Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Road Trip and other stuff

Well, I'm not actually going anywhere, but the other day I received my copy of the new Spring/Summer 2008 pattern book from Nashua Handknits called "Road Trip." Right there on page 7 was the cabled cardigan I designed in one of my favorite yarns, Nashua Cilantro. The picture they got of it is pretty cool!

Other design-wise, I shipped out the cardigan for Shibui Knits the other day, and today I'm working on submissions, a book project, and a sweater for Alpaca With a Twist. I'm not really in the mood to go out in the insane cold wind we're having today anyhow (Hubbo warned me to be careful on my commute this morning-- yes, all the way across the hall). Tomorrow I'm going to put in time tech editing one of the books I'm working on, but today it's all yarny goodness.

Yesterday I took my first stab at plying. It's the Corriedale I was spinning last week on my Golding spindle. At first it was a super tangly nightmare, but then I remembered what I read about plying methods and strung the singles through a plant hook on the ceiling, giving it a bit of tension and no mess. Behold!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On learning to spin

In between all the knitting design samples, writing my own patterns, and tech editing other people's patterns, I've (as you know) been taking little snatches of time to learn to spin (on a spindle only, so far). I'm surprised by how difficult it seemed at first, yet how quickly (just by practicing 10 minutes a day or so) it "clicks" and is so fun and relaxing. So far I've gotten through 4 oz of superwash Merino (not exactly recommended for beginners, but so nice and soft) and about an ounce of Corriedale (shown above), which is coarser than Merino but not bad at all (and much easier to draft). I'm avoiding the sack of Swalesdale top that came with the "learn to spin with a clunky spindle" kit I bought years ago-- it's just gross. Apparently that wool is only used for carpets and things. Not something I want to touch.

Anyway, even though I've only been at it a little while, I've learned what has (and hasn't) helped.

1. Really heavy spindles (like the nearly 3 oz one that came in my kit) are difficult to learn on. I first "got it" with a 1.1 oz Schacht Hi-Lo, which is nice in case you don't know whether you prefer top or bottom whorl (it works both ways). Spins nicely too, and inexpensive (I got mine from Spunky Eclectic).
2. Golding spindles rule. I got one for Christmas (slightly lighter, 0.85 oz) and I can't believe how pretty it is or how long and smoothly it spins. Much more expensive that the Schacht though (still a lot less than a wheel, of course!)
3. Some good books that helped: Spinning in the Old Way (very, very detailed, to an insane degree-- downside is no photos, just line drawings, only about high whorl spindles) and Spin to Knit (lots of color photos, shows how to spin on spindle and wheel, lots of instructions for homemade spinning tools- not just the cd spindle- and ideas for using small amounts of handspun in your knitting-- downside is less detail on the technical aspects of spinning). Together, though, I think you've got a lot of good usable information.
4. Corriedale is really easy to draft, at least for me. I still prefer the Merino because of it's softness.
5. Even though she doesn't have any in her shop right now, Amby's spindle bags are really great for carrying your spindle and fiber. I'm glad I got one (if the knitting has a special bag, why not the spinning, you know?)
6. I still have a LOT to learn, but you can get started without knowing very much (kind of like knitting, you know? Cast on, knit. purl, bind off gets you going but there's so much more you can discover as you improve).

Monday, January 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Emma!

The big girl is 8 (can you believe it??) today. Let's take a little look back, shall we?

2 weeks old. I loved that outfit-- it had little bunnies on it.

Almost 18 months. Her lifelong interest in strands of plastic beads had already begun.

3rd birthday. I love the look on her face!

Recently (and still with the beads, and yes that's a wig!) She was being "half fairy, half old lady, half witch, half rich person, half giraffe, and half Michael's employee."

They grow up so fast!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

More good news

I had a design accepted by Alpaca With a Twist, which makes me happy because I love love love love love knitting with alpaca! Yesterday was Hubbo's birthday (and Monday is Emma's) so we're pretty busy doing fun birthday-related things around here, but I managed to tech edit a few patterns yesterday and plan on finishing up the sleeves for the Shibui design this weekend (plus tech edit a few more patterns and maybe, just maybe, clean house).

I'm still spinning away on my little Schacht Hi-Lo (yes, I got a Golding for Christmas but I just don't feel worthy of it yet). I started knitting a pair of make-it-up-as-I-go fingerless gloves out of my handspun, which is sort of like Malabrigo, except with super thin tight hard bits of yarn here and there, plus enormous puffy tufts in other spots.

The wool itself is fabulous, and maybe I'm crazy to try to learn to spin on merino, but I like it, so there. The gloves seem a bit on the big side, but I didn't bother with a gauge swatch (I know, heresy, and so unlike me). I'm not about to try to frog, since parts of my yarn seem awfully delicate, but I have more than enough for 3 gloves, so I might just make 2 more with fewer stitches.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time Flies

It seems like just the other day I was knitting the projects for this book (while camping, no less). Today while I was perusing Amazon, I came across this. I can't believe it's already available for pre-order. The other part I can't believe is that they mentioned one of my projects in the blurb (the washcloth that holds the soap). Yay!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Avoiding housework

After some more practice (bear in mind I bought my first "learn to spin" kit like 5 years ago, needless to say I didn't actually learn then-- I blame the gigantic heavy spindle and super coarse wool it came with), I'm finally able to put the "drop" in drop spindle instead of just parking and drafting (though I get better yarn when I do it that way). Still uneven, still a bit overspun in places, but I got through a whole ounce this weekend without getting frustrated. The roving is "Bruised Ego" from Spunky Eclectic (superwash merino).
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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Good news

I had a design accepted for an upcoming book, Sensual Evening Knits (follow up to Sensual Knits). While I'm waiting for yarn, though (I already put in the call to the yarn company) I'm going to finish up the Shibui design and get going on the Tilli Tomas one. Hopefully I'll hear something good on a magazine or two soon (I've sent out a few submissions lately). If not, I've got plenty of tech editing to keep me busy!

And now, back to spinning the superwash merino roving I got from Spunky Eclectic.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Be still my heart

Yesterday I received some swatching samples from Shibui Knits (I'm working on a design for them right now in their Merino Alpaca) that are simply to die for (and the Merino Alpaca is really nice too- fabulous stitch definition without the droop factor). The first is called Silk Cloud and the name is very apt. It's similar to Kidsilk Haze, but softer. The other is their sock yarn, which like the Merino Alpaca (though it is just Merino) has very superior stitch definition. Nice, nice stuff.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Look what I got!

I participated in a homemade spindle exchange on Ravelry, and yesterday I got mine (early, no less-- I haven't even mailed the one I made out yet). It's nice and sparkly and even has my name painted on the underside of the whorl. As a bonus, my pal (Kalamandah on Ravelry) sent some nice purple roving to test it out with.
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All done!

I wanted to hurry and finish this (nevermind the other projects that have been sitting around unfinished for much longer) before I got serious about finishing my next design project. It ended up taking 5 balls of SWTC Love and not very much time (I think wanting to get to the next "drop" kind of builds momentum). If only I could get that Touch Me scarf finished, then I'd really be set...
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Friday, January 04, 2008

Last person on Earth to make one...

But coming along--nice easy knitting for taking a break from el gigantic pile o' tech editing. I'm making it a bit narrower and longer than the original, in SWTC Love (bamboo/silk blend, very drapey so I don't have to fight with the dropped stitches).
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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Year in review

As usual, while waiting for Hubbo to desnow the driveway (old-school, with a shovel, and faster than the guy next store with a snowblower) I did my usual looking over the projects I finished this year. Probably in large part because 2007 was the year-I-quit-my-day-job (at the end of June) I completed more than usual.
Total projects completed in 2007:
50! (34 of these were paid design work) Of these, an alarming 17 were sweaters. Yikes. Looking back at my January 1st posts for the past 2 years, I found that in 2006 I finished 38 projects (not bad for working the whole year) and of those 17 were design projects. In 2005 I finished 29 projects and 11 were designs.
Wow. Hopefully I'll be able to stay as busy (or get busier) in 2008. I'm thinking more and more will be tech editing (which, oddly, I enjoy, and it's more cost-effective as far as time is concerned) but of course I'll keep designing as much as I can because I really really love it.
Happy New Year!

Emma's legwarmers

She's been dying to have them (in sparkly pink SWTC Vegas, just 2X2 rib with the yarn used doubled). We ended up scrapping our New Year's plans due to the weather (we had plans to go over an hour away from home) so instead we just made some snacks, watched movies, and I finished knitting these. Not a bad evening!
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