Sunday, July 4, 2010

Long overdue

It's been so long since I've posted, and there is so much that has happened and so many knitting and spinning projects in that length of time that I have finished. I will, no doubt, forget probably half of it. Still, at the express request of mom, I will make a bit of an attempt at catchup. A "bit" being the operative word. If I thought I had to include everything, the task would just be too daunting to even begin. Oh well, enough with the excuses. I seem to start all of my posts with excuses, which is probably not a good thing.

I guess I'll start, more or less, where I left off. I did knit for the Ravelympics, for Team Manic Purl (listeners and fans of the Manic Purl Podcast), and I did finish my jumper just inside the 17 days the Winter Olympics games were on. As mentioned in the last post, I had decided to knit the Vis'a Vie jumper, out of some Naturally Woodland Mohair I had lounging around in my stash. A simple stockingnet stitch for the most part, done in the round all in one piece, it wasn't a hard project at all. I finished up the roll collar with only hours to spare before closing ceremony, but finish I did. The yarn is quite lovely and makes all the difference to it visually, but like most mohair, it's quite scratchy, and I can't wear it comfortably without something in between it and my skin.

Pictured below is the front:

and the back:

Finishing that, I was free to turn my attention to the Alpine Lace Shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I really wanted to have it done in time for Winter Roundup, the big western action shoot, to wear with my new Civil War circa ballgown my cousin sent me from the US. I was about halfway done with it when Ravelympics was over, so there was still plenty to do. I finally finished it on May 2nd, a bit less than 5 months after I started it.

Consequently, I did get to wear it with the ballgown at Winter Roundup:

a couple more shots of it:

I made some really good progress on the Alpine Lace when on a boating trip with hubby Chris in March. We spent 3 days and 2 nights out on the Murray River, and the weather was pretty ideal. We went up above Mannum and tied up at a nice spot up that way.

Since I last posted, Chris has picked up a new hobby. It's called geocaching and entails finding hidden "caches" using GPS tracking devices. There is a global website for it online called Geocaching, as well as a linked but separate Australian site. The gist of it is this: Someone goes and hides a container (shapes and sizes vary). This container contains, minimum, a notebook and pen/pencil for people to sign when they find it, and often other little "prizy" sort of gifts. Sometimes they have these geotracking "chips" in them, with the origin of the chip, dates etc engraved in it so it can be tracked on it's journey from cache to cache.

Anyway, to make a long story short, people who enjoy doing this go out and find these caches, and hide those of their own. Everyone's participation, as well as the location of the caches is tracked via these online websites.

Dear Chris is mad about this stuff. He is as hooked on this stuff as I am with my knitting, and we knitters know how crazy our obsession looks to others, and the strange lengths we will go to in persuing our hobby. Well, it appears, geocaching buffs are no different.

So off we went on the boat, and the mooring place was chosen for it's reasonably close proximity to one of thise caches hidden along the side of the river. Chris brought along this little inflatable raft that is more a child's toy than a serious flotation device. His mission was to moor the boat as close to this cache he wanted to find as he could, then take the inflatable boat and row the rest of the way.

So he blows up the raft:

And off he goes:

The pictures do not do justice to how totally rediculous he looked. A big man, over 6feet tall, crammed into this little raft with it's plastic "toy" paddles. He did make it to his destination, or at least, thinks he did. He failed to find the cache. Still, and crucially, he actually made it back to our boat before the raft sank. It was half full of water, and Chris was so wet it looked more like he'd swam the distance.

Okay, enough of all that. Back to fibrey things. In a previous post I mentioned having a spinning friend from Whyalla and her children out on the boat with us. While there, she did some spinning on my Magacraft Little Gem. I told her to just take the unfinished bobbin with her (she has another type of Magacraft at home, but the bobbins interchange) and bring it back when she's next around.

Well, she did me one better than that (or two better...or even three). I recieved in the mail a package from Ewe Give Me the Knits containing one Magacraft bobbin, one bag of merino/silk fibre in the Peppercorns colourway and some lovely homemade soap.

Of course, I must show the closeup of the fibre:

The fact is, I could not in a million years have picked out for myself a colour that suited my taste better, and she did it on the scant knowledge that I was "fond of greens".

The grandest thing was not really the colour of the roving though. In all truth, it was the first colourway that fascinated me at every step. The roving looks quite multicoloured, with evergreen, lighter green, gold and white.

The singles start showing the predominance of green, and the gold and white start becoming accents:

The resulting yarn is greener still, with golden highlights:

After finishing the merino silk, I spun up some alpaca roving a workmate gave me. It's naturally coloured fiber from a local alpaca ranch. She gave me some white and some reddish brown, and I chose to spin the brown first.

I really don't know what it is, but spinning alpaca just doesn't seem to agree with me. Yes, it has short fibres, and that takes a bit of a different approach, but still, given that I know that, and know what to do, and know how to do it, it still doesn't seem to go as naturally for me as wools or silks do. I tend to break the singles more often, or get a slight "thick and thin" result, or both. Like anything, I suppose practice and familiarity would fix the problem. The trouble is, I get so frustrated with it, and there's so much beautiful wool fibre in my stash, I tend to get tempted to just not bother.

This bit however was a gift, and wanting to make use of that gift, I dutifully spun away. I'd be going all guns blazing for awhile. In the zone..on a roll..that sort of thing. Then for no reason I could figure out, I'd start having all sorts of issues with it. Oh well, eventually I did finish, and the results are nice enough.

I plan on making a hat from it, and regifting it to the girl who gave me the fibre. I'm not sure it will be enough though, so I'm thinking of spinning some of the white and using both colours in the hat, but so far haven't found the courage to pull it out and put it on the wheel.

Instead, I pulled out last month's fibre club offering from Southern Cross Fibre Club. It's Shetland, and heaven knows I love spinning Shetland. It practically spins itself. Aside from which, it's more lovely green shades, and greens my current "thang".

I'm spinning the second bobbin up right now, and then I'll work out how (or if) I will ply it.

Speaking of the Southern Cross Fibre Club, I recieved the July installment a few days ago. It's a BFL top in the Reflection colourway, a series of browns, blues and purples. Rather dark, but very interesting. I'm not usually all that fond of purple, but I find this mixture has it's appeal.

Now, back to the knitting. First, I mentioned in the last post finishing the Welt and Rib Pullover from Interweave Knits (Fall 09). I finally got a picture of me wearing it (mom requires a picture of me in these posts or I get fussed at in the comments section).

I also finished a pair of socks for my nieces husband David who is currently serving in the US military. Made with Heirloom 5ply easy care wool and a simple (improvised) toe up rib pattern I think they fit the bill for military requirements. I'm only hoping the fit was right. I had to go by his shoe size, which can be an iffy proposition.

When I was out shopping for the yarn for these socks, I happened upon some Aracaunia. I had no idea anyone in Adelaide sold it, but sure enough, they had it at The Yarn Barn. Having never tried it, I snapped up a skein.

Yes, the green theme continues.

I also finished a pair of socks, the Twist Socks. I simply must show one picture of the work in progress, because the sock is lying on a neat quilt my mother in law gave me (she didn't make it, but it is homemade).

The socks themselves were made with Grignasco Strong Print 4ply and my own improvised (and quite easy) pattern. I started with the general template for a toe up sock with a variation of the Widdershin heel (ie. increases for the gusset, a short row heel turn, and then decreases on the gusset till your return to the proper number of stitches). I added a twisted rib stitch pattern into the mix, and I rather like the way they turned out.

Having finished the Alpine Lace Scarf, I simply couldn't help starting yet another project from the Victorian Lace Today book. (I still plan to knit everything in that book before I die). So on the needles right now is the Myrtle Leaf Shawl. I'm using the Lara Down's 100% Cashmere Lace Weight, and what a dream that stuff is to work with. It's like clouds slipping through my fingers.

That's the center section I'm working on now. This pattern has a border that is knitted onto the center section after it is completed. That will be a new experience for me, and I can't say that knitting on all those stitches seems particularly appealing, but I'm up for it nonetheless.

For the last WIP (that's right...gasp...only 2 at the moment) I'm using the magical green wool/silk mentioned earlier in the post and the New New Shale Cowl pattern I found on Ravelry. When I spun the yarn, my original intention was socks. After seeing the resulting yarn though, I decided not to hide them away on my feet and decided on something around the face.

That just about wraps it up. In the next few weeks, I'll be getting things organized for our trip to Tennessee in early September. That's one of the reasons I'm keeping my WIP's to a minimum. I probably won't be done with the Myrtle Leaf Shawl, so that will go along. I plan on ordering some yarn from Knit Picks and having it shipped to Mom's, plus visit a few yarn and fibre shops while there, so I don't really want to take alot with me. I'll pack my needles and other necessary tools of course, but otherwise I'm keeping it to a minimum.

You can knit now on domestic flights in Australia, but I'm still not entirely sure of the rules on overseas flights, so I'll have to check that out as best I can before deciding if I take a project along or not. Socks would be ideal of course, but I'm thinking my larger (5mm or above) plastic Denise needles might be a little less threatening looking than my small sharp 2.5mm Knit Pick Harmony's. So if I can knit, I'll probably go for a children's jumper.

I will try and get another post in before we go, or ideally, two. Still, given my track record, I'm not making any promises.