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March 2007 - Posts

(Warning: Photo Heavy but Fun!)

Last year I was slackerly in my Project Spectrum involvement. This year I decided to make a better effort to work on some kind of project for each set of colors. I cut it close by doing the work on Feb/March colors on March 30, but hey, better late than never.

About a month ago I had my first carding 'speriments with silk, color and the carder. I decided to do another carding 'speriment for my Feb/March Project Spectrum project, and to incorporate the "lessons learned" from the last 'speriment.

Feb/March colors are blue, white and grey:

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment - materials

I used:

in about a 1:2:1 ratio (first applied "lesson learned": use less silk).

The SuperCarder

Once upon a time, I promised photos of the drum carder in action. I eventually make good. ;)

Here she is:

Pat Green SuperCarder

Note the "No Fingers" warning and the red line. I give the carder proper respect and keep my fingers away from the line.

The lock was not to protect my carder from wily carder-lifting fiber fiends. It's a safety measure to keep the carder power switch in the Off position:

SuperCarder - lock

The variable speed dial goes from quite slow to quite fast. I usually keep it at 50:

SuperCarder - speed dial

In motion, it's a blur:

SuperCarder - in motion


I started with a thin layer of white merino (second applied "lesson learned": thinner layers of each color):

Starting with white merino

I figured with merino as the base, the batt would come off the drum easier than it would with a merino/silk or silk base.

White merino on the drum
thin layer of white merino on the drum

I then added a thin layer of the charcoal merino/silk:

Adding charcoal merino/silk

You can see the hint of color on the spinning drum (third applied "lesson learned": spritzing the drum with water periodically to prevent static and allow more fiber to stay on the drum):

Drum in motion

I'm sure I added more charcoal merino/silk than this, but it's the only photo I took:

White merino and charcoal merino/silk on the drum
charcoal merino/silk over white merino on the drum

Next, the fun part - adding color!

Adding dbpg tussah silk

Drum in motion with some blue silk
a little blue

Drum in motion with more blue silk
more blue

Drum in motion with a nice layer of blue silk
nice blue layer

After adding a thin layer of each color:

White merino, charcoal merino/silk, and blue tussah silk on the drum

I continued adding more fiber in whatever order occurred to me:

Adding more fiber

until I got tired or it seemed like the drum carder wasn't holding on to the fibers as well (due to static).

There was a little waste on the infeed drums:

Waste fibers

but not as much as last time.

Also, on the far side of the drum, stray fibers collected:

Stray fibers post-carding

Using the doffer tool in the above photo, I loosened the fibers at the ... I dunno what it's called, the join or the groove or the whatever section that doesn't have any teeth:

Using the doffer to lift up the ends

and then used the batt lifter to roll the batt off the drum:

Using the batt lifter to roll off the batt

You can see the "bottom" of the batt is white because I started with the white merino:

"bottom" of the batt

while the "top" is mostly blue/green from the last tussah silk layer:

"top" of the batt

(there's a better color photo at the end)

Spinning the batt

I tore off a section of the batt, and then split that into 4 strips to spin. No further attenuating was necessary:

Splash of color in the pre-drafted strip
hints of bright color

I spun quickly just to see how it came out, and then created an Andean plying bracelet so I could ply it from both ends:

Creating an Andean plying bracelet with the singles

The resulting 2-ply:

Spun sample


  • I liked the hand/feel better than the last batch; the added merino made a nice difference. The yarn actually feels quite nice.
  • The resultant yarn reminds me of Ashland Bay merino or merino/silk in their multi's colorways because of the tweedy color variation. But I didn't have to spin from the fold. ;)
  • The final colors are much darker and toned down compared to the original silk. It's to be expected, since adding black to anything will mute or tone down a color. But still, it surprised me.
  • I do miss the deep colors of the original silk.
  • The white adds hilights, which is a nice effect.

The carding went about as expected/hoped. The applied "lessons learned" went smoothly and improved the process and results. The colors did not go as expected, however. I felt like I lost the gorgeous colors of the silk. Next time I might try blending with a slightly more muted or lighter shade of the silk so that the silk really stands out. Overall, I had a LOT of fun with this 'speriment and couldn't wait to see how it turned out. :)

Beginning to end

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment

My March UFO Resurrection project was Trellis. Last summer I had finished the back and barely started the fronts before losing momentum. I picked it up again at the beginning of February and quickly finished the fronts and most of the sleeves before again losing momentum and getting distracted by Scott's Re-Grow, finishing Diamond in the Rough for Spa, spinning Lagoon for Twisted Knitters, and getting my ass in gear and knitting something for the little goober.

Alas, I didn't spend any of March working on Trellis, so I feel it's not quite fair to use it as my March UFO Resurrection project. Instead, I've picked a project to say goodbye to.

Last seen 13 months ago, Gram's Socks, knit in Fleece Artist merino:

Gram's sock - first sock done

I wasn't feeling the love on the socks. First, I had to re-knit it because Gram's feet swelled up quite a bit for quite a while, and the socks as originally knit no longer fit (not even close). I added a bunch of stitches as well as ribbing to compensate; but it was becoming clearer that, even if I finished, they wouldn't get used. Gram didn't wear socks, she wore hose. None of her shoes could accommodate socks. And unlike me, Gram always wore shoes, indoors and out. Further, as she continued to decline, it was clear she wouldn't be able to care for or keep track of handknit socks.

I feel really bad saying goodbye to this project, but I know I won't finish them. Instead, I'd rather knt something that she will be able to use, and that will survive with regular washer/dryer care. Maybe a sweater vest or something for her room. That will be a good project for 2007.

Eyelet Dress

Glad you liked Tangerine Cardi! Wait 'til you see the buttons Scott picked out for them, too cute.

The magenta project I call Eyelet Dress, another Debbie Bliss knit. The back is already done!

Eyelet Dress - back done!

The yarn is Crystal Palace Biwa, a 100% mercerized cotton, knit on smaller than the recommended needles. After scouring my many Debbie Bliss books and being disappointed that there weren't many patterns for Cotton DK (her only cotton I have), and that the cuter patterns were in smaller gauges, I attacked my yarn room to figure out what other cottons I had. I bought a bunch of cones of Biwa several years ago on eBay from someone clearing out their stash, and never used it. If all goes well with this knit, I have at least one other suitable color in the stash.

The pattern is written for DB wool/cotton, which naturally has a different hand than 100% cotton (it's softer/squishier and more drapey, for starters). But I don't think it'll be a problem. Gauge is gauge, right? (I think the correct answer is: Sometimes.) Besides, wool allergies aside: 50% wool in a summer tank dress???

Speaking of gauge, I'm not getting gauge. Ha! Over 4", I'm getting 24 sts instead of 25, and 33 rows instead of 34. It's a baby knit, so I think I'll be fine; and I made one slight change to compensate.

Summer Anklets

The socks will be anklets because I only have 1.8 oz of yarn to work with. It's Fleece Artist merino, purchased in Halifax at LK Yarns. They had a basket of odd-weight skeins and I managed to buy only one. I love the colors!

For Mouse: For this weight yarn, I start with 20 stitches using a figure-eight cast-on and increased every other row to (for my feet) 56 sts. Gives me a good toe shape.


Clapotis is coming along nicely:

Clapotis - in progress

I'm about 2.5 skeins in, and I'm thinking I might have to find a 6th skein. I'm not so pleased about having to start mid-ball to maintain the striping sequence and I'm hoping all the unused ends will get used eventually (or I'll need a 7th skein). So far, I'm not at the crazy/bored stage; I think the colors are keeping me entertained.

One almost complete baby cardi:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Two new projects:

Eyelet Dress - in progress
for baby

Summer anklets - in progress
for me

One very round belly!

36 Weeks!

(The title should really read "Comedy of Dumbass Mistakes", but I figured I'd keep the post title clean.)

You know me too well. Of course I went for surgery! And it was a lot more trouble than I expected.

First, I separated the upper and lower portions at the point where the armholes should have begun:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Then I knit enough to catch up to the upper portion. But because of selvedge increases at the armholes and the decreases for the neck, I decided to graft a row or two higher.

I actually grafted on a row that had neck edge decreases in them, which was a little more interesting.

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

I got it into my head to graft the upper and lower portions together in such a way that it looked entirely invisible at the edges. I don't know why. Maybe because the rest of the project had been so simple and this would make it more interesting.

What actually happens to the yarn on the edge stitch is not straightforward. Have you examined it before? It twists and turns in unexpected ways and goes up or down into a row you don't expect it to. Not that it matters, since the edges typically end up hidden in the seams...

My first attempt looked like this:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Which is not a bad looking edge, but not invisible. My second attempt (on the other side; please, I wasn't about to re-graft what I had done) looked like this:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Pretty close, but not perfect.

Really, who cares? It's going into the seam and won't be seen! I can't explain it. There are a lot of things lately I can't explain. I'm going with "I'm pregnant" on this one.

The left and right fronts look roughly like this:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

You can see the grafted row; I'm expecting (hoping?) that blocking will blend it in.

As for the back, I somehow managed to have to graft on the opposite side (from the right edge instead of left) and I wasn't ready to start again on the "perfectly grafted edge" thing, so I left it and started knitting the sleeves instead:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Doesn't that look crazy?

And by the time I got the sleeves done and was ready to graft, I couldn't remember which row I was supposed to graft to. And (it seems) I have precious few brain cells firing these days. So, though the grafting went fine (and screw the edge thing), I ended up grafting too high up the upper portion. Which meant it was too short. And the fronts were actually too long because the original fronts were too long.

So I reknit the last few rows of the back a couple of times (you know, just for fun), and then frogged a few rows of the fronts and bound those off again as well.

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Phew. Frogging would have been easier, but then, it would have been just mindless knitting and a beginner pattern. Instead, I elevated it to Intermediate status! (I read "elevated" and think, "I do not think that word means what you think it means" - from The Princess Bride).

Ends are woven in and I just need to find some cute buttons and give it a bath.

Baby's First Quilt

In stark contrast to my dumbass mistakes, look what arrived in the mail last week:

Baby's First Quilt!

A beautiful quilt made by Erin! I love the colors and the fabrics she chose and I can't believe she made it for the little goober. I have zero quilting skills so I'm all the more impressed! What a lucky baby. Thank you so much, Erin!

Preggers Update

And while I'm on the subject, the little goober has been head down for a few weeks now. She's active and likes to shove her butt into my right rib. I'm sure I'll have a bruise there when all's said and done. 

When I'm leaning back to watch TV, I regularly interrupt Scott to show how deformed she's made my otherwise round belly.

I clipped my toenails last week for what I expect will be the last time in a while.

She gets hiccups at least once a day, though for only 10-20 minutes at a time. As she's been growing, the hiccups have been getting stronger, so that now, you can see my belly jump with each hiccup.

I'm still waiting to see if I'll become an outie. Scott's not convinced; he thinks I have no belly button now.

He's also impervious to my daily remarks of, "I think I'm bigger today!" Though he does, on at least a daily basis, tell me either, "Holy crap you're big," or "That's quite a belly you've got there!"

I've been really really tired most of the third trimester; hence, less posting, less blog reading and commenting, and much fewer email responses. Sorry! I do read comments, but I'm sorry I haven't been responding to them like I had been. I cut back my hours at work, which definitely helps. In addition to needing more sleep, I'm also not able to sleep very well. I know, I know, it's preparation for future sleeplessness. Ha, I don't buy it. I'd rather take the crash course. For a while I was getting up every 2.5 hours to empty my wee bladder, and that just saddened me in a way I can't express. Propping pillows helped for a few days and I got 6 hours of straight sleep a night or two! But now it's catch as catch can.

And we've been trying to clean out the computer room (aka the "I don't know, put it in the computer room for now" room) to make room for a baby room. We're finally making visible progress! But that's a subject for another time.

Baby's first handknit is gorgeous:

Baby's First Handknit!
Look, Scott, no wool!

and knit by Cheryl! The colors are richer than pictured (she has a better picture here) and the sweater is oh-so-soft in pima cotton/tencel. And I love that it's a non-traditional baby girl color, too. Not that there's anything wrong with pink. :) I can't wait until the little goober shows up so she can wear it. I think that's the point when it will really sink in: Baby wearing handknit knit with love by a fellow handknitter! Thanks so much, Cheryl!

I finally got my butt in gear and started knitting a baby cardi. I made good progress at first:

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

I decided to knit the body in one piece to minimize seaming, and made the appropriate adjustment of selvedge stitches. And once I got to the armholes and neck decreases, I added back in the selvedge stitches and even knit the separate pieces all at the same time, so they'd match and be the same length.

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

And that's when the warning bells went off. See those armholes? Don't they look kinda small to you?

Tangerine Cardi - in progress

Yeah, even for a baby. I checked the pattern and checked my knit, and had my A-Ha moment, followed swiftly by my Oh No moment. You ready for it?

I began the armholes at the same time I began the neck decreases.

I should have started them sooner. About an inch sooner. About where the stitch markers are. The pattern makes no mention of armholes because, knit in pieces, the side seams are flat, straight edges; and, however wide the sleeves are, they get sewn in, and however much seam that's left gets sewn up for the sides.

Totally rookie mistake.

I could blame it on pregnancy brain and third trimester exhaustion (both valid excuses, of course). Oh hell, I will. I'm almost 35 weeks preggers, for crying out loud!

My two options at this point are to rip and reknit, or do some surgery. Guess which route I took?

I don't believe it, but maybe you will:

Lagoon 2-ply

That's Lagoon, all plied up. See that little blue tag on the right?

Lagoon 2-ply

Yeah, that one. 925. Yards. Of laceweight 2-ply. That's a mile of singles! No wonder it took so long to ply. (And it did. Take a Long. Time.) I still don't believe it.

Lagoon 2-ply

And when I took it off the niddy noddy? 3.5 oz.

Lagoon 2-ply

Not my best plying job (it's quite a bit harder for me when the singles are so thin), but it'll do, and it sure is soft and bouncy. Once it's washed it'll fluff up even more, I'm sure, just as the sample did.

Speaking of sample, here's another sample, pre-wash. See how twisted up it is? The singles lost quite a bit of twist energy sitting around on the bobbins. When I put how much twist I thought was needed when plying (based on my memory of how I spun the singles; no sample card, unfortunately), this is how it came out:

Lagoon 2-ply sample - pre-wash

I had to go through the usual washing/setting process (soak in warm water with some Eucalan; squeeze out excess water; whack against the tub and hang to dry) to see how the final yarn behaved. Time consuming, but necessary.

Now... any suggestions for a 925 yard shawl? Something that takes advantage of the slight striping of handspun? Something I can finish before the end of March for Twisted Knitters? ;)

Melanie asked if the cormo/alpaca I was spinning was neppy. Yup, it is. Not too bad, but they're there:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

It's hard to get a good picture so you can see it, but there are at least 3 neppy points in the above - the white dot, the little bit of clumpy white above it, and some more clumpy white above and to its right.

They're not big clumps, but they definitely stand out when spinning laceweight singles. Or if you're going for consistency. Some neps work themselves out in the spinning, but most have to be picked it out as I go, and I end up with a little pile of neps after each session. Not what I generally like to do, but I've made my peace with it.

There's a little bit of knitting going on. Some Clapotis progress:

Clapotis - in progress
almost 2 full balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite

Clapotis was started because I needed something simpler than neck shaping on Trellis to work on during my gestational diabetes test. (I have yet to finish Trellis.) But the bits of hay and fiber that inevitably fall into my lap while knitting mean I don't really want to work on it while I'm at home, where it might trigger a reaction in Scott.

So....... I pulled out some Tess silk/merino I bought last fall:

Tess merino/silk

and started a second shawl version of Sand River:

Chocolate River

It's dangerous, don't you think? I mean, the whole starting a new project because of some problem with the current project... Not a good trend. Trying to get my WIPs under control over the last 15 months has made me startitis-averse, so much so that... well, it is 6 weeks to my due date, and no baby sweater in sight!

To remedy the situation, I've started a swatch with some Debbie Bliss Cotton DK and picked out a (super) simple DB cardigan pattern. It's about the only infant-sized pattern I could find for Cotton DK; most of the really cute ones are in wool-cotton or cashmerino, which are finer gauge yarns. I had no idea Cotton DK was... well, duh, so much heavier. It seems like DK cotton is much heavier than DK wool. (Or is it just me?)

Last week was a good spinning week for me. In addition to finishing up the Lagoon singles and doing a small amount of sampling:

Lagoon 2-ply sample

I picked up the Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca that I started many months ago (but abandoned in frustration while I fidgeted with the Schacht) and even finished the first 2 of 4 oz:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

Well, that's not 2 oz, don't have a photo of that yet, but just imagine the bobbin a little more full. Here's a gratuitous close-up:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

I also had a little fun with the drumcarder:

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

The colors didn't work the way I hoped (yellow/green was the wrong color to go with charcoal, methinks), but the effect was interesting and the experiment fun.

The charcoal is 50/50 merino/silk JaggerSpun mill ends I bought from Diane at Pollywogs Yarn and Fiber, along with same in natural, and some Fiddlesticks patterns. Since the merino/silk is mill ends (mostly fluffy batts), it benefits from carding.

Dyed tussah silk from dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn

The yellow/green is handdyed tussah silk from Pamela at dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn. I got several colors from her, all gorgeous! Great experiences with both vendors, I highly recommend them.

Here's the finished yarn (well, only 1/4 oz, and not washed or set):

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

And now, if you have no interest in carding or fibers, you can skip down to the preggers pics below. :)

I wasn't sure how to go about blending to get the effect I wanted, so I started with 1/2 oz each of the charcoal and silk, and decided to do a layer of each. The charcoal was straightforward, just a little fluffing of fibers before carding. The silk was slightly more involved.

This was my first time carding with silk, and for some reason, I thought it would be difficult. I pulled off lengths similar to how I prepare to spin from the fold, fluffed them out and passed them into the carder. If I tried to put too much through at once, it did get a bit clumpy or want to stick to the smaller infeed drum.

One problem I ran into was static - the last of the silk didn't want to go onto the carder and I had to use the burnishing tool several times to push down the fiber on the drum to make room. I was really thinking of doing another layer of each, but 1 oz was all that would fit. I've read that spraying/spritzing some kind of water/water-oil/water-conditioner solution will help with the static, so I'll try that next time.

I was concerned that the different fiber lengths between the merino/silk and silk would cause problems carding or spinning. Because I carded them separately, it wasn't a problem, but I wonder if a second pass to blend them more might show problems? In the spinning, I occasionally found the silk getting picked up before the merino/silk, which is what I would have expected with the longer fiber length; but for the most part it was fine, and I adjusted my spinning style to "capture" more of the merino/silk (I think I used more of a point-of-contact spinning style towards the end).

While spinning I ended up feeling like there was too much silk in the mix. Next time I would either add less silk, maybe 75% charcoal and 25% silk, or maybe add in more non-silk charcoal as well. Next time I will probably also make the layers much thinner, throw in a bit of the charcoal followed by a bit of the silk, alternating small batches, rather than doing all of the charcoal and then all of the silk. I might also be more careful with the colors in the silk and try to preserve the color variations, which I feel were lost in this batch.

All in all a fun experiment and much learned. And that, to me, is success.

Preggers pics

Still growing. 33 weeks now! From the front, the flash point near my belly button hints at the contours:

Week 33

But my profile doesn't hint, it shouts "WOAH, PREGGERS!"

Week 33

Those 5-7 pounds had to go somewhere, eh?

Hands for scale:

Week 33

Thank goodness for yoga pants and an understanding workplace; I'm running out of clothes...