Plotting for a handspun handknit shawl

I say “plotting” but I really mean “obsessing.”

I am finishing up my current spin (I’m about halfway done with the plying, which I think I’ll finish tonight), but after that, this is going on the wheel:

FLUFF

FLUFF

That is 4 ounces of Merino/Silk in the colorway “Lost,” from FLUFF (which, sadly, no longer exists – but, happily for me, I still have quite a bit in my stash). I have hung onto this fiber for almost four years now, not sure exactly what it would grow up to be. Sometimes I spin fiber just because I love it, and I decide later how I will use it. Other times, I wait until I have a sense of what I want to knit the fiber into, so that I know how I want to spin it. That is the case with this.

Earlier this week, Kirsten Kapur released a new shawl design, Saranac. I am totally obsessed with this pattern, y’all! Crescent-shaped is currently my favorite shawl shape, and the design of this one is so fun. I love the border and the inventive way it’s designed. I immediately imagined knitting it in some sort of blue or blue-green handspun, something with silk in it, to wear on vacation this summer. I went stash-diving and was thrilled to find this fiber.

yum

yum

I think it’s going to be perfect! The pattern calls for 550yds of fingering weight, which will be a challenge for me to get out of 4 ounces. I could do it if I just spin the fiber as singles, but I was really wanting to do this spin as a 2-ply. We’ll see how it goes.

Would anyone be interested in spinning along with me for this project? I’ve started a thread on Ravelry in the Through the Loops group, for anyone who might want to spin for this. I’m super-excited about both the spin and the knit.

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Of course I can’t cast on for anything until I finish Little Buddha’s sweater. He is policing my every crafting effort at this point, so I’m sure I’ll finish soon, right?

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Work-in-progress Wednesday :: Sleeve Island

It’s not so much that I’m stuck on Sleeve Island as it is that I have been here longer than I’d like and I’m ready to be done. I find knitting sleeves so tedious once the body is done – both because it seems like I should be done with the sweater already and because I hate having the bulk of the body to deal with (i.e., continually turn and rearrange) while doing the small circumference knitting of the sleeves. But I need to just quit my whining and finish up already.

The Deuce, with cat

The Deuce, with cat

I am to the point of adding the stripes to the sleeve, then the ribbing, and then it’s on to the second sleeve. I would love to be done with this by the end of this coming weekend, because I am ready to move on to Spring things!

Crackerjack cast-on :: a WIN

I promise I won’t be reporting on each and every Detroit Tigers game and each and every Crackerjack stripe, but of course for the season opener I can’t help but photo-document:

Win, baby!

Win, baby!

I didn’t get to watch the game, but I did obsessively check MLB.com. I was out running errands last night after the game ended, and it was super-fun to see so many people in their Tigers gear. It was also 60 degrees out, so it actually felt like a real Opening Day. Meanwhile, I got myself a new Tigers sweatshirt, because I’m going to the game on Saturday and it will not be 60 degrees then.

After much angst about my yarn options, I finally went with my original selection – Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool in Worsted – on smaller needles than I originally planned. After swatching, I determined that my new gauge is 4.75sts/inch. I totally forgot to measure my row gauge before unraveling my swatch, but it will be something less than my original calculations yielded, which is great. That orange (Stonehedge, in “Creamsicle”) is not the orange I’m using for the actual stripes, that’s just waste yarn for my provisional cast-on. And as I keep saying, the blue, though not a true navy, is not quite as royal looking as this picture might lead you to believe. I cast on 60 stitches on size 5 needles and am knitting two rounds per game.

We’ve got over 60 knitters in the Crackerjack Knitters Ravelry group now, with many (but not all) teams represented. If you are knitting along, you might want to come on over and join us!

“Dear Baseball” – a poem for Opening Day, from my 9 year-old

 

WOOHOO!! Opening Day, y’all! I won’t get to watch the Tigers game this afternoon, but I’ll check the score later and cast on for my Crackerjack tonight. In the meantime, I’m not the only one in this household excited about the start of baseball season. My two fourth graders have been writing a lot of poetry for school; here’s a piece Tiny Dancer wrote on Friday in praise of baseball:

Dear Baseball

Dear Baseball

Baseball you are
really great!

to go to games
I cannot wait!

I love how you send
ball to bat!

I love your fancy
baseball caps!

I love how the ball dances through
the air!

How far it goes?
I do not care!

Let’s face it. You’re great!
You know it’s true!

You should know, baseball,
people love you!

 

sweet slugger

(This is my little slugger in 2011, when he played on his first baseball team, the Red Sox).

(Trust me, we are TIGERS fans!)

photo-103

PLAY BALL, Y’ALL!!!

What I really want to do

I need to clean the house. I need to do some laundry. I need to change the litter box and clean the rabbit cage. I need to make dinner. I need to make a menu for the coming week. I need to finish my son’s sweater. I need to swatch again for my Crackerjack.

But all I want to do right now is this.

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O spinning, I have missed you.

Crackerjack :: on the fence

So from the beginning – and by “beginning” I mean since, like August or September or whenever it was I first had this idea – I’ve been planning to use my beloved Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool in worsted for my Crackerjack. And now all of a sudden, on the verge of casting on, I find myself second-guessing myself, because of the colors. As I’ve mentioned, the navy I ordered last fall actually looked more like black. So I had finally settled on using what is labelled as Royal Blue but tends towards navy, though it’s not a true navy.

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd Worsted

It looks more royal in this picture than it is in real life.

When I showed the yarn to My Old Man, he told me that the blue was fine but that the white was off!! It really is more of a cream.

Then I pulled out some Brown Sheep Naturespun sportweight, left over from my child’s Chevron Love Mittens. When I compared it to the Stonehedge, the colors looked perfect:

Stonehedge on left, Brown Sheep on right

Stonehedge on left, Brown Sheep on right

The Brown Sheep colors look so crisp together – they seem truer to the actual Tigers colors, don’t they? Of course I would need to order more – in orange and grey (I think “Orange You Glad” and “Grey Heather”) but also more of the navy and white, since I don’t even have full skeins of that. These skeins are much smaller than the Stonehedge, so I think I’ll need two skeins of each color to make sure I have enough. A sportweight will also give me a different gauge, so I’m going to swatch this weekend and change all my calculations.

Even though I think I’ll be ordering all new yarn for this, I should still be okay for Opening Day (48 hours away – woohoo!) since the Tigers start at home, and navy and white are my home game colors.

You guys! It’s almost time to cast on!

 

 

Fashion Friday :: owls, revisited

Whoo-whoo wears wool in spring?

20140327-162256.jpgThis girl does.

But if you’re going to have to wear your winter woolies when spring has already sprung, it might as well be something you totally completely love.

I made this owls pullover back in the fall of 2009, and I still love it to pieces.

for Rav: o w l s
(pictured here with TTL Mystery Socks 2009, my Michigan Radio mug, and much shorter hair)

My favorite owl is the one on the back, with purple eyes:

whoo-whoo!

whoo-whoo!

They look pink in this pic, but they really are purple – I should have included this handknit in my recent roundup of my obsession with purple+gold.

I tend to gravitate towards making raglan sweaters, but I’ve realized lately that I really, really like wearing yoked sweaters. I think the only yoked sweaters I’ve made for myself are this one and Zelkova, and now I’m wondering why, because both Owls and Zelkova are two of my very favorite sweaters.

Which kind of sweater do you tend to want to knit – raglan, yoked, set-in sleeves? And which do you think is most flattering on you?

 

Crackerjack :: a few more notes for planning

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Opening Day is almost here!! Which means it’s also almost time to cast on for Crackerjack – woohoo! It’s been very fun to watch people’s knitting plans come together. As you know, the free downloadable worksheet is available now. But as you are making your plans, here are a few additional thoughts:

  1. Yarn yardage. I didn’t stipulate yardage in the worksheet – it’s difficult to know how to estimate when we are all using whichever yarn we prefer, and when some people are using four colors while others are only using two or three. The yarn I’m using comes in skeins of 250 yards (yet another thing to love about Stonehedge Fiber Mills!) and I’m using four colors. I think 1000 yards (light worsted) will be more than enough for this scarf, but I could certainly be wrong, especially, if, say, the Tigers go on a winning streak and I have to use up all my blue. I will happily order more yarn if that happens! I can tell you that with my handspun Spy vs. Spy, I used 8 ounces of yarn for a 55″ tube. Stonehedge Fiber Mills Worsted comes in skeins of 250 yards to 3.99 ounces. So 8 ounces of that yarn would come out to a little more than 500 yards. So you can see that my approach is to estimate things based on my experience with this yarn and this type of tube, but it’s not a very specific or mathematic approach – so if others want to ring in with  how you would estimate yardage for this kind of tube, let me know!
  2. Colorwork options. Janinga wrote in to say, “If the tube ends up a little short (as it might for a hockey season, say), one could add some team themed fair isle a la the “favorite things” cowl. I’m considering this for a red wings scarf.” WHOA – wouldn’t that be awesome?! It actually makes me want to make my loop smaller than I’d planned and then knit a big blue old English D on a white field to finish it off. Wouldn’t that be fun?
  3. Rav group. Kat start a Rav group for Crackerjack knitters. Yay! If you’re on Rav, come join us! I love that we have a place now to keep up with who is doing what, and what teams people are cheering for.

It’s still cold here, but with Opening Day almost here, I feel certain spring will show up soon!

Work-in-progress Wednesday :: the things I do for love

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I am kind of tired of knitting stockinette at this point, and I’m really ready to move on to other projects, but my son wants me to only focus on this sweater of his until I’m finished with it, and that does seem reasonable. Even if it weren’t reasonable, it would be kind of hard to tell a nine year-old who wants you to knit for him that you are going to work on other projects instead.

Aranami :: when process and product align

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I am probably a little bit more of a “process knitter” than a “product knitter,” which is to say that the process of knitting is a little more important to me than the outcome. It’s not that I don’t like finishing something or enjoy wearing a handknit or want my handknits to turn out well, it’s just that the enjoyment of actually knitting is usually greater than the joy of actually owning whatever it is I’ve made. That’s why sometimes, no matter how much I might like the looks of a finished object, I would never knit it because I know from looking at it that it wouldn’t be enjoyable. And it’s why sometimes I might knit something for the sheer joy of knitting it, even if it isn’t something I’m going to get a lot of use out of.

For a long time, shawls fell into the latter category – I loved knitting them but rarely wore them. Of course most shawls aren’t like a pair of mittens – you just don’t have an occasion every day to wear them. Or at least I don’t. But I adore making them – they don’t come with all the anxiety over fit, they aren’t so big that you get bored before you’re done (okay, well, sometimes that does happen – but not as much as it happens for me with, say, blankets), and they are a great canvas for playing with color, texture, and/or lace.

This shawl, Olgajazzy’s Aranami pattern, was an absolute thrill to knit. It is one of the most inventive designs out there, yielding a knit that is almost zenlike in its balance between simplicity and complexity. The actual knitting is so simple and meditative, but the construction and the color changes keep the knitter so engaged and entranced. It was as close to perfect, process-wise, as I’ve found.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami
I selected colors (in Brooklyn Tweed LOFT) to look like a sunset, and it was such a delight to build each color on top of the last one.
in progress :: Sunset Aranami
I worked on it at the beach (this was summer 2012), where some of my favorite sunsets happen.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami

Those colors!

I knew I would enjoy knitting this one. What I didn’t expect was that I would also get so much pleasure out of actually wearing it. Two years after making it, this knit still sees a lot of action. I especially love wearing it with bright blue.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami
I don’t typically wear it as a wrap-type shawl (above). I usually wear it more like a scarf (like in the top picture). The yarn is deliciously wooly and slightly rustic. The colors are total perfection. And the design itself is a complete winner.

raveled

If you haven’t made an Aranami, I would highly, highly, recommend it.

And what about you? Would you consider yourself more process knitter or more product knitter?