Sunday, January 31, 2010

My First Handspun!

I initially thought it would take me forever to get through those 4 oz. of beautiful fiber that I blogged about yesterday.  But then the obsessive side of me came out and I had it all spun by the end of the night last night!

Before I got too far in, I decided to search on YouTube for a tutorial on drop spinning.  There were several choices, but the one I found most helpful was from Megan LaCore, from The Art of Megan.  I watched it once all the way through (it's about 10 minutes long) and then once more as I was learning how to do everything.  

And that's all it took to get me rolling.  I was so excited to see the yarn taking shape.  I was even more excited that I could do it as I was sitting watching tv.  (I get a little stir crazy when I have to do things without any distractions in the background. Blame it on my ADD.)

I was just spinning along, not paying attention to how much fiber I had used.  When I went to reach for another piece, I couldn't find any.  I didn't even realize I had gone through the entire amount!

I then unwound the yarn from the spindle onto the back of a chair (following the instructions from another one of Megan's videos) and then soaked it to set the twist.  Then I hung it up to dry overnight.

This morning I was so excited to wake up and see how it turned out.  (Not as excited as a child on Christmas morning, but almost...)  I was a little bit disappointed to see that I had waaayyyy overspun it.  It was crimpy and I knew that I would not be able to use it.

So, I set out to see if I could salvage it.  I went through the entire skein and pulled out the extra twist.  I just went along and spread the twist down the yarn.  Luckily, there were some parts that I had underspun, so it worked itself out.  The yarn was still slightly damp, so that helped out a lot too.  I did have to cut the yarn once, as it had become so twisted upon itself that it had gotten really tangled.  But I just tied it together and continued on my merry way.  

After a couple hours, I had gotten all the kinks out and the yarn looked much better.  I was going to soak it again, but the yarn was laying flat on its own with no crimps, so I'm going to forgo that extra step.  It doesn't have to be perfect!  I'll have plenty more chances to get it right.

Okay, enough chit chat.  You're here to see the yarn, right?  Well, here are a couple photos of the finished product.  I couldn't get the light just right, so the color is slightly off, but it's the best I can do with the daylight I'm working with right now.

I stupidly forgot to measure out about how much yardage I had produced, so I have no idea how much is there.  But I love it!  It reminds me a lot of Noro Iro, with the same twist and bulky weight.  Of course, there are sections where it got too thin and other sections where it's too bulky, but overall I think I did fairly well for a first try.  

I think I'll be making a hat for myself out of it.  I hope there'll be enough...otherwise, some lucky person with a smaller noggin than my own will be gifted with a very special FO.

I'm off to get my Maplewing Shawl in order for the Adventures in Lace KAL that begins tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Adventures in Lace KAL

Thanks to all the kind notes and comments regarding my uninspiredness.  I think it's just a case of the mid-winter ho-hums.  I took an evening off from knitting last night (it was bowling night) and today I feel much better about things.

One thing I am getting excited about is for the Adventures in Lace KAL, organized by my blogfriend, Kate, of Lazy Kate Creates.  It starts in February and I'm excited at the prospects of what pattern I'll choose.  I've been meaning to write about it before now, but I'm a bit blog-illiterate and couldn't figure out how to add the KAL button to my sidebar.  (I still haven't figured it out, but I'm working on it. ;) )

ETA:  Check out my sidebar. I grew some brain cells and figured it out. Well, it was actually a simple Google search.  Who knew?

I'm currently torn between using my Maplewing Shawl (yipes! I did not realize that I cast on for this way back in September.) and choosing a new and exciting project.

On one hand, having the Maplewing be my KAL project, I'll be sure to steadily work on it and maybe-possibly-there's-a-chance-but-it's-a-shot-in-the-dark it might get finished before I turn 40. (um, that's in 9 years for all of you keeping track.)

OR, I could choose something that's not in my pile of UFOs!  Before cold-sheeping it beginning the first of the year, I put in a last order at Webs and got a delicious hank of Madeline Tosh Prairie in the Clematis colorway.  I'm dying to use it and so I think this just might be the perfect situation.

I am in lurve with Haruni by Emily Ross (Rav it) or one of Anne Hanson's amazing designs, such as the Twinings Stole, the Autumn Arbor Stole, or the Birnam Wood Wrap?

Decisions, decisions....which would you choose?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pretty Little Thing....Gifted!

Remember Pretty Little Thing?  Well, I absolutely loved how it turned out and the yarn is so buttery soft I want to knit a duvet cover out of it (not really).  BUT, even though I added in a couple extra repeats so that it would fit around my huge cranium, it was still a bit to snug for my taste.

So, I decided to gift it to my sister for Christmas!  The entire time I was knitting it I was thinking about her anyway and thought it would suit her, so it's only fitting that it actually end up in her possession.

I so carefully packed for my trip to Ohio that I nearly forgot that I had stashed it in a small dark corner of my carry-on.  But, after being brushed off a bit, it rebounded just fine and I gave it to her on my last day there.

Doesn't she look thrilled?  (I would be if I had been gifted a cashmere cowl, but maybe that's just me...)

And a close up...

Today I'm dreading my first day back at work in over three weeks.  On one hand, I feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new year with a new attitude.  But it's going to be a fight to not slip back into old grooves.  Hmmmm, I think I'll knit a little more to take my mind off it.  ;)

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cold Sheep in 2010

I'd be lying if I said that recently I began to realize the immense size of my stash.  I've actually known about the enormity for quite some time, but only in the last month or so did I finally make myself face the fact that I have more yarn than is humanly possible to knit in a lifetime.  Some of you may think I'm exaggerating, but it's absolutely true.

When I read about knitters who say that their stash has gotten out of control when it's overflowing the basket sitting beside their knitting chair, I want to laugh/cry/hang my head in sheepish embarrassment.  Because I only wish that that was the extent of my stash.

Truth is, the once small basket beside my knitting chair has turned into two large overflowing baskets, a three drawer container for my needles/notions, and a bookshelf for my most-perused knitting books.  I also have yarn stuffed into a couple baskets on a shelf in my dining room; yarn hiding in my car; yarn randomly laying around kitchen/bathroom/pantry;  6 large rubbermaid containers in our spare room;  and 5 large rubbermaid containers in our bedroom.  Oh, and I have 3 boxes of yarn in my office at work, because I'm just too darned scared to walk through the door with it in fear of being committed to an insane asylum. could say I have a yarn problem.  I've always enjoyed buying new yarn, but until the last year I felt my stash was manageable.  But over the last year I've really become unhappy with certain aspects of my life and have used yarn and knitting as a crutch.  Work pisses me off?  Buy some yarn.  Someone makes me so angry I want to scream?  Buy some yarn.  You get the idea.  Some people turn to drinking or drugs to cope with things that they just can't handle.  I buy yarn and knit.  To some that may be a harmless hobby.  But I know myself too well to know that I'm only using it to cover up things I haven't wanted to deal with.

So, in 2010 I will not be buying any new yarn*.  Going cold sheep, as the phrase may be.  I have more than enough amazing yarn to last throughout the year.  And I might even be putting some up for sale, so that I can cut my stash down even more.  I even joined the Stash Knit Down group on Ravelry to help me stay the course.

Now, you may have noticed the * above.  That asterisk denotes the fact that there might at some point be new yarn coming into my stash.  I have set up an incentive plan for myself to achieve some of the goals I have set for the new year.  Each day I will get so many points for doing certain tasks I have created for myself.  At the end of the month I will add up the points I have received and that corresponds to a certain incentive level and amount of money.  I have decided that I can spend that money however I want, which includes buying yarn.

So, you see, I might actually be buying some yarn in 2010, but I'm going to have to work hard to do it.  If anyone is interested in my incentive plan, just email me and I'd be happy to share more info.

Okay, so, I have publicly declared my intentions.  That makes it official, right?  Wish me luck...I'm going to need it!

Let's go stash diving...Who's with me?  

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year...and a contest!

Greetings from windy (and cold!) Skagway!

To ring in a new year and a new decade, I thought I would start things off on the right foot by having a little giveaway!

Like me, I'm sure many of you have thought of things that you'd like to accomplish this year, things you'd like to do more of, things you'd like to do less of.  Basically, a new year means a clean slate to many of us and it's a great time to better oneself in whatever way seems fit.

Something I'm going to be concentrating on this year is designing.  I've got about 6 or 7 partially finished designs that I hope to have done within the next couple months.  My goal this year to is be published either in print or online.  I know that I don't have a lot of control as to whether or not a publication chooses my designs, but what I can control is focusing on finishing something.  Anything, really.  I have confidence that my ideas are on the right track.  I just need a little sticktoitiveness to see my design through to a finished product.

Okay, so that's what I'll be working on.  What will your focus be in 2010?

Leave me a comment regarding your #1 new year's resolution and you'll be entered to win a 250 gram hank of Kangaroo Dyer's Merino/Alpaca/Silk yarn in the Caliph's Sunset colorway.  That's 620 yards of yummy goodness!

I LOVE this yarn and had grand dreams of making a shawlette or large cowl out of it, but I seem to have accumulated a lot of yarn in 2009 with very similar color schemes and there's no possibly way I will ever use it all.  So, I thought I would share it with one of you!

If you'd like to enter more than once, just post a link to my contest on your blog and you'll be entered twice!  Just leave a separate comment with a link to the post letting me know that you did so.

ETA:  Thanks to those who let me know I did not post a deadline!  Contest will close January 8th at midnight Alaska Time.  I'll notify the winner on January 9th.

Good luck and here's to a prosperous 2010!

ETA:  JuliaA, you're the lucky winner!  Thanks to everyone for entering!