Reporting for Duty Today :: Pitchers, Catchers, and Yarn

Today in Ann Arbor, we are under a severe weather alert because of the wind chill. When I woke up this morning, it was 6 degrees below zero, with a windchill of -15. Baby, that’s COLD. Of course you know I am not complaining, because:

  1. I am a knitter. Therefore, I am covered in wool.
  2. I am a knitter. Therefore, I am happy to be “forced” to stay inside and knit.
  3. Spring is officially in sight as of today, because today the Detroit Tigers pitchers and catchers report for spring training. HECK YEAH!

That means this yarn is also reporting for training:

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Hazel Knits Artisan Sock

 

And by training, I mean swatching. I will soon be swatching for my next Crackerjack conceptual knitting project.

My yarn this time is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, in “Nekkid,” “Nickel,” “Collegiate,” and “Carnelian.” To create this set, I actually bought a Seattle Seahawks-themed kit (this was right after the Super Bowl) – it had all the colors I needed minus the orange, in the smaller quantities I think I’ll need for a pair of socks. Then I bought a full skein of the orange to complete my set. Now I have a sweet small skein of “Hawkeye” (lime green) leftover for some other fun use. It’s been awhile since I’ve knit with Hazel Knits, and I’m really looking forward to it. The yarn has a great feel, and the hand-painted semi-solids are just perfect.

This time around, I’m going to be making… SOCKS. For anyone who has been following my Instagram feed, this should come as no surprise, as I am apparently all about knitting socks lately. It’s funny, I’ve never really considered myself a sock-knitter (though, in truth, I’ve knit my share of socks), but some kind of switch has been flipped in my brain, and all of a sudden, all I want to make it socks. Also, every time I go to Comerica Park to watch the Tigers play, I wish for some Tigers socks, and the souvenir shops have every imaginable thing for sale – except socks. So I’ll just make my own, with stripes keyed to the Tigers wins and losses. I am really excited about this project!

I’ll be putting together a worksheet in advance of Opening Day, for anyone who would like to play along, with your team colors. Spring is coming, y’all!

 

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Sometimes I Get Seized by an Idea

Stonehedge Mills Shepherd's Wool + Handspun

Stonehedge Mills Shepherd’s Wool + Handspun

And now the idea won’t let me rest. Nevermind the sweater on my needles. Nevermind the shawl on my needles. Nevermind the pounds of fiber waiting to be spun. I am completely captured by this new possibility, and I don’t think I can rest until I cast on….

Achievement unlocked :: Spinning Mojo

All of a sudden, I am spinning. And spinning. And SPINNING.

All it took was getting my creative confidence back (in three easy steps). The final of those three steps was to “get back to basics,” which I did by going back to my “beginner” wheel, a Schacht Ladybug. I had intended to switch right back to my Matchless, but I’m having so much fun on the Ladybug that I’ve been sticking with her for now. I’m pretty pleased with the outcomes.

In the last month since I posted about trying to get my spinning mojo back, I’ve made the following:

"Artifact"

“Artifact”

This is 3 ounces FLUFF Silky Cashmerino in “Artifact,” which I spun up into 294 yards DK 2-ply, and I lurve it:

so silky

so silky

Next, I decided to completely switch gears from a lightweight silky yarn to a bulky, wooly 2-ply. I pulled out my favorite wool, Shetland:

Widdershins

Hello Yarn Shetland in “Widdershins”

You can’t tell from this picture, but this yarn is huge. Maybe you can tell from this picture:

Raggedy Ann?

Raggedy Ann?

That’s some pretty plump yarn, y’all! It came out to 169 yards (4 ounces) bulky 2-ply and I am so in love with it. I had planned to knit it up into more Mukluks, but what happened next might have changed my plans.

I decided to go for another bulky 2-ply. Usually, if I’m spinning bulky, I’m going with thick-and-thin singles, which I really enjoy. So the 2-ply has been an interesting switch for me. I put some Hello Yarn Polwarth on the wheel:

those colors!

those colors!

And in a flash, I’d made this:

Hello Yarn Polwarth in "Tiny Flicker"

Hello Yarn Polwarth in “Tiny Flicker”

This one slays me. It’s like a perfect autumn yarn. I totally adore it.

fat fall yarn

fat fall yarn

It’s 4 ounces, 196 yards bulky 2-ply goodness.

I made this yarn just because I wanted to make it. I had no particularly knitting plans in mind for it. But then I did this:

fat yarns

fat yarns together

I put these two yarns side-by-side and all of a sudden they seemed to want to play together. I’m suddenly envisioning a super-fast fall vest or some such, with these two yarns striped. Wouldn’t that be yummy? Or maybe I’ll try to get my hands on more of the “Tiny Flicker” to make a vest just from that and then stick with the “Widdershins” for the Mukluks as planned. Who knows? It’s been fun plotting.

a month of spinning

a month of spinning

So one month into spinning on the Ladybug and I’ve already made as much yarn as I had made in the entire 8 months leading up. I doubt I’ll continue at this pace, but I’m pretty happy with all this spinning for now. And with the inevitable knitting with handspun that will result!

 

At last, I made yarn

As I mentioned earlier this week, I basically didn’t spin at all this summer. I was gone about as much as I was home, and when I was home, I was either preparing for my next trip or recovering from my previous one, and I just couldn’t find the momentum to spin.

But I got back on the wheel in the latter part of August, and I banged out a fun thick-and-thin just to get back in the groove (pics soon). Then I moved on to spinning up the prize for my giveaway from June.

This is deep stash, FLUFF MCN (Merino Cashmere Nylon) in “Murky.” I chose it as the giveaway because it reminds me of the color of the ocean in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, part of the Emerald Coast.

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It was a joy to spin.

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302 yards 2-ply light worsted

I loved working with this fiber – so smooth and silky, and the colors are so amazing. It definitely put me in a beachy frame of mine, and I think it will knit up beautifully. Susan, I hope you love it!

I’ve already got my next fiber on the wheel:

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More FLUFF! More beachy colors! More total YUM! Welcome back, spinning. I’ve 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!

 

 

Knock, knock! Who’s there? MORE YARN!

I’m being pretty particular these days, trying very hard not to add to my stockpiles of yarn unless absolutely necessary. Right now “necessary” mostly means I need it in order to make a gift. But every now and then, after lots and lots of thought and planning, I will spring for something very special for a particular project.

For the scheduled January update of The Plucky Knitter, I gave a few days of thought, figured out what I wanted and for what purposes, and when the update went live, I snagged it. It arrived last week, and it’s even more stunning than I’d imagined.

Plucky Feet, in "Technicolor Teal" and "Wintry Mix"

Plucky Feet, in “Technicolor Teal” and “Wintry Mix”

My iPhone can’t remotely capture the luminescence of this yarn. The teal is the most stunning possible shade, with gorgeous depth and shine. The pale grey is absolute perfection.

20140319-220838.jpgThe yarn is slated for a Kyllene. It will be a long while before I can get started on it, but I’ve got the perfect yarn for when I do.

Spinning a little sunshine into my wintry world

Let’s call today “Fiber Friday” instead of “Fashion Friday,” shall we? Because my fashion today is a smart wool base layer, my favorite hoodie (“Upper Peninsula, Michigan, est. 1837”), jeans, and shearling slippers (a favorite Rhinebeck purchase). With the -20 degree wind chill we have going on today, warmth is my only measure of fashion.

I am not complaining about the weather. I really love that we are having a true winter. It seems like the optimum conditions for my hobbies, you know? Knitting, spinning, reading, drinking hot stuff out of favorite mugs – I can do all those things in the summer, too, and I do. But I feel like winter gives me the psychological boost of feeling like these are things I actually should be doing, rather than just things I want to be doing. I know this is silly, but whatever. I like winter!

It also gives me extra cheer at this time of year to spin up something especially bright and happy. And so here is the first yarn off the wheel this year:

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, "Mochi"

Hello Yarn Superwash BFL, “Mochi”

I started this yarn in December, when I was working on spinning 10 minutes a day, but I was soon foiled in my plans when I lost the end of the yarn and could not find it for the life of me. Seriously, I tried several times over several days and then finally gave up. After the new year, I took a deep breath, and tried again, using my orifice hook to pick up each strand on the bobbin until I finally found the end. After that, it wasn’t long before I was done.

Those colors!

Those colors!

It’s 205yds light worsted chain-ply (4 oz.). It’s actually two skeins, and they are almost exactly the same length, which is a minor miracle – 101 yards in one and 104 yards for the other. These are slated for mittens for me, to go with my new chocolate brown down coat. But it will be awhile before I can cast on, due to many other projects on deck.

For now, I am keeping this in a very visible place in my study, so I can see it and pet it whenever I need a little boost. I have so much love for this one, and can’t wait to knit it up!

 

 

yarns I have loved :: Sundara Aran Silky Merino (plus a destash and a giveaway)

updated to add: the yarn and the sweater are both spoken for, thanks!

 

I think we all know that Sundara dyes gorgeous yarn. Her yarn was the first independently-dyed yarn I ever fell in love with. A pair of my favorite handknit socks are made in her sock yarn:

knitted :: Embossed Leaves
“Embossed Leaves” in “Midnight Meadows.” Love that rich, dark, layered green.

The crazy thing is that I have stashed more of her yarn than I have knit with. And I’ve decided it’s time to part with one little bit of it. It’s very hard to uncurl my death grip from some of the beautiful yarn in my stash, but I’m trying (trying!!) to be a little sensible about how much time there is in a day versus how much yarn and fiber there is in my house. Also, I’m still trying to repay my rainy day fund for the spinning wheel splurge I made earlier this year.

So without further ado, I’d like to destash this gorgeosity:

Sundara Aran Silky Merino, "Charcoal Over Lagoon"

Sundara Aran Silky Merino, “Charcoal Over Lagoon”

Oh, my heart catches a bit looking at that glowing blue. How can I let such beautiful yarn go? It helps to know that someone else might actually make something with it. I bought this five years ago. My kids were still in preschool when I bought this yarn:

Little Buddha, 4 years old

Little Buddha, 4 years old

I originally bought the yarn to make a Shetland Triangle, but the yarn really could become almost anything. It would be more than enough to make this Textured Shawl, for instance:
knitted: Textured Shawl
(I made this shawl with 300 yards of a similar yarn)

I’m selling two skeins (400 yards) – together only – for $60 (PayPal only), including shipping within the U.S. If you’re interested, leave a comment or message me, and it’ll be yours. I can ship it only Friday. The yarn is in a smoke-free, pet-friendly home, and has been stored in plastic in a fiber drawer.

Also! I’m giving away some Sundara Aran Silky Merino, in already knit form. I made this Liesl with two skeins of ASM in “Tulip” four years ago:
for Rav: Liesl

I liked the sweater well enough but I’ve never gotten much wear out of it. I guess I liked it but didn’t love it. (The sweater itself is cute, so maybe it was the color I wasn’t crazy about, I don’t know). Also, I made a mistake in one of the sleeves (the lace pattern is off) – I didn’t notice it until I’d worn it a time or two, and then after that I couldn’t *not* notice it.

Anyway! I’d love for someone else to have this sweater – either to wear or to unknit and have about 400 yards of ASM to make something else. I’m giving it away (*without* the copper clasp) – if you’d like it and if you’ll cover shipping (let’s say $5, PayPal), I’ll send it your way. Again, let me know either in the comments or via direct message, and we’ll work it out.

YIP.7.31 - Liesl

I’m trying to let go of things that I don’t really use, so if you would use this sweater (either in sweater form or in yarn form), I would love for you to have it!

I still have other Sundara Aran Silky Merino in my stash that’s roughly five years old, and I’m debating whether to knit it or let it go. For now, though, I’m doing well to offer up these two skeins and this sweater.

 

updated to add: the yarn and the sweater are both spoken for, thanks!

yarns I have loved :: Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool Worsted (including a wee destash)

(edited to add :: yarn has been claimed)

My lovely local yarn shop closed earlier this year, which is sad for many reasons, but one of the things I miss most about it is shopping there for Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd’s Wool yarn. It was at this shop that I first discovered this Michigan-made yarn, and it is a treasure – a soft, strong 3-ply merino that comes in a beautiful assortment of colors, in skeins of 250 yards. I had never heard of it when I discovered it at my local yarn shop a few years ago, and at the time it was selling for a little less than $10/skein. The first thing I ever knit with it was this mitten:
365.318 - I wasn't supposed to need mittens in April
(yeah, that’s right, I said mitten, not mittens because I never did get around to making its match.)

I love this yarn so much. In addition to being soft and strong, it’s got great stitch definition; cables really pop in it.
designed :: Shameless Cowl
My entire Shameless collection is designed in this yarn.

I’ve been coming up with a fun conceptual knitting project that required some yarn I didn’t I already have. I ordered an assortment.
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Mmm, love this classic White.

The problem is, since I can’t buy it locally anymore, I have to pick colors based on how they look on the computer screen. That usually works out fine for me, but this time I made an error. I wanted a deep blue, so I ordered Navy.
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But it is a very deep, dark blue, almost a black-blue – darker than it looks in this picture. (little known fact about me: when I take those color-blindness tests, I test almost color blind for discerning the difference between dark blue and black). I thought I was going to be able to make this work for my project, but alas, I am not. With the other colors in the project, it is reading as black instead of dark blue.

So I’m offering it up to you, dear reader. This yarn now retails for $13. I paid that, plus shipping. I’m looking to destash this for $10 total, with shipping included. If you haven’t tried this yarn yet, now’s your chance! It would look great as a man’s cabled hat, or as a nice soft pair of mittens. At 250 yards in a skein, it’s actually enough for a hat and mitt set, depending on the patterns.

If you’re interested, leave me a comment or message me. I would love for this beautiful, squishy yarn to find a good home. (edited to add :: yarn has been claimed)

Every now and then things turn out just the way you want (dyeing :: Lorna’s Laces, from Blackberry to Plum)

It’s rare that I’m totally satisfied with how one of my projects turns out – my vision usually outruns my abilities. I fully expected that to be the case this time, too. Especially since I’d never tried dyeing before.

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Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport, “Blackberry”

But I was determined to give it a go, because this just wasn’t the contrast I was looking for:

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport with my handspun Pigeonroof Fiber Studios BFL in Cut & Paste Socks

I did some testing to see which dye I wanted to use to overdye. I had initially assumed I would go with the “Plum Dandy,” but I am so glad I did a test first, because it turned out that the Deep Maroon actually achieved the color I was looking for.

Having figured out which dye to use, I got to work. Bye-bye beautiful purple “Blackberry”:

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(I do love the original color, it just wasn’t what I wanted for this project)

Even though I had done some sampling, I still wasn’t prepared for how completely perfect the yarn was going to turn out for me.

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I mean, seriously. This is exactly what I wanted.

A deep, semi-solid, plummy purple. It practically glows.

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It provides a perfect contrast for my handspun.

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(the dark spots were actually already in the yarn before I overdyed)

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There are only two problems now.
1 – It seems a shame to use such a pretty yarn for contrast cuffs, heels, and toes for socks – it’s going to be covered up most of the time!
2 – I really do feel like I have possibly fallen down the rabbit hole of a new hobby….

 

for comparison: original on left overdye on right

for comparison:
original on left
overdye on right