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Archive for November, 2008

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Last year, I made four Christmas stockings for a client. This fall, she called me again, needing another stocking for her daughter’s new baby. She was so nice to work for last year, so of course I said I would do this one as well!

It was a bit of a rush job, because I wanted to get it out the door before leaving for Thanksgiving break. That way she could have it before Advent started, and I wouldn’t have to lug 6 balls of yarn around during my Thanksgiving travel. She wanted to do a little bit of the work herself and is good at duplicate stitch and finishing work, so she asked me to leave the area for the name blank, and also to leave off Santa’s facial features. So, Santa is still lacking eyes, a nose and a mouth, although he has his wonderfully wild, fluffy beard! She will add some bells, seam up the back, line the inside, and add a hanger.

The beard this year is made from synthetic “fun fur.” Last year’s beards were made from angora. I normally have a strong preference for natural fibers, but I must admit that for this use, I liked the fun fur much better! It was lots easier to work with, and Santa’s beard has a wild, wavy aspect that I find appealing.

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Wheels

Lately, I’ve gotten back to spinning. It seems that I tend to spin obsessively for a few days, and then ignore the spindles and the wheel for months. Now I’m trying a new thing: moderation. Just spinning for a little bit, every day, focusing on smoothing out my technique.DSCN0406

I’m still working on some batts given to me by the friend who passed along the  spinning wheel. This came from one of them and is a merino/silk blend, with a few sparkly fibers thrown in for fun. I’m not so much of a sparkly-loving person, but every so often it is fun to work with a little glitter.

I also recently purchased some fiber at the Kid ‘N Ewe festival in Boerne, Texas. Boerne is a few miles north and west of San Antonio. I carpooled down this year with two other women, which was lots of fun. I’ve only ever spun on my drop spindles and a somewhat cranky old single-treadle Ashford Traditional, so at the festival I made a point of trying out some different wheels. Coming home after testing out all of the new wheels, I sat down at my fussy old wheel, started spinning up some of the fiber I bought, and promptly decided that I had my cranky old wheel running better than most of the wheels I tried at the festival! So, rather than saving up the $600 or so I would want to spend on a new wheel, I got on the Internet, did a little reading, and ordered the $36 flyer upgrade that is available for my Traddy. The original flyer only has one ratio, but the upgrade has three. (The “ratio” refers to the DSCN0407difference in diameter between the wheel and the base of the spindle; it affects how fast the spindle turns as the spinner treadles.)

The new flyer is wonderful! I’m still getting used to it and fussing with it a bit,  but already I can spin much faster. Initially, the whorl closest to me rasped quite a bit against the maiden, which was super annoying. I pulled the new flyer off and took it to the hardware store, where I found a metal washer that fit around the end that was causing the trouble. Much quieter! You can just barely see the washer in the photograph – it’s the little shiny bit in between the post and the flat round disc at the end of the flyer assembly.

While I’m on the subject of after-market modifications, I though I’d post a photo of my bicycle. A few weeks ago, I stopped by the shop where I bought the bike. They had some bicycles out front for sale, including a few of the same make, model and color as mine. I don’t think, however, that there will be any mistaking my bike for the ones currently being sold! At this point I’ve swapped out the saddle for a more comfy one, added the fancy “clipless” pedals (along with DSCN0409 some equally fancy cleated shoes that connect to the pedals) and put on a bell to warn pedestrians before I zip pass and surprise them. The rack on the back is great for hauling stuff home. My pannier clips to it on the side, and I also have a set of bungee cords for strapping odd items to the top of the rack; coming home from the hardware store with odd things sticking out from the back is always fun! I also have a decent headlight and a fabulous tail light for riding after dark, along with some fun reflective tape. The green tape happens to match the obscenely bright green windbreaker I got at REI – just the thing to go with red hair! Two weeks ago I also got around to adding some decidedly un-cool looking fenders, to keep rain and mud off of my legs. I’m considering the fenders to be extra theft insurance. The less cool the bike looks, the less likely it is to be stolen.

So I’m still having fun zooming around town on two wheels. Wave when you see me – you won’t be able to miss the bright green jacket!

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Anemoi Mittens

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Lovely pattern and fun to work. The pattern is to be found on Eunny Jang’s blog. The pattern occasionally took some guesswork and interpretation, but as is usual with this designer, the finished work is quite nice. I particularly like how DSCN0403 the thumb is in an anatomically correct position. One of my serious gripes about many other mitten pattern is that they either position the thumb right on the side seam, so the pattern on the back of the hand gets pulled around, or the thumb is placed flush on the palm, which can be uncomfortable and again distorts how the pattern sits on the hand.

I worked these in Regia 4-ply sock yarn, so they should hold up well and are machine washable! I’ve still got just over a skein of each color, so I’m sure that at some point in the future I’ll work something else in lavender and chocolate brown. The mittens are a little long, so I might try re-blocking them before I give them to the intended recipient.

Onward, to more mittens!

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Cobweb Lace Scarf

DSCN0398 In October, I wrote about a lace scarf I was knitting, based on the Cobweb Lace Stole pattern found in the Spring 2008 issue of Interweave Knits. At the time, I said that Interweave hadn’t put any good photos of the stole in the magazine, and that I was surprised to find out elsewhere that the pattern called for some really cool new-to-me lace stitches.

I finished the scarf a few weeks ago, blocked it, and then pretty much forgot about photographing it until a friend mentioned something on this blog to me this morning. I came home, looked at the blog, and realized that it has been almost a month since I posted anything here! Yes, I’m still here, everything’s OK, I’ve just been busy. Busy is good! It certainly beats laying around on the couch most of the time, which is what I did for much of last year.

So, I finally have some scarf photos. I only purchased one skein of the yarn I DSCN0401 used, which as it turned out was not quite enough to make a full-sized scarf. I shortened the scarf and added a “keyhole,” so it will still be wearable. As I had mentioned in my previous post, I also re-wrote the lace chart to accommodate the decreased number of stitches and adjust the motif spacing along the body of the scarf. I’m pleased to say that the adjusted lace work came out quite nicely.

I’m not so pleased about the yarn I chose. Many of my friends adore working with the single ply yarns produced by Malabrigo. Although I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Malabrigo Lace which I used for this scarf was stronger and less prone to breakage than I expected, I was not so pleased with how it it wearing and how easily it attracts dirt. I had to weave in the yarn tails well before I was finished with the project (something I’m never needed to do before) because they began fuzzing out so badly, and the finished piece has already started looking a bit ratty and felted. Given the rough life most of my scarves tend to live, I’m going to have to treat this item with extreme care. For now, however, it does still look nice, so I’ll fold it up, store it with my good winter coat and plan to wear it over Christmas.

More catch-up blogging tomorrow!

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