Monday, June 07, 2010


Miraculously I don't seem to have that many active projects (though I suppose Ravelry would disagree...drat that evidence ;) ) Okay - in all fairness, I do not have any socks currently on the needles. In order to remedy that situation, I wound up this handspun and am ready to get to work! No particular pattern in mind, other than something that I hope will really show off the handspun nicely.

I recently received a couple books that might help with the inspiration and/or knitting process since I don't knit socks quite frequently enough to have heel turns memorized. The first is:

Toe-Up Socks for Every Body - this is the sequel to Wendy's original book: Socks from the Toe Up. While the socks in this book are really quite lovely - I especially like the wonderfully textured and patterened ones - none of them are really suitable for this handspun. I will likely use the book more for reference when it comes to knitting the gusset and turning the heel on these socks....but I'll certainly be back browsing this book when I have more subtly varigated yarn on hand for cast on. This book, unlike the first, is definitely more pattern focused rather than technique focused - though there are useful non-sock-specific notes included in each section. The patterns each feature a full page photo of the finished project and are charted appropriately. While there are a number of very feminine sock patterns included, there are also a number of patterns that will suit men just as well as women, in addition to some that are geared more towards children. In addition to the cabled and lace socks, there are also a number of patterns that feature colorwork - two of which I'm thinking of casting on for (the Norgwegian Rose socks and the Fair Isle socks).

The second book I received:
The Sock Knitter's Workshop - is definitely more of a technique book, featuring a number of techniques for different cast ons, cuffs, heels and toes. This book seems to focus on cuff down socks, though it does have a section dedicated to toe-up socks and modified instructions for various toe-up heel turns. In addition to the various techniques, there are tips to guide the knitter in selecting a specific style of heel or toe treatment for sock knitting given the intended wearer's foot peculiarities.

The book is full color and includes lots of clear photographs illustrating technique and showing the knitting in progress. The book finishes with a number of patterns varying in difficulty from beginner to advanced (all cuff down) - each pattern mentions which techniques it employs (in addition to providing a convenient page number reference). Although I have a marked preference for knitting my socks toe-up, this book looks like it will be a valuable sock knitting reference.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Perfect Timing

Or maybe not...seeing as it's finished, just in time to be set aside for hot weather knitting.

I recently put the finishing touches on my last sweater for the season. It involved button try-outs...and these are the winners.

Here they are all sewn on. Curious to see what I knit? Head over here and see.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

new sweater?

Well...not for a while anyway....but that is the plan for all of this loveliness:

it will be a color progression sweater - likely a cardigan, since I seem partial to those, and probably something simple, all the better to showcase this stunning yarn. It's a sweatersworth, spun for me by Kiki as a gift. I am mulling over the potential projects but will likely not get started on this until it starts cooling down again. This is a blend of Turtle Cove and Outlaw colorways from Lisa over at Becoming Art. She dyes beautifully (and I'm addicted, which is one reason I haven't felt terribly compelled to fire up my own dye pots of late)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Fit to be plied.

In more ways than one. I feel like someone has gone and started twisting various strands within my reality - but that is neither here nor there other than it rather delayed my update!

When I left you last, I left you with some rather enticing photographs of my many yards of singles wound onto a book. I should warn you that andean plying this quantity of yarn is not for the faint of heart - it also requires a LOT of patience and care - especially since the singles are still energized. It may be easier to spin from the center and outside of a center pull ball rather than attempt to ply from a bracelet....with all that said, I apparently was not thinking of the potential fiasco that could have been in the making and proceeded anyway.

Here I've carefully transferred the singles to my wrist - this is done by carefully sliding the singles over my hand while ever so carefully working the spatula free of the singles in addition to keeping track of the two free ends. Once the yarn is wrapped, I tied both ends of the yarn to my leader and away we went. It was a bit touch and go a few times, and certainly this was probably not as fast or smooth a ply-job as it would have been had I been plying off a pair of bobbins. There were some times when I thought for sure I would have to break the yarn - there were other times when the singles threatened to snarl into an unruly mess....

It seems my slow and steady approach was to be awarded though:

here is the yarn, freshly washed, whacked and dried. Some areas were not quite as evenly plied - but thus is the nature of handspun.

here is one side, once wound into a skein....

and here it is from the other side.
If you are wondering just how big a skein this is, you can see my fingers peeking out from underneath here.

It is 8 ounces of lovely yarn (~635 yards) - a blend of Targhee and superwash merino wools plus bamboo and nylon fibers. I actually blended two different colorways from Hello Yarn to make this finished skein - Grim (superwash merino, bamboo and nylon) and Garland (targhee). The yarn is semi-fractally spun. First I split each roving half lengthwise. Then I took one half of each and split those lengthwise into eighths. When spinning the singles, I spun the large 2 oz sections first - one after the other, then I finished off the fiber by alternating the smaller pieces from each colorway.

Monday, May 24, 2010

taking a break

...from knitting...

...and based on the date of last publication, from blogging as well :P
In any case, I decided I needed to make some headway on the rather large pile of personal spinning I grabbed a couple of bags from HelloYarn and split the fibers up for spinning, aiming for a thinnish single with plans to turn it into a 2-ply. After spinning, the jumbo bobbin was nearly full...and the singles, I thought, were rather lovely.

Normally when I make 2 plies, I wind everything into an andean plying bracelet and ply away until everything is done - I rarely ever split my singles onto two separate bobbins for plying, mostly because 1) I'm lazy and don't plan ahead and 2) I like making sure all of my singles are "consumed" and I honestly don't think I could balance my yardage out on separate bobbins. What I hadn't been thinking of, however, is the fact that I have never gone to the trouble to andean ply quite this much yarn before.

I at least had the foresight to wind onto something other than my hand - thanks to this post from Rosemary Knits that suggested the use of a book for winding on. As I was winding away in preparation, the foolishness of this idea began to sink in.

Behold: over 1200 yards of energized singles wound onto a book, ready to be transferred for plying. The sheer winding on process was enough to trigger some slight muscle soreness in my arms from holding the book out and the winding-on motion.

viewed from another angle, you can see the spatula I stuck into the book to take the place of my finger (had I been winding onto my hand). Clearly, if I had wound all this onto my hand, I would likely no longer have circulation in the hand, much less the finger....

stay tuned to see how it all turned out :)

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lucky me!

I've been meaning to get back to my wheel - it seems I always get distracted - so much to do in my spare time and spinning seems to get bumped easily. I had been contemplating some fiber from my HelloYarn fiber club shipment for a pair of socks for my husband but I'm not terribly good at spinning particularly fine - especially given that socks really should be knit from multi-ply yarn and not singles. It was a bit of a conundrum.

Kiki took pity on me and we arranged for a "spin" trade :) She'd spin my fiber for me, and I'd spin up some of her fiber for her! Her daughter wanted a thick squooshy chunky yarn - that I can do! So I spun this:

Becoming Art Love Love on superwash merino - 4 oz of navajo plied chunky goodness. While Kiki spun up my HelloYarn Loch into some stunning navajo plied fat fingering weight yarn!

I'm pondering sock patterns now, but I suspect the socks will be fairly simple in pattern to fully show off the gorgeousness of this handspun. Do you have any pattern suggestions??

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Two Years

in the making....f new finished object is off the needles :) I can't believe it took quite so long. What is it you ask? come over here and find out!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Final bits

I adore this agave - I wish I knew what kind it was, as our large agave in the back yard is sprouting a huge stalk, which generally means it will be dying off soon. I adore this one for its contrasting edge on the foliage - it reminds me of a deckled tear on heavy paper.

I have no idea what these are, but they are tiny, and they make me happy.

These are a non-native cactus species - but the blooms remind me of sea anemones.

This is another look at a different type of agave -I adore the frosty leaves with spine impressions. That does it for the current round of macro photos...tho I have to admit to picking up a Lightscoop recently...and I've been chasing the cats around ever know, to test it out! Photos of actual knitting, coming soon ;)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Macro-Mania continues...

I'm not sure what kind of plant this is with these neat white flowers - I didn't even realize the main stalk was a highway for aphids or some other mite until I was editing the photos!

These are a pair of Julia butterflies perched happily on some sort of sunflower.

Blanket flower - I love how the petals have a flame-like gradation

And lastly some pink owl clover puffballs.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ode To Spring

continues over the next couple posts :) I hope you're not tired of the flowers yet!

Penstemon - I've always loved these flowers for their orchid-like shapes. This group looks like it's somehow singing :)

Globe mallow come in a variety of colors - though I haven't seen this golden hue in the wild before.

Nor have I ever seen golden hued lilies. The butterflies really liked these - but apparently their proboscis aren't long enough, since every time I caught a butterfly on one of these lovely flowers, it was busy trying to crawl deep inside, presumably to reach the nectar.

Also one of my favorites - Lupine

Monday, April 26, 2010


is here, and that means wildflowers! Here are some favorite shots I captured while playing with the macro lens. First up, a bloom from a hedgehog cactus - spring is short here in the desert southwest, and this photo actually reminds me of the blazing heat of summer that is on the way.

This is a fairy duster - in some ways it reminds me of the crazy crown of feathers on some birds :)

Claret cup Cactuses are also in bloom.

Pink Globe Mallow - with a bee :) I'm happy to see the bees out and about doing their thing. I worry over the bees what with not yet understood phenomena of Colony Collapse Disorder.

Friday, April 23, 2010


I chase butterflies...
what of it? :)
I recently had an opportunity to trot out my relatively new macro lens - I had a good time ogling flowers and chasing butterflies...hope you don't mind as the next week or so shall be an ode to spring via photos :)
This lovely is called a Malachite - I don't recall ever seeing a green hued butterfly before. There were also some really stunning lunar moths, but they were not sleeping in convenient places for photographs (apparently moths are indeed nocturnal and once they find a perch for the day, that's where they stay!)

The orange one in this photo is a Julia, the blue/black one is a Swallowtail, but I forget the specific variety.

Hope you all had a good Earth Day!

Friday, April 16, 2010


Not only are the wildflowers making an appearance, it seems the cactus blooms are well on their way also. These are Strawberry (or Engelmann's) Hedgehog cactus - they are are quite common in the desert area that I live, and are amongst the first cactus to begin blooming in the spring.

I love them for their bright splashes of color - I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the desert blooms come to life over the next month or so!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mother Nature knows Best

fiddleneck & lupine

or she sure seems to have a good sense of color! The wildflowers are out (and will probably be providing lots of blog fodder for the next month or so....) For some reason (in the desert anyhow), the hillsides seem to get covered with a combination of blue/purple and yellow flowers. These are generally complementary in hue, and as a result I think they photograph wonderfully together.

poppies, lupine and fiddlenecks cover a local hillside

lone poppy over a field of desert bluebells

The flowers that I'm happiest to see out are the poppies....well, the poppies and the lupine - together they just make me smile. Happy Spring, everyone :D