I know it’s been all spinning all the time around here, but this post is shockingly brought to you by KNITTING! I won a Cloudlover yarn club as part of the Socks with Sarah knitalong. For all those who have never heard of it, the point of this knitalong is to integrate the knitting of socks more into your life, not necessarily in a big way, but as a reminder that a little bit of knitting here and there really adds up! I used to carry a pair of socks around in my purse, and I should start doing so again. My last purse was too small for it, but my new one has just enough extra space for a sock in progress :) It really takes the edge off of having to wait. (Which I have to do a lot of in my job.)
They are all just lovely. The names of the colorways from left to right are Night Blooms, Tiger Lily, and Apple Picking, and I think that they are all perfect. They’re also all variegated, which I tend to be picky about, but I love them all. The two on the right are superwash merino and nylon, tightly spun and perfect for socks. The one on the left is a loosely spun 50/50 merino/silk. Since socks in that yarn would have holes in a heartbeat, I needed something else. A shawl, I thought, would be the perfect project for such a precious yarn. I wanted to be strong, and only work on Christmas presents, but I hadn’t been knitting much lately at all. Also, I got the yarn about two weeks ago, and I haven’t been able to put it away. It’s been sitting on my bedside table where I can pet it occasionally. It’s so soft, just feeling the silkiness is wonderfully soothing.
So I started a shawl. I was worried about the variegation bothering me, but so far it looks really pretty. I’m making the Light and Up shawl, as I was cruising through the Ravelry projects and it seems to look pretty with variegated yarn. The lace pattern is simple and pretty mindless, so I think it should work with this yarn. It’s also an elongated triangle instead of a right triangle, and I think that will help it stay around my neck. (I normally wear shawls with the point in the front and the ends wrapped around my neck, more like a scarf or a kerchief.) It also has tassels, and I’ve always wanted to make a shawl with tassels.
Here’s the yarn all caked up:
And here’s the beginning of the shawl. I think it’s lovely, despite my prejudice against variegated yarns. I think it looks like a flower.
I think I’d just had it with the deadlines and the pressure and all of that. There’s enough of that in the rest of my life without it also carrying over into my knitting. Now I’m knitting something for no other purpose than to relax, and it is good. Turns out I just needed to up the fiber dosage from merino to merino and silk. What can I say? I just like to be fancy.
Well, just one muggle so far, but I’ll get to that later. I also don’t promise that I won’t carry this yarn around with me and make random strangers look at it. (only my friends will get to touch it.) What’s that? You don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s because I started in the middle of my story just to be confusing. Back to the beginning.
In my last post, I had left you with a little peek at my next spinning project. (The spinning continues apace because it turns out that it is a magical cure for writer’s block. The reason behind that is, (I think) that I am a very prolific writer. The only thing that can keep me from being able to write is anxiety, and spinning melts anxiety. It’s pretty much a huge win, because I love spinning, and I REALLY love not having writer’s block when I need to write a ton of stuff.) Well, I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun with a project. It was brilliant. Despite the textured bits in the fluff, it wanted to be spun really fine, and it was prepared so nicely that I didn’t get any huge lumps. I got a few small lumps because of sari silk and glittery bits, but they were just charming. So charming. In what seemed like no time at all, I had these singles.
Aren’t they lovely? They’ve got just tons of character, with some bits being shiny from the silk, others fuzzy and matte from the merino, and with adorable little bits and bobs of other things in just for kicks. I was completely entranced by the singles, and I knew I was going to be besotted with the yarn. Did I let my singles rest, as you are supposed to? (No, no I did not. I never do and have yet to be struck by lightning, though some of my plying sessions are complicated by my refusal to delay gratification.) I sat down and plied immediately, and before you knew it, I had this yarn.
I might’ve done a little dance for joy when it was finished. It completely deserved it. What started out as only TWO OUNCES of luxury tribbles from Gourmet Stash became 340 yards of lovely laceweight! That’s some of the finest yarn I’ve ever spun, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a tiny scarfy/kerchief thing. I think I have enough to make a tiny Ishbel, and I think that’s going to be its fate. The lace is simple enough that A) I can actually do it, and B) the texture and whimsy of the yarn won’t be lost, and won’t completely obscure the pattern. (I think.) Here’s a closeup:
You can really see all the different textures here, because the bits with mulberry silk gleam like jewels, and when they’re plied next to the plain merino there’s an interesting contrast. The majority is shades of green, but I actually love the fuschia with it. It’s enchanting.
Greg came over last night, and I went and grabbed the yarn so I could wave it around at him. “Look at it! Look at it!” I said, and shoved it into his hands to admire. He held it with a slightly perplexed look on his face, and I assumed it was because I was being profoundly odd again. (That happens with some frequency, alas.) I asked him why he was confused, and he said “The coloration in this reminds me of something. Maybe an insect?” I was hoping that it was a butterfly or something, but no. Apparently what it reminded him of was a grasshopper. Now that he said that, I can kindof see it, although we don’t have really bright and colorful grasshoppers up here in Massachusetts like we do down south. I still refuse to refer to it as the grasshopper yarn though.
As a side note about Greg, I always find it endearing that he tries to be respectful and appreciative of my knitting and spinning hobbies, despite the fact that he doesn’t really understand the appeal. (He’s not in general a very anxious person, that might be why.) He listens to me yammer on about things constantly, and sometimes I’m surprised by how much he picks up. I think the reason is that he’s got a passion for improving things, and whenever I make him something I do a lot of little customizations to make them perfect. So the last scarf I made him has silk content for extra warmth, is woolen spun for plushness and to trap more air in the fibers, and knit in a textured pattern so it’s thicker. And he could probably tell you all those things because he would want you to know why his scarf is better than yours. (I really need to blog that scarf..) He’s cute and I like him.
I was going to say “big wheels” but my wheel is seriously tiny. It’s part of why I love it. The thing is super cute and doesn’t take up much space.
This is just a quick post to let you know that spinning continues apace! I finished the soft and yummy polwarth, which was so lovely and perfect that it practically spun itself! While spinning natural-colored fibers can get a little wearing, it was a pleasure from start to finish. It turned into about 350 yards of springy, smooshy goodness, and it pleases my greatly because the yardage on the last two skeins I spun is almost EXACTLY the same. How’s that for consistency?? It’s also just sooooo soft. I can’t seem to stop rubbing it on my face.
It’s also just really, really beautiful. I love the texture of handspun. I love how there are slight variations within the skein, how it isn’t precisely perfect. I know that some people are trying to create the most perfect handspun possible, and I respect that. Pursuing your art in the highest form is always a laudable thing. However, for me personally, I like the slight unevenness that means it was made by human hands and not a machine. I like that the knitted fabric will look just the slightest bit pebbly because there are spots where the yarn gets thicker.
I also love that this yarn matches the last one I spun as exactly as is possible for me right now. Check them out together!
They’re going to be a really awesome hat/mitten set. They already look like they belong together. Right now they’re sitting on my coffee table, and every once in a while I reach over and smoosh them because they are just too pretty. Yay for having yarn pets.
And, because the unmitigated white got a little soul-crushing after a while, my next spinning project is almost as different as it could possibly be.
Oh yes. These little puffs are luxury fiber tribbles from Gourmet Stash, and they are going to be about a million yards of laceweight. They’re just the slightest bit textured, enough that this yarn is going to have tons of visual interest when it’s done. There’s yak, silk, superfine merino, snips of sari silk and just the teeniest hint of sparkle. I’m smitten. I can’t wait for the yarn to come into being, so I can commence petting and snuggling it.
Can I also just mention how awesome spinning and blogging are? Spinning helps me chill out when applications start to feel like too much, and blogging gets my creative writing juices flowing. It’s just a nice little reminder that I’m not actually a completely crap writer, and that things are going to be okay. They’re both worth their weight in gold as far as calmness and confidence are concerned.
But of COURSE you do. That’s why you’re here after all.
Naturally though, me being me, I’ll have to delay the gratification for just a wee bit. (For those of you not so inclined, the pictures will be at the end of the post. You’re welcome.) I’m working my way very slowly towards a hat and mitten set. I do need a little bit of advice though. Does the Beaumont Tam go with these Frejya mittens? My feeling is that the stylized heart motifs on both would contribute to them being a set, particularly if the same yarn was used for both. I’m going for a similar color scheme to the pattern pictures, a creamy white Polwarth with a pink/red Polwarth/silk blend. So let me know what you guys think.
I have finally finished the glorious pink yarn, washed it, fluffed it, and endlessly petted it. It’s beautiful stuff, with plenty of barberpoling, but it’s not too drastic because the colors are tonal and pretty. Three Waters Farm is one of my favorite indie dyers out there. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. SO yummy! This fiber was soft and a delight to play with. It also has contributed greatly to me not being a complete nervous wreck while application season is in full swing. Quite the accomplishment, that. I love how soft and luscious the finished yarn is. I also got pretty good yardage! It’s about 350 yards of a fingering to sport weight yarn. I was going for something slightly lighter, but I’ll just have to fiddle around a bit with the gauge on my projects to be sure it works out.
And now, for the big reveal! I adore this yarn, I think it shows demonstrable progress for me as a spinner. I’m definitely getting better at getting yarn that is close to what I wanted, rather than just whatever yarn the universe has in store for me. That’s quite an exciting development, though I’ve still got a ways to go before I picture a yarn in my mind and then perfectly recreate it. Despite the fact that it’s the teeniest bit heavier than I wanted, it’s nice and even and looks scrumptious. Check it out!
The yarn would like to note that she greatly enjoyed posing for her glamour shots. The camera loves her, don’t you think?
As you may or may not know, I’m currently in the thick of things, applying for PhD programs. It’s dreadful! The actual programs themselves are exciting and fun and challenging, and I know that clinical psychology is exactly what I want to be doing. No issues there!
The problem is that the process itself is dreadfully stressful. It’s quite writing-heavy, and that means that I can endlessly obsess over phrasing and whether or not I sound good enough on paper etc. etc. It’s horrid, because it’s not as though there’s anything I can do about it at this point. I’ve worked hard for several years in order to get myself into the best position possible now, and I think that my efforts have been largely successful. However, the many variables of the situation that are NOT under my control are understandably stressing me out.
So I’ve started scheduling little breaks for myself as sanity checks. When I feel myself getting too wound up about things, I go to the spinning wheel. Even though I’m only spinning in little bites while I listen to music (Fleetwood Mac seems to be exceptionally helpful in calming my mind. Side note: my dad was on one of their albums playing saxophone as part of the USC marching band. Is that cool or what??) anyway, even though I’m only spinning in little bits, for 5-10 minutes at a time, this is SERIOUSLY adding up. I’m currently spinning yarn for a pair of mittens and a cute beret, (patterns already picked out, I just need the handspun!) in a pink Polwarth/silk from Three Waters Farm and some plain Polwarth from PortFiber (which is even semi-local, up in Maine!) You’ve all heard me rave about Three Waters Farm before. Her color sensibilities are just lovely, and I especially like her tonal colorways, which spin up without too much contrast but with subtle shading throughout. I have finished the roving from there, which is shades of pink with a few pops of dark red and white for a little more variation. I love the yarn, but you don’t get to see it yet because it’s still drying. PortFiber is equally scrumptious, though different. The dyed wool is beautiful, but the shop has a lot of “naked” (or undyed, if you’re being less silly) fibers in a variety of gorgeous natural colors. I ordered some Polwarth from her because I decided that my pink TWF roving needed to be part of a hat/mitten set. Polwarth is naturally a bright, snowy white and soft as all get out, but this stuff is just pure spinning heaven. It feels like a puffy little cloud. The prep is so perfect that it actually seems to spin itself. It drafts smoothly and beautifully and somehow as it flows through my hands I feel my worries melt away. I think it’s the lovely rhythm of the spinning, combined with working with such lovely stuff that helps my stress just disappear. I tend to oscillate between knitting and spinning, but when the going really gets tough, and I need a hobby that will calm a troubled mind and help me relax? It’s spinning all the way.
This is also a PSA, letting everyone know that updates will be spotty at best until I break the back of this application beast. That may happen this weekend, I’m going to just hunker down and see what I can accomplish.
I’ll leave you with a few progress shots of the pink TWF Polwarth/silk, (which I lazily and shamelessly jacked from my Instagram) and a question. Is it completely weird that I’m excited about the subtle sheen in this from the silk? I keep thinking about how there will be a slight textural contrast and how the difference between the completely matte white Polwarth and the slightly shiny pink Polwarth/silk will make PERFECT mittens. I also think that the little pops of red will make this set match my red coat, and I am convinced that the whole outfit with a beret nestled fetchingly over my blonde curls and handknit mittens peeking out from the sleeves will make me look absolutely SMASHING. Of course, that’s my fantasy life, and the likelihood that these mittens and hat will even be done while it’s still coat weather is extremely small. However, a girl can dream of chicness.
Guys, I absolutely adored my Rhinebeck sweater. Loved it to bits, and I thought it looked great on me. However, it did have one teeeeensy problem. It was too short.
Not in the crop top kind of way (thankfully) but just slightly shy of the length that makes me comfortable. I like my sweaters really long and cozy, so I decided that I needed to go back and add some length. The sweater was beautiful and it deserved it! So I went back and knit ribbing until it felt like my brain was melting and coming out of my ears, but finally, look!
I’m in love. Now if it would just finish drying! I’m sure the rain and dampness isn’t helping there..
It was awesome and I got treats! I saw a few people I knew, but not as many as I would’ve liked. I’ll leave you with all the photos I took that day, and a promise to get proper sweater photos eventually :P
And one picture of the treats I got. Both are yummy Cormo, a fiber I haven’t tried yet.
Guys, I think I’m going!
I’m probably going on Sunday though, because I’ve got this awesome sweater to wear, and Saturday is going to be super warm. I want to wear my thick, lovely wool sweater or I’ll just be devastated, because it is so amazingly rad. I’ve totally picked out my outfit, and a 70 degree day just isn’t going to cut it.
If I get my act together before going, I’m going to try to do a photo series called “Sweater Selfies.” The deal is, I bring a tiny dry erase board and a marker, you find me, you write the name of your blog or Instagram or whatever on the board, and we take a selfie together to show off our knitwear. I may resort to making insane faces. It could be a good time. I then Instagram the whole thing with the hashtag #RhinebeckSweaterSelfies. Ya dig? Who thinks this idea is crazy? I think that it’ll be fun.
For those of you who are going to try to find me on Sunday, I look like this:
At least, I do on a good hair day. See y’all soon!!!
Blog friends, I have experienced something new and totally awesome. Something that has never happened to me before. Something so major, that the karmic backlash is going to be completely epic, and I don’t even CARE. (Actually, I like to think that I’m a super nice person who tries to send out nothing but good vibes and happiness into the world, and when something like this happens, it’s like a nice pat on the back from the universe for not being a jerk, because lots of people are TOTALLY JERKS. But I digress.) Guys, I have experienced a real, no-foolin’, honest-to-god yarn MIRACLE.
“How?” you ask. “How could an event involving normal yarn be something that could be considered to be a miracle? Please enlighten me Lolly, because I am confused.”
First of all, you’re working with an incorrect assumption. It was not in the least normal yarn. It was my one of a kind, unique in the universe handspun, spun from fiber that was also one of a kind, and totally non-repeatable. This wool was totally gorgeous and awesome and special and there was absolutely no way to get more. It’s like something that a hipster dreamed up when they were thinking of how to be cooler than their friends (I may not be done making fun of hipsters.) But actually I should go back even further and tell you about the sweater. I already told you about my plans for this sweater in a past blog post, but having all the materials there and ready to go was too much. I had a pretty light grey yarn as the setting for the blue handspun, (Ella Rae Classic Heathers if you care) and I was completely wild to see how they looked together. I snapped and started the sweater.
Lovely gradient, isn’t it? I also had two matching mini skeins with the exact same gradient for the cuffs on the sleeves, but more on them later. Before you could even blink, I had most of a yoke! Knitting with this stuff is incredibly addictive, because the colors layer on top of each other in the most completely charming ways.
I knit away happily, slapping in a bit of simple colorwork when I deemed it the right time, generally following the guidelines that I had made up beforehand, but for the most part making it up as I went. (That’s why it’s a top down sweater, so I could wing it like that. I’m not completely insane. I’ve been trying it on as I progress.) I separated for the sleeves, and in a brief moment of clarity (I do occasionally have them) I realized that if I did the sleeves first, I could use all the remaining yarn on the body. I like my sweaters to be nice and long, so had I started with the body I would be worried about running out of yarn on the sleeves if I made the body as long as I wanted. This way I could finish the sleeves and then knit until there was no more yarn. (Turns out, in mockery of my magnificent plan, I’m going to have at least a full ball of yarn extra. Take heed my friends. If you plan awesomely, the Knitting Goddess will give you tons of extra yarn as a joke at your expense. If you don’t plan well enough, she will smack you down with the pain of being impaled on thousands of tiny sock needles, and you will run out of discontinued yarn with three completely essential rows to go. Tangling with her is a no-win scenario.)
Anyway, I got distracted again! What is the deal with me? Writing ADD ahoy! Back to the story. I did one of the sleeves, using the same colorwork motif as on the yoke, just, you know, smaller. Because it was a sleeve. I started the grey portion of the other sleeve, and then, because I am smart and like to plan ahead (My mother just fell out of her chair laughing. A smart cookie I may be, but a planner I am most decidedly NOT.) I wound the ball of handspun for the other lovely matching cuff. (I was really proud of this idea, a matching handspun yoke and cuffs. Beware, pride goeth before a fall. If you think you’re super smart, the universe is about to get a big old laugh at your expense.) I tucked the ball into my makeshift project bag for the sweater, which is actually the pouch that one of my sheet sets came in. I am using that because none of my zipper bags is big enough for the sweater and all its associated accoutrements. The thing is some kind of woolly amoeba. That is actually important, because that bag buttons shut rather than zips, and is a less secure storage space for wee balls of yarn with wandering tendencies.
So there I was, one night after work, knitting away on the second sleeve, and lo and behold, it’s time to do the colorwork bit that starts the second handspun cuff! I’m excited, just so ready to get that sucker going, and I reach into the bag for my tiny ball of handspun (seriously tiny, like 40 yards), and it was GONE! (Dun dun dun…) At first, I tell myself not to panic. It probably fell out while I was working on it that evening, and I need to just relax and look around my apartment. No luck. That’s okay, I remember that the night before when I was working on it while watching TV at Greg’s house (he has a TV and I don’t, so I go over and mooch off his. Also he cooks me dinner all the time and it’s the bomb. Lest ye think I’m a total freeloader, I do way more cleaning of his house than I do of mine, because he both hates cleaning and adores having a clean house. Barter system for the win!) anyway, when I was watching TV over there, I had to dump out the project bag to get something, and it likely rolled away without me noticing. No biggie, I’ll just go over there tomorrow and retrieve it. Yeah. For now, I need to just relax and get some sleep. (you can take a guess at how well I slept, not knowing where that tiny ball of yarn was.) Some of you may be asking “But Lolly, why didn’t you just text Greg and ask him if the yarn was there?” The answer is pretty simple. I try to play it cool and act like I’m not totally obsessed with this knitting thing. It’s totally an important part of my life, but calling Greg at a time perilously close to the middle of the night and waking him up so he could search his apartment for a ball of yarn seemed a bit like overkill (and I feel like that was a solid decision for the health of our relationship.) It turned out it wasn’t there either. At that point I was feeling a little panicked. Even though I know the lady who dyes this fiber, it was a one of a kind colorway, and even if it was possibly repeatable, I wasn’t sure exactly how much fiber I had used for the rad little cuff piece. A replacement would still not be the same, and I would forever be mocked by a non-matching cuff, and it would be TERRIBLE. I decided to retrace my steps, and go everywhere that the little ball of yarn might possibly be. I was searching around the cafeteria looking like a complete crazy person, when this little old Chinese lady came over to me. She asked me what I was looking for, but the language barrier was such that we had a little trouble communicating. (Some people would be upset by this, but her English was still better than my (nonexistent) Chinese, so I figure I’m not allowed to be bummed out until I get way more educated.) Our conversation went something like this.
“What are you looking for?”
“A ball of yarn”
“Like string? A ball of string?”
“A bottle of WHAT?”
“No, a ball, not a bottle.” At this point I think I tried to shape it with my hands. That poor lady must have thought I was some kind of lunatic. But then I bethought myself of the great and mighty powers of the google, and I pulled up a picture of a ball of yarn to show her, figuring that it would be more effective than my attempts to explain why I was looking under all the tables. I showed her a picture of a ball of yarn, and she immediately shouted “OH!” and ran over to the windowsill where my ball of yarn was sitting innocently, for all the world like it hadn’t jumped out of my bag like a TRAITOR. The lady looked at me very sternly, and said “It was on FLOOR.” I felt ready to sink through the same floor with embarrassment, because she was gazing at me with this expression that clearly said “you can’t even keep track of a ball of string, how are you even a person who lives in the world?” However, she patted my shoulder and waved away my thanks, like she goes around fixing disasters in her spare time like it’s no big thing. I clutched my returned treasure, hardly believing that I had actually found the thing. I had truly believed that it was gone forever and made all kinds of crazy contingency plans that turned out to be totally unnecessary. Of course, having found it, I immediately smooshed it on my face and took a selfie (as one does) so all of you could share in my moment of joy.
I promise that it’s not out of any sense of narcissism, because there is some weird grainy business going on with that picture. My face doesn’t normally look (quite) that odd. Of course, I started knitting the yarn into the sweater immediately so it didn’t have another chance to escape, and now…
I’ve got a few more inches to add onto the bottom and some ribbing so it clings fetchingly rather than flaring out weirdly, (I have a thing about sweaters that don’t have ribbing at the bottom, and it is not a good thing. Maybe someday I’ll break out of that box, but for now I think they just look weird.) and then it’ll be done! When it is done, that thing is getting a major blocking, because the sleeves are puckering slightly. I still think that it’s within the realm of something that blocking can fix, so we’ll see!
And that’s my story! (it turned out to be much longer than I thought.) Until next time friends!
So yesterday was my one year anniversary at my current job. Which I totally love.
It was also my two-year blogiversary!!! I love this blog. It encourages me to be creative, and it helps me connect with other creative people. It’s also been a huge boon in my personal life, since I get to bore the muggles less with my constant knitting chatter. I put it here instead! It’s been awesome connecting with all of you, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to me. I love how blogs can be a conversation, and how they can connect you with people who share your funny little niche interests. Blogging has been uniformly awesome, and I hope to keep doing it for a long long time! Thanks for coming here to hang out for the last two years :)