Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A real finished sweater!

Guess what? I finished the sweater! Without further ado, I present:

Eris sweater.JPG


Pattern: Eris
Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery's Mountain Mohair, in the "spice" colorway
Needles: size 5 for the body, size 6 for the sleeves, and size 3 for the cablework
Observations: I had this sweater on the needles for 2 whole years, give or take a week or two. I knit it slowly, in pieces. My progress was stalled halfway down the body when I discovered I had one skein of the wrong dyelot. I ripped back and reknit. I probably set it aside for a while before working on the cabled edges on the shirttail hem. The sweater seemed a bit too small, so I set it aside. A while later by several months, I picked it up, hoping there'd be enough yarn for the sleeves, that alternating colorways would hide the irregularities. This proved finicky work, so I set it aside about a year ago - and didn't pick it up until last week, when I knit both sleeves that week.

Overall, I'm happy with how it came out. A wet blocking made the sweater fit better; it had been too small because I initially chose too little ease. I had to improvise underarm gussets to make the sleeves fit all right, and I ran out of yarn for the sleeves, so I did the cuffs in a corresponding color.

I learned a lot working on the cables. They really make the sweater what it is, and I really enjoyed seeing them come together. I finished them over a year ago, though - frankly I'm amazed I finished this sweater at all!

Eris - front cables.JPG
Eris-back neck.JPG

The shirttail hem is an interesting look, and I'm not sure I'd do it again for myself. However, it works well with the cabled corners:

Eris-cable detail.JPG

But most of all, this sweater has restored in me a belief in my ability to make sweaters and have them turn out all right. I'm looking forward to a few of the new items in the Winter Interweave Knits, and I am pretty sure I have yarn in the stash that would work to make them!

Monday, October 29, 2007

After SAFF

Some of you might have noticed that I didn't blog a lot during October, nor did I read blogs/comment a whole lot. I kind of dropped out of things for a while. I'm not really sure why, but I expect it had to do with visiting friends, visiting family, and the need to get a little bit of work done in between all the visits. (We have more visitors coming in the future weeks, but SAFF, spinning, and (yes) a finished sweater make me feel like blogging.

So what did I think of the fiber festival?

When I stepped into the barn with all the vendors, I immediately felt overwhelmed! All the yarn! How would I ever make my choices? Remember where I'd seen something?

SAFF Main Barn.JPG

Would I meet other knitbloggers? I did manage to meet up with Keri, who's blog I've been reading since I started blogging. We had a little adventure driving over to the EarthFare natural supermarket to grab some lunch. After that, though, it was time for my much-awaited spinning class, which I believe I've already mentioned!

Saturday, since my friend couldn't be there, Coffeeboy went with me to the fair. He's such a good sweetie. He encouraged me to try the wheels (which at this point I merely treadled at) and he encouraged me to buy yarn (of which I still need daylight pictures). He looked at sheep and goats with me, but that's not a surprise as he's a big fan of the hooved and horned set. He liked scratching under the chins of the sheep!

Coffeeboy and Sheep.JPG Big mighty creature.JPG

Saturday evening, I went back up to the festival and spun some more. I had a blast. 2 oz. of fiber passed like nothing, and after what seemed like very little practice, I was spinning without overtwisting and getting the yarn far more even than only the day before. I'm going to be brave - or is it foolhardy - and show you two pictures of the "skeinlet" I came home with:

Second skein A.JPG Second skein B.JPG

Plying, not so much there yet. But for a second bit of yarn ever, I was pretty happy with it.

Sunday, predictably, I made a split-second decision to drive to SAFF again (about 20 miles) and try wheels. At first I was nervous, but then it was just interesting to see how the different ones felt. I really wanted to like one that was "prettier" than the modern-looking Lendrum we used in class, but I'm starting to think it will be a Lendrum for me. (This conclusion is aided by the fact that I have a lead on a barely used one that comes with all the main add-ons and then some, plus possibly fiber, for a reasonable-ish price).

Meanwhile, when I was out on Sunday trying out wheels and learning about making yarn, Coffeeboy was at home, making cheese.

Ben's Queso fresco.JPG

This is a queso fresco with garlic, scallions, and cracked black pepper, his second cheese. Last weekend he made a plain queso fresco. He's had the cheesemaking equipment for a while now, but hasn't made any since a mozzarella attempt a few years ago. I think he might be getting into cheese again though, which is just about as great for me as handknit socks are for him!

Friday, October 26, 2007

A bit of meditation

The time this evening is just flying by! It turns out that Angel indeed can't visit this weekend because of her beesting. Sadness! Coffeeboy is out for the night, and I'm home, ruminating on my first day of the Southeaster Animal and Fiber Festival. What am I doing with all my free time?

...reading about spinning wheels on the internet.


Spinning felt like meditation. For at least for a few minutes at a time, and that was quite a few minutes after I might have uttered some under-the-breath cursing about things not working, twisting too much, twisting too little, the wheel turning in the wrong direction, on and on. Little by little, though, things started clicking. I remembered spinning the not-well-prepared fiber at the New Jersey festival last year, and I liked how the wheel kept the tension going, rather than all the stopping and starting of the drop spindle.

Eventually, I forgot that I was sitting on a really hard concrete bench. Somehow, my feet were doing one thing and my hands were doing another, and yarn of some variety found itself on the bobbin. I was spinning (sort of)! I forgot about the concrete bench until I realized a couple of hours had passed and my tired feet reminded me I could barely feel my rear!

Folks, I think I might have turned to the dark side, or whatever you want to call it.

I'll have more to say about the festival in a day or two after it's over; I just wanted to share my excitement about spinning! I guess the big question is: what will come of tonight's internet research? Will the cats have to learn the dos and don'ts of wheels? Can I let the fact that I'm turning the big 3-0 in, oh, about 5 weeks figure in somewhere?

Twas the night before SAFF...

The sweater is done. It's very wet from its soak in the tub, with which I managed to, I think, increase the size a bit - very necessary. I won't be wearing it tomorrow, but maybe Saturday or Sunday, if I'm lucky?

SAFF is tomorrow! My first wheel spinning class is tomorrow!

Unfortunately, though, my good friend Angel might not be able to join me. She was stung by a bee a couple of days ago and had a very major, extremely scary allergic reaction. I've really been looking forward to seeing her but the doc says travel is out. Sadness! She's hoping she feels better enough to come visit. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for her!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No yarn, no sleeve, no sweater

In a fit of determination, this past Sunday I decided to bring out one of my oldest UFOs: Eris! Remember that sweater with the cabled collar that I haven't worked on since, well, forever? Maybe, I thought, if I work really hard, I can get it done for SAFF this weekend.

It had a slight problem: I needed to use two dyelots, alternating by row, to finish the sleeves.

Eris dyelot 1

Now, here's the tricky part. As far as I can remember, I divided the correct dyelot (of which the least was left) into two balls, and wound the incorrect dyelot into a big ball. (My previous posts on this topic didn't reveal whether or not I'd made two balls, but I'm pretty sure I did). This past Sunday, I switched from DPNs to magic loop for the sleeves and knit away, getting ready for the second sleeve last night.

Eris incomplete.JPG

I couldn't find the second small ball of yarn! I looked everywhere: in the "yarn I most likely won't use soon" tub, the "sock yarn" tub, and the "other yarns I'd like to use sometime" tub - nowhere to be seen. I even checked my random baggies of yarn ends and odd leftover balls. Nowhere. I looked again, and again. I tried to think where I would have packed it. Maybe in the sock yarn, the yarn most likely to be looked at frequently? Nope. Before the move, the little balls sat on a bookshelf in the guestroom. Maybe that was a clue to the yarn's whereabouts? But I had no idea where that might translate into in the new house.

It appears that I'm up a creek without a paddle, or rather, up a sweater without the yarn. No suddenly-revived SAFF-sweater for me. I guess this is what I get for having such a long-delayed UFO.

2 hours after first posting this:
... Nevermind! Crisis averted! I found the missing yarn! It was hiding in a drawer, presumably "where I would find it" and also to "keep away from yarn-loving kittens." I think I'll go knit now.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

As promised, a foliage report

This past weekend - as promised - Coffeeboy and I took a hike to check out the foliage at Blue Ridge Parkway elevations (here, about 5,500 feet). Here's what we found (you can visit flickr for bigger pictures, and for more pictures):

The great blaze of autumnal glory isn't quite here yet. Bits of yellow leaves dusting the tops of trees, as if the hillsides were covered in a light coat of autumnal pollen.
View from the Parkway.JPG View from Sam Knob.JPG

(Isn't it interesting how the vegetation on the hill in the left photo there changes as one moves from one side of the ridge to the other?)

Beautiful fall wildflowers attracted even more beautiful butterflies. (Coffeeboy snapped that butterfly closeup; isn't it gorgeous?)

Sam Knob wildflowers.JPG Butterfly closeup.JPG

Shrubs change more quickly than trees, as you might be able to tell from these pictures. This includes the blueberry bushes, which still had a few hardened, only slightly juicy berries left on them. (Believe me, we looked, sampled, and marveled at how many berries remained).

And, oh yes, one hiker saw fit to break out the woolen socks. It was a cold morning, after all, so he thought maybe his feet wanted something a little cozier to wear for this hike. What better than trekking while wearing socks made of Trekking yarn?

Trekking socks.JPG

On the dissertation front: I've finished a really official, penultimate draft of my dissertation proposal! This feels especially great because tomorrow, I'm heading off to somewhere between Boston and Providence to go to a wedding. The proposal has been sent to not just my advisor, but to several professors and a few trusted friends. I'll defend it in approximately a month, after they've had time to critique it, and after the proposal has had lots of time to sit on a shelf in the department, available for public perusal. Yikes. I mean, I know it's a public proposal defense, but thinking about my proposal hanging around in a public place all by itself, makes me very nervous. (How will I feel when I turn the whole thing in, then, I wonder?)

This weekend, we're off to Massachusetts - south of Boston - for a wedding. I'll be on and off the net till we get back, and when I do, I'll have pretty pictures of beads! And socks. Oh yes, more socks.