17 April 2017

What Was I Thinking?

The game master asks, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

This is a running joke between Cuddly Hubby and me. Cuddly Hubby is a benevolent role-playing game master. He is not trying to get the player characters into mortal danger. Danger, yes, as that is part of the game. But he wants everyone to have a good time. Having your 12th-level elf cleric bludgeoned to death in two rounds by a hill giant does not a happy gaming session make. If a player is about to make a decision that is maybe not the smartest thing to do, Cuddly Hubby will ask, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

Sometimes life needs a little pop up to say, "Are you sure you want to do that?" (I also need an iPhone app to say, "Don't listen to the Garmin! That way lies traffic madness.")

Back in October, I decided to spin a pound of lace weight yarn. I spun all during Spinzilla. I took a bit of a break going into the holidays. Then I heard there were people trying to spin for fifteen minutes every day in 2017. I liked that idea. That would be a way to make steady progress and keep up the spinning mojo. So that's what I did. I spun for at least fifteen minutes every day, except the couple weekends when I was away teaching. I did this through January. I did this through February. And I did this through March.

A pound of lace weight yarn on a Majacraft overdrive head.
At the end of March I finally finished the yarn. It took more than an hour just to wind it off the bobbin and up onto the swift, and that was with my super-nice Strauch free-standing swift. The skein is so large I could only soak it, rather than finish it in the steamer. It took three hours to wind it into a ball. If my measurements are correct, this is about 1½ miles/2.4 km of yarn, or about 3 miles/4.8 km of singles. Yes, this is almost the 5K of spinning.

Success!
My thought was to make a reversible lace circle jacket. Reversible lace takes twice as much yarn, hence my interest in having a whole pound of fiber rather than merely eight ounces. This is so fine I am wondering if I would be better off putting it on the loom instead? Or I could just go for a giant circle shawl after all. There's enough yardage to be sure it is big and spectacular.

After I finished it, I took about a week off from spinning. Now I'm on to another project. But I must ask of you, dear readers and friends; if I ever say, "I think I'll spin lace weight from a pound of fiber," please, please, please look me straight in the eyes and ask, "Are you sure you want to do that?"

21 March 2017

Last Call

I just happened to pick today to drive out to Robinson Salvage. I've been visiting about every-other week since January as the pile evaporated but the savings deepened. Apparently, today was the day the remaining stash was marked to 90% off.

That's the first pile. Some yarn, a few books, some spinning add-ins. Lots of cotton.


The second pile is all Mountain Colors. When you mark $21.95 down by 90%, that's only $2.20 a pop. This pile was about $50. I must say, I was surprised these didn't go faster. Then again, there are fewer spinners. It isn't surprising that the spinning fiber didn't move as fast as the yarn.

In between January and today, I purchased a whole breed study and enough silk-wool blend to make an entire sweater. Over the course of the sale, I think I purchased around 4 or 5 grocery-cart fulls. I have more than doubled the spinning fiber stash. If you see me at a fiber festival this year and I attempt to purchase any yarn or fiber, please redirect me to the nearest ladies' restroom and splash cool water in my face until I snap out of the hypnotic trace induced by wool fumes and hand-dyed colorways. I can't even rationalize a fleece, as I have an amazing one I purchased last year at SAFF. If I were on the board of one of the guilds, I would have been tempted to scoop up the pile of Ashford scarf kits at $2 a pop, as I think they would make nice door prizes.

By the way, at least some of this will probably be gifted to friends. This is truly an embarrassment of riches.

16 March 2017

Reversible Lace Double Decrease

Several months ago, I posted a video of how to work the centered double decrease in reversible lace. I finally got around to shooting a video for how to work a regular double decrease in reversible lace.

For the double decrease, the center stitch is on the bottom of the stack. Unlike a centered double decrease, a double decrease tends to break up the vertical line. While this is a subtle distinction, it can make a difference in lace patterns where uninterrupted wales are part of the design.

knit-wise, right stitch on top (leans left) =
  • slip 1 stitch knit-wise
  • knit 2 stitches together
  • pass the slipped stitch over

purl-wise, right stitch on top (leans left) =
  • slip 2 stitches together knit-wise
  • slip 1 knit-wise
  • return all 3 stitches to the left needle
  • purl all 3 stitches together up through the back of the loop

knit-wise, left stitch on top (leans right) =
  • slip 1 knit-wise
  • slip 1 knit-wise again
  • return 2 stitches to left needle/cable needle through the back of the loop
  • knit all 3 together

purl-wise, left stitch on top (leans right) =
  • slip stitch #1 purl-wise
  • reorder next two stitches:
  •     put right needle behind stitch #2 and into stitch #3
  •     remove left needle so stitch #2 is loose
  •     replace left needle in stitch #2 but not stitch #3
  •     return stitch #3 to left needle
  • return stitch #1 to left needle
  • purl all 3 together


Reversibility and symmetry can be peculiar. Either knit decrease can be paired with either purl decrease. Depending which you choose, you may get identical reversibility or mirrored reversibility. When designing on your own or converting patterns, be sure to swatch to confirm you are getting the intended result.

01 March 2017

Repair

Now that Yarn is over, I've shifted focus to what is happening in my own home. I spent the last week or so organizing the stash. This required two trips to Ikea. I'm not completely finished, but I have corralled most of the yarn, fiber, and craft supplies (including the beads) into one room. This involved moving some stash out of the master bedroom. I don't even remember why there was stash there, other than it must have been when I first started knitting, since most of it was very old stash. In the process of doing that, I discovered moth damage.

The basket isn't even in my Ravelry projects, as it was executed B.R. (before Ravelry). It is also B.B. (before blog). The pattern is Entrelac Tote by Melanie Smith marked "Revised 10/25/2005." It was probably in the very first order I ever made from Knit Picks. I recall it being a very fun knit that I worked up almost immediately. In fact, it was so much fun that I ordered 2 more skeins of spruce, 2 more skeins of hollyberry, and 1 more skein of cloud and knit a second tote. Note to yarn sellers: If you offer a pattern where I can easily make two by buying a little more yarn, please let me know. I'd rather knit it twice than add a big pile of partial skeins to the stash. And you might sell me more yarn!

I improvised on the second tote by making the narrow stripes at top and bottom as waves. Interestingly, they pulled in more when felted giving the tote a vase-like outline rather than the rounded basket shape. I also hid a small pocket behind every other diamond in the entrelac. I twisted the large i-cord handles around each other to give a braided effect. And I made a multi-twist möbius edging at the top. What was I thinking? Maybe I was going to use this as a knitting tote? I even used up the last little bits of yarn by making some "Five-Star Flowers" from Nicky Epstein's Knitted Flowers (New York: Sixth & Spring Books 2006), page 100. (Long time readers will remember I've used the "Buttercup" from this book to cover a hole in a woven bamboo bag.) And I added a couple tendrils because, clearly, this variant should be labeled, "More is more, dang it!"

The moths had munched on the felted totes, especially the first one. Fortunately, they are felted. I took the first bag and ran it through the wash, thinking more felting would ameliorate the problem. Instead, a piece of the bag bottom disappeared. That would make the tote less-functional, wouldn't it? Sigh.

To the stash!

I have a box of half a fleece of freebie merino wool that is too fine for spinning. If you tug on it, it sounds like Rice Krispies. Snap, crackle, pop! It has lots of nepps and noils. If I were to make batts on the drum carder, it would make a very textured yarn. However, there is no such thing a bad fiber. If all else fails, it can be used as stuffing. This wool has turned out to be very useful for felting. While it takes some time to prepare (picking out all those little short bits), most of the time when I am needle felting I only need a small amount of wool. Fifteen minutes of picking isn't all that onerous.

I needed to dye the wool. I got out my Jacquard acid dyes and my set of samples. I was hoping there would be an obvious match. No such luck. Color 631 Teal seemed like the obvious choice, but it was a little too green. In the end, I started the dye process with a bath of teal. After an hour I added some 621 Sapphire Blue. After that cooked for awhile I finished off with more teal. As you can see, the dye struck the wool with quite a bit of variegation. It looks a lot like Malabrigo. Very, very pretty.


To make the patch, I got out my felting needles. The variegation was a tremendous help. There were parts that were too green, parts that were too blue, and parts that were about right. If the wool had taken the dye evenly throughout, it would have been an all-or-nothing outcome in terms of whether the color matched. Because there was variegation, I was able to use mini-combs to blend color. In the end, I got enough fiber that was a close enough match.

I spent about an hour needle felting. Ta-da!

Not a perfect match, but not obvious.

21 February 2017

Big Event

As some of you know, I am one of those people who says, "Why not?"

Back in the summer, my gaming friend Paul asked if I had seen a documentary called Yarn. Why, no! I decided I wanted to see it. But it wasn't playing anywhere in the southeast, not even some place I could drive to in three or four hours.

I put together a proposal for Atlanta Knitting Guild. The proposal was something along the lines of, "Here's this neat movie. I want to see it. I'll bet other people would like to see it. Can we bring it here?" There were multiple possible ways to do this, including simply screening the film at a guild meeting or going big, renting a theater, and selling tickets. In the end, guild president Susan Duralde put a lot of enthusiasm behind the idea of going big. The AKG board got behind it as well. And now, Atlanta Knitting Guild will be screening Yarn this week on the morning of Saturday 25 February at Lefont Theater in Sandy Springs.

As you can see, we have lots of wonderful sponsors. There will be goody bags, including patterns, coupons, and yarn samples. And there are lots and lots of door prizes. For example, Center for Knit and Crochet has donated this:


Yes, that's a limited edition gradient yarn kit from Wonderland Yarns, a CKC bag, and a one-year membership.

Atlanta Knitting Guild is also having a raffle. The pile of high-end yarn is worth over $700.


There is Noro, Madeline Tosh, Mrs. Crosby, Mountain Colors, Opal Harry Potter, even some gradient sets. Raffle tickets are $10 each.

I'm contributing a special printing of a recent pattern. The pattern is a reversible lace scarf and hat set. On Ravelry, the pattern will include both items. For the goodie bags, I have printed a version that has the directions for the scarf but not the hat. This will give you a taste of the technique. For the door prize, I've contributed a skein of emerald green sock yarn from Fiber Charmer and a pattern for reversible lace tube socks in a leaf pattern.

As of this posting, we are close to 200 tickets sold for a theater that seats 240. So we should have a nice full house!

Edited to add:
Here’s the plan for Saturday:
Doors open at 9:15 AM.
Please arrive no later than 9:45 AM.

9:15-9:45
Check-in and then check-out our Gold sponsor tables.
You may also buy your popcorn, additional raffle tickets, seats in Charles Gandy classes, AKG Membership. The concession stand will have cookies for $1.50 and coffee for $2.50.
To speed the process, please bring check or cash for additional purchases. We will have a limited number of Squares to process card payments.

9:45-10
Take your seats.

10-10:30
Opening remarks.
Prize giveaway: Door Prize (~65 items) and Raffle Prize (1 big prize) give-aways.
You must be present to win.

10:30-12
YARN screening.

12-12:10
Brief closing remarks.

When you arrive, you will check in at the desk. You will receive your goodie bag as well as an envelope with your door prize ticket, your raffle ticket(s) (if you purchased any), and a printed version of your online receipt. You should then put you door prize ticket and your raffle ticket(s) (if any) in the appropriate receptacles near the center of the room.