Handspun Andrea

Hey, it’s my first handspun finished object! It only took me, like, four months! Which I guess is how it goes when you’re using a drop spindle because you’re too poor for a wheel. This is Kirsten Kapur’s Andrea’s Shawl in the medium size, knit in yarns I spun from Louet Corriedale in “Pagoda Red” and Mountain Colors Targhee in “Indian Corn.” And I’m pretty darn happy with how it came out. People are constantly baffled about why I bother to spin, and I think this series of pictures is probably the best answer I can give:

It’s pretty damn gratifying to start with a pile of wool and a dream, and to be involved in every step of the process that turns it into something fabulous that suits your tastes perfectly because you frigging made it. That, friends, is why I spin.

Knitting With (My Own) Handspun

At long last, I have actually started knitting with this yarn I’ve been spinning since, uh, August. In my defense, I spun really slowly when I was just starting out — my first 200 yards took about two months, and my next 200 yards took about three weeks. (Graduating from park-and-draft to suspended spinning helped a lot!) Also, I didn’t bring any of my spinning with me on my month-long winter vacation, because it would have taken up valuable suitcase space that had to be reserved for the sweaters and pants and non-flipflop shoes that the east coast apparently requires in winter. What you’re getting a glimpse of here is Kirsten Kapur’s Andrea’s Shawl, knit from my Brickhouse yarn and my Ammons yarn. The Brickhouse yarn, spun from a Louet Corriedale top, was really my “learning” yarn, and as such it varies widely in quality. I started knitting the lacy edge of this shawl with my most recent batch of it, figuring that lace would benefit the most from nice even yarn — but now I’m up into the stockinette part and using my earlier, crappier yarn. It’s like traveling back in time and visiting my stupider self: “Damnit, why is this fingering-weight yarn suddenly worsted weight?! Why is it so underspun here? What idiot spun this?? Oh, wait. THE TRUE MONSTER IS MAN.”

Ahem. Anyway, when I need a break from boring stockinette and crappy yarn spun by some idiot (I kid, I’m pretty excited to be actually knitting with yarn I actually made), I’ve been working on my Sleepy Hollow Socks. I’ve got one whole sock done:

Yaay! And I’ve gotten a solid start on the second one. So I expect finished socks in a week or so. Yaay!

Spinning-wise, I’ve gotten through a good chunk of the merino-silk top that is pictured in my new header:

I’ve only got about an ounce of it left, and I’m excited to see how it looks when it’s plied up! Hopefully this yarn will be a little less, uh, monstrous.

Winter Leaves

I seem to be on a green-and-leafy kick this winter, quite possibly because I spent the holidays in the epicenter of Snowpocalypse 2010, a blizzard that prevented Pat from being able to visit my family and that turned the local mall into a red cross station, among other things. Fortunately I am now back in southern California, and able to take sunny pictures like this one! What you see here is the beginning of a pair of Sleepy Hollow Socks, which I’m knitting because I like the leafy pattern but also because everybody on Ravelry raves about the heel construction: the gussets are knit in the round along with the heel, with no stitches to pick up. Crazy! You can’t really see in this picture, but I’ve gotten to the gusset increases and it all makes sense so far. I can’t quite conceptualize how turning the heel is going to work, but I have faith that if I continue to follow the instructions, everything will work out fine. The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga in a colorway called Autumn Tiger Beetle. I’d initially imagined making a scarf or something out of it, since the colors are so pretty, but I already have a dark green scarf-like thing, and as you’ll see in a second, I’m in the process of knitting another one. So I decided to use this sock yarn to make socks with after all — shocking! I’ve sworn to make at least two pairs of socks this winter, because I love wearing handknit socks around the house but I have no desire to knit them anytime other than winter when it’s chilly out.

Here’s the second green-and-leafy thing I’m working on:

This doesn’t look like much right now, but it’s the beginning of an Autumn Arbor Stole by Anne Hanson. I’ve never knitted a stole before, and I suspect that it’s going to take a million years and would get really boring if I devoted all my attention to it, so I’m conceiving of this as a between-projects project and not as something on the main stage for now. But the pattern is just so pretty (once it’s blocked — look over at the pattern page!), and I had enough Squoosh Fiber Arts Sublime Lace in my stash to attempt something this ambitious, so there you go. I figure if I finish this by summer I’ll be happy.

Here’s something I’m trying to finish a little more quickly:

I started this Buncha Squares Blanket in, uh, April, and you are looking at how much progress I’ve made. I ignored it pretty hard all summer, but suddenly now that it’s cold I’m feeling like another handknit blanket for the living room would be a superb idea, so I’m picking up the pace. I really love the colors! I figure I’ll keep on making squares until I either run out of yarn or run out of steam, but in the abstract I’d like this thing to be at least four squares wide and tall, if not five, so I have a loooong way to go.

Last time I promised you pictures of that scarf I was knitting as a gift. Unfortunately, the only pictures I have of it on the recipient don’t let you see it very well, and I neglected to do an FO photoshoot on my own. But at least you can see how much it’s appreciated:

This is my friend Adam, rocking what he says is his first favorite scarf in a long time. (He is also rocking fuzzy pink leopard-print pants, because we were preparing for the 2011 Philadelphia Mummers’ Parade when I took this picture.) He requested this scarf to replace a long-lost beloved scarf that had been his mother’s. He didn’t have much of a knitting vocabulary, but when he said that “it was loosely knit… but there was some periodicity to its looseness,” I figured out that what he probably wanted was a drop-stitch scarf. What you see here is a simple drop-stitch scarf with 9 knit rows followed by a triple-drop-stitch row, in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter in the Woodsmoke colorway. I made it pretty damn long, since he said that one of his favorite things about the old scarf was that he could wrap it two or three times and still have lots of it trailing — as you see here!

As if all the knitting here wasn’t enough, I also plan to cast on soon for my very first project with my handspun yarn. Stay tuned!

Valentine

I know it’s a little early, but one of my friends reported seeing Valentine’s Day paraphernalia in the stores on December 26th this year — and at least it’s not that early. I didn’t plan this to be a V-Day piece, and I know I’ll wear it a whole lot more often than that, but when I took it off the blocking board I immediately knew what my wardrobe concept for this photoshoot would be — and what I’d be wearing on Valentine’s Day.

This is Jackie E-S’s Shallow Sideways Tri-Shawl, knit in Gaia Lace from Sanguine Gryphon in the Haemophobia colorway, which was one of their fall colors this year. It’s a 60/40 silk/mongolian cashmere blend, and it’s the most beautiful thing ever. It’s lustrous, drapey, and lovely. I knew immediately that I wanted to do something really striking and unusual with this yarn, and none of the lace patterns in my queue were quite right. With the help of Ravelry’s search engine, I found Jackie E-S’s pattern, which was totally perfect. It’s much much longer than most sideways shawls that I’ve come across so far, which means it’s very easy to wrap and tie a bunch of different ways, and it stays where you put it. (It’s a little hard to measure now that it’s off the blocking board, but I think it’s about 90 inches long.)

Speaking of which, here it is blocking. I stretched it quite a bit width-wise, to open up the lace, and not at all along the length dimension because it was already so long. The pattern is actually very easy to memorize once you get the hang of it, but heed my warning: it’s important to count and pay attention on the two rows immediately following a cable cross, because it’s easy to put too few or two many k1p1s between the lace parts at that point. I did that in two separate places and didn’t realize it until it was too late, but I figured the mistakes would be nigh undetectable in the finished object, and sure enough, it’s fine.

In fact, this bit of slinky loveliness might be my favorite FO of 2010. If you count it in 2010, that is — I finished knitting it over the holidays, but I wasn’t able to block it until I returned to California two days ago. I’ll have another post for you soon, with some shots of new WIPs as well as some shots of the NJ blizzard, and that grey scarf I teased you with last time!