Box Ticking

I’m definitely someone who is driven by ticking items off of a list. Nothing motivates me more than seeing progress unfold. This means that it I make a list and I keep said list on-hand, I’m generally guaranteed to get things done. The more way points I have to check off, the better I function. First you do this, check. Then you do this, check. And finally you do this, check. It is music to my ears.

It should come as no surprise then that when you add evenly spaced colorwork to a sweater project that it will translate to mild obsession for me. First I will work the neck short rows, check. Then I will work the first yellow colorwork section, check. Next I will complete the first blue colorwork section, check. And so on and so forth. This has turned out to be my Tecumseh handspun sweater knit and I am just all in on it.

This is where I was one week ago…

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And this is where I am today…

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The next complete round will send me into the final repeat of the blue colorwork on the body of this sweater. If I’m estimating correctly that’ll put me somewhere between 2-4″ from the bottom ribbing. Not too shabby for a week of knitting!

Also on the good news front…

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My Stylish Hermit project bag still has plenty of yarn in it for the rest of the sweater, I think. My gauge has been pretty consistent throughout this knit and I’m not yet halfway through my main color skeins, so I am hopeful that my yardage will hold up and it’s all going to work out just fine. I don’t know why, but with handspun projects it’s around this point that I start to freak out a little about running out of yarn. I’m relieved that not only is the main color looking promising, but the contrast colors are right where I expected them to be. I’ve been knitting with slightly more generous than I think I need floats on the back of the colorwork because I decided I’d rather risk have slightly larger gauge on those stitches or too much yarn on the wrong side than have the colorwork choking the fabric at all. So far, not only do I have enough yarn, but it’s looking pretty good. I intend to give it a good solid blocking when it’s all done and I feel fairly confident that it’ll turn out pretty darn close to exactly how I want it.

I had been a little unsure about how I’d use the contrast colors because the yellow was a very high contrast to the grey and the blue, not so much. At this point, I’m really not concerned any more…img_4450

There’s some glare on this image, but suffice to say, I just really adore this whole combination. It’s just like I dreamed it would be.

I’d love to keep writing about it here, but honestly, let’s be real, I have an obsession to get back to… I mean a sweater to get back to knitting. I did, after all, just finish the last yellow colorwork section on the body, check. So I know I now need to get on finishing up the last blue colorwork section on the body. And then the last few inches of the main color. And finally, the ribbing. So many boxes to tick, I’d better get to it!

 

Ready, Set, Knit!

Oh, this feels like it’s been a long time coming, this latest handspun sweater project. The idea started somewhere in August when the Three Waters Farm Handspun Sweater-along began and I hemmed and hawed a bit getting started on it because it felt, well, honestly, it felt  d a u n t i n g.

I spun one skein early to get a feel for the right weight…

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And then I did a little light swatching…

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To make sure I was on a good track. And then I waited for Spinzilla.

Spinzilla, I knew, would be a good combination of motivation and time to push through a good portion of this spin.

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And it really did do the trick. I managed to spin through 20 of the 44oz I was planning to spin for this project (hopefully way more than I need) during the week of Spinzilla. Adding in the original test skein, that put me over the halfway mark. As you might guess, that was a mental hurdle that I was happy to clear!

Rather than take a break from the tonal grey, I spun on through the remaining 8oz of grey and then alternated — blue, yellow, blue for the finish. Singles spun first in one long run, gathering full bobbins in a basket and then one nice long final plying extravaganza. And then straight into the bath for a wash and set!

And today, today everything is dry. All my sweater yarn is ready to go. I just have to wind it!

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Although I kind of just want to stare at it for a while because I just love the color combination.

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I have to admit that I still have worries. I stare at the beautiful pile of yarn and all I can think is… “OMG, what if I don’t have enough after all that?!” and “Are those colors really going to look OK together?!” You know, just a little mild panic.

Thankfully, now that I’m done taking pictures like this…

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In order to record this sweater spinning feat for posterity, I can just get it wound and get knitting. I will know the answers to my questions soon enough!

 

 

Not That I’m Getting Ahead Of Myself…

Yesterday, Mr. Knitting Sarah and I had made plans to go out bird-watching with a friend. As we always do, when making the plans we both checked the weather and found it was predicted to cold — in the mid-30s — and cloudy. Chilly, but not bad when you are armed with hot coffee in the car.

We awoke early Sunday to make said coffee and I went to put a little bird food in the feeders for the day before we left and I could swear it felt like maybe it was raining. But it couldn’t be. I had checked the weather. I chalked it up to me being crazy and imagining things, you know, as one does with rain so often — lol! When we’d finally packed up and headed out, we didn’t get more than a couple blocks from the house when it started to rain in earnest. Rain turned to sleet which turned to snow that didn’t stick to the ground which turned to snow that did stick to the ground…

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We got less than an inch total, but it coated everything in a beautiful white glow this morning…

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Set off by the truest of blue skies that you get when you have weather like this. The bird watching expedition may have been pretty quiet thanks to this unexpected (at least for us!) weather, but I think it was worth it for the beautiful outcome. And what does snow bring out in the knitter and spinner in all of us, but knitting and spinning, of course!

I’ve been almost singular in my pursuit of the end of my Tecumseh sweater spin. I started with 44oz to spin well beyond plenty yardage for this oversized sweater and I’ve got just about 7oz left of singles to spin and then ply. In the grand scheme of things, I’m so close and oh can I feel it! To keep myself motivated, I’m now spinning both of the contrast colors — one on my Schacht Reeves & one of my Jensen Tina 2.

Sunshiney Day on my Schacht Reeves…

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And Iron Blue on my Jensen Tina 2…

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The singles for the remaining Grey I have for the main color are finished and waiting to be plied…

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This has become my plying basket as I intend to finish all the singles that remain and then ply and finish everything all in one go. All these fibers are spun from Three Waters Farm colorways on the 80/20 Merino + Tussah Silk base. It is safe to say that I am beyond pleased with myself on the progress of this project!

It wouldn’t be me, however, if this was all I had in the works. I’ve also been slowly but surely plugging away at my AndreSue Sock Blank socks…

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I’ve got about an inch left to go before I hit the toe decreases on sock #1 here.

There you have it, my nearly single minded pursuit of all things handspun sweater. And if you didn’t think I was crazy enough for my handspun sweater obsession, I want you to envision Andrea Mowry’s Nurtured, in this….

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I may have the fiber sitting here ready to go for it… Not that I’m getting ahead of myself or anything.

Labor of Love

It all started here.

Rambouillet Wool Roving - Hand Painted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Birds in the Holly
                                                  Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm.

A braid of ramboulliet fiber landed on my doorstep in late December, my January installment of the Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm. I had no idea exactly what to do with it, but I ordered an extra braid and then two of the coordinating braids as well. I just had a feeling about it. A couple months passed and somewhere in there I gifted the coordinating braids — a deliciously deep tonal green — to a friend who just got a wheel because I knew she’d love them. I stared at my 8oz of “Birds in the Holly” and wondered what I should do with it.

It was in late March or early April when I was corresponding with a friend who had woven an incredible scarf with the colorway, that I admitted that I kind of didn’t know where to start. I loved the colors, but I had no clear vision for it. She essentially said, “You just have to go for it.”

img_2776So I did. I prepped it into about a zillion little 1-3gram nests…

img_2787And I just started spinning.

img_2927It was gorgeous, really, every step of the way and the ramboulliet spun like a dream.

img_2968Within a couple of weeks I’d finished my singles, all 8oz of them.

And then they sat for about a month until I finally got to plying them.

img_3265And you know, like the steps of the process before, I just knew this was special.

img_3297The plying took more than a week (which is a long time for me).

And when I finally wound it into a skein, I realized why…

outside skeinIt was over 1100yards!

With so much yardage — I don’t think I’d ever done something quite on this scale with my spinning, I knew it just had to be a sweater. BUT, I was just a smidge shy on the yardage I wanted, so I asked around in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group to see if anyone in the club would be interested in destashing a braid to me.

img_3723And someone very graciously did!

img_3993I spun up the third 4oz braid during the Tour de Fleece.

And then finally in October, I added it to my 1+1+1 list and found a window to cast-on and it happened.

img_4813My first ever handspun sweater was really & truly happening!

img_4827Maybe it was the thrill of seeing my handspun knit up so beautifully, or just the excitement of making this project happen, but I took this fingering weight sweater and I knit it in just over a month.

img_4885And every stitch, it was just pure love.

img_4919I knit the sleeves 2aat — still using the 1100yard original skein, unsure if it would hold out, but just going for it.

img_5128And you know what? It held out. Despite the fact that I extended the body to hit at my hip and made long sleeves instead of 3/4 length. When I made it to the cuffs, it was the first time I felt truly confident that I finish this project with enough yarn (even though I bought an extra 2braids of Birds in the Holly along the way just in case).

img_5161I used the extra skein for the neckband which I made the full & generous 3.5″ called for in the pattern.

Are you ready to see the final result?

Maybe?

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I suppose I can also add that I made the neckband in garter instead of stockinette stitch so it would lay flat instead of curl.

detail-sleeveAnd for all my bound-off edges I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I’m mildly concerned it’ll stretch too much, but I’d honestly have it too stretchy than not stretchy enough. I love the way the edges turned out.

fullWho am I kidding? I love the way the entire sweater turned out.

backI honestly cannot believe that this started as fiber in my hands. It seems a little impossible.

back-onAnd yet here it is…

front-onWith a proper fit and everything.

It was a labor of love from the first spin of my wheel to the last bound off stitch. And honestly, friends, I have no more words for this one.

Finishing & Beyond

The past week, I’ve been largely single-minded with just one word on my mind, “finish.” I’ve been feeling like I have a lot of little loose ends spread around me so I’ve been making a concerted effort to tie them all up with a pretty bow before Thanksgiving. The idea is that one more week of really putting my nose to the grindstone and the remainder of the year can be dedicated to enjoying time with my family and working on my own pet projects. This plan has involved everything from (finally) clearing out my gardens to figuring out how to make a little extra room in the basement for the workers who’ll be replacing our furnace next week (!!!) to writing up a couple guest posts I’ve promised to finishing up my beautiful handspun sweater. And oh so much more. One more week though, I’ve got this.

On the craft front, I’ve had a couple small projects that I can’t share at the moment as they are destined for guest posts for others, but beyond them my focus has been almost wholly on my handspun sweater.

img_5161And the focus has paid off as last night I started binding-off! I never bothered to count the number of stitches I picked up for the neckband, but I knew I had quite a few as the rows took some time. I got to within a couple inches of finishing altogether, but stopped in order to have a timely bedtime. I’ll wrap it up later today.

I do want to share that just as I splurged on an extra 24″ cord to go with my 16″ cord that I was already employing for work on the sleeves, I once again turned to Dyeabolical‘s Needles & Notions section of the for the neckband of this sweater. I’d previously thought I’d just make do with what I had, working off a smaller cord or try to piece some arrangement of needles and cords together. I was so impressed by the reasonable prices and quick shipping of my 24″ cord, though, that I went ahead and ordered a 60″ cord for the neckband from Dyeabolical. It was one of the best choices I’ve made in a knitting project in a long time. It really just made the whole process smooth and easy.

img_5162And along with my 60″ cord, Rachel slipped in this awesome little ruler! Isn’t it adorable? It’s perfect for checking gauge sporadically throughout projects and tucks into any project bag super easily. It’s such a great idea and was such a fun surprise!

So with my sweater end imminent, you might be wondering what comes next? When I finish the ‘to-do’ list and am left to my own devices? It probably won’t shock you to know I’ve got a few ideas.

I’m seriously considering pulling this beauty out from its long hibernation.

img_2473I think it’s about time this one went from WIP to FO, don’t you?

I’ve also pulled out the yarn for my next weaving project…

img_5163There’s a scarf in the future of these three lovelies.

And I might have pulled up a little fiber as I made a makeshift hiding spot for some Christmas gifts…

img_5164I’m not sure at what point I started counting 3lbs of fiber as “just a little,” but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to start thinking too hard about that.

In any case, 7 or 8 more days of finishing. Oh, I’ve got this. And then, oh and then, what lies beyond is anyone’s guess. Although I’m fairly certain it will involve some fiber, some yarn, and a good deal of writing, too. I can’t wait. Moose however…

img_5165Moose is already exhausted.

I Am Not In Rhinebeck

Every year on the October weekend the boasts the New York Sheep & Wool Festival it feels like the knitting & spinning community turns very black and white: those who are in Rhinebeck and those who are not in Rhinebeck. We all know that all sorts of people travel great distances to attend this festival including all the heavy-hitting knitterati. As I watch the photos pour into my social media stream of happy faces and wool galore, I am always conflicted. I am most definitely Not in Rhinebeck.

There’s part of me that suffers from extreme FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) with this event. The longing I have to be with my like minded brothers & sisters at this Mecca for spinners and knitters is at times overwhelming. The never-ending barrage of photos that show the traditional reveling in particular food items, the glory of the Hudson River Valley in autumn, the camaraderie, and the wool in so many shapes and forms. Oh, the wool. And the Bosworth Spindle booth. And the Hansen Crafts booth. And… and… And here I sit, 1000miles away, missing out.

There is, however, a larger part of me that is painfully shy and even the idea of the crowds wears me out. I’m instantly nervous at the idea of meeting so many people I admire in person. I mean, that’s a whole lot of opportunity for me to be socially awkward, something at which I truly excel. I think about being away from my family & it loses a lot of its appeal. I remember that even if I were there, how most people do Rhinebeck — all those photos I see, that’s not how I would. Because I’m an introvert, because I will never be one to be outgoing enough to snap selfies with celebrities. There’s a fair chance I’d be too shy to introduce myself. I much prefer quiet time to observe and think and soak things up and while I like to think I would step things up to experience the social aspects of Rhinebeck, I don’t know how much I would. My Rhinebeck wouldn’t be like the photos I see (in reality most things aren’t, right?) and I always come around to the conclusion that the instinct to feel that FOMO is really misplaced.

It’s true. As much as those photos of Rhinebeck tug at my heart a little, the truth is after the last couple of months I’ve had, I would much rather be right where I am: tucked in bed this foggy morning next to my snoring Moose knitting away on my beloved first handspun sweater.

img_4822I just separated the main body from the sleeves. It’s love at every stitch here, my friends. Love at every stitch. I won’t be putting it down anytime soon.

So this weekend, fair warning: I Am Not in Rhinebeck.

For photos of fiber finds and long lost friends and apple cider donuts and perfect fall scenes, you may want to search elsewhere on social media. For photos of  low-key shenanigans with my family, knitting on my sweater next to my snoring dog in somewhat unspectacular surroundings, a birthday cake made and decorated by an almost-nine-year-old, and probably some spindle spinning in weird evening lighting, look no further. I’ve got you covered.