Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010

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This Tour de Fleece has brought me 1684 yards of yarns, and some as-of-yet unplied singles.  My wheel is tired, my brakeband is still intact, and the afternoon's thunderstorms have prevented me from getting better pictures.

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First up, we have a cashmere/merino blend in Red Grapes from Corgi Hill Farm that was my first project on my Julia's high speed flier.  I got 2 2-ply skeins for a total of 644 yards, plus a 20 yard chain plied skein.  I didn't love the flier - instead of sliding hooks, it has sliding rings on a hollow metal tube and it was a complete pain to get the singles back together when it broke.

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Next was some silk/merino from Ashland Bay in Sea Mist, which I hope is a suitably masculine color. It already has plans as a Christmas present for my FIL (shh!  don't tell!).  It's 11-13 wpi, which is about DK weight and I have 342 yds of 2 ply and 14 yds of chain-ply.
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The final finished yarn is a merino/camel/tussah silk in Leeks that I am absolutely in lurve with.  I've never tried this blend before and it was sooo wonderful to spin.  I got 656 yards of what I think is a light fingering weight, though I haven't gotten the wpi because it's not totally dry yet.  And, it's green! I still have no idea what I'll knit with it, but I'll be petting it until then. 

I also started a bobbin of singles of the faux cashmere.  But, it's not finished, so we'll save more on that for later...

It was a great Tour, and I enjoyed reading everyone else's spinning experiences.  Looking forward to next year...

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Quick Hat

My Interweave Knits fall issue came a few days ago in the mail.  I only made it as far as the article on twisted stitches.  Before I knew it, I had raided the stash, grabbed some size 7s, and cast on Meg Swansen's Proverbial Cap.  I made a few alterations.  As per usual, I had to size it up for my ginormous head.  The pattern calls for worsted weight on 4s, so I did worsted weight on 7s.  I also screwed up by misreading the chart altered one of the cables by doing an extra twisty repeat.  Yeeeah...

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126 yards of Cascade 220 in some sort of green tweed (I know, helpful, right?).  And am I crazy for just now noticing that the '220' in Cascade 220 is because each skein has 220 yards?  I've only had this in my stash for 2+ years.

Any way, the hat only took a couple days to finish, but was a nice little break from Tour de Fleece.  I've still been spinning, but the end is in sight!  I'm plying tonight to try to finish one last skein before the end....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Socks in the Rain

If my neighbors caught a glimpse of me this morning, I'm sure they thought I was crazy.  It's raining buckets here, and the light is awful for photographing knits.  Not to be dissuaded, however, I propped open my storm door and got my yoga workout by balancing on my doorstep, holding my be-socked feet in the air to get the rain in the background.  Hopefully the camera flash was mistaken for lightening and no one came out to see what I was up to. 

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I knocked these socks out in a couple of days.  I bought the yarn at Twist, a great little knitting and spinning store in New Hope, PA.  This is my first time using Claudia Hand Paints (in Fingering, colorway Teal Party, single skein) and I really liked it.  I used size 2s, 54 st foot circumference and they're nice and sproingy.  I knitted these one at a time until just after the heel turn, then put them both on 2 circs and finished them out together to maximize my single skein.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Note on Goals and Rewards

Today is the rest day for Tour de Fleece and I am resting.  Well, plying, but not *technically* spinning.  And I've decided what my reward will be if I complete my TdF goals... A Woolee Winder!  I've not tried one, but read about them and they sound heavenly for plying.  Anyone out there try one?

The other goal I've decided on today is recipe-related.  As many of you know, I've lost 100+ pounds through exercise and changing my eating habits; mostly using guidelines from the South Beach Diet.  Not all of the 50+ recipes that we've tried on the Recipe Countdown have been SBD-friendly and I'll admit that a few pounds have crept back on.  So, before I tip the scales at 250 again, I thought I'd use both positive reinforcement and my new recipe project to get them back off.

Here's the goal: Two weeks of SBD dinners and low or no sugar treats.
Here's the plan:
Pesto Chicken
Parmesan Chicken
Chicken and Avocado salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Park City Cashew Chicken
Courgette Soup with Turkey Bacon and Bleu Cheese
Halibut Caddy Ganty
Summer Squash and Turkey Gratin
Halibut with Sun-dried tomato mayo
Taco Salad
Vinegar cream sauce, either on chicken or shrimp
Chicken salad with Feta and Peanut Lime dressing

As for going out, McDonald's has Bacon ranch salads, Panera has Greek salads, and Chipotle has fantastic burrito bowls.

Reward:  Clothes shopping!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Baby Gifts!

Spoiler alert!  If you 1) have recently had an adorable little baby girl, 2) have recently sent me your address, or 3) your name rhymes with mane, please read no further.

That's right.  Come back in a few days.  It'll be safe then :)


...


(Is she gone?  Ok...)

For the rest of you, I've finished some gift knitting and can't wait for the package to get there before I show the rest of you!
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A set of blanket and sweater. The sweater is none other than EZ's February Baby sweater,  and the blanket is roughly based off of the Circle of Friends blanket.  Honestly, I liked the look of it, but would hardly be worth my salt as a knitter if I couldn't throw together a garter stitch blanket without a pattern!

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Here's a closeup of the sweater itself.

Reasons I love this set:
1.  It matches.  I love matching.
2.  It's tiny.  Babies are tiny.  That matches too.
3.  I've been wanting to knit the February baby sweater for absolutely ages.
4. It ate up a shoebox full of stash.  Not kidding.  236 yards of Rowan wool cotton for the sweater, 840 yards of Rowan Wool cotton and Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino for the blanket.
5.  I totally crocheted.  That little border around the blanket?  Crochet!  See?  Those hooks are apparently not just for dropped stitches.
6.  A new little human gets hand knits just for her.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dyeing; Faux, Real

As a relative newbie, I find myself ogling all sorts of spinning fibers available online yet completely unsure as to my ability to turn it into a knittable yarn.  I'll google it, read forums, and try to make an educated decision without actually doing it.  But, sometimes you gotta just jump in blindly with both feet.
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This is 8 oz of faux cashmere from Paradise Fibers in Spokane.  For less than $2 an ounce, it was a pretty safe jump!

Now, I know even less about dying fiber than I do about spinning it, but I just tossed the whole mess into a pot of vinegar water, soaked for a bit, and started adding some concentrated dye solutions.  Jacquard Acid dyes in Spruce, Chartreuse, and Chestnut, if you're curious.  At first it sucked, then I threw it in again and stirred it around a little more, and was finally happy with it!  I even braided it up myself, once it was dry, and it looks all fancy.

I love it :)  I did fewer happy dances in the living room than I did for the little zipper bag, but I will admit to a few.  And I pet it, occasionally.  I think it might have bumped itself to the top of the queue.  Now if I could only get the current thing plied...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Elegant Pullover

Remember this sweater?
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It was frogged quite some time ago and has finally realized its potential as this:

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This is the first in the round of Project: Wearable Sweater.  I have a few other handknits that I never wear due to fit problems, and it's time for them to get back in the game!

The pattern is Hannah Fettig's Lightweight Pullover.  The yarn is 1034 yards of Knit Picks Elegance, in a color that's been discontinued for some time now.  There are a few weak places in the yarn, but it's hardly surprising given how many times the yarn has been frogged and reknit.  Oh yeah - and it's hot!  It'll be nice in the winter, but I had to tear it off as soon as the photo session was over.  As for the pattern, I have to confess that I did modify the sleeves. I didn't do any decreases, and let the ribbing pull it in slightly.  This is the type of sleeve from my garter yoke pullover, and that's one of my favorite things about that sweater.  I'm sure the fitted sleeves would have been more elegant.  But you can see here that they're slouchy, and that's kinda my favorite style.

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This pattern is pure stockinette (you know, except for the ribbing) and has been great while I read, work, etc.  Moments after casting off, I cast on Hannah Fettig's Featherweight Pullover to fill the same purpose.  That'll take ages, so don't hold your breath, because... Tour de Fleece is on, baby!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Craft Closet Revamp

This is what my craft closet looked like this morning:
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One trip to Ikea, and an afternoon showing Sweet Pea how to use an electric drill, the craft closet looks like this:
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All told, it cost less than two bobbins, and I can now find both sewing and spinning stuff!  And the closet closes! I can hardly believe it.  And, I have a very understanding husband who enjoyed spending our wedding anniversary indulging me in the AC for an afternoon of Ikea.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010

Do you remember those woven, cotton, fringed-edge blankets that were huge in the late 90s?  You could get picture, just about any, on a cozy large blanket.  That was back in my vegetarian days (and Birks, too!) and my mom got me one with cool veggie pictures on it.  I've carted my veggie blanket all over the States as I move, and it's held up pretty well though it occasionally loses a string or two.

Which brings me to this morning.  I had set up my wheel and fiber last night to be ready to go this morning.  I woke up, got my coffee, sat down to spin and saw that my brake band was broken.  And I didn't have an extra.  I don't have much in the way of cotton around here, so I was nearly broken hearted.  Until I saw the long thread hanging off of the edge of the veggie blanket.

Saved for Tour de Fleece!   I drooled over everyone's beautiful spinning last year.  This year, I get to play!

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Goals:
1. Spin and ply the 116g of cashmere blend, on the high speed flyer, for a laceweight.
2. Spin every day of the race, except the rest day

Teams:
Rookie
Corgi Hill Farm

See you at the finish line!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Recipe Countdown: Month 1

Thirty four recipes done in 30 days, 331 left to go!  Memorable recipes have included several types of freezer jam (which is so easy everyone should try it), creamy lemon caper chicken, and brussels sprouts with balsamic vinegar onions and bacon.  The kids have snipped their own herbs, carefully turned on the Kitchen Aid mixer for the first time, and made incredibly messy cupcakes that were shaped vaguely like sharks.  We made a vaguely ok emergency  chocolate birthday cake with no butter, vastly improved by its peanut butter frosting.  It's been a blast so far.




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Snipping herbs.
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Making omelettes and snipping more herbs.
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The pan-fried okra, which was surprisingly tasty.




Next up?  Cherry conserve and something with a spaghetti squash that I accidentally bought.  But first?  Tour de Fleece, baby!