Not too shabby

This evening I got  home well before my husband, Max, and Penny, and I used my time alone to finish spinning the pink/purple baby alpaca. Just as I let go of the end of the top and let the last of it wind on to my spindle, they pulled into the driveway, and I set my wheel aside, vowing to let the freshly spun stuff rest at least overnight, and probably until tomorrow afternoon before plying it. But then Penny went to bed without much fuss, and Max was in the bathtub, and even though I do have two pair of socks just waiting to be finished, that alpaca was calling to me…

“Ply me! Ply me!”

Seriously. How could I resist a pleading alpaca?

It seemed to take forever to ply, but I think I was going a little slower than usual, because I actually need this yarn to turn out well. According to my count (and my husband’s faulty memory) I think I have about 232 yards here of (approximately) fingering weight yarn. This is the most even and fine yarn I’ve spun to date, and I’m pretty darn impressed.

It took nearly as long to wind it off the spindle and onto my niddy-noddy, and when I was done, I found my self very carefully, very slowly securing the hank with figure-8 ties. Because as soon as  it was tied up, I’d have to take it off the niddy-noddy, and only then would I know if I’d plied it well, or over- or under-plied it; if there were spots where I’d spun it too tightly, resulting in little curlicues that didn’t ply at all.

Then, the moment of truth.

232 yards of Baby Alpaca

Tomorrow, we’re going on an adventure, which is the rationalization I used to justify plying this tonight. I’ll have plenty of time to knit in the car, and there’s no way to fit my wheel into the car. Hopefully my next post will include pictures of at least one pair of completed socks.

Obsessed

That’s really the only word for it. Sure I still knit when I’m at work lunch, or when I go to the bookstore to relax. But if I’m at home, I’m interested in doing just one thing.

And it’s not housework.

I showed you yesterday the blue/green/pink/purple baby alpaca that I’m spinning. But I forgot to show you what I’d finished last week.

That’s nearly 500 yards of superwash merino wool, dyed and spun by yours truly. And although I was so impressed when I took it off my niddy-noddy after plying it I actually shed a tear, it’s still not perfect.

You see, this nearly 500 yards of lovely green yarn…

…was supposed to be brown.

Oh well, it’s not like I don’t have more dye, and plenty of wool to practice my color mixing skills on.

Ah, Friday

Today is Friday. The day I get to work four hours from home, then enjoy the rest of the day hanging out with Max and Penny. I love Fridays.

Fridays, in spite of not having to go to the office, are not lazy, relaxing days by any means. Friday is also the day I get caught up on laundry, and try to rescue at least one horizontal surface in the house  from being swallowed up by a black hole of stuff. There are many such surfaces on the brink of disappearance, and the challenge is to decide which one will benefit most from my attention.

Today, I think I’ll save my yarn chest, as well as my nightstand (where I store all my knitting books). And when those two have been recovered, I will be able to put away the stack of yarn and stuff that have been living on the little computer stand in the living room since (I’m embarrassed to admit this) around New Year’s Day. That’s three for the price of one! A fine plan. We’ll see if this is yet another paving stone on the road to hell (you know, good intentions and all).

ETA – here are the after pictures. Not included is a photo of my bed, where the things that still need to be put away are temporarily hanging out.

I have some yarn containment issues, I think…

My nightstand, with my modest collection of knitting books (plus one on bookbinding, for variety sake)

My managerial staff (They tend to come in, make a mess, then demand that I fix it. Typical.)

After all that cleaning (still theoretical at this point), I shall finish the sweater I’m test knitting. I’d take a picture of it to show you, but my camera is buried somewhere under the pile of stuff on top of my yarn chest. I actually doubt that I can still claim to be test knitting this pattern. I’ve lengthened the body – by a lot – and I did a tubular bind off instead of just a plain one (my bind offs are always tight and look dorky, and this was the only way I could think to save this lovely little sweater from being choked to death at the edge). I’ve added a bit to the first sleeve as well, and I think instead of short sleeves I’ll lengthen them to just above my elbow, maybe a bit longer (my arms are really quite long, and nothing makes them look more like noodles than little short sleeves).

ETA: Here is the sweater with half of the first sleeve done. I’m really looking forward to wearing this little sweater!

Crichton Sweater, designed by Helena Bristow (but made longer), knit in Ella Rae Lace Merino

Ok, I’d better get going. Max has imaginary sheep washing my dishes, and they need help putting them away.

Fiber Adventure

Today I’m tempted to go out to Julian to check out a yarn store that Liam and Holley from knit night at Clever Knits mentioned. It’s a really long drive to go look at yarn, especially since I can’t remember what the name of the store is, but Julian is the penultimate place to be on a crisp autumn day. The smell of apple pie and cider, wood smoke and fallen leaves, and since it’s Tuesday there shouldn’t be too many people out there (I hope). I think there’s another store in Alpine that I could visit, but I don’t know the name or the location. Luckily, my iPad’s map software does a pretty good job when I search for “yarn” of finding places where wool can be found.

If anyone has any suggestions of places I shouldn’t miss between Escondido and Julian (possibly returning thru San Diego), please let me know. And Liam and/or Holley, if you happen to read this, could you leave the name of the store in Julian in the comments?

C’mon out, Penny!

Last night I finished turning this

into this

Cable and Lace Cardigan, Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn, Size 0 Needles, and a crazy amount of time

That’s a dime sitting in the neckline for size comparison, because I’ve never completed a project on size 0 needles and will likely never attempt it again. The stitches are lovely, if I do say so myself, but holy crap! Those needles are TINY!!

Now that Penny has a hat and a sweater, she can come any time. I’m in the midst of my 37th week, and her movements have become less fluttery and more mean. It seems she has some sort of particular beef with my bladder and my lungs/rib cage, as that’s where the majority of her kicks seem to be aimed. Also (and Alex is very amused by this), she spends a lot of time just pushing OUT with her little elbows/knees/feet, so I look like I have some sort of stomach-centered alien infestation. Amusing to look at, not so much to experience.

Max is still a little confused by Penny. He says hi to her, and blows raspberries on my belly for her, but the other day he said, “My Penny hurts,” and pointed to his stomach. I told him that he didn’t have a Penny, but he disagreed. I tried explaining that Penny is a baby who is in my belly for now, and he said, “No baby in belly!” and stomped away, apparently offended that I thought he could be fooled so easily. Oh well, I guess reality will catch up with him by the end of the month.

We had a bit more summer early on this week (temperatures in the high 90s), but it’s gone back to close to normal now. In fact, on Thursday, we had thunderstorms (a rarity here in coastal-ish Southern California). I was enthralled to the point of pulling into a parking lot so I could just stop and enjoy the sound of the rain and thunder and the light show as well without endangering myself or others. I’m happy to say I was joined there by many other San Diegans (mostly because that means that I’m at least no weirder than the rest of the community).

Alex took Max to the Air Show at Mirimar MCAS this morning, which would usually mean that I’m getting caught up on my house work. But not this year. I have a few chores to address, but then I’m just going to chill and enjoy the quiet.

Have a lovely weekend!

Completion Anxiety

The second Fascine Braid sock is nearly done. I have 4 pattern rows left to do, then I’ll shape the toe. This is where I stopped last night at 6:00, when, while sitting at Borders waiting for the girls, I set my knitting aside to surf through Ravelry a bit and check up on some things on Facebook.

This is worth noting, because it won’t take me more than 30 minutes to finish what’s left of this sock. And I had at least 45 minutes left before Jojo & Sami got to the bookstore. I could have been done with these socks, and ready to start the mittens this morning with a clear conscience. But instead, I surfed the web.

Even now, I have 30 minutes before I have to leave for work, and rather than knitting, I’m writing a post. Procrastination is a strange and wonderful thing, don’t you think?

I’ve come up with two possible reasons for my completion anxiety. First, the mittens that are next on my list are stranded colorwork, and although I’ve done a bit of it before, I’m not very efficient at it. It could be fear of not being able to finish this last Christmas gift that has me stuck on finishing the second-to-last one. Second, there is this:

This is the sock. Do you see that little squiggly pile of yarn on the left? That’s all the yarn I have left to finish this lovely pair of socks. I was having flashbacks to my first attempt at the February Lady Sweater, where I knit late into the night, only to run out of yarn when I was just rows short of completion. I think I might have an “episode” if it happens again. Last night, however, I found a lovely person who has some of this very yarn in her stash, and she’s willing to part with a skein. Now I just need to figure out if I need it.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing during my lunch break.

On Making Yarn

Saturday I went to visit the lovely Lila in San Marcos for a spinning lesson. When I called her initially to arrange the lesson, I couldn’t help but think she sounded just like Double-G (that’s Great-Grandma – my grandmother, my mom’s mom), and wondered what she would look like.

Well, she looks just like Double-G. Short and grandma-shaped, with white hair, the only real difference I noticed was that Lila is slightly deaf (Double-G may be slightly deaf too, but I don’t remember). She was very lovely, and after correcting some of my form issues, and showing me how to check my spinning & plying as I go along, proclaimed that I didn’t need further lessons, but I did need to work on my patience.

Just before I left, she showed me some yarns which she’d dyed with plant material: eucalyptus bark, olive tree leaves, black walnut shells… I don’t know if I’m ready to get into the dye pot just yet, but I’m sure it’s coming soon.

Yesterday, in an effort to improve my patience, I spun about 52 yards of baby alpaca. I don’t have it here with me right now, but as soon as I get home, I’ll post the details.

ETA:

It took me a while, but here are pictures of the wool I spun with Lila

and this is the baby alpaca that I spun when I got home

and finally, here is some of that lovely batt from Grafton Fibers.