So, here it is, time to catch up again. Today is going to be a busy day, and I'm rushed, but I will take my usual computer breaks, so I'll simply work on this post in fits and starts.
It's been hectic getting all the non-knitted Christmas presents bought, organized and wrapped to send to the US, but I'm almost...alllllmmmmoooosst there, knock wood and all that good stuff. Three little pressies left to buy for the package, then I plan on doing the rest of my shopping on Amazon, what with the brilliant exchange rate right now and the savings on shipping.
Speaking of shipping, I shudder to think what my shipping costs for all these packages is going to be. The three large knitwear items are going to be both bulky and heavy, and add that to a couple dozen smaller gifts, both knitwear and non-knitwear, and I have a feeling it's going to be a doozy of a shipping bill. I have three separate packages to go off as well, at least. There's a possibility that I will have to break the biggest package into two packages. We shall see.
First I'll talk about spinning, because there's really nothing much to tell. I did finish spinning the llama singles a few days ago, but have yet to even start plying them.
I spun the llama on Matilda, my Magacraft Little Gem, but I intend to ply it on the Ashley. I have a jumbo bobbin on the Ashley, and I think I'm going to need it. Actually, I know I'm going to need it. While the Magacraft bobbins are big, they are not big enough for 150g of this stuff plyed. Besides, it frees Matilda up for yet another project.
Before I could ply on Matilda, I decided to go ahead and finish the bobbin of the Red Flowing Gum colourway from Kathy's Fibres that I already had on the Ashford. I didn't like much, and finished that bobbin yesterday.
I still have another bobbin to spin, and then plying of course. I already have 3 finished skeins of this colourway, so I'm getting close to having enough to make a biggish sort of project with it. Nice.
I got my monthly shipment last week from David at Southern Cross Fibres. This month I'm in love with the colourway. It's an BFL top called "Deep Thought" and it's a very dark and intense array of browns and purples.
I'll probably start that one on Matilda at work Wednesday night. I have so many other rovings that I want to start, but David keeps sending me these gorgeous colourways, so I can hardly resist.
In knitting news, I did exercise self control and finished the plain stockingnet socks I had on the needles. I was planning on keeping them, but decided instead to swap them out with the present for Aunt Pat. They turned out just fine, and are more her style than the pair I had put aside for her, which were a bit on the wild side colourway wise. I tried them on just to check the fit and to take this photo:
It only took me a couple of days to finish them, and then I was casting on for the Honey Bee Socks from Austrlain Knitting magazine, Spring 09, using that gorgous blue Lorna's Laces sock yarn I bought. For the record, it is dear in price, but it is also quality yarn, and that is obvious from the first stitch.
Progress is slow but steady. The pattern isn't really difficult, but like any lace, it requires a bit of concentration and counting, so I'm limited as to when I can work on them. Still, I've made it past the heel turn on sock one and I'm almost finished with the gusset decreases.
The lacy camisole is moving right along. Just last night, I finished the back section. As with any lace, it desperately shouts for blocking, but here's a picture anyway:
The fitted waist shaping can be a chore to keep in pattern, but the charts are clear once you figure out how to read them. I got thru the whole back section with only one small error, but as noone I've shown can find it, I'm letting it ride. I hope to cast on for the front piece sometime this afternoon.
Having two lace patterns was turning into quite a chore, and made it really hard on me to try and knit at work or while watching TV. Consequently, I decided (surprise surprise) to cast on another project. Unfortunately, most of the stuff in my queue that I was planning to do soon was either lacy or in some other way complicated, so it wasn't easy picking out a pattern.
I essentially let the girl at my LYS decide. That is, I went down there in search of yarn. I wanted either some tape style nylon yarn similar to Berrocco Suede to do the Coachella pattern from Knitty.com with, or I wanted a silk and wool (preferably merino) blend to do the Welt and Rib Raglan from Interweave magazine, Winter 08. No tape yarn of any discription was in stock, but there was a sqeezably soft and lovely selection of Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK. In all honesty, she didn't have a very large colour collection. I immediately ruled out the hot pink and royal purple. There was a brown colour I liked, but she didn't quite have enough. In retrospect, now I'm glad I didn't get it. What I did wind up with was a hard to describe beige to bronzy sort of hue. Best just show you the picture, but even it doesn't do the almost metallic shade justice:
The Sublime wasn't cheap. The price was so dear in fact that I almost decided against it and considered going with the Cleckheaton Country Silk, which was half the price. It was also, however, only half as pretty, only half as soft, and not even half so shiny. So the Sublime won me over, and that's the end of that story. When you are going to spend countless hours knitting a lovely garment, then the "best yarn" rule must be applied: Buy the best yarn for the project that you can afford.
Right away, the "easy" pattern I had picked out decided to be difficult. It starts in the middle, essentially at the bustline, with a provisional crochet cast on, and you work your way down from there. If there is one thing I despise, it's the crochet cast on. I did, however, find an easier way to do it here, and that saved me tons of time. I was doing it by making the crochet change, and then picking up stitches thru the back loop, trying to keep it all straight. Ok if it's a pair of socks, but when you have 200ish stitches to cast on, it can drive you mad just trying to keep the chain from twisting. The "new" way at the link above is much easier, where you make your chain as you are drawing the stitches thru. If you do this cast on often, you should definately check it out.
So, I've gotten a bit of a start on it. The orangish coloured yarn you see is simply the waste yarn from the crochet cast on and will be unraveled and pulled out later, revealing live stitches so I can then put them on the needles and knit the top part of the bodice. (This process is a bit hard to explain to non-knitters, so I'm not going to try, but it's essentially a way to cast on in the middle, and knit the garment without any seams, and therefore, no stitching up at the end. Yay!)
I'm making the smallest size to give me some negative ease, as the second smallest size is exactly my measurements, and not the way it should be worn. It's knit in the round, starting out with 198 stitches in k2p1 rib, and while it's easy knitting, it doesn't exactly "build" quickly. Besides, I've been concentrating more on the lace lately, only knitting on this when I need some mindless knitting. I won't be able to wear it until fall or winter in any case, so there's no hurry at all. I am in love with the yarn though, and feeling that lovely fibre running thru my fingers is tempting to say the least.
I started this project, at least in part, because we had the Christmas shoot last weekend at the gun club, and I knew that I had absolutely nothing I could knit on there while I socialized. I took a very few pictures, but here's one of Chris leading the "balloon" shoot, where they blow up a bunch of balloons and the shooters burst them all.
I'm so early into these projects, and yet I already have my next projects in mind. I'm still on the lookout for yarn for the Coachella pattern mentioned earlier, and I'm also dead set on starting a major lace project. I'm thinking of doing the Alpine Lace Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I have yet to knit a single thing out of that book, and yet hardly a day passes that I don't thumb through it and dream. I'm not precisely sure that's the pattern I will start with, but for sure, I'm knitting something from that book, and doing it soon. Next in the sock world will be a plain stockingnet pair knit with some of the self patterning sock yarn I bought from Spotlight last year. I need an easy servicable pair of socks, and that seems the perfect choice for work knitting.
Well folks, that's all I have for today. In all likelihood, I'll still be knitting on what I'm knitting on now when it's time to post again, but I'll post anyway with what progress I've made. Till then...