yards of worsted weight yarn. My gauge swatch? 17 stitches and 25 rows over 4 inches on a size 8 circular produced a fabric I like for this project. The yarn bloomed and relaxed after its bath and knits up wonderfully.

Yarn requirements for the Circumnavigate Cardigan? 1400- 1600 yards for a 40 inch sweater (and I'll need it a bit bigger than that).

Living dangerously? Yes, but what's new? See that darker yarn on the left? That's some natural-colored Jacob yarn from St Jude's Farm that I bought at the DFW fiber festival this spring. Doesn't it play nicely with my yarn? Wouldn't it look nice on the pockets, cuffs, and collar? There's 230 yards in that pretty skein.

(Note to self - don't try to hang out 18 skeins of very wet yarn in the dark using kitchen cotton as a clothes line. The line breaks, the yarn drops on the brick patio, leaves instantly tangle themselves into your yarn. This is a very bad idea and you get really cranky. )

And for the Fair Isle fanatics...

Progress photo of Fearless! (sorry for the rather dark photo - I'm still learning the new camera) Yes, I know I was trying for finishing through two of the four sleeve pattern repeats. I'd forgotten that I had frogged almost half a repeat - bummer. Still, I feel good about the progress made.

It started raining yesterday morning around 5am. I lay there in bed from 5 to 7 redesigning Fair Isles in my head. Not a bad way to spend a few hours while the thunder and drumming rain kept me awake. And we're sooo glad to get the rain; it kept raining off and on most of the day.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Around n round the merry-go-round goes

Sometimes I can't find my way out of a paper sack. I was trying to figure out the best way of undoing those 13 balls of yarn so they could be washed and accurately measured.

My niddy-noddy is a 'mini' for spindle yarn - it only makes 2 foot hanks. I was contemplating making a 2 yard niddy-noddy from PVC pipe (and I still may do that) but the hardware store closest to me was already closed and I didn't want to brave the humongous Home Depot.

The light bulb finally came on - what's that umbrella swift for anyway? I made a 2 yard lasso from the neverending cone of kitchen cotton so I could adjust the swift to the same position each time. It's like trying to keep a kid's playground merry-go-round going; I was starting to get dizzy at the end.

It was worth it to do all this. Those 13 balls turned into 18 hanks of various sizes and two little butterfly hanks. Was this perhaps reclaimed yarn? The variations in color appear to be mostly just general grubbiness and there is a faint odor of cigarettes? Hopefully, a nice bath will take care of all of that.

I'll start measuring after the yarn is clean. It seems to be in pretty good shape.

The Spearfish socks are coming along nicely. It's mostly lunchtime knitting for them.

And this for Marina:

'I promise to finish Fearless before I start any other sweaters.' She will know if I don't stick to this - I swear she's pyschic. Right, Brigitte?

I'd like to get at least half-way through sleeve #2 this weekend. I think I'm about through the first repeat of the pattern (it takes four full repeats plus a cuff).

Since the Circumnavigate Cardigan is a guild knit-along, I won't even be starting it until next month.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

I wonder if it's enough? - a stash-busting exercise

From the stash:
About 27 ounces of worsted weight heathery oatmeal-colored 2-ply wool.

I purchased this at a yarn estate sale last April and I'd love to use it for my Circumnavigate Cardigan for the Guild project. Especially since the lady from whom's stash this flows is the one that wrote the program we're following this year. (Not the pattern itself; more of a guide to the pattern).

It represents a nice symmetry to knit a cardigan pattern she loved out of her yarn. She had intended to teach this class for us this year.

I'm just not sure I've got enough and will for sure not be able to get any more - I think this might be handspun and there's no telling how long she had it.

I think I need to re-read those Knitter's Review articles on how to figure out how much is in a skein....

I do know that it's a bit less in weight than the jacket I just finished, which came out to about 28 ounces and 1100 yards. That was a heavy worsted weight, though, so it's not an apples to apples comparison. I'm probably going to need about 1500-1600 yards of worsted weight.

I'd hate to get too far into this and find out that I'm going to run out part-way through.

Maybe using another color with it (a rose color? or a nice heathered blue?) will stretch it out far enough - I'll have to read the pattern through and see if there's a handy place for a second color.

First things first: it needs to be washed (no telling how long it's been sitting in her stash and it's looking a little grubby). I might as well unwind all of it, wash it and then measure it. Who knows? There might be plenty of yarn in there just waiting to become something warm and snuggly.....

If there isn't enough for the sweater, maybe this can become a nice Aran vest.

Results forthcoming! Washing 12 skeins of yarn will be a good weekend project.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Could it be?

Yes, it is! It's sleeve #1 of my Fearless Fair Isle! Of course, I still have to knit sleeve #2, but I quickly picked up stitches and started on that last night so I wouldn't get stymied with second sleeve syndrome.

I tried to convince myself that sweaters with only one sleeve could be this season's fashion hit - but, fortunately, I'm not very convincing. It will look much better when the second sleeve is finished.

Love my new camera... or rather the new 'throw in my knitting bag and take everywhere' camera. It's a Kodak EasyShare C330. It will be handy for all those knitting shots.

For the more serious picture taking I've ordered a Canon Powershot S3 IS. It's got lots of zoom and high-end gadgetry. I'll let the DH figure that one out.

I'm wishing now that I'd bound off the neck band and button bands in two colors like I did for the cuff. It looks nicer, but I'm not going to go back and re-do any of it. The thought of re-knitting any part of this gives me the willies.

I'm trying to decide which sweater to start next - my red fisher gansey or my super-complicated what-was-I-thinking fair isle design (that one may become two sweaters instead of one). Do you notice how I'm blythely assuming that this second sleeve is going to somehow knit itself in a few days?

I may give myself a rest on sweaters and go back to my Tina shawl - it's been sitting in the UFO basket long enough. It deserves to be finished.

There will be a sweater in the works regardless. The Dallas HandKnitters Guild's Circumnavigate Cardigan project. The only thing I have to decide there is the recipient. Do I knit another sweater for myself? Or does it go to someone else? If for someone else, I'll need to get detailed measurements (it's a custom-fit sweater).

(Ok, I read that previous paragraph and a vision of half-a-dozen people leaving comments with their measurements just filled my head.)

At least the Circumnavigate Cardigan is on a rather long timeline - we won't be finished until May. I'm sure I can squeeze a few other sweaters, a shawl, maybe a half-dozen pair of socks into that same time frame. Why don't I read War and Peace while I'm at it.....

Friday, September 08, 2006


(I can post this now! Holly got her package! This is what I did for my sss pal.)

Wendy Johnson's famous fan and feather toe-up sock, in Mountain Colors Bearfoot 'Huckleberry' on size one Brittany Birch dpns.

And since I couldn't decide on color I bought this, too - Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Thunderhead. (Ignore those size zero dpns - I thought I'd be using them.)

And a few other little goodies - a yarn cutter with a clip-on back and some pretty stitch markers.

This is wonderful yarn - nice and springy and soft. It knit up into a squoosy but firm fabric. The color changes wound around the leg rather nicely I thought.

Wendy writes a nice clear pattern. I'd never done a toe-up sock although I'd done a short row heel before. I'd also never used that nifty bind-off. If you haven't knit a toe-up sock before this is a great pattern with which to start.

That said, I think I still prefer cuff-down, heel-flap and gusset construction. I'll probably reserve the toe-up technique for times when I'm not sure I have enough yarn - at least then I won't run out before I reach the toe!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book meme

I picked up this meme from Christa (one of the sss knitters). Consider yourself tagged if you're into this kind of thing.

1. One book that changed your life:
Moon of Three Rings, by Andre Norton. My first introduction to Andre Norton and to fantasy/sci-fi. I swiped this one from my sister (and I don't think I ever gave it back). Sorry, Sis!

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
I've read Tolkien's The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring Trilogy at least once every two years since I was twelve. (Ok, so some would think that was four books - it's really one book under 4 separate covers.) I like knowing that I was reading this before it was cool.

I re-read the library's copy of this for quite a while. It was missing some vital pages in the last book - it wasn't until Mother and Daddy gave me my own set that I got to find out how Frodo and Sam got off of Mount Doom. I finally wore out that set of paperbacks and my sister gave me another set a few years ago.

I re-read almost all my books. (We won't talk about how many times Harry Potter has been read...and watched....and listened to...)

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. One of the few books I really like that takes more than a few days for me to read. They had better rescue me from that island after about a week (or give me yarn - I'd last longer that way). My roommate from many years ago bought this for me for Christmas one year. She had no idea that I'd been lusting after it for months.

4. One book that made you laugh:
Terry Prachett's Monstrous Regiment. Actually, anything by Terry Prachett does that for me. And if you can get his stuff with those wonderful Paul Kidby British covers rather than the rather lame American covers, so much the better.

5. One book that made you cry:
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. 'nuff said.

6. One book you wish had been written:
One more book from Jo Clayton. She was a wonderful author and created many intriguing worlds and characters. She was only 57 when she died of bone cancer.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
The Exorcist by William Blatty. The scariest book I ever started reading and had to put down without finishing. Of course, I was only 13 at the time, but suspect that my opinion will not change if I try to read it again.

8. One book you’re currently reading:
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It's wonderful sci-fi from 1974 - and yes, I'm re-reading it. There's a sequel to this, The Gripping Hand, but I found it a bit of a hard slog. I don't read much pure sci-fi, but this one is definitely worth it for me.

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
I've got Katharine Kerr's latest, The Gold Falcon, sitting on top of the stack. I pre-ordered it almost a year ago and got it in July. Got a few chapters into it and stopped. It's a good book and continues her great Deverry series, but for some reason I'm mind-blocked on reading anything new right now. I'm sure I'll get over it shortly and pick this back up.

I seem to sense a trend here. The only non-fiction books I read right now are knitting books. I've never been interested in 'self-improvement' books, preferring to slog through my problems without anyone's help. Ditto for political books.

My preferred fiction is usually focused on far-away fantasy places or times. I like mysteries, but tend to gravitate towards the classics of Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie. I like espionage of the realms of Manning Coles or Frederick Forsyth or Alistair MacLean.

I consider myself fortunate in my background. Mother and Daddy both read (a lot) and my sister and I picked up the habit. Both sets of grandparents would send books for birthdays and Christmases. One of my favorite gifts is still a gift card from the book store. I married a reader, too! Our biggest problem at home is finding room for all the books.

(Well, there's that little problem with the fabric stash from my costume-making and quilting phase, and that teeny-tiny problem with my yarn stash. But that's not the same thing at all! Just because you can no longer wedge anything into that room, it is not an indication of a problem!)

Knitting content will resume shortly....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I dropped the camera, but I did not drop the deputy...

(with apologies to Bob Marley and I Shot the Sheriff) - sorry, I couldn't help it and now I can't get that song out of my head.

At first, I thought it was going to be alright (even though I dropped it on a hard surface). It powered up, the lens came out....but wouldn't go back in....and wouldn't focus....

Any suggestions on a replacement? My main reason for having a digital camera is to feed the blog, so easy upload and good resolution are my main criteria. My husband wants something with a manual zoom, so he can get good close-ups. I think we may have to get two cameras just to accomodate our different needs.

So - no more pictures for awhile. I've got a few pics of my sss sock progress (taken before the accident), but I'm not showing those yet.

Knitting Progress Report:
Fearless Fair Isle - I've moved to dpns on the sleeve; it finally got too small for the circular it was on.
Spearfish socks - Working my way down the leg of sock #1. I love this pattern.
SSS sock - Shhh! I'm not telling.

Guild Night:
My first meeting as an official member! They were a bit overwhelmed last night - 77 members showed up. We're going to knit Medrith Glover's Circumnavigate Cardigan this year (September through May). It should be fun - this sweater incorporates lots of good techniques.

Exciting News!

I've now got my own copy of the Holy Grail of Fair Isle sweater techniques - Alice St*rmore's Book of Fair Isle Knitting! We won't discuss how much I had to spend to get this treasure, but I'm thanking my husband for putting up part of the money. I had had an opportunity to read it once before (before some sorry so-and-so stole it from the local library), but now I have my very own copy (insert crazed laughter here)!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A sweater tale...

Pattern: Sweatshirt Jacket by Dawn Brocco Knitwear Designs

Yarn: My spindle-spun homespun (approx 1100 yards) - Lilac Shetland wool (trim & stripes), Natural-colored Black Welsh Mountain wool (top of sweater and sleeves), Natural-colored mystery eBay wool from a sheep named Nefertiti (bottom of sweater and sleeves)

Spindles: Anne Grout acorn support spindle (for singles) and Kundert top whorl drop spindle (for plying)

Needles: 29"? Boye aluminum circulars - size 8 (not my usual needles, but worked perfectly for this.

Things I changed: Kept to stockinette throughout rather than the patterning on the upper body. My homespun was too thick for the pattern stitch. This change in pattern meant, however, that I needed less yarn than I would have needed.
Knit the sleeves cuff up rather than picking up stitches and knitting down. This was to better utilize the remaining light brown yarn.

Started spinning: Around May 7, 2006
Finished (putting in the zipper): September 3, 2006 (this was about two months earlier than I originally estimated)

Would I knit it again? I rarely repeat patterns but I really like how this turned out. I wouldn't mind doing it again with the recommended yarn so it can be done to pattern.

Marina helped kick-start this project by mentioning that she'd never seen someone spin enough for a sweater. I took that as a challenge and decided that not only would I spin it, I'd spindle-spin it instead of using my wheel. Thanks, Marina! This is the first time I've spun enough of any one thing to make an entire garment.

I also (rather unwisely) decided to knit as I spun each skein, instead of spinning up all of the roving and then starting to knit. This lead to some interesting times when I started running out of my original roving (that's why it's three colors instead of two).

It has been an adventure - now I've got two pounds of Romney-cross unprocessed white fleece waiting for my next spinning and knitting foray - maybe a lace shawl? Who knows....