Monday, December 12, 2011

Starting Points

Today I found the first thing I ever spun and knitted. Ready? Here it is.


Check out the texture.


At the time I was totally new to both spinning and knitting. I remember that spinning felt like slow going, but I was so excited that I took my spindle everywhere and worked on it whenever I had a spare minute. There is a certain bench on the UC Berkeley campus that is inextricably linked in my mind with this cornflower blue fiber.

At the time, I was incredibly proud of this scarf. Nowadays, I recognize its flaws, but there's also something about it that still excites me. The thick-and-thin yarn is wonderfully cushy and full of character. The finished item is short and oddly shaped, but it's everything a scarf needs to be: warm, soft, comforting. I just might mix it into my winter wardrobe this year.

Do you still have your first FO, whether knitted, woven, spun, or crocheted? What was it? How did you feel about it then, and how do you feel about it now? What did you learn from making it?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Why I haven't been spinning

It suddenly seems as though a ridiculously long time has gone by since I made any new yarn. What's my excuse?

Well, for most of October and November, I was in another country.


Make that TWO other countries.


I did bring some knitting, but, strangely, had almost no time to work on it. I churned out a couple of hexapuffs for the Beekeeper's Blanket, but that's about it.

Even when I got back, I couldn't just sit down at the wheel. Know why?


Because I had a brand new unfinished spinning wheel waiting for a few coats of oil before I could use it! Sure, I could have done some spinning on the old wheel, but I suddenly found that I was saving all the good fiber for the new one.


I finally got a coat of tung oil onto her last week. I'm afraid she'll have to wait for spring to get the's just too smelly and drippy a project to do indoors. But I did finally get to start spinning.


This wheel is a Tina II made by Jerry Jensen. I can't express in words how excited I am to have this wheel! She's so pretty, and so smooth. I love knowing that she was made just for me by a single craftsman. I love her so much, I'm calling her "she", which is something that has always kind of made me roll my eyes in the past, when other spinners do it. But I can't help it...she's a "she". I have come to understand.

Maybe the awesomest part--well, okay, not the awesomest part, but an awesome part--is the date stamp. Check it out. Magic!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

weekends are for ...

Swatching and blocking!

Up until a year ago, these were the parts of knitting I just hated.  Well, not so much hated as just didn't do.  But when I started doing stranded colorwork I had to get over this, and these days swatching is one of my favorite parts of knitting.  A swatch is tiny and fast, and so full of potential can swatch before you know whether you're swatching for a cowl or a sweater or a sweater with a crazy huge cowl neck or, I dunno, a refrigerator cozy.  A swatch is a little tiny nugget of pure knitting fantasy.

What do you think this will grow up to be?  I don't know yet, but I do  know this:  The book this came from, Barbara Walker's Charted Knitting Designs, is very dangerous.  It's basically the Kama Sutra of knitting books:  It will make you suddenly want to try, right now, things that never would've occurred to you otherwise.

These days (ie, the days near Christmas), I try to be a little more reliable than I usually am about sticking with one pattern until it's finished.  (Okay, maybe two or three.  But no more, seriously.)  Swatching is a great way to relieve just a little of that monotony without getting myself totally off-track.

Blocking is satisfying for the exact opposite reasons.  It has a finality to it.  As someone who's terrible at finishing projects, I feel a massive sense of achievement every time I pin down a completed project to dry.  (Hah!  Take that, stupid procrastinating brain.)  Not to mention ... it just looks nicer.  Here's a scarf I finished a couple weeks ago; I'm not showing you the whole thing because shhh, it's a christmas present!  I knit it from the bottoms up, blocked both ends, then knit a little more in the middle, grafted the two pieces together and blocked the whole thing again.  I don't have before and after pictures, but I have in-between and after pictures:

Yes, that's right:  I love blocking so much that I blocked this scarf twice.  I wanted the two ends to be exactly the same length as each other, and the whole thing to be as close to 60'' as I could make it, so I blocked when I was most of the way done to get a better feeling for the final dimensions.  Anyhow, isn't it amazing how blocking smooths things out so nicely?

What's your favorite weekend knitting?