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Not quite dry yet…and I still can’t decide about those colours.

I knew I needed my 4mm needle for the upcoming Rock Island cast on, so even though I was using it for the Damson shawl, it was no big deal. I was going to put it on some waste yarn. Then something came over me: why not just finish Damson to free the needle?

I put in so many knitting hours this past week that I finally had to teach myself to knit continental to save my poor cramped right hand. I predict a Carson Demers workshop is in my future – the one on how to knit without hurting yourself.

Still trying to reserve judgement until I can wear it, but I’m fairly unenthusiastic about this one. The size is a bit small, which I knew going into it; usually I find more substantial shawls to be more stylish. Good thing my needle is free to start gargantuan Rock Island tonight.

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Enough with the pink already! I’m not a huge fan of the colour, it just happened this way.

These are the first pair of socks I’ve made, and they’re so cozy. I don’t recall ever having a pair of handknit socks; if I’d known how nice it is to have my feet wrapped up in these little gems, I’d have finished knitting them six months ago. Actually, they’re a tiny bit too large, so the next pair will be made with one size smaller needles.

My wise spinning teacher, Irene, once warned me to always knit socks with yarn that has some nylon content, for strength. I don’t normally endorse synthetics but I don’t want to wear holes in my socks by next week. So this will be my test – the SweetGeorgia yarn I’ve used has 20% nylon. I might try to make a pair in the future with a yarn that has some silk content; silk is tough and I suspect it might be just as effective as nylon.

Pattern: Retro Rib Socks by Evelyn Clark (ravelry link here)
Yarn: SweetGeorgia Tough Love Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon)

A moth fluttered through the house a few days ago. Not the pretty butterfly kind, but the fibre-eating kind. I had already been methodically bagging and freezing my yarns, then stuffing them in storage bins, but this sped me right up. I’m almost done now, and rediscovered a skein of sweetgeorgia sock yarn in the process.

So that’s how my knitting hiatus ended, with a sock in a kind of waffle stitch pattern that’s easy to remember, so I can sit on the balcony sipping iced tea while I knit. It’s been a strange & wonderful & stressful two months, so it’s nice to get back to the inner calm of handcrafts.

What’s up this week? At first I thought I had nothing to post about, until I scrolled though the photos on my camera.

There’s the photo of the new batch of Big Wool I purchased in a lovely orange. Sorry to be secretive, but I promise I’ll talk about the ongoing Big Wool project soon…

There were lots of photos from a tree nursery tour last week. In my other life, as you may know, I’m a landscape designer. The best part of the job is looking at plants – you know, the equivalent of a knitter getting to tour the Rowan design studio, maybe?

I’m trying to use my camera more – to take it with me to avoid those ‘I wish I had a camera right now’ moments – especially since I had a brief panic where I thought I had broken it. I love this camera; I don’t think you can buy the Nikon D40 new anymore (in Canada, anyway), and the D3000 that replaced it is apparently terrible. So when I realized it was working just fine, I felt a new-found appreciation for my little camera. More knitting photos coming soon!

I am proof that smart people sometimes do really dumb things.

My computer’s hard drive died last week, and I had not been backing up regularly.  Despite the fact that I work with computers every day and know how awful it is to lose all your hard work…I was not backing up. So now I’m debating whether to pay hundreds of dollars to the data recovery guys for a chance at getting back all my carefully catalogued photos and files.

The IT guy's verdict

Luckily, while I debate this expensive problem, Canada Post brought me a nice little box stuffed with Rowan Big Wool. I’ve been thinking about a vest that I can’t find a pattern for, so I’m going to see what I can cook up.

Big wool big fun

It might be apparent that I’m struggling with the weaving lately. This is true. Knitting makes way more sense to me than weaving, so while I’ve been wrestling with the loom I’ve had some knitting going on the side. These gloves are the result: I love love love them. They fit. They’re chocolate-coloured. They’re soft and squishy and warm.

I especially appreciate the lace pattern (very easy) and the nice long cuffs. They’re knit with Koigu yarn, which I’ve long admired but never purchased. Sadly, the gloves are pilling quite a bit even though I’ve been wearing them for less than a week. I specifically bought sock yarn to avoid this problem, so Koigu’s in my bad books for now.

Thank you, Heather, for the photos (and the berries!).

I finished weaving this green and grey scarf two weeks ago, but I’ve had trouble taking photos of it. The alpaca has given the scarf a bit of a grey halo that looks fine in person but somewhat dull in photos.

It’s amazing how much the scarf plumped up with fulling (although Irene, my weaving teacher, cautions me that it may be dangerously close to being felted). The difference between the piece on the loom and the piece you see above is amazing – it’s still very hard for me to predict what my pieces will look like after they’ve been washed and transformed.

A few technical notes: This scarf was woven at 10 epi, 2/2 twill, from a combination of wool and alpaca yarns. The weft is a fine merino weaving yarn that I dyed. The alpaca, predictably, adds a lot of softness; unpredictably, it went really squirrelly with fulling. The fringes are a loopy, knotted mess because of it – not sure if tighter fringe would prevent this on future projects, but I can’t say I wasn’t warned about mixing fibres in the warp. Otherwise, it’s a nice, soft fabric.

Warped, woven, washed – but not without a bit of struggle.

It was a bit of a fight to bring my first real weaving project into existence. I wound the warp onto the back beam crookedly and had to rewind it – with all the ends still in the heddles. I then finished warping – before realizing I had the wrong reed on the loom. I stubbornly insisted on using a fine silk weft that almost took over the warp. I made mistakes. I persevered. And here it is.

20090830 blue green scarf2

The warp for this scarf is commercial merino and my handspun polwarth, both my hand-dyed, plus a skein of Felicia’s 50/50 merino silk singles. The weft is 12/2 silk, also hand-dyed by me.

I put it in the washing machine to full it – to clean and open the fibres – for only a few minutes. It wasn’t until I dried it and tried it on that I realized it had shrunk 10″ in length. Yet it’s still long enough to wear and I’m so much happier with the plumpness and softness of the fulled fabric. But I believe I will consult an expert to help me figure out if the scarf is, in fact, over-fulled so I don’t make the same mistake next time.

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