Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bits and Pieces

Chaos is finally at its end.  Last week was my last week of classes for the term (my university is on trimesters, so I still have one whole term to go) and I am almost finished up with my finals.  I can't wait to finally breathe again!  By noon tomorrow I will be a free man... for a week.  You better believe I'm going to be as lazy and unproductive as I can possibly be during that time.

Although I have been busy studying and writing papers and such, I have been able to squeeze some fiber stuff into my days as well (because we all know that the equation: life + stress - yarn = well, we won't even go there).  I finished spinning my first single for my next yarn.

I'm trying to spin a lot thicker this time around, and as you can tell, this single is noticeably bigger than my last 2-ply was, which I think is fantastic.  I'm really excited to see how this one turns out.  Because I have been spinning thicker, the colors are more concentrated (because they don't get pulled apart as much due to drafting) and I think the plied yarn will look a lot different than the lace one I made.

I also finished a project!  I know, that's something that never seems to happen around here (partly because I didn't blog about the last one I made.  Sorry.  It wasn't worth it, and I haven't taken pictures.)  This little knit is something that I had cast-on as a project to take with me when I went on my knitting retreat.  A few days before I left, I panicked because I didn't have any projects on the needles besides the lace shawl, and that doesn't really make for social knitting, and so I grabbed some yarn that was in my stash and cast-on for a small, quick project.

Pattern:  Good Luck Cowl
Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet, less than one skein
Needles: US 5
Time: Started February 23, Finished March 17

Well, so much for a quick knit.  I didn't work on this during the retreat, and because of the craziness of school, this little cowl took almost a month to complete.  It wasn't at all difficult, but for some reason I never really wanted to work on it.  Honestly, and I know this is going to sound really weird, but I think it's because I was magic looping it.  I can't explain why that would have an effect, but something about doing lace with magic loop didn't click for me.  Good thing there were only ten repeats of the pattern!  Also, I seem to have photographed mine upside down, but I think it looks happier that way.  :)

I found it a bit ironic that I knit this in green and it's called the Good Luck Cowl and I finished it on St. Patrick's Day in the middle of finals week while taking a break from studying.  Let's hope it really did give me luck.  I'll be shipping this one down to Atlanta to a friend (along with Porom - it's still sitting around my room) and maybe the luck will spread.

I was a little bit upset by how little yarn this used.  Weird right?  I had two skeins of this yarn in my stash and really kind of wanted to be able to use them both up, but this cowl would not have it.  It didn't even use up one - below are the remains.  I'm going to have to find something (eventually) to use up what I have left of this, now that I've eaten away half of the yardage.

I am at about 99.5% itch factor in terms of wanting to cast-on for a new project, but I really can't let myself do that because I need to get working on the shawl for my LYS and Spring Break is the perfect time to do it.  I was hoping to spend the next couple of days (because I will be done with finals, but still on campus) working on it, but I recently learned I have to move (again!) and will therefore be spending my time packing up and moving.  Oh, and I promise I will get back to all the comments from my last post soon now that I have the time to do so.  Happy knitting!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More Spinning

Well, I am currently in my last week of classes before finals and, as usual, I am at the point where my body is running on auto-pilot.  The zombie-esque "sleeping-while-awake" state of mind I am currently in is not conducive to lace knitting, but spinning seems to work just fine.

I while ago (weeks in fact, I'm uber behind with posts), I finished spinning my second ply of yarn and then plied my two singles together and got this.

I'm still totally in the newbie stage where anything I create, no matter how ugly and terrible, deserves multiple photographs from all angles.  I don't have anything to measure weight or yardage, so that is all a mystery to me, but the finished yarn measured about 25 wpi.  I would say it's a pretty solid laceweight.

Spinning yarn this thin was definitely a challenge on my 1.7 oz. spindle.  I don't recommend it to those who don't enjoy chasing their spindle around the room as it rolls away because the yarn has, yet again, broken.  I was definitely testing the extremes of my spindle when spinning this thin.  Just for a comparison, the previous 2-ply I spun on this spindle came out to be 11 wpi and it felt very comfortable to spin that thickness on the spindle.

After I finished this skein, I actually put my spindle away for a bit because it just took so long to produce anything and sometimes I wasn't in the mood to repair breaks.  It struck me a few days ago that I could just spin thicker yarn, so that's exactly what I started doing.

I'm going to make yet another 2-ply, this time testing the other extreme of my spindle, that is, seeing how thick I can spin without completely driving myself crazy.  I've doubled the amount of yarn you see on that spindle since taking the picture this morning and it is going so much faster.  I'm really enjoying it again, which is fantastic.

Also, check out this pretty spindle I got from ZebisisDesigns over on Etsy.  Isn't she beautiful?  (I don't know why I just engendered it, I don't normally do that.  Besides, it's clearly a boy.)

(o.7 oz., blue agate whorl.  Have I shown this to you already?)
The End.

ETA:  Wil and Jennifer, sorry I never replied to your comments in the last post.  In response to them:  Wil, there will absolutely be no yellow sweater making in my future, nor Jennifer, will there be a really long yellow scarf, although your idea about the matches is a tempting one.  Oh crap, I think I missed someone else too...  Ah, TricotChico!  MamaFitz posted and told me what the hand pillow is really for.  It's for "pressing," which, if I remember correctly, is for if you have to press something like a shoulder seam or armscye that doesn't lie flat, you wear that thing on your hand and then iron on top of it so you don't burn your hand while doing it.

Ok, for real.  The End.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Words Cannot Express

...but maybe pictures can.  Lots and lots of pictures.  I have set up an impromptu photo shoot on my roommate's futon, utilizing one of my blankets to cover everything up instead of moving it.  I thought we should start this post on a classy note.

Warning:  Prepare yourselves.  This could get ugly.  Here we go.

I got a package in the mail yesterday.  It was a big package.  I wasn't expecting anything.

It even had my name on it, so I knew it was for me.

Better yet, it had the word "yarn" scribbled inconspicuously on one of the sides.  The package was from my sister.  Can you guess what was inside?


For the remainder of the post, I will attempt to thoroughly document my experience when I initially opened this box.  As I stated above, it could get ugly.

Bag #1:  The discoloration of the bag tells me that this is old.  Really old.

Ribbon.  For knitting.  Knitting ribbon.  Knitting fever ribbon chic.  Is this a sick joke?!

Uh.  Other stuff.  I don't even know.

Bag #2: Brought to you by the color "brite yellow"

I'm not going to lie, I kind of liked saying "salookeee".

Bag #3: Someone bought too much yellow

This time the yellow was accompanied by a beautiful half finished sweater back.  I think the rows of ribbon eyelets really add a nice touch.

I'm not sure you can tell, but the needles are a bit rusty, and the ribbon is becoming discolored.  It's a shame they didn't include some more of that ribbon.  How am I supposed to finish the sweater?

Bag #4:  A wide assortment of nasty.

For being 100% cotton, that is some ugly stuff.  Yeah, I judged it.  Some of the other yarn sported sayings such as "authentic wool".  Excuse me, what?

Bag #5: The swatches

I think these knitted things are supposed to be parts of a sweater.  Maybe two backs for a baby sweater?  If I'm not mistaken, only one is needed.  Please note the inclusion of a book of matches, a nail file, and two rusty stitch holders.

Now we get to the contents that weren't contained within a bag.  First, we have two skeins of "the homespun bulky-knit."  Each individually sealed within its own bag, naturally.

Then there was the tape measurer that fell to pieces when I picked it up.  Dust and all.  It was amazing.

Six skeins of undyed yarn.  I think with a good washing it might have some potential.

... and the rest of it.  Please note that in addition to this yarn, there is a ginormous sewing/darning/some sort of craft needle sticking out of one skein, as well as some needlepoint yarn and a small skein of "rug yarn".

Oh, and my personal favorite.

I don't know what it is.

I'm calling it a portable hand pillow.

I called my sister because I felt like she had a bit of explaining to do.  This is the story I got from her:

She had gone out to dinner with her old landlord and at some point the topic came up.

Landlord: "Do you see that big box sitting outside of the restaurant?"
Sister: "Uh, ... yeah?"
Landlord: "That's for your brother, the one that likes yarn."
(My interjection: I have never met this person.)

So, my sister did what any nice person would and sent me the box without really looking inside.  Don't worry, the landlord assures me via my sister that there are TWENTY more boxes where that one came from.  Oy vey!

I suppose I should note that I did in fact pull a few skeins from this box and plan to at least wash them and decide if they are at all useable.  I then Purell-ed the crap out of myself and threw that blanket in the wash.  I still feel dirty.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Björklunden Vid Sjön

...Norwegian for "birch forest by the water", is the name of my school's northern campus where I spent my weekend.  As you will see, this is actually a lodge and not a campus at all - we use it as a retreat center for different campus groups to spend time for a multitude of reasons.  My reason?  To knit, of course!

Below is the room in which my fellow knitters and I spent our weekend knitting.  It doesn't get much better than that, right?

What you can't see outside that window is Lake Michigan, a mere ten second walk from the door.  Bjorklunden has more than a mile of shoreline property and 325 acres of forest.  It is most definitely one of the most peaceful places I have spent my time.  I love wandering around in the endless woods or along the rocky shore completely losing myself in thought (which, if I can help it, has nothing to do with school).  Absolutely beautiful.

While we were there, the group did some yarn dying - many for the first time.

I didn't participate, as anything that involves randomly combining colors to create something beautiful turns into an absolute disaster when left in my hands.

(look at that beautiful sock blank that she's painting, isn't it going to be gorgeous?)
I didn't leave empty handed though.  We had a yarn swap while we were there and we all brought yarn we didn't want, and wouldn't you know it that one of the people dying yarn didn't like the way two of her skeins turned out, so I snatched them up and gave them a home.  I'm really excited to work with them.

This resort (let's not kid ourselves, it's not a campus), believe it or not, used to be a family home.  The mother, having seen a Norwegian stavkirke (chapel, literally a "stave-church") wanted to build one of her own, and ten years later it was complete.

The structure itself only took one year to complete and the rest of the time was spent on the inside.

Frescos cover almost every square inch of the walls - painted by the mother herself.

The one below was one of my favorites.  Can anyone guess why?

There was also an incredible amount of hand-carving inside this small little church.  Take this baptism, um, thing, for example:

The entrance is surrounded by more woodcarving.  In fact, hidden in all the intricate carvings that surround the door are eight of the tools that were used to build this chapel, which I failed to capture because I was taking pictures of the angels.

All in all, I had a wonderful time and really hope I can make it back there again soon.  I'll just have to join every group on campus to ensure that I will be able to take advantage of every single opportunity, right?

That's the "campus" in the background.  Call it what you will - I call it fantastic.

(more posts to come)