29 March 2009

Dickinson II

Well, the trip to the Aran Islands was made, and while I can't claim to have knitted an aran on the Arans, I certainly knit it around and near them. Dickinson now has a back and a full sleeve, with another almost finished. I would love to finish it over the next week. I've memorised the cable pattern now so no more need for the charts, which is a nice change.

In between, I've been spinning up some Wensleydale/Teeswater roving from Colorsong Yarn in the US, taking advantage of their wonderful worldwide free shipping policy. I'm n-plying it to keep the color segments intact, and it is beautiful, rich... and sort of hairy. I'm hoping it will become one of these in time for my mother's birthday at the end of April, although the pattern will need adjustment to accommodate the length-- n-plying really eats yardage for breakfast. Pictures to follow, I'm sure...

15 March 2009

A Project Whose Time Has Come

Interweave Knits Fall 2007 issue was one of those rare magazines that inspires you to knit multiple projects. I started with the rather disastrous (for me) Tilted Duster, and followed this summer by making the beautiful Minimalist Cardigan. But I bought the magazine in order to make the Dickinson Pullover. The yarn I originally bought, a batch of Custom Woolen Mills Mule Spinner, seemed too rough against the skin and too warm, which led to my digression into the Tilted Duster (whose sleeves turned out not to match due to a dye lot error on the manufacturer's part, and whose final product reminded me why I don't like anything resembling an empire waistline). The duster found a new home with someone who would love it more than I could, and at Christmastime I bought a batch of GGH Samson merino in a deep teal colour to start Dickinson. It was end of April before I started it. I knit five rows and put it aside, not to be picked up again until October.

I knit a bit more before Christmas knitting intervened and relegated it to the spare project box. This week, though, I'm leaving Dublin to see some of Ireland proper-- heading out to the west/southwest, to Galway and Dingle. We may even get to the Aran Islands. So I think Dickinson's time has finally come. I'm determined to finish it before the end of April, which will mean it's been in progress for a whole year.

At very least, the teal and cables make a nice change from the endless 3x5 rib of Leo, which I'm currently knitting for Timo, and the red/pink/red theme of most of last year's projects.

Clockwise from bottom left: Minimalist Cardigan, Corset Top, Tempting, Drops Alpaca cardigan, Blaze pullover

05 January 2009

Back with Photos

Well, that was a lengthy pause. I can only blame the lack of home Internet access. Anyway, this weekend, to my great excitement, I managed to make friends with my spinning wheel. Since it arrived in August 2007 in my suitcase from California it's been sitting unattended in a corner, making me feel guilty every time I look at it. A few times, I've managed to pull it out and try my hand at spinning, only to end up frustrated and tearing my hair. Whatever I did, I could not get the yarn to wind onto the bobbin. Admittedly, I couldn't draft. Admittedly, I was hanging onto the yarn rather than letting the wheel take it up. Even still, there seemed to be no pull from the wheel. Like it had no desire to help me. Several introductions on other wheels allowed me to identify what I was doing wrong, but still I made no progress on my own wheel. I was stuck.

In the meantime, I picked up a new spindle and learned to spin on that, and I was starting to make progress-- enough at least to spin and ply the yarn for several small Christmas knitting projects. But it wasn't the same. Over the holidays a friend generously plied some of my spindle-spun singles, and it was so much quicker it made me want to weep. So on Saturday, in a jetlagged haze, I sat down one more time to see if my new spindling skills were any use at all.

They are. First I discovered that if I worked hard, I could get a ball of commercial yarn to wind onto the bobbin, so I tried that. Then I decided to see what would happen if I changed the bobbin. And then I made my discovery. I'd been playing with the tension on the bobbin, but not on the drive band. The knob down below? That controls the drive band that controls how much pull there is on the wheel and on the bobbin. Oh. Suddenly, I could hardly hold onto the yarn. Did it take up on the bobbin? Did it, hell. It was swallowing the stuff faster than I could spin it.

And so I sat down and began spinning the bag of roving I got two years ago with my very first cheap drop spindle. I spun and spun. The first bobbin was underspun, the next one overspun, but I didn't care. By Sunday night I was through most of the roving and had filled three bobbins. So I plied them. A couple of hours later, I had 155g of three-ply yarn skeined and ready for washing. I did a quick estimate-- 137 metres. Not bad for a couple of days' work.

It's not even yet, either in the plying or the spinning. And it's not nearly as beautiful and professional as so much of the stuff I see turned out, even by novices, on the UK Spinners group on Ravelry. But I've gone from turning out this:

To this:

And I'm proud of that.


My wheel needs a name. Since it was made in Norway, it needs a Norwegian one, and female, I think. Suggestions in the comments please!

19 October 2008

Ich Spinne!

...which in German means, 'I'm crazy!'

I finished Avast a few days after last posting, with the help of the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) who force me to register with them every year on account of my being Foreign. Last year, I mistakenly thought it would be a couple of hours, and I took along an academic book. This year, hardened by experience, I took Avast. Six and a half hours of Sky News later (that's fifteen minutes, or one Sky News round, less than last year's wait), I'd been fingerprinted by the police (because all foreigners are potential criminals), had my photo taken for my new card, and I'd finished all the decreases and was working on the collar. Same time next year, Gardai?

It's true what the Yarn Harlot says: we don't knit because we're patient, we're patient because we knit.

I've been flirting with the Dickinson pullover since then, but most of my attention has been directed at moving house, and spinning. The moving house contributes to the German meaning of the blog title, while the drop spindling itself provides hours of fascinating distraction from it. Last week I finished off my first lot of fibre (50g of pink BFL dyed by HipKnits) and this week I've made it through 100g of some rough pale blue fibre of forgotten provenance which I'm now plying. So far I suck at plying, but it's good practice. Pictures to follow...

14 September 2008

The Sound of One Frog Laughing

Thursday this week was That Kind of Day. My attempt to find a flat in Dublin wasn't going well. I was seeing a lot of grungy, mouldy places with barely enough space for a spinning wheel, never mind my beloved. Frustrated and unable to concentrate on work, I pulled out the Avast cardigan I'm making him and tried to knit. After about eight inches of raglan decreases I had been starting to feel I was really making progress. This sweater is definitely an act of love: miles and miles of stocking stitch in rough pebble-grey wool at DK weight. He didn't like the cable so I replaced it with some ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, but since then it's been straight stocking the whole way. So you can imagine my despair when I finally noticed that the left and right sides of the front were definitely not what you would call even. I counted. Thirteen stitches of not-even. A few of those were missed decreases, but I knew I wasn't that forgetful.

No. Bored by the stocking stitch, I'd gotten careless. I forgot a key step involving some underarm binding off. I studied the sweater. I wondered for a while how Timo would feel about an off-centre cardigan. And then I frogged. Eight long inches. 50-odd rows at about 300 stiches a row, all wound into a nice fat ball of grey wool once more with the spit joins still intact.

I've managed to knit an inch on it since then. Every time I pick it up, I hear the sound of one frog laughing.