Friday, July 18, 2008

Handspun, Handknit Bonanza, Part II: Plum Blossom

The parade of handspun, handknit hats continues, this time with a ribbed deal that I knit up from the Plum Blossom yarn I spun eons ago.

The fiber was originally 4.4 oz of Shetland wool, dyed in the "Plum Blossom" colorway from Pigeonroof Studios. Like the Burning Bush hat, I originally tried to make a Zeebee, which has turned into my default pattern for hats knit out of handspun, and I actually finished it. But . . . because I was still very much a newbie spinner at that time, my spinning was so abominably inconsistent that my gauge changed during the course of the knitting! The yarn was much thicker at the beginning than it was at the end. If you've ever knit a Zeebee, you'll know that a changing gauge spells disaster! There was a distinct dent in the hat's brim where I grafted the thicker-gauge yarn I knit at the beginning to the thinner-gauge yarn that I knit at the end.

I probably could have blocked the dent out, but I planned on giving the hat away as a gift, and I knew that the first time the recipient washed the hat, the dent would reappear and look bad. So I ripped the whole darn thing out, had a couple of fits and starts with various attempts at different brim-to-crown patterns, and finally decided on with this ribbed affair--my default pattern for brim-to-crown hats, courtesy of Fig and Plum.

In the end, it's certainly not an exciting hat, but I suppose simpler patterns are better with handspun so you can really show the yarn off. I think the hat does capture a nice tweedy, handmade sort of feel, and I do always like the way the ribs decrease into a star in Jessica's pattern. The hat is also nice and stretchy, and the fold-up brim will help keep the ears extra warm, which the recipient will definitely appreciate in the winter.

Pattern: Fig and Plum's Ribbed Hat
Needles: US6 circular and DPNs
Yarn: Handspun 2-ply, 4.4 oz. of "Plum Blossom" from Pigeonroof Studios
Recipient: A secret (just in case)!

Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Handspun, Handknit Bonanza, Part I: Burning Bush

We now return to our regularly scheduled catch-up blogging. In addition to all the spinning that I did earlier this year that I am only now blogging about, I did a bunch of hat-knitting in a (largely unsuccessful) attempt to maintain a net-zero stash intake. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to knit as quickly as I can spin, but I did manage to knock out some hats, which will make some good holiday presents this winter.

This is one of my favorites from the hat bonanza. It's knit out of the Burning Bush Corriedale that I got from Spunky Eclectic back in February this year--one of my first successful wheel-spun yarns. I love the reds, blues, and oranges.

Knitting this hat was quite a struggle, though. I don't remember all the trials and tribulations exactly, but I think that what you see here is probably the fifth incarnation of this hat. I originally started trying to knit a Zeebee and ripped and reknit several times due to fit/gauge issues. When I finally figured out that I didn't have enough yarn for a Zeebee, I switched to a regular ribbed-brim affair. That took a couple more attempts, too, before I hit on a reasonable number of stitches and the correct size.

Still, I'm very happy with the finished object. It's nice and thick and covers the ears, as I think all woolen hats should. And knitting with handspun is so much fun!

Yarn: Handspun 2-ply, 4 oz. of "Burning Bush" Corriedale from Spunky Eclectic
Needles: 10.5 Addi Turbo, Brittany Birch DPNs
Pattern: My own--just 2x2 ribbing for 5 or 6 rounds, then stockinette
Recipient: Not sure. I know I said these hats would make good holiday gifts, but I might keep this one for myself because it was such a struggle to knit. Plus, have I mentioned that I love the colors?

Hope everyone had a nice weekend! Happy Bastille Day!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Child's First Socks, Redux

We interrupt our regularly scheduled spinning blogging for a quick message from our sponsor, Current Knitting!

Look, our cuffs actually match this time.

That's right, folks, I actually have some current knitting to blog about! (Wait--did you just hear that? That was the sound of the earth turning backwards on its axis for a split second. You experienced it first here on Seedless Grape!)

I'm in the midst of a knitting frenzy to try and knit up some gifts for my various co-workers, whom I'm leaving in exactly one month when my current clerkship ends. This is the first effort, a pair of Child's First Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks for one of my co-clerks. The yarn is Dream in Color's Smooshy sock yarn in the Wisterious colorway.

Hello, look how wisterious we are.

This was the first time I'd knit with Dream in Color, and I lurrrrve it and want some more. It's nicely spun and I love, love, love the "veil-dyed" semisolid effect. No striping, no pooling, just lovely shifts of color all in the same color family. It's really beautiful, and I love how it turned out for these socks.

This is the second pair of Child's First Socks that I've made. It's rare that I reknit sock patterns (that is, if I'm not just knitting a straight stockinette or a ribbed deal, which doesn't really count), but the Child's First Socks is such an easy pattern with elegant results that I decided to knit it again. (I'll admit that it helps to knit something I'm familiar with when I'm aiming for speed. ) The only modification I made (besides tweaking the number of repeats to get the appropriate size) was to sub in a short-row heel. My co-clerk has very narrow heels, so I hope that the short-row heel will fit better than the regular heel flap that the pattern calls for.

Pattern: Child's First Socks
Needles: 2 US1 Addi Turbo circulars
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn, "Wisterious"
Recipient: The Rules Clerk
Mods: Fewer repeats; short-row heel

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sweet as Pie

The (blogging about) spinning kick continues! I was lucky to snag some of Adrian's "regular" fiber during her most recent shop update at Hello Yarn. This is four ounces of Finn wool in the colorway "Sweet as Pie" (photo of fiber here, again courtesy of Adrian).

The white tag attached to the roving is the backside of an index card on which I recorded the yardage, the kind of wool, and the colorway. I finally started noting all this information on tags and attaching the tags to the finished yarn because this yarn was a birthday gift to the Aspiring Ecologist (who is now ABD, by the way, woot!) and I wanted her to know what she was getting. Of course, bad blogger that I am, I don't remember any of the pertinent facts (namely, the yardage) myself. Again, it's sort of a DK/sport-ish weight, over 200 yards. That's about as much as I remember. (Sorry!)

This was the first time that I actually consciously examined the roving and the color repeats and tried to spin the fiber to achieve a desired result. (Usually, I just split the roving in half, tear off strips, and have at it, willy-nilly.) I wanted to try and maintain a proper barberpole--i.e., no sections where the two plies were the same color--so I noted the color repeats and tried to arrange the order in which I spun the strips of roving to avoid two colors overlapping when plying the two singles together. This was successful for the most part, but there were still a few places where the colors in the plies pooled together.

Again, I can't say enough good things about Adrian's fiber. Her sense of color always amazes me. I love trying new wools and new color combinations with her fiber. For someone with a pretty boring job and a mundane sort of life, spinning things from Hello Yarn always feels like an adventure. I love it!