Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Slow and Steady wins the race or a Sweater...
I am sorry that I have not been better at keeping up this past week. I have been trying to keep the food blog going and adjusting to a new part-time job. I have a lot of irons in the fire right now and am getting ready to go to MS&W show. I am so excited I can't sleep at night.

I wanted to show my progress on the first sweater but let's face it, I am not Wendy Johnson when it comes to sweaters or knitting speed. I am however a great consumer! Wendy's book just came out and I got in the car to go across town at $2.97 a gallon to Border's books and purchase her very first book.

I have had a busy morning and have not had to chance to read more than 2 pages, but I will get to it. I can't wait to see if any of the patterns are easy enough for me to knit as a beginner. Please don't E mail me the ending! I am not one who asks or reads the end of the book first.

Okay now, Wendy should look away right now if she is passing through and reads this blog (fat chance that's going to happen-she doesn't have time!). I made another purchaseI have the another one of Yarn Harlot's books and I haven't finished it but I am just about there.

I read about a chapter a day when I am stirring a pot for dinner. I can't read in bed because that's like a glass of warm milk for me...not good.
Plus if I am reading I am not working on my sweater for my class. I got next to no knitting yesterday. Work and son got in the way. They really need to know their time and place and it's not while I am knitting!!!!

I have been plugging away on the sweater. See how huge it is? Freaks me right out. I guess it looks huge to me because it's the back and the most of the front of the sweater. I am now working on the right front mock cable yoke. Then it's the left and then the sleeves. We are not following the pattern's button hole directions. So I will learn about pattern adjustments here pretty quick. I still have to pick buttons...I have no idea what to get.

Here is a close up of the mock cable. I love cables but I am not sure about this method, but it's all a learning experience. Here is the book with a picture of what the slow and steady sweater should look like when it's done...hopefully!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Pictures Galore
I know some of you will laugh since you are so great at creating pictures but I have finally figured out how to use the Macro funtion on my little Cannon. I know I am a slow learner but I wanted to post these pictures for those who were nice enough to come by the blog and check things out. So this is for you few who stroll by...

This is the Snap Dragon all spun. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what it looks like. This reminds of those big huge round multi-colored suckers that would take a week to eat as a kid. Could be salt water taffy too!

Here is a much more flattering view of Baby Ragg. She weighs 8 ounces.
Extreme close up of Baby Ragg. I think her hair is going to be on the coarse side with a bit of girly curls!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Before and After
I was lucky enough to be at Mary's place when she had just gotten a shipment of new fabulous roving. As I mentioned in a previous post I bought 2-8 ounces balls to try of 100% Merino. Here is the before... This is Snapdragon roving and this is Snap Dragon in the process of becoming yarn. These are the bobbins that I used. The smaller one is the bobbin you spin the roving on to and the larger one is the Plying bobbin. I wanted to show the difference in sizes.

This is the Swift that you put the plied yarn onto to make a skein or a hank. You can measure how many yards you have and then of course you need to weigh the yarn too. I don't have a fancy scale. I use a food scale from Walmart. It works.

This is the plied skein. It weighed in a 7 ounces and 294 yards. I got 7 ounces of yarn from 8 ounces of roving. I still have the bits and pieces that broke off and will eventually use them to make a misc. kind of yarn. I will have to untwist it and then maybe comb it into all the other bits that I have in zip lock bags.

I am not sure if I really like the way the yarn turned out. I can say that it reminds me of one of those suckers that you buy at the county fair that is wound up in a huge circle. Do you know the ones? This yarn looks exactly like that. Too bad I can't eat it!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Yarn Gives Birth!
This proves the headline!

Meet Daddy-Mr. Border-Leicester...

and his lovely wife-Ms. Finn-Merino-Rambouillet...

and finally their offspring.....
Baby Ragg weighing in at 6 ounces

The perfect family photo!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Raw Fleece and Roving
I got some comments on my last entry and I wanted to hurry and address those comments. First of all I am thrilled that anyone reads this since I am so new at knitting and I don't usually do more than one project at a time. So progress pictures aren't common because it takes me so long! So here is the FREE raw fleece that I got from a fellow spinner, Debbie. I just love how this stuff was so dirty and then when washed was a totally different color! Really was cool to see the difference.

Here is some of the roving that I bought at Mary's last Friday night. It's called Pumpkin and it's 100% Merino. I have never spun this kind of stuff before but I am going to try this weekend. I have come to a point in my sweater where we are going to decrease for the armholes and I have to wait until class on Tuesday to do that. So spinning it is. I have no idea who many hours this will take but once I get the hang of it, I get better and better.

This roving is also 100% Merino and it's called Snap Dragon (like the flower). I can't wait to spin this and see how all the colors entwine together to make a unique yarn. I have no earthly idea what I will do with the stuff but I know it will look lovely whatever it is.

Here is a (dark) picture of my wheel. It's
Lendrum. I love it and I bought it from Mary Scott at Serendipity. I have some brown yarn on the wheel.
Here are some hanks that are done. I get carried away when I ply and these babies weigh a lot. I weighed them, put the name of the sheep on the tag, the yardage and the date it was spun so that I would know which roving it started out as.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

How I Spend One Friday a Month
I am lucky enough to have some place to go one Friday a month where I can talk about fiber, spinning, knitting and sheep. I learned to spin out at Serendipity Farm & Studio. Mary Scott was really patient with me and my head was always on information overload when I left from a lesson. Thank goodness that Mary knows this happens and insisted that I bring a notebook and a pen to jot down notes. It came in handy when I washed my very first fleeces!

Once a month Mary invites a small group of spinners, knitters and weaving nuts to come and sit around. Here is Mary hamming it up because she was showing us a huge new batch of fibers she just got in.
She will be at the Maryland Sheep & Wool. We were lucky enough to get first crack at her stash! I have never seen so many wonderful combination of colors and fibers. Mary was so nice to let us see and spend! She might not have had enough fiber to take to MS& W except I am on a credit card diet and had to be conservative with my spending. I know Mary was disappointed!

Meet Patricia. It's my first time to meet her myself. She is in the process of moving back to the west coast and stopped in at Mary's to stock up on fiber. She was nice enough to help me with my sweater where I had dropped a stitch. She did a nice repair job and even better she was a great listener! I hope she has a great trip to the west coast!

This is Cathryn talking to Mary about the picture of her dog on her cell phone. Cathryn and I met at the Southeastern Virginia Spinning Guild and I see her at my favorite yarn shop The Knitting Corner and then out at Mary's shop. Cathryn is the President of our spinning guild. And of course no shop would be complete without the proverbal "shop cat". Here is Shorty, happy to be sitting on a full fleece which he is not usually allowed to do. I know he was thrilled that Mary was distracted by all of us clammering over the roving! Yes, I did break out the credit card and buy some. I will show them later.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Total Insanity!
Someone told me the definition of insanity is repeating the same behavior expecting different results. This is a concept that I understand; especially knitting my very first sweater. I have ripped this baby out at least three times up to yesterday and today will be number four. I know, I know, I said that I wouldn't rip it out one more time, but I lied.

I read both my blogs every day to check on comments and try to respond. I also read my favorite blogs almost every single day too. I read
Wendy Knits everyday because she pretty much posts everyday. I love looking at her projects and I aspired (ahem) to knit things as wonderfully as she has. I love the deep green cotton Aran sweater she is knitting. I don't usually comment on her blog because there are hundreds who do already. Since I have been whining about my first sweater I thought I would ask her if she frogs things when she spots a mistake. Her is her answer to my question.

But speaking of mistakes,
The Virginia Purl asked an interesting question the other day:When I looked at your lovely green cotton Aran a question came to mind. When you are doing a large project like that and you look back to find a hole or mistake, how willing are you to go back and frog it?
The answer is . . . it depends on how obvious the error is. If I look at it and gasp in horror, I do indeed go back and fix it.
For example -- when I was knitting my second Inishmore several years ago, I discovered after having most of the second sleeve done, I had knitted it the same as the first sleeve. The patterns on Inishmore's sleeves are mirror-image of each other. Mine were not. So I did rip it out back to the ribbing (cursing myself for my stupidity and inattention all the while) and started again.
I make a point, these days, of scrutinizing my knitting very closely after every couple of rows to ensure that I haven't committed some atrocity. It's far easier to fix an atrocity two rows down than one twelve inches down.

Never dreaming she would answer my question, I was really inspired by her response. So much, that I looked at a row of glaring error in my sweater and thought long and hard about what I was going to do. Could I live with the mistake? Do I really care since it's my very first sweater. Well, sure I care. That's why I have ripped it out three times only to repeat that same stinking mistake. I had no idea what that mistake was, but I knew from looking at the piece that it was really wrong. I had a lot of time yesterday to knit so I kept going. I kept telling myself that I could live with it and it was a learning experience. Before I went to bed, I read my blog and there was a comment that determined how my morning was going to spent just now. Here is the comment.

I've recently learned a trick for ripping. Find your last good row and weave your needles into the stitches. Then, rip away. You'll stop at the last good row -- no worries! Sometimes I end up with the stitches sitting the wrong way on the needle, but that's a small fix compared to the messes I used to have.Wendy

I got up this morning and started knitting and that row was looking at me with the evil eye and I could hear it whispering in my ear, "I am a glaring error and you can't fix me, nah, nah, nah!" If anything I am determined to make this sweater look right!!!! So you know what's next!

I figured that the huge difference in color would come in useful and it did. I took a deep breath and started to gather stitches onto the needle. I laid the piece on the foot stool and just eye balled it. It took several trys but I got all the stitches from the same row threaded with the green yarn.
If you look really closely, you can see to the right of the picture, the glaring nagging row of mistakes. Those of you who are more experienced will know what the error is. Shhhhh. Don't tell...yet.
I figured that since I have ripped this out three times already, a fourth time wouldn't be any big deal. So a ripping I went. I ripped out 6 inches down to the row with the green yarn and then began to re-thread the stitches back onto the needles. I clipped the knot off the end and pulled out the green yarn. Okay, the glarring row was gone and I was on the knitting side of the sweater. I started to knit and was really looking at the stitches. They were hard to get on and then they looked funny. OMG! Not again...I want die.

A lightening bolt shot out of the remote and zapped me. The stinking stitches were twisted. lol. All of this because when I ripped the piece out I did not put the stitches back on without twisting them the right direction. I feel so silly. lol! I finished the row stitch by stitch looking at it and then knitting it and then looking at it again. Some looked funny. I ripped them out and switched the stitch from needle to needle and then knitted it again. It worked. So now I am back to knitting the sweater a smarter knitter. Did this lesson have to take so long and make me feel so silly...YES. Nothing that is learned is always learned easily; ask me I know...knitting on.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Happy Dance!!
I am so excited that I finished another project that would be classified as a beginner project. I don't care what the book called it, I am just tickled with myself that it's done, done, done!!

I just love this!! I was so into learning cables that I got carried away with this shawl. Now, I am only 5'2" so it wouldn't take much for a nice sized shawl to fit me. The pattern said it should be about 24 inches in width and 80 inches in length. I kept measuring the length and was I slowly getting there. I had a really good week a few weeks ago where business was slow and I could knit a lot. The last time I remember measuring the shawl it was 71". I just knitted away, night and day and day and night. Then for some reason I asked hubby to grab his trusty man tape measure and help me see how my green monster was going. 84 freaking inches. lol! I did get a bit carried away. Any who, it's done. I finished it a week ago this past Tuesday. My goal was to finish one project before starting another. Since my sweater class got rescheduled it worked out perfectly. I put the last tassel on right before I hopped in the car to drive to class.

Now I have a question for all of you advanced knitters. Is there such a thing as "project let down" or "finished project depression"? I was lucky enough to have another project lined right away to ease the pain of finishing the shawl. But what if when the sweater class is over, I have nothing else lined up? Is this why knitters have some many projects all going at once? Is it boredom or mental self preservation?

Moving on...

The second sweater class went on without any of us as far as I know. I told the teacher when she called to check on my progress that it seemed a bit silly to me for us to spend two hours watching me do the stockinette stitch. Boring, boring and some more boring. So since I was the only one who was going to be able to go last night, I told her to take the night off. I would be in class on the 18th and then go from there.

I had a lot done on the body of the sweater until I found three dropped stitches here, there and yonder. I went back and picked them up. Funny thing was, the more I tried to follow a book's instructions on how to pick up a dropped stitch the worse it got. It was like trying to stop a run in my panty hose. It was frustrating to say the least. I sat back in the chair and looked at how small the recovered stitches were and wanted to break down and cry. You could really see the difference. So guess got it. I ripped that bad boy all the way out and cast on new stitches. I tried to rip it out and put the ribbing stitches back on the needles but to no avail. So I had to start all over. I have now done that whole process twice. Is knitting supposed to make you cry and act snotty to your family members when they try and talk to you while you are in the throws of a knitting trantrum? Did someone tell me this was fun?