Monday, February 18, 2013


I have a confession to make. Here it is: I loooove starting new projects. Finishing? Not so much. All the gals in my knitting group are impressed because I always seem to be working on a new project. They think I'm just flying through huge shawls and ambitious colorwork projects. So, this post is by way of a confession: I am much more of a starter than a finisher. Let's take a tour of my UFO drawer, shall we?

Above, you see what I think of as my "tier one" projects. These are project that I'm actively working on and will probably finish before I die. We'll go clockwise from the bottom left. First, you see the lovely shawl, Rendezvous, by Lily Go. I'm knitting this in Waterfalls, a three-ply laceweight yarn from Creatively Dyed. It's a testament to the stimulating nature of this pattern that I've gotten as far as I have despite the first step being "cast on 450 stitches". I mostly work on this project at my knitting group, so progress is slow but steady.

Next around the circle are a pair of handspun socks made from Abstract Fibers BFL. This project got stalled when I started thinking about designing some kind of charted pattern for the leg. I'm still thinking about that, but probably I will just give up and finish in plain stockinette.

Third is the Knitpicks "East Meets West" satchel. I'm not totally sure what I was thinking starting this, but the kit was on super sale and I couldn't say no. I'm about 75% finished with the strap piece. I think the bag will be a present for my mom, if I can finish it by May. Bonus: I now have like thirty balls of Knit Picks Palette, and there are definitely going to be leftovers, so I can make another bag or some crazy mittens or who knows what.

Fourth is a plain triangular shawl of handspun silk 3-ply. I started it mainly because this yarn was burning a hole in my pocket. Honestly, this project has been inactive for a while and may be slipping into tier 2.

Tier 2 mainly consists of glorified swatches, and pretty much exemplifies my relationship with Kauni Effektgarn: I find it hypnotically beautiful, but I just can't seem to find the right project for it. Anyway, Thing One here is a mosaic cuff in Malabrigo Rios, left over from my Octopus Mittens. Is it a sock? Is it a mitten? Who knows. It's not really clear that I have enough yarn to make a pair of anything, which explains why this project is stalled. Thing Two is about my fifth attempt to do something with that ball of rainbow Effektgarn. I think I intend it to be a baktus-style shawl, but the colorwork pattern combined with the edge increases is incredibly fiddly to knit, so I stopped. Thing Three is a mosaic sock, again with Kauni...not sure about this one at all. And Thing Four is...hexapuffs! So many hexapuffs. I am tired of hexapuffs. Screw you, hexapuffs.

And, lastly, tier 3. Tier 3 is about mistakes and bad choices. In the upper left, you see a handspun Shipwreck shawl. I got through the center medallion all right, but the outer section sapped my will remarkably quickly. So many problems: a bad interaction between yarn and beads, plus the fact that the beads are supposed to be placed "randomly" (making every stitch a decision point), plus the fact that knitting "k2tog, yo" ad nauseum is incredibly dull...yeah, I stopped after about three rows.

Next is my attempt at Tiling Fish, in the very odd Noro Nobori yarn. I didn't have much of this yarn and...yeah, I'm not sure where I was going with this.

Then comes Alchemist Socks. I skipped the gauge swatch, and that was a dumb idea. I discovered they were too small when I got to the heel. I've stolen the needles for another project, so...these are probably dead meat.

Last but not least is a Lutzling baby sweater in Abstract Fibers Miro. It looks OK, doesn't it? But unfortunately I discovered when I went to add the button band that I had somehow dropped a stitch on the very front edge, which dropped to form a series of sloppy loops in a very bad spot. I suppose it might be fixable, sort of, but...I dunno, the baby got born, and that was that.

So, that's only, what, twelve things? Not too bad. How many skeletons do you have in your closet?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bad idea bears

If you've ever seen the musical Avenue Q, you are familiar with the bad idea bears. They are adorable little creatures, who fill your head with bad ideas, like so.

My husband and I have used the term "bad idea bears" ever since we saw the musical back when it was on Broadway. You'd be surprised how often it comes up, or maybe you wouldn't. Lots of people have bad ideas, myself included. I feel like they've been following me the last few weeks, in fact. I've been doing lots of smaller projects recently-- hats, mittens, washcloths, and you know what the bad idea bears have been telling me?



Why have I been listening??? I think I need to get a bag of M&Ms or something to incentivize fixing this mess.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Keeping me humble

Have you ever watched or read an interview with an artist, be they musician, filmmaker, etc, and seen how they answer the question: What's your favorite work of your career?

I think it's the same answer every time. They always say it's the last thing they worked on. Always. Even when it's a rock band who peaked in the 90s and is making total shlock now and you sort of feel bad for them and wish they'd hang it up (made up example). Now it's important to note there's a difference between your favorite thing and the best thing, but you have to figure there should be some overlap.

As I hung this skein to dry a couple days ago, I thought to myself, this is my all time favorite skein of handspun.


This is a 3-ply Aran weight(ish) Shetland dyed by Into The Whirled in the Sterrennacht colorway. (That's Dutch for Starry Night, naturally).

What makes this my favorite? Well, you know how lots of tween girls bedeck their bedrooms in the vaguely androgynous non-threatening heartthrobs of the day? I adorned out my room in Van Gogh posters and prints. Yup, former Van Gogh fangirl right here. Further confession: there were also a couple of Andre Agassi and Def Leppard posters. But I think a big part was the huge joy of spinning it. This was my first Into the Whirled fiber, and they dyer Cris obviously takes great care not to let the fiber felt or compact during the dyeing process. I held the fiber like a baby bird and spun it as woollen as I'm capable of. I tried to keep it as airy and bouncy as I could, and I think I succeeded. Coming back to my wheel after a six month stint of spindle only spinning turned out to be good for my wheel spinning, I think. Stay tuned to see it knit up, as I'm sure it will be pretty soon.

So is this my favorite just because it's my most recent skein? No! Because, surprise, it's actually not my most recent skein.


Behold, the disastrous first skein of cotton from my charkha. 3 plies and 0.7 ounces of doing it wrong. Oh boy. Do I have a lot to learn about spinning and plying on the charkha.

I know it looks like yarn, but trust me, it barely qualifies. It's certainly not the charkha's fault. It is, however, very obvious that this whole spinning cotton is a very different beast in terms of the amount of twist required for a stable single and plied yarn, and if I ever want to weave with this as warp (I do, by the way) I certainly need to figure out how to make it stronger than it is right now. I may try to weave with it, just to punish myself?

I'm not discouraged, though, don't worry. I love my charkha and I'm happy to put in the work required to get a skein I love as much as my Starry Night one. I've only been working on mastering my wheel for six or seven years now...