Thursday, May 14, 2009

A New Flower in my Vase!

I'm still in love with Bosworth's spindles and I'm still lusting after one. At the fiber festival, however, they just didn't have anything beyond 1.63-oz. and I was trying that one and a gorgeous 1.5-oz. one they had (Maxi) and also Golding's 1.9-oz. which was in the next barn over. With the thickness of yarn I wanted it for (and working with an empty cop, of course), the Golding just won out hands down.

After getting a growing cop, however, it dawned on me (duh!) -- it's only for a very short time that you have no weight on the cop (duh again). The 1.9-oz. Golding starts getting pretty heavy, pretty quick. But damn, it's a sweet spinner! It's like setting a machine in motion. I totally love that brass ring, not only the way it looks, but it just seems to add stability.

At the next fiber festival, I'm going to try a mid-range Bossie Maxi again, but I know I'm going to want a lighter, smaller spindle at some point and I just have a thing for the Bossie. Maybe a Midi is in order. Jenny loves the one I got her for Christmas.

Anyway, here's my spindle crop so far. Each one does a different job phenomenally well. That big, honker square-whorl Powell plies like you wouldn't believe. I mean, it just drives like a big, steady Lincoln when Lincolns were still like Lincolns. The Kundert does amazingly well (and a long spinner) on thinner yarn. And the Golding definitely is a winner for a thicker single. I love them all.

The crop...

Though among their less expensive carved spindles, I do love this Tsunami design. That brass ring really earns its keep in action!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Trying for a thicker AND looser spin...

The other day at the Fiber Festival, Jenny and I took a break and we were sitting on the lawn, whereupon I was looking in my bag of brought fiber to try spindles with, and discovered I had stuck my trial spin of that fiber in the bag. I showed it to her, and she said she's getting to where she can recognize my spins. She thinks they're unique, but couldn't explain why. Well, that's generally a compliment and I know she meant it as such, but I've been noticing that my spins tend to be TIGHT. The end result makes for a highly compressed yarn which has some disadvantages.

So with this top I wanted to try for a thicker yarn AND one with less spin. I've only been at it since the end of December, but habits die hard! It's still more overspun than I was after. I'm also finding that thick yarn is harder to spin in that invariable variations in the drafting (thickness) really show up! And they're fifty times more noticeable.

Here's what I've wound up with, at least so far. While it's good to wait until the whole top is spun to ply it, I just can't stand not knowing how it's coming out until it's all spun. I also tried a looser ply.

THE FIRST PHOTOS LIE: The yarn looks ever so perfectly consistent in terms of thickness. NOT!

No flash

With flash

This photo isn't in great focus but it shows what I mean by variations in thickness showing up so much more with a thicker yarn. Actually, you kind of really have to look close to see what I mean, the photo makes them look way more consistent than they are. Some of this is heavy worsted WPI, some is fingering or close to it.

2nd pair of FGs - done!

I finally finished the 2nd glove. Damn. This one wasn't a breeze, lol.
There's a mistake in it not far from the cuff where I got off track and did some purls where I should have done knits. There was a hole where you pick up stitches because I only picked up 4, not 5-6 (not unusual to happen). I actually fixed it a whole lot easier than I thought I'd be able to. Another mistake where a purl row was wide enough to where I knew there was something wrong with it, and what looked like a slipped stitch but wasn't, but had a loose place. I have no idea what that was about. But I got all those repaired and secured really nicely though, with no weird tightness in odd places or whatever, and weaved in all the ends (a LOT of those). Plus, along the way, in addition to all that, I had to re-do the thumb start a couple of times, and that ended up pretty perfect. And last but not least, I had bound off one row too soon, because it's never going to be perfectly the same, but it was JUST enough shorter at the fingers so it bugged me. I'd have rather had it one row longer, but not shorter. So I did undo the bind-off, and all I can say is, if you're going to use the Elizabeth Zimmerman sewn bind-off, be sure. It was a total bitch to get that undone. It's a great bind-off, but each stitch is actually sewn through twice, once in each direction by the time all's said and done. And the way it's done, those stitches don't show (a good thing) which is NOT a good thing if you're trying to single them out for undoing, one at a time, because they don't show. They're freaking hard to see. But that is a GREAT bind-off!

I'm really happy with these gloves. I think the yarn itself is pretty wonky (unspun parts and also a few knots here and there which TOTALLY pisses me off on a commercial yarn), some thin spots, some thick spots, and with color changes that are sooooo long in the coming that you really do need two skeins to have two matching gloves, because each color doesn't repeat within the same skein. But all that aside, they are going to be nice and warm. I don't think my homespun ones will that much, not as much as these anyway. And they have great bounce-back which is important on something you're going to be stretching but want to fit snug. So I'm happy with them.

It dawns on me that I haven't given hand knit things as gifts yet, I'm too new at it so I'm still learning a lot of stuff, and still in the stage where there are things I want (like another hat or two, another cowl or two) BECAUSE I'm that new at it. But there will come a point where I'm going to want to give some things as gifts, and FGs are just great things.

So anyway, that's my 2nd pair of Fingerless Gloves. The pattern is Maine Morning Mitts (same as the homespun ones). And I FINALLY FIGURED OUT THAT FREAKING PICK UP STITCHES TRICK. GAWD!!! The trick is, you have to pick them up in the opposite direction from what's intuitive AND turn the work opposite what's intuitive. There may be another way (in fact I know there is) but there's just something that I can't figure out about that way.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Second pair FGs in the works (commercial yarn)

Okay, since I had so freaking much trouble with setting up that blasted thumb on the first pair (both gloves!), I couldn't rest until I tried another one without having to go wimping back to LYS feeling like an idiot. Okay, I didn't need to feel as much like an idiot as... (long story).

This one was more challenging because when I got home with the yarn, I discovered that I did NOT have gauge, in fact worse yet... (more long story). Anyway, I had 4 sts/inch, not 5 sts/inch, pretty significant difference. So I deleted one pattern set, only picked up 4 sts (which the pattern calls for but isn't enough but actually did better than I thought it would). And then did super tight knitting on the thumb tube which had worried me. Fortunately, that almost bordered on overkill, but not quite. The thing fits perfectly.

This time I tried Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn bindoff, notwithstanding that I had a major make-or-break question, but thought I was reading it right, more likely than not. I am now a total fan of her bindoff for anything stretchy. I mean, it's a great bind-off. I didn't do the thumb in it, but tried it on the finger end. Damn, that's a great bind-off.

So since I am still super amazed with the techno advances of my relatively teensy little highly pocketable Canon SD990IS, I love photo-ing WIPs. Overkill again, but hey, I never said this would be an exciting blog. It's really more a diary of mindless trivia for things fibery. (It says that on the blog title, so no deathless prose here.)

I have a love/hate relationship with this Noro Kureyon yarn. They really take some liberties in producing it. I mean in the course of this little item which took way less than 50 yds., two seriously ridiculously underspun sections plus a couple of knots? And some VM no less??? Horrors! I'd expect that from China, but not Japan. But it has great stitch recognition, and I'm learning some amazing stuff on these FGs. Plus, I admit, they're worth practicing on because if you get fast with them, what could be a better gift for at least two people I know, actually three. Nope, four.

Ridiculous amounts of photos....

Stays snug. Great bounce-back.

This looks like a tight stretch. It isn't! I think these little suckers will be great for typing. There is a getting-used-to factor, but once you do, hey it works. I think this bind-off is even better for splayed finger spread than the one I was using. If Jenny doesn't know this one (and I ALWAYS love it when I can show HER something she doesn't know in spinning or knitting) then I'll get to show it to her, and then scrunch up my face and go Squeeeeeeee!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

TWO fingerless gloves. Whew.

Well, I needed help with the picking up of stitches on the 2nd one also because while I was able to pick up the stitches fine enough, I must have been doing something screwy when knitting them. I think I was loading them onto the needle in the wrong direction. Of course the woman who showed me has a ton of experience, and this time proceeded to knit in the front sometimes, in the back other times as well as other things that were confusingly different from the first time she showed me, all quite fast again, LOL. But hopefully I'll be fine on the next one because I sure ain't a-goin' in there for help from her on this again. Took me a couple hours to get over feeling how stupid I must be.

So finally, here's the two of them. The second one (left) got knitted way looser because the first one was really snug, and I think this section of the homespun was thinner. For sure it is on the thumb, I remember that strand from when I plied it, maybe I should have cut it out. But the 2nd glove hasn't been worn while testing out typing with one of these things on, and when on the hands, side by side, they look like a pair.

I'll sure be glad when I've been knitting long enough to read stitches better, because nothing IS obvious... until you can see it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Success! A Fingerless Mitt!!!!!

Wow, knitting these is supposed to be easy. Hah!

Well, they will be, they will. Gimme a couple under my belt, and I'll show you the world. I am going to make hundreds of these things! They are freaking amaaaaaaaaaaazing! I can see why Ravelry has a whole, active, enthusiastic group devoted just to them. "Fingerless Glove Fanatics." It's an apt name, I now see why people are so devoted to these little units.

It took me for-freaking-ever to get my first one made. I am shamelessly proud of it. I am wearing it. I think I'll sleep in it. In any event, I'm starting its mate TONIGHT. Here it is.

Oh yes, and I'm using my latest homespun. Mostly a worsted weight yarn, 2-ply, Superwash BFL, hand dyed by Squoosh on Etsy. Great colorway! The unspun top, and the spin itself, is covered in the post below this one for anyone who wants to see the fiber.

So here we have it lying on the table (an odd looking thing when not on, I know.) But this shows the details best. Pattern: Maine Morning Mitts (only change... mentioned below).

It was worth the wait, and all my frogged starts and fretting-over-needle-size problems. These will make great outdoor mitts. They fit snug, they're dense because I used 3.0mm needles on what's close to a worsted weight yarn, and they come almost down to my finger knuckles. Perfect length for outside wear because if I make a fist, my fingers will tuck up inside, which I know I will end up doing during quickie barn trips. For that reason, these might end up warmer than my SSG Horse Trainer gloves.

See how snug they fit with fingers closed? Heavenly feeling thing! Oh, Love 'Em! (Well, "it" so far.)

As snug as they are, they give me absolutely no argument with my fingers splayed all the way wide.

Oh, just noticed - this photo LQQKS like there's pulling or something by the thumb tube when stretched out. Not at all. It gives without stressing the palm section one bit! The photo lies.

I am ALWAYS finding something I would have done differently. Always. I wouldn't change anything on the way this turned out. Perfect length, and full finger movement (stretch), yet complete bounce-back when fingers not opened. I mean, I love the yarn, but to have something this practical to boot? Yeee-haw! Love it, love it, love it!

Okay, pattern modification: I was totally boggled by the thumb, but today drove 25 minutes each way to the LYS and she showed me how to set it up. Not sure I can do it again because I'm not sure about a couple of things, but I got the gist. Anyway, we picked up 5 sts., not the four called for in the pattern. It just made more sense spacewise, but also that gave me 15 sts. which makes the thumb ribbing pattern come out right. It wouldn't have otherwise. I think there may be a couple typos in that pattern, and I strongly suspect needle size is one of them, unless the designer knits even tighter than I did, and I just don't think that would be possible. Only other change was length, I stopped at a mitt length of 7 inches on the finger side, because that final 8th inch would have put them down past my knucks.

I'm gonna live in these. Need more, more, more!!