The important thing is, I haz a sweater:

parliament-of-owls

Yes! It is the awesome o w l s by Kate Davies (aka Wazz), and it is glorious. Funny, the day she posted her own finished sweater on her blog back in…no!! November!?!? Wow, I AM slow off the mark these days!!…anyway, back when she first posted her Owls sweater, well before it was a pattern, I was enchanted and immediately started planning a reverse-engineered Owls sweater of my own. Buuuuut my harebrained commitment to Christmas knitting (yeah, I know last year I said I wouldn’t get sucked into that again) and an even more harebrained mania to dye and spin my own yarn for the sweater pushed the start date back and back and back and back until the THIRD iteration of the pattern was published! Ah well. Ravelled here.

I didn’t post my mods in my Rav notes, so I’ll briefly touch on them here:

First of all, I knit this thing top-down, because damnit, that’s how a yoked sweater ought to be constructed! So I pretty much followed Kate’s directions backward, except for a few little changes here and there. For example, I found the final numbers for the neck too tight for my liking, so I skipped to the penultimate count (for me, making the medium/38″ size, that was 76). Then I did the short rows and the yoke increases, and started on the owl chart.

I did the owls a wee bit differently than most folk, and not just because I was making them upside-down:

owls2

Top-down owls are formed by following the cable chart upside-down by physically turning the printed-out chart upside-down and following it that way, which is very easy as the crossings are exactly the same. The actual mods I made to the owls themselves were to the belly and the feet: instead of just working 7 plain rows for the belly, I used garter stitch to make the wing/belly areas more distinct from each other (2 sts plain, 4 sts garter, 2 sts plain), which I saw on NeulovaNarttu’s Rav entry for this project. Genius! I treated the feet in a similar fashion, centring four purl stitches under each owl and knitting the rest in stockinette.

I also divided the yoke a little differently, which was particularly easy as the owl count for my size was an odd number (19): 3 owls per shoulder, 6 owls for the back and 7 for the front (because my front side is decidedly more convex than my back!) After that, I added a couple of short rows, some vertical bust darts, and away we went to the hem. I actually added the sleeves just as the sweater reached about mid-boob level, because I find that sleeves make a top-down sweater hang differently, and if your intention is to try it on as you knit to ensure the best possible fit, you might as well do it whole-assed. Plus, you get the sleeves out of the way nice and early, when you still have lots of enthusiasm for the project!

So, yeah. Owls! A teensy bit scratchy, but a couple more trips through a conditioner bath might help. Despite the slight itch factor, the Cascade Eco Wool I used for this knit was a lot softer than I thought it had any right to be. What a pleasant surprise it was to pull those enormous squishy skeins from the envelope from Red Bird Knits! And only the day after I’d made the order, too…hurray for online yarn stores in the GTA! This sweater took less than a skein and a half of the stuff, which was incredible to me. I will be revisiting this line soon, make no mistake!

The needles/hooks/spindles have been kept very busy during my absence, but I’ve become something of a dilatory photographer, so there aren’t many pics of interest to be posted. But right now I’m working on a Tangled Yoke Cardigan in EL Silky Wool, a pair of plain-vanilla socks for the G in Wollmeise (what can I say, the boy has good taste) and a Laminaria shawl for my mother in my own handspun, dyed in Pigeonroof’s ‘Dovecote’ colourway. So there should be some interesting pictures soon…if I don’t take another near-year off…I kid, I kid.

Copying the Knitting Kninja, I made my first Flickr mosaic to play The Game:

(I can never get “Option 1″ to work with WordPress, so to see all the tags and stuff, I’m afraid you’ll have to click yourself through to my photostream)

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.

The concept:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker).

The Questions:

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you
12. Your Flickr name

It’s fun game if you have a nice long lazy stretch of time to get distracted by all the pretty pretty photos. Let’s see yours!

What The Lady wants, The Lady gets…

“The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.”

Sadly, although this meme is not necessarily boring in and of itself, most of my answers are. So I’m going to throw in a few pictures of the results of my acid dyeing adventure down at Lettuce Knit last Friday to try and spice it up a bit, not least because I suffered from the dreaded camnesia during the fun bits, and only have pics of the end result! Can two slightly boring posts come together to make one reasonably interesting post? We’ll see!

1) 10 years ago, I was:

finishing up Grade 12 in high school, which isn’t terribly exciting as back in the day, we went up to OAC (fka Grade 13), so I still had a year to go. Actually, now that I think of it, Grade 12 was a pretty eventful year for me, for kind of strange reasons. A friend of mine started dating this guy, and although the relationship didn’t last, the “merger” of our friendship groups did. At least for me. I rarely see those girlfriends anymore, but I hang out/hear from those “other” friends quite regularly. One of them even came with me to Glasgow where we shared a flat for a year and ate a lot of toast and soup. Pretty awesome.

This is merino/cashmere/nylon roving, dyed with acid dye at Lettuce Knit’s dyeing studio. The pink is 90% red/10% blue, and the green is (I think) 80% yellow and 20% blue. The brown is a mixture of the pink and the green, and the little spots of violet are probably from Brooke’s Aubergine Dream leaking over onto my fibre! :P I meant to dye my roving with really dark, saturated colours, but since I usually added vinegar to the fibre bath, I totally forgot to add it to the dye solution! I realized this most of the way through the steaming process, so Kim (aka indigodragonfly) and I had to pull it out of the pot and stick it in a warm vinegar bath. Since we were already way overtime, it didn’t get to stay in quite as long as it might have needed for all the dye to exhaust, but I’m perfectly satisfied with how it turned out. It’s a lot more…erm…pink than I expected, tho…I wish the green had been darker and more abundant. Ah well, it’s still pretty. To continue my Unoriginal Colourway Name trend, I have christened this roving Rose Garden. A little more rose than garden, perhaps, but here we are.

2) 5 things on my to-do list for today:

It’s almost bedtime, so I’ll put my To Do list for tomorrow:

Drive Grant to work at 6am (god, we need our own car!)
Write copyediting test
Put first coat of paint on mom’s front room
Spin up the rest of the Rose Garden fibre (and find a good lacy pattern for it!)
Buy a dvd for my parents

3) Snacks I enjoy:

I have recently discovered a deep and abiding love of Pocky, particularly “Men’s” Pocky (bittersweet chocolate). Other things I’ve thought about eating today include Vegetable Thins, strawberries, and Cherry Blasters. I hated salsa as a kid, but now I can’t get enough (especially with multigrain Tostitos!), although pretzels have always been there fore me. Damnit, I knew I shouldn’t have started this list just before dinner!! mmm…ketchup chips…

Here’s some of the fibre, all drafted out and ready to be spun into singles. This picture makes some of the dye look peachy, but there’s no peach in it at all, just paler pinks and browns.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

I could write a really big complicated practical answer, full of plans involving living off interest percentages and real estate investments, but I think what the question is asking is what one would do if given total financial freedom, so I’ll answer it that way.

I’d probably buy a big, open, light-filled studio apartment downtown somewhere where I could keep my (imaginary) Majacraft Rose, (imaginary) pottery wheel (and pottery accoutrements), and my easel and paints. Ooh, I’d probably splash out on oil paints, too (although I do love my pretty acrylics). Oh, and I’d have to have room for a little dyeing studio, and a sewing corner. The place would be totally trashed, but it’d be my heaven.

And we’d have a cottage on a quiet, sparsely-populated lake somewhere, where I’d never have to worry about people spying on me when I went down for my early-morning (/after-dinner/before bedtime) skinny dip!

Hmm, not much charitable work there…I’d have to think about that part some more. Maybe establish and donate another facility like the Cedar Ridge Creative Centre? I loved that place when I went to summer camp there as a kid. God, I just don’t know what I’d do! There’d definitely be some Food Bank donations…probably donations to women’s shelters, too…I really have no idea. And it’s kind of stressing me out to think of it: a billion dollars! And I have to decide what to do with it, and who gets some, and who doesn’t! I’m starting to see why so many rich people are so unhappy…

I’d love the things I listed above, but honestly, I’m very happy as I am. A hell of a lot more privileged than most people on this earth, I know, but what I’ve got is honest, and more than enough. I don’t think I’d buy more yarn, either; I’m serious when I say that having too much of it around weighs on my creative conscience!

5) Places I have lived:

Scarborough, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario
Glasgow, Scotland
Ottawa, Ontario
Melbourne, Australia

6) Jobs I have had:

My dad started working from home as a consultant when I was about 15, and pretty much all of my working experience has been helping him out. Every year I got a little more responsibility, and for the last few years I have been his full-on assistant, organizing the files and putting together submissions to the government etc etc. It’s not necessarily the work I would choose to do, but it’s hard for me to quit since I know how disorganized it gets when I’m not around (despite the other help he’s had in) and how much he needs me. So that’s pretty much my job history, except for a few weeks in Glasgow when I worked at a photo developing shop, which was pretty fun until my last day when I accidentally lost track of a couple of rolls of film from two big (separate) orders (the fact it was my last day was completely separate from the mix-up; it wasn’t my last day because I was fired or anything! Although that would make a funnier story…)

Here’s my first skein of singles, all spun up and washed. I had at first intended to ply the yarn, but I’m afraid it might muddy the colours, so I’m going to keep it as a single. It’s fairly even, ranging between fingering and sport weight, and I figure I’ll have about 500-600 yards when it’s all spun and done. Now I need to find a lace pattern that won’t fight with either the colours or the thicker-and-thinner nature of the yarn (both of which I adore!) I’m thinking either a pretty stole or a small baby blanket. Any suggestions?

7) Bloggers I am tagging who I will enjoy getting to know better:

The toughest question, by far. Let’s see…I’ll tag my LK dyeing girls (except Indigodragonfly, since like most folk I read, she’s already been tagged):

Giftable

Little Knittin Kitten

aaaaaaand…you. You’re it!! Three of you. There. Five. Done and done.

The best thing about living with my parents while we househunt (cross fingers for good luck this summer!!) is that we’re saving tons of cash on rent. The worst part about living with one’s parents, tho, is that one usually has to wait until they go out of town to do anything fun (and/or potentially messy). Yay for conventions in Las Vegas!

Last Saturday, while my parents were debating the relative merits of the round pool with the fountain vs the smaller pool with the bubbles, I was cajoling the long-suffering Grant into coming with me on a little road trip to Port Hope (a town about an hour’s drive away from where we live) to buy sheep fuzz. Our target: The Black Lamb, an awesome shop stuffed to the gills with yarns and fibres. Small but perfectly formed, as they say. I left with nearly three pounds of undyed fibre: 2 one-pound bags of merino, a half pound of cashmere/merino/nylon blend, and a 225g bag of merino/seacell. At home, I had a 12-pack of Wilton’s food dye, a bunch of roasting pans, a bit of vinegar and a mad gleam in my eye.

I let the yarn soak in a vinegar/water solution for a few hours, mixed my dyes in a bunch of measuring cups until I was satisfied with the colours (read: bored of mixing), and started to pour. With no real plan, of course:

I threw in a bit of pink, too, for extra visual interest. I spooned on the pink to try and keep it from getting too muddy. Also pictured: my awesome StrongBad tshirt.

I was very surprised to see the difference between the wet dye and the baked version:

The pink was surprisingly…pink. I had kind of mixed feelings about the final product.

Of course, I didn’t let it sit for hours to let it cool slowly like you’re supposed to with pure wool fibres. I threw it in a warm SOAK-y bath after only a few impatient minutes and laid it out to dry.

This is probably why it ended up felting a bit. I had to tease apart the fibres before I could spin with it.

After looking at it for a little while, I decided there was a bit too much white left on the fibre, so I grabbed about half of it, threw it back in the roasting pan and, after a quick soak, threw some leftover dye on it, which actually didn’t make the hugest difference evar. I think I was just overloading my roasting pans, which is dangerous with this dyeing method since only the top layer seems to absorb the dye. Ah well.

The next day, it was just about dry enough to start spinning:

The colours became much paler after they dried, and washed out even more when I drafted the fibre. Interesting to note. I’ve been plying one strand of original-dyed yarn with another strand of the twice-dyed stuff, which should help to keep the colours balanced (although now that I’m almost near the end of the fibre, it seems that I have a little bit more of the darker fibre than the lighter stuff. Ah well).

Here’s one of the big balls I have made with it so far:

I’m calling the colourway Sea Glass. Not terribly original, I admit, but it’s what I think of when I look at it.

I haven’t measured the yardage or wpi yet (kind of a long story, but the short version is 1. I don’t have a niddy-noddy yet, and 2. I just grab whatever needles are nearby and look appropriate), but I reckon it’s aran weight, and will eventually be enough for a smallish sweater. I’ll probably knit it with 5mm needles.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started this adventure, but I’m sure I didn’t expect this! Although I do have to say that despite my initial misgivings about the colours, I quite like them all spun up and plied together. I’ve knitted a small “taste testing” swatch, but there are so many colours scattered throughout the yarn that it’ll take a whole garment to reveal them all. Soon, soon…!

In short, my dyeing adventures were triumphant. And not least because the only mess I made was on my hands (gloves, schmoves!)

Which, I am happy to report, completely faded by the end of the day, with no extraordinary effort on my part. Yay food-based dyes! Although I can’t wait for my acid dyeing induction this Friday at LK!! So much fun, so little time…

Oh yeah…I dyed the seacell/merino, too, but I’m going to hold back on that story until my laceweight Golding spindle arrives (seriously, it’s been “any day now” for almost two weeks). So, something else to look forward to! :P

Seriously, dudes, knitting has been like totally dead to me since spinning came along. Sadly, I only had the one bag of fibre, and it was all spun up in a hour or so. Dag, yo! Then I ordered a whole bunch more fibre from The Internet! And a gorgeous Golding spindle! That tax refund came in the nick of time, lemme tell ya.

I sometimes stumble across a knitblog post in which the blogger laments her (or his) loss of “knitting mojo” and I always laughed a disdainful laugh. “That will never be me,” I would say to the blogger via my powerful brainwaves. “I will never not wish to knit. And I shall never get my comeuppance, either. NO COMEUPPANCE!”

But for the last week, I have been knitting only sporadically and in a desultory manner. Yes! Desultory-ly! It’s true. Instead of knitting, I while away the hours reading Rav threads on spinning and wondering when my fibre will arrive. Oh, yesterday I stalked the pigeonroof Etsy shop hoping for some roving, but it was gone so so fast I didn’t get a single braid! Bleh. Ah well, I didn’t really love the colourways this week. Still, tho, it’s sort of the principle of the thing!

Although I might soon get the chance to dye my own roving at Lettuce Knit…but every day that passes with no word about when that might be makes my monkey crazier!! It is bad, bad I tells ya!

So I haven’t really been knitting. Here is one of the things I should have been knitting:

This is one of the two “button band” lace panels I should be working on for my mum’s Mother’s Day present, a light lacy sweater knit out of Handmaiden Sea Silk. Actually, the yarn is from the Mother’s Day present I was supposed to make last year, a Sarcelle Shawl…buuuuuuut I don’t like knitting scarves. They are so boring to me! The other “button band” lace panel will be a mirror image of this one, and the main body of the sweater is going to be Starlight Lace:

What’s stalling me most is that I have to re-chart the lace for the other side, aaaaaadnakslfjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj I just can’t work up the enthusiasm. Bad bad badb adabdbad daughter, I know.

sigh.

Is my roving here yet??

Rosewood 43g top-whorl spindle. 50g one-of-a-kind Merino “Custom Blend”. Took around 45 mins to spin.

I was going to leave it, because aren’t you supposed to let the twist set or something? Three hours later…

Plying was quick, pulling from both ends of a centre-pull ball. I know I’m not working with much fibre here, but I always thought drop-spindles were timesucks and it would take a year and a half to spin enough yarn to make anything but a knitted bikini (and I am not the knitted bikini kind of girl…not least because it sounds — and looks — like a ridiculous waste of time to me). But even considering I probably made about enough yarn to complete the thong portion of the bikini (ugh, a chunky merino thong!), it went surprisingly quickly. Remember, this was my first time even touching a spindle. I’m pretty damn proud of myself!

I haven’t knit with it yet, though; it’s still under tension in the bathroom.

I need more fibre.

And I need to get good at spinning fast (uh, both as in “a small amount of time” and “performing the task quickly”) because I’ve got about a pound of this stuff on its way to me. *drool* I think I’ve just got time…

Much as I enjoyed the drop spindle today, I’m still filling my imaginary piggy bank with pennies to save up for a wheel. Unfortunately, the balance as of this afternoon is -$160, after the spindle and fibre…and this:

This is why I spent so little at the Frolic last weekend; I’ve been dreaming about a Truffle Cardigan of my own since I first stumbled upon the pattern on Ravelry a couple of months ago. I love Dulle Griet’s grey version (it’s so atmospheric! especially since I always think of this as a late fall/late winter kind of garment) but I just couldn’t resist this red! I’ve been doing my internet homework, and this is the exact shade of Araucania Chunky I wanted most. And I found it! You win this round, The Purple Purl! *shakes fist in a loving way*

So, I finished some more stuff. One for me:

and one for you. And by “you”, I mean my newly-born, not-able-to-read pseudoniece, Alice:

I like mine, but I loooove Alice’s. Actually, it was supposed to be a sweater for Alice’s big almost-two-year-old sister, Sofi, but my chronic case of I-don’t-know-how-big-kids-are combined with not bothering to knit from a pattern equalled a very tiny little sweater. No matter. Her da (my good friend) had requested “something earthy for [the Chilean] fall/winter, in the 3-6 month range”, so his wish was, after all, my command. Maybe I just like Alice’s better because there are no Stupid Faces attached.

Sometimes I try to avoid the Stupid Face curse by turning my back, but then the Pretend And Actual Backfat shows up and ruins everything.

Mostly that is weird fabric rolling, but at least you can see the scalloped hem. Yes! This is Kate Gilbert’s Camellia pattern, knit more or less as Kate wrote it! It is pretty much my best- and favourite-evar FO (so far, anyway!) I’m sure it would have turned out quite a bit cuter in the drapey bamboo called for in the pattern (and would have saved hours and hours of ripping out and trying again to get something resembling gauge), but I had three skeins of Dream In Colour Smooshy, and I wanted to use it! Remember how I made a thousand sleeves before I even started knitting the pattern? I wager that if I hadn’t bothered, I could have knit the whole thing (albeit maybe a teensy bit shorter) with only two skeins of the stuff. Two skeins of sock yarn to make one awesome short-sleeved sweater! Incredible, but true.

Although if I hadn’t knit so many gauge swatches, I probably wouldn’t have made something wearable. There are many nuanced lessons embedded in this knit.

Mods, mods…not many. Apart from using completely inappropriate yarn, I made the sleeves longer (and wider) than the pattern called for (mostly to reconcile the lace chart with the thinner yarn I was using), and threw in quite a lot of waist-shaping and some vertical bust darts under each boob to make it fit properly. Verdict? It is very, very comfortable, and it holds its shape well through a long day of wear. You know how sometimes knits get all saggy and shapeless after a few hours? Not this sucker! I gave it a real trial by fire last Saturday when I wore it to the Downtown Knit Collective’s Knitter’s Frolic in the morning, lounged on a friend’s couch all afternoon (knitting, natch) and then took it out to the Keg for our second wedding anniversary dinner.

Yes, I spent our second wedding anniversary yarn shopping. And yes, I feel kind of bad about it. I can’t decide whether the fact that I didn’t buy much while I was there is good or bad in this context. Here’s my (very small, especially considering the deals that were to be had!) haul:

That’s it. Two little skeins of Mirasol alpaca/silk bulky singles, five balls of Jamieson DK, and two medium-sized bottles of SOAK. Oh, and some handmade clear glass star-shaped buttons (not pictured). I barely broke $100; not for lack of choice, and not even because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of yarn and people and books and notions and everything (although I won’t deny that I was, a bit). It’s not even that I didn’t particularly like any of the yarn I saw; indeed, lots of it was beautiful, and I could have made many a project with the stuff. Could it be that I have reached a saturation point in my stash?? My Ravelry page shows a mere sampling of the yarns I have tucked away here and there. If there was some kind of crazy emergency and I needed to produce a ball of yarn in less than a minute, I’d have 55 seconds to spare. I think my problem (and I use that word loosely) is that I really do have ideas and plans for each skein I buy, and I feel bad for the balls of yarn lying around, unloved and unknit, being nothing but what they are: ordinary little balls of wool. I am so excited to turn each of them into some awesome and inventive project, but…! I just never seem to get around to all of them before I have more amazing projects in my mind (and, more often than not, in my hands)! One of the things I’m looking forward to most when we move (that glorious, unforeseeable orange-coloured day) is a serious destash. They weigh on my mind, these unrealized projects.

Holy crap, that was heavy. And not at all what I’d planned to write. Truth be told, I rarely have a plan, but still. Here’s another closeup of Alice’s sweater to lighten the mood:

This is almost two balls of Noro Silk Garden, colourway #244. I made up the pattern, but it’s basically a round ribbed yoke with a stockinette body and sleeves. Pretty basic, but very cute! I’m wondering how cute it would look a little (okay, a whole lot) bigger, and how many balls of SG I’d need…gaa!! Another new project in my mind, pushing out the old ones!! Bad, bad, bad…

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