Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's Mitten Season

We have been having what the older folks around here call an 'old fashioned winter'. This means colder than usual and more snow than usual. I've been living in Labrador for over 20 years now and I can actually remember the old fashioned winters. I know weather does seem to go in cycles, but the past two winters were really scary and to me is proof positive of global warming. We actually had our first official green Christmas last Christmas and the Churchill river didn't freeze up until well into January.

Which brings me to this winter. No evidence of global warming so far. We've had a tonne of snow and temperatures have made me extremely grateful that I now have a car with auto start. Long stretches of temperatures in the minus 25 degrees Celcius have become the norm this winter. So much so that when the temperature warms up to minus 10 it feels downright balmy.

Which brings me to knitting. And mittens in particular. I need more, my daughter needs more, everyone I know could stand more mittens this winter. And if pressed to name what my most favorite thing to knit is, I would say mittens everytime. They are the most useful thing especially when living in the climate that I do. I knit a lot of them, but it seems that the people who are important to me (Yes, Amy, I'm talking about you!) also lose a lot of them. So, I'm in a crunch to knit more. And in keeping with my resolution of every second project being handspun, here are my handspun mittens.

The pattern is called Warmest Mittens and can be found as a free download on Ravelry. Very simple yet effective pattern. I don't really need to use a pattern at this point in my knitting career and I did alter this pattern to fit the yarn a little. I'm sure the intended recipient will like these since the cuff is quite long and that was her very specific request.

I like them a lot. They are obviously not matched as is often the case when knitting with handspun. That dark stripe in the middle of the right mitten really surprised me as I don't even remember the roving having any dark spots.

I recently purchased this roving when I was in Halifax. It is targhee and its the first time I've ever spun this fiber. I enjoyed spinning it. I was going for a worsted weight and adjusted my sidekick to have a quicker uptake and it worked! The yarn was nice and consistant. The lady at the Loop in Halifax told me that Targhee is a decendant of Corriedale, and it felt exactly like spinning Corriedale. Its nice to try different fibers.

Here is what the yarn looked like right off the bobbin. Totally over spun or over plied but definitely not a well balanced yarn.

But after a nice soak and a few whacks it ended up being a very nice plump springy worsted weight yarn. I even have enough left over for another pair.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Two finished objects!

I've finished two more things recently. One is in handspun! I'm keeping to my resolutions so far. First up, the Bandana Cowl that I've been talking about. Its done in the Loop Bullseye Batt.

I like it very much - but I think I will gift this to someone, just not sure who yet. Maybe I'll start a big-box-o-gifts for future gift giving. That way, no stressing for Christmas knitting. I really should do this for baby shower gifts too, but thats a whole other discussion.

Another item off the needles is my 'Wild is the Wind' hat by one of my favorite designers, Lee Meridith. The pattern is from Lee's e book called Remixed. All the designs are knit out of recycled yarns. Included in the book will be tutorials on how to recycle yarn and deconstruct sweaters. So far all of the patterns in this book have been awesome! If you haven't purchased it yet, I highly recommend it. These patterns are all designed to be knit at any gauge! Talk about stash busters.

Here is my hat - slouchy version. I'll be making this again using the brim pattern as written. I think next time I make this, I'll use a yarn with more drape too. I'm thinking this hat will also go into my big-box-o-gifts. I'm thinking there is someone in my life with a birthday coming up. That someone is very important to me and she just happens to love slouchy hats. She also reads my blog, so I wont give it away, just yet.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Off the Needles!

I've finished a couple of projects. I've decided that my New Years resolution in knitting is to not cast on anything new until I either finish something or frog something currently on the needles. And, every second project that I cast on has to be in handspun! Hows that for a resolution that I can keep?

So, I finished a couple of things. First up...this little dude.

Or dudette? The pattern is Harriet the Habberdashery Hippo by Rebecca Danger and I love it!!

I'm so tempted to buy her book - the big book of knitted monsters I don't knit a lot of toys, but I think I could be easily swayed to knit more if they all turn out as cute as this. And can you believe that this is the second hippo that I've knit? I'm not sure which I like best.

I also finished a pair of socks and I've been wearing them a lot eversince. I especially like wearing my handknit socks to bed. I am on my feet a lot during the day and often will wake up with pain in my feet. It seems if I rub foot lotion and wear these socks to bed, I don't have this problem nearly as much.

The yarn is Berocco Sox and the pattern is The Knitmore Girls Vanilla Socks. This has become my go to sock pattern and I've already cast on for another pair. I need to build up my stash of knitted socks since most of my older ones have developed holes or have become slightly felted. Maybe its time to do some mending.

Friday, January 06, 2012

I can't stop spinning

Not that I want to or anything, but it is seriously interfering with the knitting time. The only thing thats gotten finished around here is a bulky hat. The pattern is Icing Swirl by Ysolda. And it knit up in a jiffy. I knit it out of 100% bulky alpaca. I'm not sure of the brand, but it is very drapey and warm and I really like it.

Can I just say how much I am enjoying my new sidekick? Its all I want to do! Spin, spin and spin some more. I'm finding it much more easy to adjust the settings on the wheel and come up with a different weight of yarn. This time I was going for a heavier weighted single and it totally worked. I'm loving this yarn so much that its all I can do to wait to cast on for that Bandana Cowl. The singles are fairly consistant and they aren't overly spun - which is such a huge deal for me. No way could I have gotten results like that on my Louet. Which means my spinning should only get better, right? This is just the second skein from my new Sidekick. Don't you just love the sparkles? Again, its a Loop batt. I should just bite the bullet and subscribe to her club, but I'm trying to reign in the spending. And I have my own drum carder. I should be able to make batts like this myself. Well, in theory I should, but somehow my batts turn out all lumpy, bumpy and stuff. Oh well, I guess I should practice it more. If I get seriously into doing my own carded batts then that means less knitting time too. many great fibery things to be doing, and so little time.

And I really need to finish a shawl that I started for Mehrnaz for Christmas. As of tomorrow Christmas is officially over. But Mehrnaz won't mind. As long as its red, she'll be okay whenever she gets it.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy 2012!!

Its a new year already. What is it about time that seems the older I get the faster time goes by? I cannot believe we are into 2012. I was thinking of revisiting the 'resolutions/goals' that I set for myself last year, but sadly realized that I failed them miserably. Well, for the most part. I am getting a little better with knitting with my handspun, but still am reluctant to do so. I will have to remedy this in 2012 however, since my spinning should increase quite a bit (and as a result the knitting time will decrease) because of the new wheel. Here's a thought - every second project that I cast on will be in handspun. I should be able to do that right? God knows, I have plenty of handspun and plenty of ideas for things to knit from handspun. I just have to put the finished object in a bin of some sort to be handed out to some unknown person at some unknown date. How is that for a concrete goal.

2012 came in with me spinning on a second Bullseye Bump. This time my aim is to spin a bulky single. I think I will knit the Bandana Cowl from the Purl Bee out of this. Again, no recipient in mind.

I finished spinning up the Bullseye Bump in Plum pudding and I am so happy with the final yarn.

There is about 350 yards of a light fingering weight yarn that gradually transitions through various shades of purple. This will make a very nice shawlette - pattern to be determined. I'm even thinking of another Daybreak - and I rarely knit the same pattern twice!

I also cast on for a hat last night. It is Icing Swirl by Ysolda. 2009 was the year that I was obsessed with all things Ysolda. 2011 was Stephen West. Maybe I'm swinging back to Ysolda again? But I definitely see more Ann Hanson in my immediate future too! many great designers out there and so little time.