Monthly Archives: April 2008

Cue the cooing

It’s baby’s first handspun. Well, first handspun AND first attempt at plying. I got the key things done this morning and was sitting around waiting for a few computer things to start working (not my computer, stuff on the university end), and was contemplating miscellaneous fibre-related things and thought to myself, “stop saying you’re going to ply and just PLY.” I got the pink fluffy stuff that I’d spun up when Kate visited in October and brought a bit of pink roving and a handmade spindle just for moi. I’d spun it all up, just hadn’t done anything with it yet, on account of that plying thing.

To cut to the chase – after an hour or so I had this (ootchie cootchie coo):

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Now, I’m quite willing to call a spade a spade here – it’s a wee tiny skein of pink fuzzy crud, but at least it’s MY skein of pink fuzzy crud. Spun back in October on a wobbly drop spindle (Kate knows it was wobbly, as much as I do love it there is sadly the wobbling), left to sit for months while I worked up the mental energy to go back to it.

I started with this:

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Read up on Andean plying here and then did this:

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Which eventually became a spindle full of this:

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Nice fuzzy completely unevenly twisted (and unevenly spun, for that matter) strands of this:

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Which weighed up to just under 30 grams of my very own fuzzy pink worsted/chunky handspun. Conversation piece yarn, no? I can’t imagine what I’d make with such a small amount anyhow, so I’m quite happy to just let it be a skein.

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Good times.

I can tell that practice does make perfect. I am looking forward to getting more practice at the plying and I hope I can do it better next time around. I think I missed a step and was supposed to have left the Andean pre-ply stuff around my wrist (and not, as I did, dropped by my side as I was spinning the plies, ahahahaha), so that is goal #1 for next time. And there will be a next time, because I’ve been gradually accumulating more bits of fibre.

Martha got me a Fleece Artist braid of merino/alpaca at Christmas and I’ve been gradually turning it into this:

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Still imperfect, but better. I suppose that is generally a good way to be.
Spinning ahoy!

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Frolicking

I made my first trip to the Toronto (Downtown Knit collective) Knitter’s Frolic yesterday, with Martha (wearing her finished Icarus! Go go laceweight!), Steph, and Diana (not of the blogs). There was some yarn buying. There was a bit of frenzy. And there may have been some singing along to Michael Buble while in the car. (Steph took exception to this. She prefers Harry Connick Jr.)

This is it for me for a while. No really, for REAL, I’m totally going to have to put a pause on the yarn buying, I think I’ve done quite enough damage this month what with already supporting the New York and Boston yarn economies practically single-handedly, then carrying myself off to the Knitter’s Frolic.
But the thing is, there was such good stuff there. It was so fun to go, and I would happily go again. It was a treat to see vendors I wouldn’t normally get to see in person – and other knitters I know and love! I ran into Emily, Lisa, Jacquie, Sherri, Melinda, Rochelle, and many others.

A few brief pics – Martha and Steph at the Pick Up Sticks Booth (note Martha’s armload of Dream in Color):

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Diana fondles the Green Mountain Spinnery wares:

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And back at home, I ogle the new additions to my stash:

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The Purple Purl ladies had some good sales going in their booth, and I have the feeling they all made out like bandits. I made out with 7 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in ‘holly hock’, and a shiny free knitting tote to carry it in. I am planning this for either an Ariann or an Hourglass Pullover.

Over at the Black Lamb, I decided to exercise this new thing I’m trying where I break out of my usual colour habits and try something new – and I picked up 2 skeins of this merino/nylon sock yarns in some bright autumny sort of colours (for future knee socks):

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And at the In The Loop Cafe booth I found this delicious Fyberspates fairy wool laceweight (1200 m! Dude!), which had me at hello and the price was very, very reasonable:

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Y’all might have to help me out with potential patterns. This summer, I’m thinkin’ lace projects will finally happen. Real lace, not just lace edgings on things. Shawls ahoy!

And also some Michael Buble. (I never kid about car singalongs).

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Happy Sunday! I wish I could just knit…but sadly these essays won’t grade themselves. Catch ya later this week my friends.

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Filed under knitting tourism, stash

Finding patterns from Magknits

I’ve had several hits lately on my blog with search strings like ‘Magknits patterns’ or ‘Magknits shutting down’, as well as more comments asking about how to find [X Magknits pattern], so I thought I would post this all in one go. I don’t know how many people read information left in comments. Here are some suggestions for recovering patterns previously published at Magknits (Any further suggestions please feel free to comment):

1. Check Ravelry. Many patterns have already been uploaded there as free downloads. If you’re on Ravelry you’ve likely already discovered this. I know that not all knitters are members of Ravelry and the site is not public yet, but I humbly suggest that this Magknits situation is one example of the kind of situation which makes Ravelry an invaluable resource. If you’re not on it yet but want to add your name on the waiting list the wait times are definitely much shorter than they were previously.

2. Check with the designer. Many designers have blogs and it is likely they have posted a copy on their blog (if it is still going to be available for free) as I have done here. Some designers may decide to re-post their patterns for sale.

3. Check the internet. Abbie (thank you!) left these instructions on how to do a Googlecache search:

type “Magknits + [pattern name]” into Google, and then click on the link for “Cache” in the little google blurb. Pictures are not a guarantee, but if the pattern is cached, then the text will all be there. Print it to pdf or copy it to a word doc (or the word processor of choice) and bob’s yer uncle.

If you google “Magknits + Archive” you’ll get the list of all the patterns, although I’m not sure how recent it is — but that might help people who just can’t remember what something’s called.

NB: The two most recent issues don’t seem to have cached, so one would have to check in with the designers themselves. And, as with anything on the internet, Googlecache isn’t permanent, so best to copy this all sooner rather than later.

4. Check with knitters for hard copies. Don’t underestimate local knitting people. At least 2 people around me had copies of my own ‘Basic Black’ pattern I could have used in an emergency, so it’s likely someone in your area has a little mini Magknits treasure trove going.

That’s in from me for the moment – but more tomorrow, likely. I went to the Toronto Knitter’s Frolic (::sheepish:: ) and also did some good hanging out with my knitters. Steph has photos from our wee knitting night wherein very little knitting actually got done. I dig her self-photography skills. Also she has the only current pic of my finished ‘Glowing’ pullover…I gotta get on the photos with that one.

Have a good weekend my knitting friends!

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Book Review: A Fine Fleece

I’ve had this book in my possession for a few weeks now and I have not been able to stop looking at it. I’ve showed it around to my local knitting friends here in Hamilton, and took it with me to New York as well at the beginning of the month. Everyone I know who has seen this book has found something to ogle and look at lingeringly…and I know you will too. This, my friends, is the fine knitter’s (and spinner’s) companion, A Fine Fleece.

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This is not the book that I expected to see when I heard it was a book for handspun yarns. How many more wristwarmer and hat patterns do we need? (I thought). Oh, no no no no no. That is not what this book does. This book takes handspun yarns to a whole new level, so much so that I am mentally stepping-up the spinning wheel savings plan just so I can follow my rich fantasy life wherein I handspin enough yarn to make a sweater from this book.

It’s clear that Lisa Lloyd has put a great deal of herself into this book – each design has been carefully planned and executed, and the handspun yarns were likewise specifically chosen for fibre content and behaviour. But here’s the bonus – every project has been knitted (and displayed) in more than one yarn: both handspun and commercial yarns are represented here. So even if you’re not a spinner, you’ll still find this a rich collection of patterns.

In my last post I blogged about my start of the ‘Halcyon’ sweater, which is the first design from this collection to steal my heart:

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While there is no shaping (contrary to the illusion of the picture above), the sweater still drew me in for the pleasing cable combination and the standout centre panel. It’s a comfortable aran with a bit of grace and style. (Both the man and the woman in this picture are wearing the same pattern.) Many of the other sweaters in this book are like that – it strikes me as a sort of ‘Starmore in the City’ sort of collection. Lots of arans and lots of texture (so don’t be scared away if you’re not a big fan of cables – nearly half of the designs don’t use any) abound, and also a variety of colour.

One of the non-cabled pattern sets that I’m loving is the Narraganset Bay, seen here in socks, but also included as a hat and scarf variation:

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Lots of gorgeous texture there, on a small sock-sized canvas. There are several hats and scarves, in fact, all highly covetable. This open, lacy Twilight scarf caught many readers’ eyes, and would be fantastic for a small amount of handspun:

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And this Tilly scarf is also a winner in my eyes. I think it would be perfect for anyone who wants to try the texture of cables but not with an entire sweater’s worth of wool:

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Lest you think all the sweaters in this book are weighty cables and arans, well, think again. Just get a hold of this Ravensong pattern, a light and airy mix of tiny cables and lace columns, with waist shaping to boot:

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In short, there’s a lot to love about this book, and that very much includes the sizing. The finished measurements of most garments includes up to 50″ bust, which goes several inches beyond many books in print right now. Also, Lloyd includes tips on how to adjust the patterns for ‘unisex’ sizing, since many of the arans would be appropriate for either a man or a woman.

If you’re looking for more technical detail on handspinning, you’ll need to consult an additional manual for that sort of information, but there is still a wealth of knowledge in the opening pages about different fibres for spinning. (All yarns in this book are animal fibres, however, so I think that probably puts vegan knitters in just about the only group of knitters who won’t adore this book right off the bat). It’s a decent read, and told me a few things I didn’t already know about the different kinds of sheepswool.

I can’t wait to see all the projects that emerge from these patterns. If I had no other patterns to knit with for a year except for this book, I think I’d be just fine. And how many books can you really say that about? Nicely done, Lisa Lloyd, nicely done.

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Test of knitter vs. Knitter

Last week when I was in Boston I took with me a plain sock knitting project (stockinette, navy, men’s socks – for my grandfather), but I also brought some yarn and a new pattern to start as a treat. Since I was tired and vaguely stressed for a little while (what with almost losing my wallet, and also having to present and generally Think Thoughts) I went ahead and cast on. It’s a beautiful pattern, contained in Lisa Lloyd’s A Fine Fleece (of which I will soon be posting a glowing review), called ‘Halcyon’. And I’d had this nice turquoise sheepswool stashed and waiting for something with cables, so onwards I went.

The pattern is accurate, the sweater is beautiful. My brain, however, is clearly neither of those things at this particular juncture.

I had to cast on twice to set up the ribbing properly. Then after the ribbing I had to rip back a few rows to re-set the cable panels. Then I mis-crossed 2 cables on one of the small 4-stitch cable columns. (I fixed that on the plane yesterday night, then re-fixed it this morning when I thought it didn’t look right). Then I got to a nice stopping point at the end of the first centre-panel repeat and thought I’d take a nice picture of it for my Ravelry project page and noticed something that was more than just a 4-stitch cable mistake.

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Those 3 cable twists at the top of the pattern repeat in the middle are not supposed to be all neatly matched up like lines in the sand. Rather, as you might be able to see from the wee pic in the book there, they are supposed to be intersecting in a nice interwoven sort of way. I did not have any interweaving. And there was also no freaking way I was pulling back a dozen rows of sweater and re-knitting them unless absolutely necessary. Especially not when I know there are other ways of dealing with this sort of thing.

I isolated the stitches in question, ripped back, and did some surgery.

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It’s much better. The sweater is intact and all cables are go.

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I think I’m going to have a wee drinkie now. And maybe stick to the sock for this evening.

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Filed under cables, disaster, fearless knitting, knitting gone wrong, sweaters

Tourism isn’t the same without yarn

1. Would someone with knowledge of how to locate former Magknits patterns outside of Ravelry be so kind as to leave some suggestions in a comment? I would be ever so grateful. I’ve had a couple of comments asking how to find [X Magknits pattern] and I’m still away from home this week and without the mental wherewithal to dig up that information…Also it occurs to me that this is darned useful information to know about for knitter-kind in general.

2. Lemme tell ya about visiting Boston. Well actually, I can’t fully talk about Boston yet, because most of what I’ve seen of it so far has been the downtown hotel/shopping/eating complexes where my conference has been staged. I made the executive decision to break free from it at lunch yesterday, doing more than just lunch-break walking and bits of cafe knitting. I moseyed on down to the Museum of Fine Arts, which though (sad to say) a little paler in comparison to the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art, does have some fine precision curating going on. I took a few pictures (sadly sockless, as I was between 1st and 2nd sock at this point) and enjoyed some cafe respite afterwards.

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3. There have been some yarn incidents. I visited Windsor Button on a lunch break and may have fallen down and blacked out near the Berrocco Ultra Alpaca. Then yesterday I went down to Needham and took in the Black Sheep Knitting Co and the sock yarn jumped off of the shelf and flung itself at me. I am telling you, a tired tourist knitter only has so much willpower left in reserve, accidents like this are bound to happen, right?

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(Madeleine Tosh, Sunshine Yarns, and Mountain Colors Bearfoot – all items I don’t tend to come across at home. I had to. Right? RIGHT?)

Today I’m going to try to get on over to Cambridge and see Mind’s Eye Yarns, where I hear the sock yarn selection eats all other sock yarn selections for breakfast. I may not survive. I may need to plan lots of cafe and chocolate visits for fortification. But then I also hear there are one or two other things worth seeing in Cambridge besides yarn, so that might help too.

4. I had an almost-travel-crisis on my first full day in town, when I lost my wallet. (I got it back! Stand down panic, Mom and Dad!) I was fortunate enough to have lost it among academics, and have it returned to me via the help desk with all contents intact and accounted for (!). But this is the first time I’ve ever had to engage my backup system which involves stashing my 2nd (rarely used) credit card and some extra cash in my room and not on my person. My preparedness, it surprises even myself sometimes.

Catch you in a couple of days, my friends! Pet some yarn for me.

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Filed under knitting tourism, socks, yarn stores

Return to the Scene

First up: I have formatted ‘Basic Black’ as a pdf, and it is now available on Ravelry (for those who are registered on the site), as well as right here:
Basic Black

But in the present-day knits category, I’m thrilled to have my first pair of finished socks in over a month. When I made a pair of Jaywalkers last summer I swore I’d never make them again. The knitting was monotonous, the stitches were many. But then I kept wearing the ones I’d made and thinking, gee, these are comfortable. Gee, maybe they might be worth it to try again…

So I dug up some of the Lorna’s Laces I’ve been hoarding (this is ‘Tahoe’, a beautiful watery mix of blue and green and purple and delightful for coming out of winter), and boy was I glad I did.

Jaywalkers-Tahoe

After all the sweater knitting, it is great to get some socks back into the rotation. These were great as a travel project and I finished all but the foot and toe of sock #2 while on my trip to New York. They’re comfortable and I look forward to knitting up more Lorna’s Laces…and dare i say it, maybe even some more Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers. I may have found my perfect Jaywalker yarn.

As far as the sweaters, I’ve cast off one more and ‘Glowing’ is now having a wash and then I’ll give ‘er a bit of a dry and see how she fits. I’m just itching to get to some new projects and it feels good to finish a few things first.

This week I am once again like a ship in the night, as I take off for Boston on Tuesday. This time it is for a conference (let me tell you about how much I would love to be able to ditch it, but sadly I have to go “present” and “be professional” or whatever, psh), and I already have the guidebooks in hand and the yarn store addresses ready. I’d like to get to Mind’s Eye Yarns, A Good Yarn, and Windsor Button, but am entirely open to suggestion.

May your knitting be close by!

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