Clapotis and resolutions

First, I have an FO for you.  Meg, the dyer at Twisted Fiber Art, does such an incredible job dyeing striping yarns and her colorways are so gorgeous.  Plus, the Clapotis pattern is such a great all-purpose scarf pattern and is so easy to adapt to any type of yarn.  This one took a little while to finish since I kept it on the needles as my mindless knitting project.  I tend to try and keep one easy project on the needles as a travel project to take with me everywhere that I don’t really have to think about or need to refer to a pattern much.

Pattern: Clapotis
Designer: Kate Gilbert
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)
Yarn: Twisted Fiber Art Shiny in colorway “Portal”
Ravelry Project Link

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Now, onto knitting resolutions!  The Selfish knitters group on Ravelry have a thread for New Year’s Resolution knitting and Atomic posted some knitting resolutions on her blog too.  I decided to post a few resolutions since I’ve had them in my head anyway.  I kept it simple on the thread and posted just the first three, but thought about expanding it here and expanding it to include spinning as well.

  1. Clear the WIP queue from last year by the end of the month.
  2. Knit two sweaters this year.
  3. Knit one pair of socks per month – I had thought about doing the 52 pair challenge, but I think that’s a touch too ambitious, especially if I want to work on other projects too.
  4. Spin four ounces of roving per month.
  5. Dye more yarn and roving.
  6. Knit at least one pair of stranded socks.
  7. Finish holiday gift knitting throughout the year instead of all at once in December!
  8. Participate in another test knit.
  9. Work on an original pattern.

I think that gives me plenty to work on.  I also want to be a little more careful with my stash acquisitions and either buy on sale, something unique that cannot be found elsewhere, at festivals, or with a specific project in mind.  When I started knitting this past may I sort of got out of control and bought everything in sight.  It’s time to get a handle on it and knit more, buy less!

Beauty in Repetition

Arguably the easiest knit I’ve ever done and SO beautiful.  This took me a whole two days to knit since I could not put it down.  I didn’t find one knot in any of the four skeins although there was plenty of vegetable matter throughout.  I suppose that’s the big problem I have with Noro – it costs enough that you’d think it would be a quality yarn with no VM.  I’m tempted to go and spin up something similar and make another scarf like this since it’s SO gorgeous and so easy to do.  The ‘base’ skeins I used were mostly black with some dark blue and green mixed in.. I suppose I could’ve picked better companion skeins or maybe started at different points so that I didn’t get the one really dark patch and the one really light patch, but the beauty of the project is that you never know what’s going to happen with Noro colors.  Also, no two scarves can ever EVER be the same since no two skeins of Noro that I’ve ever seen start and end at the same color.  That makes these Noro striped scarves like snowflakes, right?  😉

Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf
Designer: Jared Flood
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm)
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden in 264, 246, and 252
Ravelry Project Link

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Socks!

The first two finished objects for the new year!

First, meet a test knit that I was working on for knottygnome.  The pattern is called “Coin Toss“.  This was my first test knit and I am really proud to have been part of testing out such a great pattern – it’s just enough to keep me engaged without being too complicated and was super fun to knit.  The yarn is a new favorite and is delightfully squishy, and that colorway!  It’s like purple chocolate.  Gorgeous.  Specs:
Pattern: Coin Toss
Designer: Knottygnome – Sara Peterson
Needles: US 2.5 (3.0mm)
Yarn: dkKnits technicolor dream toes in colorway “Wilder Wonka”
Ravelry Project Link
Eye Candy:  (Click on any photo to go to flickr)
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Next project!  Handspun socks.  This is the first project that I dyed the roving, spun the yarn and then knit the yarn.  I wasn’t entirely happy with how the colors came out, but it’s a learning process I suppose and maybe next time everything will comply with my will.  Specs for you..
Pattern: Generic top-down sock, from my head
Designer: none
Needles: US 1 (2.25mm)
Yarn: Handspun superwash merino
Ravelry Project Link
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I suppose I should say here that I’ve been bitten by the Noro Striped Scarf bug having seen it all over the blogosphere including the Yarn Harlot‘s blog.  I had seen it a while ago in a yarn store and bought the supplies right then and there to make it.  They’ve been sitting in the stash quietly, but decided to go off and get noisy on me this week.  I know I said I wasn’t going to start any new projects until I cleared out the UFO queue a bit, but two finished socks counts as cleaning house, right?!  Besides, it’s winter and winter means scarves.  Yep.  This is me, hunting for justification to cast on a new project when I already have a bunch of UFOs.  🙂

Brew Day

It was a multiple brew day.  Whew!  For a little background, the husband started homebrewing a few years ago and I started a batch or two of mead this year.  I was surprised and thrilled when my Agave Mead won 2nd place out of 31 entries in its category and things have taken off from there.

Every year, the homebrew club does a competition called the Iron Brewer based on the second runnings from a brew pub’s Barley Wine.  Everyone starts with the same wort from the second runnings and adds only one pound of fermentables (steeping whatever you can dream up) and then in a few months, the brewers at the pub judge the entries.  Last year, the husband was around and did the competition, but he isn’t in town for pick-up day this year, so I stepped up and said that we should do a team effort brew so that we can still take advantage of this awesome opportunity.  Having tasted a really great Saison at the same local brew pub, I asked if we could do a Saison (French farmhouse ale) using the wort and the husband said it was possible.  I went and picked up my bucket of wort (from 100% Weyermann Pilsner grain) and lugged it home today.  I’ve never brewed beer before – just mead – so I’ve had a bit of help from the husband.  He ground up the malt I brought home yesterday and even got a yeast starter ready for me as well as helped with directions so that I could do everything today while he’s out of town.  I managed to lug the 5 gallons of wort up the stairs and fill the brew pot and get the pot on the stove without spilling anything.  Steeped the malts, added the Sterling hops at boil and then the Saaz for the last 15 minutes, going by a recipe I had found online.  Ran the wort chiller and got the temperature down, drained it into a carboy and pitched in the yeast.  Everything went well and there were no disasters!  Granted, I still don’t know much about brewing beer since I was mostly following directions, but it will be fun to see how it comes out (and have a finished product in less than three months!).

Since I had all the equipment out and ready to go, I figured I’d do a few other things since I had the time.  There was a prickly pear agave mead and a mesquite honey mead that refused to clear (in well over 6 months), so I hit them both with a little sparkalloid and hopefully they’ll finally clear out.  Then it was on to brew another batch of mead.  This one is a modification of the last agave mead with less agave and a 1 liter container of passion fruit juice added.  I was looking to add a little more acid and a little less sugar overall.  It should work out well, but you just never know.

So, that’s it for today.  I feel pretty productive!  Hopefully I’ll be finishing up a pair of socks I’ve been test knitting and will have details of that coming up in the next post.

Lacing the Flyer

Someone on Ravelry mentioned that there weren’t too many results when doing a google search for “Lacing the Flyer” and I decided that it was time to start this spinning/knitting/photo/life blog with a post, FINALLY.  The site is sort of bare for the meantime, design wise, but I’m working on that, honest.

So, Lacing the Flyer.  This is a great technique to make the take-up of yarn less aggressive when spinning a fine yarn or when spinning at the core of a fresh, empty bobbin.  In effect, you lace or pull the spun wool (or leader if you’re just starting a new project) around the pegs just as if you were lacing up a shoe with only one side of a shoelace.  There are so many ways to do this, so I’m just going to show you the way that I do it and what works for me.  I’m not an expert, but I like to think that with spinning and knitting, what works for you personally is what works best and it’s fun to share techniques and see how other people do things.  The wheel pictured here is a Spinolution Mach 1.


This wheel has pegs at the front that work out perfectly for lacing up the flyer at one point.  I took the wool off the bobbin and down along the outside of the row of pegs and then around the front of the right peg and the back of the left peg, coming around to the ‘orifice’ in front.  The orifice on this wheel is a big hook instead of a more traditional tube or hole type orifice.

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Here i’ve added another set of zig-zag lacing in the middle of the flyer.  This varies wheel to wheel, so you may not have those two front pegs to zig-zag across.  For this to work – you need to have space between your laced wool and the wool on the bobbin.  Typically, for me, by the time I reach the point where the bobbin wool is touching the laced wool, I don’t need to lace that back part at all anymore.  You can zig-zag as many times as necessary in order to reduce the take-up to a manageable level. 

Naturally, this is no substitute for changing the tension (this one uses a tension knob), but when you’ve run out of tension to let up, this is a great way to ease the take up.