May 9, 2007

Um, Hi!

Posted in Knitalongs, knitting, Secret Pal 10 at 10:41 am by nephele

Okay. That was the fortnight from heck (not hell, it actually could have been worse).

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before but I’m basically the entire IT department were I work. Being the in-house geek my duties spill over into anything even slightly technical. I even get ‘help-line’ calls from co-workers with personal computer problems. Mostly, that’s all okay with me. These last couple of weeks though… Pretty much anything that could breakdown decided that now was the time to do it. Not fun. The whole mess was nicely capped off by our phone system literally burning out. I can still smell the pervasive stink of melted circuit boards. But that’s all in the past (please). Hopefully there won’t be anymore weeks like these in the near future. I don’t think I could take it.

Yes, I am trying to type and keep my fingers crossed at the same time. Not easy.

So, knitting stuff, that’s why were here right? Let me start off with the best of the bunch.

Monday afternoon I got something in the mail. Royal mail that is.
sp10 2

A new package from my Secret Pal! Just what I needed. As soon as I pulled the tape off I caught the scent of lavender. Let’s see what’s inside…
SP10 package2

Ooh. Lots of goodies. There’s two skeins of yarn (more on those later), some more of those nicely scented bath salts, a pretty list pad, a pair of purse handles, a pink iPod sock. A bar of Yardley’s Lavender soap (the source of the lovely fragrance), a cell phone charm and a card telling me about the things she’d sent.

The cell phone charm was handmade by my Pal. I wasted no time putting it in its place, so to speak. I have a very generic phone model. It needed a little dressing up and this does the job admirably. Here’s a close up so you can see it better (before and after being attached to my phone).
Phone charm phone charm on phone

 About that yarn. Oh my! So very pretty. Somehow my pal got the idea (the correct idea) that I’d enjoy some silk/wool blend yarn. Artisan spun and dyed in gorgeous colors that, while clearly different, do have some matching tones. Here’s a close up:
Dye Lot 1!

The brick red and rust orange appear in both hanks. This means that I have the option of using them together in something, a big something as there is about a 1100 yards in all. Another thing you may notice in that close up is the dyelot numbers on the tags. Winter Berry is dyelot number 1 and so is the Fruit Pie color. I think there is a very good chance that I’m the first person in the US to own any of this yummy yarn. The yarn is called Compass and is 55% silk, 45% lambswool. It’s about sport or fingering weight (the recommended needle size is 3.25mm) and there are 500m on each hank. I’m thinking they’ll make a very nice shawl,  but they’d also make a lovely top. Right now I’m leaning in the the lacey sleaveless top direction. Time will tell.

Thank you Secret Pal! Your timing was perfect and your choices even better! By the way, I’ve decide what I’m going to do with teal yarn you sent last time. The current issue of Knitters magazine has a cute little felted bag in it. I’m thinking I’ll use black for the second color but I’ll decide for sure by taking a ball of the freedom wool into the store with me. The yardage you sent will allow me to change the pattern slightly. It’s basically a pocket type bag but I’ll have enough to make a third module which I can then use as a flap. I like purses that close well. Knitting totes can gape open, in fact it’s usually better if they do, but purses should close. I’ve got a magnetic catch I can use on this. I’ll be sure and post pictures as it progresses.

Ah, I’m feeling so much better now.

Despite all the fun I’ve not been having I have managed to get some knitting in. I’ve put up a couple more swatches over at the Walker Treasury Project. I didn’t manage to get the most swatches in April by the way. I think I tied for third or something like that. Oh well. The important thing is that lots of swatches were added. We’ve got a long way to go but real progress is being made.

I’ve been working of a few different socks. I finished the first redo of the Sarah’s Handspun sock.

That little twist of yarn is all I had left of the ball of yarn I’d split off for the first sock. When I divided the hank in two one ball ended up about 1 gram lighter than the other. I knit with the light ball first in the assumption that anything it could do, the heavier ball could do as well. We’ll see how that works out. Sock number two is on the needles.

I’m also working on two pairs of basic socks.
Basic socks

These are teaching aides. I’ve got a student right now making her first pair of socks. The big gauge sock (it will end up being a winter slippersock for me which is actually what I intended when I bought the yarn) makes it easy to see the structural details. The other sock (Regia Silk – nice!) allows me to knit at about the same gauge as my student so she can see things that way too. Teaching is one the reasons I still buy self patterning sock yarns despite my tendency to make socks with lots of stitch patterns in them. I’ve always got a few of these around for when I need to work a teaching sock. Both second socks are on the needles but I can’t work past the leg on them. My next class will cover the heel flap, turning and gussets so I need to leave those unworked until then. Class number three will see the toes finished off.

Gosh, so much to get caught up on. I’ve also been working on a doll sweater for some friends of mine. They have a home business making custom, stuffed animals. A good percentage of the critters Stuffe and Nonsense makes are anthropomorphic. These animal dolls are usually clothed. Recently they sold an animal to someone who wanted a series of seasonal sweaters. They had a teddybear Christmas sweater in stock which worked for winter but the needed spring and autumn. Enter me and my needles.

I’ve knitted for one of their dolls before. They’d made one of their highland sheep but she’d been around a while without selling. A redress was in order. We’d been talking about me knitting a sweater for one of the dolls so this is the one I worked on. I had so much fun with it, I actually ended up making her a complete outfit: a fitted, striped halter top, a matching solid skirt with a ruffled hem and the lace cardigan with fair-isle border that started the whole thing. She was eventually sold to a yarn shop owner in Santa Cruz, California.

This time the biggest challenge was the design. I needed to make a sweater for a male doll that said spring. I finially decided to go with a cotton, cabled, tennis sweater. Here’s what I have so far (ruler included for scale):
doll sweater

The fall will be much easier. I’m planning a tweedy wool with some fair isle bands. I think I need to get one of there dolls so I can make some more clothes. It really is fun and I have lots of thin yarn I can use. I just need to pick a species. They’ll try just about anything once.

So, what else. Oh yeah! I started a new piece for myself. I got the notice that the spring surprise patterns where up on Knitty. One of the designs from Stefanie Japel’s book was made available. I’ve seen the book but don’t have it (yet!) and this is one of the designs I loved. I went shopping in my stash and turned up some Artful Yarns Fable in the Goldilocks & the Three Bears color. I think this will do nicely.

Fable is an 85% cotton/15% silk yarn and is consequently a bit heavy. For that reason, I won’t be doing the turned hems the pattern calls for. I’ll either do an i-cord bind off or a lace edging. It’s a top-down raglan so I’ve got time to decide. The yarn has great stitch definition so I’m leaning toward the lace border.
Leaf close up

How about some comment catch up to finish things off?

Your UK secret pal said:

Well done on finishing the skirt! Shame you had to pull the picture, it looked so interesting, so I look forward to seeing it when the official releases are out.

I just wanted to let you know that I am still thinking of you, and have just posted another SP10 package off to you, so look out for the post in 7-10 days’ time!

I hope that you enjoy the things I have chosen for you.

The weather is beautiful here at the moment, and everyone’s gardens are bursting into flower, so the wonderful colours in the handspun sock yarn are just right for the time of year.

As you can see the package arrived right on time and I love everthing in it! Thank you so much. The timing was just perfect. I’d just finished fixing all the problems at work and was ready to appreciate the treat.

I’m a little envious of your weather. It’s nice today but the last two days we had a mini heat wave – 90+ degrees Farenheit. Anyone in cold climate probably thinks that sounds wonderful but I’m happiest when it’s in the 60s. It was too hot to knit! Fortunately the winds have changed and our cooling coastal fog is back. The rest of the week should be lovely.

I’ll be sure and post skirt pictures as soon as Knit.1 puts out their own.

Sarah  said:

I love seeing your swatches pop up on the WT site — you’ve done some fun ones! I can’t wait to see how those socks turn out.

Well you can see sock number one right now. I love the yarn. I hope these wear well. I want to keep them for a long time. There’s just enought yarn left for a daring or two.

Emilee said:

You are a swatching SUPERSTAR!

Thanks! It really is fun making swatches that aren’t the start of a bigger piece but an end in themselves. It takes all the pressure off and lets me just play. I’m not even trying to make them all the same size. They’re between about six and nine inches but each one is a bit different. The throw I’m going to assemble when I’m through is definitely going to be of the ‘crazy quilt’ variety.

phoenix  said:

I’ve been enjoying your swatches as well.  They’re lovely!  I have a question for you about contributing to WTP.  When you joined, did your dashboard become flooded with updates for the site?  If so, did this bother you at all?

Yes I do see all the posts and comment posts on my dashboard. It annoyed me for about a day. I don’t really pay that much attention to that side of the dashboard. If the blog stats were merged it would be bad but they’re not so that’s okay. If you really use the left side of the dashboard it might be a problem for you. If that’s all that’s holding you up though, you might want to contact the moderators. I’m sure someone else would be willing to post swatches for you as long as you write everything up for them – heck, I’d be willing to do it. Let me know if you want to persue that idea.

Okay. I think I’m all caught up… for now. 😉