Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I am not alone...

Flying Saucers have not landed in my back yard.  It's the de-stash thing.

I found a Ravelry group that is devoted to the knitting from one's own personal yarn shop, called Stash Knit Down [Rav link].  The point is to finish up (or frog) your Works in Progess; sell, give away or donate the yarn you'll never use; knit those projects that you really want to knit and already have the yarn.  From what I've read on the discussion boards, my stash isn't nearly as bad as other people's.  My essential thriftiness keeps me in line.  However I just did my taxes and all those 'but it's for the business' expenses are a bit over the top.  And as I am doing some work in my studio, I had to move all that yarn, so I know how much I really have.  It's not pretty.  Well, it's actually very pretty!

Last weekend I visited Friends and Fiberworks, a new yarn shop here in Asheville.  I wanted to scope it out - one of the owners asked me about teaching some classes.  While chatting, I complemented them on the selection of yarns and fibers (it's very tempting) but apologized that I was 'on a yarn diet.'   They totally got it - the partners are on yarn diets too! At least they are trying, but it's got to be hard surrounded by wonderful yarns, spinning and felting fibers all day.

One way to make it easier to knit down the stash is to make up kits.  Take the yarn and pattern and put it in a zip lock bag.  Place several of these bags on a handy shelf.  Need to knit - a project is there for you!  My personal variation is to make up several kits for my Windy City hat (shown here) and pack them in a tote with needles and stitchmarkers and take the tote to work.  That way I have lunch hour knitting right there.  I even bought a few extra needles so they will always be there when I need them.

So now I have a bit of support.  Don't buy yarn - knit what you already have.  No pictures yet, but remember the yarn from the harvested sweater?  I have already knit 5 or 6 hats that look darn good!  I am trying out designs and having a good time with very nice yarn.  Knitting down the stash can be very rewarding - and fun!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Signs of Spring!

Somehow... When my yards looks like this...

My dyepot looks like this!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Smoky Mountain Gardening

As spring is in full gear here in Asheville, my focus shifts - just a little - to gardening.  With the spring flowers like these tiny iris starting to peek out, and even Monday's strange snow flurry notwithstanding, the garden is calling me.   Having decided earlier to expand the beds, last weekend my sweetie and I laid out and dug out the new beds.  Winter has been tough, so I have not been in a giant hurry, but so far we have planted sugar snap peas, beets, onions and I have moved the self-sown leeks into a single spot. Radishes too!  The lilacs and budding out nicely and the daffodils are in full bloom.

Official fiber content:  Dyeing like crazy!  The LYS needs bonbons - in solid colors.  What a concept!  Yesterday I did t versions of blue with a purple tone.  Any thoughts on my inspiration?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Finishing: A Good Feeling

Finishing - It's the new beginning!  Well, not really.  But it is a good feeling to take unfinished works-in-progress and get them done, pull them out and repurpose the yarn and otherwise get them out of the guiolt-filled 'gotta do this' column regardless of where they end up.  The blue socks that you see here are toe up socks that were nearly complete.  Now they are done, toes grafted, ends woven in, and ready to wear.  But since it's spring thy will go into the cedar chest until fall.

The brown socks were newly knitted.  I came across the sport-weight Socka Colori yarn while going through UFOs and they looked like a 'knock them out fast' project that was perfect for after the sweaters.  Again - they were fast.  I did them in just under a week in bits and pieces of lunch hours, TV watching, waiting for other people.

The other interesting knitting has been taking the un-sweater Rowan Chunky Tweed and knitting it into interesting hats.  Spring is kind of 'design time' for me.  Play around with yarns and ideas so that when it's time to go into production mode, I know where I am going.  Having fun with those!  Pics to come after I see what is worth sharing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Some Yarns are Worth Keeping!

As I have been destashing and selling and giving away yarns, 'un-knitting' poor design choices, some yarns are worth keeping.  This Irish wool was given to me.  It is a bit elderly, but is 100% wool and has a kind of Irish heritage - just like me.  It had been knitted up and pulled out.  So I re-skeined it and washed the yarn. 

Guess what?  It's kind of nice!  Creamy, much softer.  Still a bit rustic.  Still with a knot or two.  But all in all, a yarn that deserves another chance.  Not sure what it will become, so the possibilities are open.  I've been thinking about working on my Fair Isle skills, so this could become part of that collection.  

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How to Turn a Sweater into Yarn

In the 'Whatever Was I Thinking' department, here is a sweater that takes beautiful yarn, an interesting top-down pattern, very nice knitting and somehow comes out Just Wrong.  This is Rowan Tweed in a bulky worsted weight in my favorite autumn shades - rusty red and loden green with bits of gold and purple.  We don't need to go on and on with what's wrong with the sweater.  The bulky weight combined with the bold stripe at waist level pretty much sums it up.I'm so very happy that I did not cut the steek that would have turned it into the cardigan of no return.

So I did what any self respecting knitter would do. I unraveled it. 

 tink, tink, tink.

Then I washed and dried the yarn.

Now it is no longer an inappropriate sweater.

It has possibilities!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Let's see - What else can I finish?

Having knit the Cobblestone pullover in near record time (for me!), then nearly finishing the Classic Lines Cardi, I have been eyeing the marination chamber with the thought of the more decisive part of my nature.  I need to take a look at the issue that sent it into the marination chamber and make a decision about it's future.  If it's ugly or I just don't like it, frog it.  If I can't even remember why I set it aside, finish it. There is perfectly nice yarn in there.  Recycle that yarn into something more interesting or de-stash it.

About a week ago I picked up a 1/2 done Hedgerow sock with a bad heel turn, frogged the offending part and began again. I am currently decreasing for Toe 1.  Issue:  Poor chioice of yarn for pattern. See what I mean?  The pattern gets lost in the stripes.  Tough luck; keep knitting - they are socks!  No one is looking that closely.

So last night I grabbed the toe up socks I knit a year ago, snipped out the semi-provisional cast on and grafted the toes.  Done.  No picture.  Issue:  I really do not like toe up socks.

I know that I have AT LEAST two pair of fingerless mitts, 2 sweaters, 3 cotton tops, a couple of hats that are in various stages of incompleteness.  I also have another pair of socks, but I'm actively working on those, so they don't count.

So does this mean I should not be perusing sweater patterns?  Oh dear....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Steeking Time

Having finished the Cobblestone Pullover, I returned to finishing up the Spicy Cardi.  Now I have finished the knitting, the hemming and one of the underarm seams (one more to go) on my Classic Lines Cardi, it is time to mark and cut the steek.  The official pattern does not have a closure - the cardi is open, though I have noticed that some Ravelers have added buttons or those fancy silver or pewter hooks and eyes that are sometimes seen on Scandinavian sweaters.   I'm also considering a zipper.  In fact, if I just cut it open, can I sew in a zipper without knitting a 'button band?'  Kinda lazy!  But I do want to be done with this. Research may be necessary to see if it makes sense.  Last evening's trip to the big box fabric store did not convince me to put in a zipper. Partly because of the color; partly because of the length.

The fit is good - slightly roomy - because I didn't do the waist shaping.  I don't have much of a waist, and yes, I do look fatter that I am.  Honest!  I love the burnt orange color and subtle stripes.  The fabric - merino wool, alpaca and silk is very sweet.  Big love! 

Friday, March 5, 2010

Cobblestone Pullover Completed

I recently finished knitting the modified Cobblestone Pullover fro my sweetie. I use Cascade Ecological Wooland overall, I was quite happy with it.  It's not super soft, but it has a manly, outdoorsy look and feel.  I like the sweater a lot and am considering knitting one for myself.  Here is the Ravelry link.  You'll nitice that the handsome devil is holding the still attached yarn in his left hand. I did cut it off and he wore it around the house.  I did not weave in the end for a good reason.

But the more I looked at it, I wanted the neckline to come up a bit higher. My fiber group met and they concurred, including the husband of the woman at whose whom we were meeting.  Genuine guy feedback.  No sense in knitting a great sweater but falling a bit short.  So last evening, I pulled it out & knitted 2 more purl bumps and am finishing the knitting.  New pictures to come...

Working in the Etsy shop, adding knitting needles, new medleys of mohair locks. Back to destashing?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fire: March Phat Fiber Preview

I'm getting ready to again participate in the Phat Fiber Sampler Box.  This is a group of fiber artist to contribute sample sizes of their work.  Jesse takes these samples, repackages them and sells the boxes once a month through her Etsy shop.  It creates quite a buzz amongst the fiberati.  I don't participate every month, but I do send in samples every other month or so.  Since the March theme is Elements:  Earth, Air, Fire and Water, this is just up my alley.
Fire is one of my regular colorways, so it was fun to create not just one set of samples, but two:  Hand dyed roving & mohair locks.  I actually planned on sending in Fire and Water, but as I was packing I realized that I had overdone the Fire, so I made the decision for myself.  The colors are great - I love the way the little 'bonbons' of roving are rather unique.  The mohair (from my new favorite local goats) are shiny and wonderful. I have had lots of fun dyeing mohair. It dyes differently than wool - slower and more intense.  I have it listed in my Etsy shop and I get wonderful feedback from my buyers.  So my Phat Fiber friends - Good luck and enjoy!