advice

Well, I learned something the hard way. Quick tip for today — when running a lifeline, DON’T run it through your stitch markers. Fortunately it’s simple to solve, but it is very annoying when you realize what you’ve done.

In the meantime, I’ve been playing with my new machine. I’m playing with quilts according to the book Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilts, although I’m not sure I’m following it exactly. Just taking the idea and wandering around with what can be created.

Intro to projects 2

Well, today has been a day and a half — mostly because I spent a lot of money.

Something I’ve been thinking about for a year or more is a new sewing machine. But what made me hesitate is that I wanted one of the really nice ones, which meant a goodly amount of money. Well, Thursday night I went to kill some time at a nearby quilt store and found that they had a used machine for half the price of it new, yet it had been barely used. So I let myself be tempted into buying it, somewhat by surprise. On the other hand, this is something like my habit — I think of something for a long time, then decide to buy very suddenly. But all that time I spent looking, thinking, and building myself up to it means that when I finally move, I’m not really moving all that fast. And this was a good deal. It’s a machine that will last and that I can grow into. Here’s hoping that I use it well and to the purposes of God.

However, today I also wanted to introduce you to project #2, except that it will be quick hello and goodbye. I just finished it today. It is a scarf, using a very simple mirrored bars pattern that I picked out of one of the knitting stitch dictionaries, with Fiesta La Luz 100% silk yarn in the bluebonnet color. I decided to make my mother her first knitted gift for Xmas, and since our family celebrates a family Xmas at Thanksgiving (because that is when we are all together), I needed to move on it. So, I used one skein, plus a little bit of #2, and achieved 53″ without any problem. This is of course before blocking. I will hopefully get to that fairly soon.

I’ll try to link a picture later on, when I get one developed.

Intro to projects1

Well, like I said, it all depended on if I got to it — and I didn’t. The spinning still sits and waits for me. I did find some ideas about how to achieve the consistent thickness that I’m looking for on icanspin.com; like I expected, it all has to do with pre-drafting. But I haven’t yet found time to sit down and do it. Why? (doubtless you are wondering profoundly)

Well, two reasons really. One, it’s cold, and I’m stubborn, and cheap whenever possible, so I haven’t yet turned on the heat. Heat’s gonna be expensive this year. I have preferred to stay curled up in my chair with a blanket halfway on me. Sitting before my spinning wheel was not really an option yet.

Second reason, I have been working on my knitting — and I only have so much time to spare. Hence the name above — I am going to try to share here the long list of projects that I have going on, whether it be in action or just in my head. Writing them all out will help me prioritize and focus on actually getting them done.

The project I’ve been working on is the Irish Diamond Shawl from Folk shawls by Cheryl Oberle. It’s a lovely shawl, and the very first knitted lace item I’ve done. (Why knit something boring?) I am using Jaeger Alpaca 4-ply, color Olive 383 (alpaca=warm, I hope, even in lace). As a reflection of my preference for smaller needles, I decided to knit it on size 5US, despite the fact that this did not get me gauge. When I tried the gauge swatches, I needed a size 9 to get something in the ballpark, and I just didn’t like the feel of it. So I decided to go smaller and just live with it. The last few nights have been the process of getting the row back on the needles after taking it off onto a lifeline.

This actually had a triple purpose: 1) I wanted an in-process picture that actually allowed me to see what it looked like; 2) I wanted to check the size to see if I wanted to add more pattern repeats, as a result of my decision to use a smaller size needle yet still achieve something like the finished size, and 3) I’ve reached a significant pattern change point, assuming I don’t add those repeats, and I really don’t want to lose what I’ve done up to now. A lifeline seemed like a very good idea. After all, I’m at the point where it is 554 stitches across. This is not chicken feed. Doing a row takes some 20-30 minutes, depending on whether it is the right side or the wrong side. Losing that work struck me as a Very Bad Idea.

Decision that resulted: I am going to not add any more pattern repeats at this point, but I will add some to the second pattern section. Since this is a charted pattern, it won’t be hard to do that. In fact, that’s one of the things this piece has taught me, namely how to work with charts. I’ve still got some problems, but once I connected the stuff I was doing from the written pattern with the chart info, it finally began to make sense. Though I do find that I have had problems with other charts when they require me to read the lines in alternating direction. I’m not sure that my mind will work that way. But we’ll try it again and see. In the meantime, I’m liking the charts here; it saves a lot of space in carrying a pattern around.

So, I strung in a lifeline from leftover sock yarn, which worked fine. But getting it back on the needle turned out to be a little more slow and tedious than I expected. Some of the stitches wanted to bury themselves in the previous row, and while the lifeline made it perfectly possible to draw them out, it didn’t make it easy to do so without picking up the lifeline itself.

So here goes my knitting tip of the day — when picking up stitches, use a smaller size needle to do the actual picking up. I find that it works wonders when trying to drag out one strand from a clump of strands that leaves you wondering which is the one you actually want. Although I was stringing it back onto a size 5, I used a size 0000 to do the picking up. That needle worked even better than the tapestry needle that I started out with.

Anyway, when I get my picture developed, I’ll share it with you. (No, I do not own a digital.)

Well, that’s my first project introduction. I’ll get back to you tomorrow with the sock yarn I’m putting into play.

Spinning

In the list of interests on my profile page, I have included spinning. By this, I mean spinning fiber into thread/yarn. (I think that technically yarn is a type of thread. I need to look this up.) Last night, I had a peaceful moment spinning away. Upon reflection, I believe this is one of the reasons I like it — it’s a very reflective, relaxing hobby.

Considering how new I am at spinning — I just learned this summer, and just got my wheel at the beginning of this month — I am ironically better at spinning thin yarn than thick. When I took the class this summer, once I got past my first thick-and-thin skein, I immediately leapt into thin yarn. It was actually more difficult for me to achieve a consistently thick yarn. Fortunately, I like thin yarn. But, last night I was trying to produce something thick. And of course, it was not consistently thick. Frustrating.

I only kept it up for a short while last night, but believe me when I say this is on my mind. What’s the trick? Pre-drafting more evenly? Not drafting at all, but instead retraining my fingers to let out just the right amount of fibers? I think I’ll go check out handspinning.com or something similar. Surely there are some ideas out there.

I’ll report back tomorrow after I’ve had a chance to try it again (that’s assuming I have time tonight; I may do something entirely different).

Now to begin

I’ve thought about this for a while. I’ve finally realized that I really do want to try out a blog of my own. Who knows what will go here? My thoughts, my rants, my babblings … just a reflection of what’s going on inside my head and the parts of my life that I am willing to share online.Then I realized I could try it out for free!

Believe me, I have plenty to say.

Of course, then comes the question of whether or not I will remember to post regularly. Lots of stuff goes on inside my head that never makes it out of my mouth. Sometimes that is a good idea. Other times, I wish I had said something. So maybe here I can work out what to share, both the serious and the fun.

Here goes nothing.