Tour De Fleece 2018 Day 1

Here’s what I accomplished on the first day of the TdF:

I spun this braid of superwash Merino from Spunky Eclectic in the color way Feathered Friends from the 2015 CLUB Remix.

A progression-dyed braid

I split the braid in half lengthwise, then split one of the resulting strips in half, which gave me one big strip and two smaller strips. I spun each strip onto a separate bobbin using my Schacht Matchless in double drive,

The two small strips are at the top, the larger strip at the bottom.

and I will chain ply the singles to create three skeins of yarn to make a hat (the larger strip) and matching fingerless mitts (the small strips). I hope that dividing and spinning the fiber as I did will result in stripes that will be about the same size in both the hat and the mitts. We’ll see. The knitting is a ways down the road still.

I also started the second project of the 2018 TdF which I’m spinning on my Schacht Flatiron. It, too, is a Spunky Eclectic CLUB Remix from 2018, a braid of Cheviot in the color way The Undead.

When I received this fiber, I had a hard time imagining how it would look when spun.

I decided to strip the bump lengthwise into very thin strips, spin them end to end, and then either chain ply the singles or ply from both ends of a center-pull ball. I still haven’t decided how I want to ply the singles, but I do know that I love how the fiber looks when spun.

I’m leaning toward chain plying these singles because I love the contrast of the dark and light.

Today I hope to finish spinning “The Undead” and maybe even start a third project or do some plying. I love the Tour de Fleece.

 

Knitting Has Occurred

Yes, people, I have been knitting, and what follows is a round-up of my most recent FOs and WiP.

A hat I knitted to match a pair of fingerless mitts I made last fall. The picture captures the color of the yarn pretty closely. Yes, the yarn is my very own handspun, the fiber being Falkland dyed by Dana of Unwind Yarn in the coloway Flirt.

Here’s that hat along side the mitts. The yarn is more reddish than pink. The pattern is Woodside Mitts by Paula McKeever. It’s a lot of fun to knit and is very stretchy.

I started the hat not knowing whether I had enough yarn left to finish it. I just kept knitting until I was out of yarn. I had a little mini-skein set aside for the pompon. Originally I was going to just graft the ends together, but I decided when I was nearly finished to do a few rounds of crown decreases. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how I did the decreases, but it turned out way better than I was expecting.

Another project knitted from Unwind Yarns fiber, Falkland in the colorway Viola, that I spun. These are the Nalu Mitts, and I made them for one of my nieces. I need to get them in the mail. I came down with the crud shortly after I finished them and am only just now starting to feel human again.

This is closer to the real-life color, but still not quite there. The pattern looks complicated, but it really isn’t. The only tricky part is working the seed stitch on the outside “curve” but in all honesty, even that isn’t particularly tricky. I love this pattern, but since the mitt is mostly stocking stitch, which isn’t very stretchy, it’s best to make these just a little on the snug side so that they don’t droop and bunch up.

Here’s a close-up shot of a strand of the yarn on top of the knitted fabric. This yarn is a 2×2 cabled yarn which, when unknitted, looks like a chain. But when it is knitted up, it looks like the 4-ply yarn it is. The color in this picture is pretty close to the RL color, too. If you can picture something in between this picture and the one above it, you’ve got it.

For those not in the know, a cabled yarn is a yarn that consists of two or more plied yarns that have been plied together. A 2×2 cabled yarn is made by plying 2 singles together to make a 2-ply yarn, then plying two strands of the 2-ply yarn together to make a cabled 4-ply yarn. For this yarn, I spun the singles Z-twist (clockwise), plied them together S-twist (counter-clockwise), then plied the 2-ply together Z-twist (clockwise). This makes a very round yarn that has great stitch definition and is a lot of fun to knit.

I currently have only one project OTN and I plan to stay monogamous until this project is completed because it’s a baby blanket for a baby who has already made her appearance. I was a little late getting this project started, so I would like to get it done as quickly as I can.

The baby blanket, which is being knitted in the round using Knit Picks Bare Stroll Fingering Sock yarn. The turquoise bit is the Rosemarie’s Belly Button Start. (I linked to the URL for the BBS, but I don’t think the link works anymore.)

The pattern is a MMario design called Templeton, and I plan to finished the blanket with a knitted-on edging from a baby blanket pattern called Star Light Star Bright by Anna Dillenberg Rachap. I got the inspiration for combining these two patterns from a fellow Raveler, suespins. I love to peruse the finished projects of patterns I plan to knit.

I have been practicing a left-handed knitting technique commonly referred to as Portuguese-style knitting on the baby blanket, and I have rapidly become very comfortable with this style of knitting. It is especially handy for doing stranded colorwork which is why I wanted to learn to do it. I currently do stranded colorwork two-handed, throwing with my right hand (English/American) and picking with my left (Continental). This works well and is comfortable for me, but I have tension issues because my tensioning when knitting Continental is rubbish. With Portuguese-style knitting, my tension is remarkably even and consistent, and because you can purl rather than knit (and the purl side is the side that faces the knitter), there’s far less chance of having floats that are too tight or too loose. I wish I had known about this technique for colorwork a long time ago.

I’ve been doing some spinning, and even a little experimenting with different drive systems, but I haven’t been keeping very good records. I haven’t even recorded my last couple of projects on Ravelry. Bad spinner. Bad! But I will do my best to reconstruct what I did and I’ll share my finished skeins soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting The New Year

I ended 2017 with a blog post in which I found fault in a couple of YouTube knitting videos. My tone was a bit snarky and a little tongue in cheek, and I was chastised in the comments by a total stranger for not being kind and generous to all my fellow knitters and for expecting free videos on YouTube to be a good source of information on knitting. (They are for the most part. I have found YouTube videos to be immensely helpful.) Never mind the irony of a  knitter finding fault with a fellow knitter in a not very kind way for not being patient and kind to other knitters. I guess my critic is as lacking in kindness and patience for the shortcomings and ignorance of other knitters as I am. All I can say is that my critic apparently hasn’t spent much time on the Ravelry forums or on the Yahoo knitting groups of the past. If she had, she wouldn’t have such delusions of grandeur in regard to knitters as a community. Oh, yes, we can be very kind and generous, even to muggles, but we can also be critical, snarky, acerbic, even mean. But I don’t want to belabor the point, so I will move on to other things.

Xmas 2017 brought me some excellent gifts. Here is a sampling:

A hand-thrown yarn bowl from my DIL’s mother and aunt who are definitely kind and generous

 

The bowl is signed and dated.

 

So many pretty colors. And, yes, I have used it already, and it is fabulous. I have wanted a yarn bowl for a long time.

 

The givers of the yarn bowl also gave me this fantastic little knitting book. It’s the perfect size to stash away in a project bag.

 

It wouldn’t be Xmas without an assortment of Pittsburgh Penguins paraphernalia. These are from the DH, and my fave among the lot are the Fleury #29 away sweater earrings. I’ll for sure wear these when Marc-Andre makes his return to Pittsburgh next month.

 

I’m not difficult to shop for. My DS gave me some favorites from Trader Joe’s.

 

And Xmas just wouldn’t be the same without a book from my DIL. She hasn’t missed yet. Every book she has given me has been amazing, and I know this one will be, too.

 

I have knitting and spinning to share, and maybe even some musings on my late-life surprise–curly hair. I hope yinz are staying warm. It’s only 12ºF here in beautiful Brookline, Pittsburgh, PA.

Ending The Year With A Complaint

My blogging has been spotty at best the past couple of years, but it’s not for lack of subject matter. I have been knitting and spinning a lot, and I even was dealt quite a surprise by life that I could certainly right reams about. (Nothing earth-shattering, just a rather definitive change of hair texture from almost perfectly straight to pretty wavy/curly, but, oh my, how different curly hair is from straight!)

Considering the dearth of recent blog posts, you may be wondering what has spurred me to write, and a complaint no less. It’s probably not what you guessed. The following post has nothing to do with Donald J. Trump and the evil circus that currently occupies The White House. But if you guessed YouTube, you would be right. The following complaint has to do with YouTube, but not with YouTube in general. I find YouTube to be very useful and entertaining. My beef is with a specific YouTube video I watched earlier today.

My complaint needs some context; I hope I don’t bore you to tears setting things up. Oh, and one more thing before I begin: if you are a Continental knitter in the US (Continental knitters hold the working yarn in their left hand), you may find what follows insulting, offensive, mean, or just plain ignorant. If you wish to avoid feeling all butt-hurt, stop reading now and go watch a Disney movie or something. If you read it anyway and feel insulted, offended, picked on, or hurt, well, I’m pretty sure that means you saw yourself reflected in my complaint.

So, I have been knitting since I was 9 years old. My mother taught me to knit, and she taught me to knit the way that she knitted, which was the way that she was taught to knit, English throwing, in which the working yarn is held in and manipulated by the right hand. In spite of the fact that my mother could knit Argyle socks in her sleep (Ewwww! Intarsia), she was never a very adventurous knitter and didn’t often try to improve or expand her knitting skills. I, on the other hand, always worried that I was doing things wrong, always wondered whether there was a better way than the way I was doing it, and always wanted to add new skills to my knitting knowledge. But not intarsia. Intarsia is evil.

Over the years, I taught myself a number of techniques including a bazillion different ways to cast on and cast off. I also taught myself how to knit in the round on double pointed needles (mittens and socks); how to knit lace (the first time I knitted lace patterns, I didn’t know it was lace, and I didn’t know lace was supposed to be hard); knitting socks on two circular needles; knitting in the round using Magic Loop; and doing stranded color work using two hands (which means I was knitting one of the colors using my left hand, aka Continental). Some of the techniques I kept. Some I abandoned. And I still am searching for that perfect cast off. There’s always something new to try in knitting.

Although I have become proficient at using my left hand Continental style for two-color stranded knitting, I’m still not all that great at knitting Continental–my tension is rubbish–and I find purling Continental style cumbersome and tedious, although I am better at it when I purl combination style which means I wrap the working yarn around the right-hand needle the opposite direction which changes the seating of the stitch which means I then have to knit that stitch through the back loop on the next row. (Sorry for that sentence.)

However, I am not a total fumble-fingers when it comes to left-handed knitting. I have recently been toying with Portuguese knitting, a style of left-handed knitting that originated in the Middle East and spread from there to the Balkans, Greece, and Portugal, and from Portugal to South America. In this type of knitting, the yarn goes from the right hand around the neck to the left hand (or a special type of pin may be attached to the clothing on the knitter’s left shoulder and the yarn goes over the pin instead of the neck) and the stitches are made by flicking the working yarn over the right-hand needle with the left thumb. It is a very efficient way to knit, and the purl stitch is even easier to do than the knit stitch. In Portuguese knitting, garter stitch knitted back and forth is done in purl instead of knit, and when knitting stocking stitch in the round, it is done with the purl side to the outside (inside out) because purling is so efficient in this style of knitting. I have caught on to Portuguese style knitting very quickly, and after only a day of practice, I feel completely comfortable with it. Really, it’s a great technique and very easy to do.

So what the heck do I have to complain about? Well, I’ve been watching videos on Portuguese knitting on YouTube. I have learned a lot of new knitting techniques by watching videos on YouTube, and there are some outstanding Portuguese knitting instructional videos available. YouTube is a treasure trove for knitters. But it is also a rabbit hole, and not all videos are created equal. During my Portuguese knitting video binge, one video led to another and then another, and then I watched a video recorded by a Continental knitter who was trying Portuguese knitting, and not doing very well because she wasn’t doing it correctly. I’m not sure what value she thought would be in a video demonstrating a technique that she admittedly was unable to actually do properly because since she doesn’t tension her yarn when she knits Continental (actually, she does, she just doesn’t recognize it), she wasn’t tensioning the yarn when attempting to do Portuguese knitting. Fortunately, the commenters were not shy to point out that her refusal to tension the yarn with her right hand was the reason the Portuguese knitting wasn’t working for her. I’m not quite sure why a knitter would make and then upload a video to demonstrate a knitting skill that she doesn’t have, but she is a Continental knitter in the US. Just sayin’.

But while that video may have primed me, it’s not the one that set me off. It was the one that followed, in which a Continental knitter in the US was comparing Continental knitting with English knitting. Now, even without watching the video, you know that the knitter is going to be dissing English knitting because that is what Continental knitters in the US do. I was curious to hear (and see) her ignorance of English knitting, because Continental knitters in the US tend to be totally lacking in a knowledge or understanding of English knitting. So I was treated to the usual crap about about how much better and faster Continental knitting is than English knitting and how hard it is to purl in English knitting (because you fucking don’t know how to purl right-handed, you blithering twit), and blah, blah, blah. Seriously, if you are going to post a video on YouTube that is supposed to be a demonstration to compare Continental and English knitting, you for damn sure ought to be able to actually do English knitting.

The way she was knitting English was typical of rank beginners. But it seems to be pretty common for Continental knitters, at least those in the US, to have some serious misconceptions about English knitting. They seem to think that their shitty attempts at English knitting are actually how right-handed throwers knit (no, we don’t drop the yarn between stitches, and even though we do take our right hand off the needle when we throw the yarn, it’s a quick and efficient motion, not a slow, long, drawn-out affair), and they don’t seem to even be aware that flickers (their right hand never leaves the needle) and lever knitters (their right hand never touches the needle unless they are using short needles) exist. I cannot tell you how many YouTube videos I have watched in which a Continental knitter has tried to demonstrate how to do a particular maneuver English style, but they cannot fucking do it right. You know what, just do it Continental. Believe it or not, we English throwers will be able to translate it to right-handed knitting or find a video with a right-handed knitter demonstrating the maneuver. It’s not rocket science, it’s knitting.

And now I will end this post by saying what I really shouldn’t have to say but still have to say it–NOT ALL CONTINENTAL KNITTERS!

Spinzilla 2017 Is Done

Spinzilla 2017 ended on October 8th, and although I didn’t quite match my yardage from Spinzilla 2015, I did pretty damn well this year.

All the yarn was spun from Sweet Georgia fiber club selections. I spun and plied it all on my Schacht Flatiron except for one skein that was spun on the Flatiron but plied on my Schacht Ladybug.

The Sweet Georgia Spinzilla team was great. The moderator ran the Ravelry Group and team to perfection. She was supportive and kind, as were all the team members. And as if it wasn’t enough that we all got to be part of such a great team, Sweet Georgia (aka Felicia Lo) sent me this to thank me for being on the team.

Yes, that’s a braid of fiber and a water bottle. There is also a card included with a coupon code.

The other side of the water bottle. I love that it’s in Sweet Georgia’s signature color, hot pink.

Really, I should be thanking her (and did thank her) for welcoming me to the Sweet Georgia team. It was an honor and a privilege to represent Sweet Georgia Yarns during Spinzilla.

I don’t think I’ll be doing Spinzilla again. It’s just a little too intense for me. But I don’t regret participating this year.