Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thick and Thin

In my last post, I was contemplating which of two sweaters' sleeves I would knit next, Hallett's Ledge or Paper Crane.

I went with the instant gratification:

Between the thin spinning and the thin knitting from finishing up Paper Crane's body, I felt like I needed some big needle, quick 'n eezy instant satisfaction. Hallett's did not fail. So I may actually have this sweater ready to go by next week, depending on how my weekend goes. I guess I need to get some buttons, huh?

The thin spinning continues. I finished up the first bobbin and started the second. I'm about 3/4 of the way done with the second bobbin now:

This is actually a new picture, even though it looks like all the others. And I can hear Mr. T in the background, saying "What's with the dime? I don't get the dime." It's for scale, to show just how thick or thin the spinning is.

I really like the singles, but I'm afraid when I ply this it's going to look muddy and crappy. We'll have to see. I admit that most of my spinning and knitting is pretty reserved, colorwise. Sometimes I see some wild multicolor handspun skeins and I think "That's neat, but how would that knit up?" I spin to knit, not just for the hell of it. But often some of the wildest skeins knit up in really cool ways, so I'm trying to push some of my boundaries. We'll see how it turns out.

In middle school news, Sr. Jr. didn't make the tennis team. Now he claims he hates tennis and never wants to play again. Sigh. On the other hand, he's done more bike riding lately, and is still an avid bike racer. C'est la teenager.

I went to the open house at his middle school last night, and for the third year in a row was completely impressed. I became disillusioned with the elementary school administration pretty early on. The teachers there are great, as a general matter, but the principal and assistant principal always left me cold. Not so at the middle school. The principal there seems genuinely delighted with her job, the school, the teachers, the kids, and the parents. All of the teachers were dynamic, enthusiastic, innovative, creative and seemed really committed to what they were teaching. Now I can see why Sr. Jr. seems engaged with school this year.

I'm still slowly recovering from the ankle injury. I'm not running again, but I am getting on the treadmill more frequently and trying to increase distance at a steady pace. The ankle still gets a little sore and achy sometimes, and I try to take breaks when that happens. But I'm really sick of it. I want to get back to where I was! Argh.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


My new scheme has me juggling many different projects. Sometimes it seems like I'm not making a whole lot of progress on one individual item, but the truth is that as I rotate, I am getting somewhere! Last week I showed you the finished body for my Hallett's Ledge sweater, and now I can show you the finished body for Paper Crane:

Now I can start sleeves. The original plan was to go back and do Hallett's Ledge sleeves and then Paper Crane sleeves, but now I'm not so sure. Hallett's would go a lot faster, and therefore be done sooner, but it's a heavier sweater, more suited for later in the season. However, while Paper Crane would be wearable sooner, I suspect that the sleeves will take a looooong time. I need to think this one over a little more.

I've still been knitting on my stripey Yarn Chef socks:

but I also wound up some Twisted Fiber Arts sock yarn in the Vintage colorway to up my participation in the stripey sock knitalong on Ravelry. I wound it up, started knitting, then when I looked down at my yarn cake I noticed the coolest thing --

A Star of David! I didn't do anything specific to get it that way; it's just a trick of the winder. I'm almost sad to knit the socks and have that disappear, but knit I must. And it's such a pretty colorway:

I love how she gets her stripes to bleed and fade into each other, instead of being sharp and distinct blocks of color. The Lagoon socks that I just finished were a wee bit tight, so I went up 0.25 mm in needle this time. At first, I also worked the socks with 4 more stitches, but they were too big. Just that teeny adjustment in needle size was all I needed.

Then this arrived in the mail --

Isn't this cute? This is from Twisted Limone (unfortunately, she's out of stock of these cute little stripey yarn balls right now). I'm so tempted to cast on a third pair of stripey socks. So far I'm resisting, but I don't know how long I can hold out.

I am still spinning, too. I haven't for the last 2 days, but I'm almost done with the first bobbin of my Squoosh fiber:

I'm trying to spin this really fine, so it's taking a long time. I'm a bit of a spinning perfectionist, so I get bummed when I get a fiber blurp that affects the thickness of the single. Plus, I'm impatient. So I think my next spin will be a bit thicker, for more instant gratification.

I have about 2/3 of a fiber strip left to finish this bobbin, which is what I'm going to do right now. While I do that, I will try to decide which sleeves to knit first.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spinning More

As I said in my last post, I'm trying to make sure I work spinning into my daily (or near daily) activities. I'm still knitting, but I'm taking breaks and spinning, too. (And yes, all the other stuff of life, laundry, cleaning, cooking, kid stuff, etc. is still going on as usual.)

I finished spinning the Crown Mountain Farms merino I showed you last time:

It's very soft! I think I'm going to make myself some fingerless mittens for when it starts getting really cold in the house.

For my next spinning, I chose a braid from one of my favorite dyers, Squoosh:

(I really need to get a lightbox for taking pictures. Hint, hint Mr. T, Chanukah's coming)

I'm almost done with the first bobbin of the Squoosh fiber. I'm spinning it very thin. It wants to be that way.

It's very autumnal. I worry about how it will look when it's plied, but I'll just have to wait and see.

I'm following the knitting plan I laid out for myself as well. I've picked up Paper Crane again. I've knit 36 out of 79 rows of those teeny tiny stitches, so I'm working my way toward the end of the body. I've turned the heel on the first of the stripey socks I showed last time, too. No new pics of those, because they look pretty much the same as they did.

Sr. Jr. made the cut to get into the second round of tennis tryouts. They were supposed to be yesterday, which was tough for him. He was in two bike races this weekend. He raced in one men's race, and then raced in the Under 19 race the next day (he came in 2nd!). He also played tennis, so yesterday morning he was pretty tired. Luckily, tryouts didn't finish up, so he got another night to rest and recover before finishing up this afternoon. I can't wait to hear how he did!

Jr. Jr.'s soccer team won both of its games this weekend, too. He played and he played ok, but he didn't score any goals. This year kids in his grade do instrumental music. He chose the trombone. Now, I love the trombone. It can make some beautiful music, just generally not in the hands of a fourth grader. He came home yesterday after his first day able to blow some notes! It wasn't awful, until he decided to try to play "Eye of the Tiger." Good thing we have a lot of Advil on hand.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So Far, So Good

It's only been a little over a week since school started, but I feel like I've been accomplishing a lot. It's not that I've sat down and worked on anything for hours on end. In fact, I've been doing things sort of here and there -- go to the post office, knit a little bit. Hit the supermarket, spin for a bit. Vacuum, then knit. And amazingly, it's working nicely. Things that I need to do are getting done, and I'm doing things that I want to do as well. I'm still craving a good BLOCK of time to sit down and work on something, but I'm sure that will come. Someday.

I finished the body for Hallett's Ledge. Here it is all unblocked and yuck looking:

Yes, I have to work around the cat. As per my plan (stated in the last post), I will now put this away for a little bit and finish up the body on Paper Crane.

I'm working away on the second bobbin of my spinning project. This bobbin doesn't seem to be going as smoothly for me, and I'm not sure why. I don't know if the fiber isn't quite as cooperative or if it's me, but I'm not as happy with how this bobbin of singles is turning out. Hopefully, when the whole thing is plied, washed, and finished up, it'll all be a wash. Here you can see the bobbin I'm working on and the one I finished already:

And the obligatory dime shot:

I might finish up this bobbin today. We'll see. It's early release and I'm not sure how much spinning I can do with two kids on a sunny afternoon.

I also finished up my Lagoon socks, using Twisted Fiber Art's Playful yarn:

I couldn't make the socks match, but I don't care. I love them anyway. They're also a teeny bit snug on me, so I think when I knit with this yarn again I might cast on a few more stitches or go up a needle size. But pictures can't do justice to how beautiful this yarn it. The color transitions are subtle and perfect. I'm very excited for her upcoming sock club, and I'm definitely going to knit another pair very soon. Maybe I'll go pick out the next skein this afternoon :)

In the meantime, I cast on another pair of stripey socks, this pair in a yarn from Yarn Chef called Minestrone. It's very soft with some subtle color shading as well:

Most of the time I knit socks as my carrying around project, or as a palate cleanser, something to knit when I don't want to work on whatever other complicated project I'm working on at the time. Stripey sock yarns are great, because I get great socks even when knitting boring old stockinette, and I don't get bored. The "oooh, colorful!" factor keeps me interested.

In my non-fibery life, things seem to be going well, too. Both boys seem to be enjoying school, and seem motivated to do well. Sr. Jr. tried out for the tennis team yesterday. He thinks he did well enough to make the next round of try-outs, so I'm anxious for him to get home to find out if he's right. We're starting to add in all the after-school activities, like piano lessons, Hebrew school, and soccer. The weather's been gorgeous. Can't complain.

So far, the only person who can complain is poor Mr. T, who's been socked in at work. There never seems to be any in between for him; he's either too busy and stressed, like he is now, or worried that he's not busy enough.

Friday, September 10, 2010


School has started. That big sigh of relief you hear is me, dragging out my knitting and my spinning and RELAXING for the first time in a long time.

So far school seems to be going well. Sr. Jr. seems happy with his classes. He's particularly pleased that he could get into Latin this year. He couldn't last year because his school schedules all foreign languages for each grade in one period, so the kids can't take a second language as an elective. I can understand that not many kids would want to take two modern languages at once, but I bet there's a not insignificant population who would want to take one modern language along with Latin. Luckily, it worked out for this year.

Jr. Jr. seems ok with his. His teacher is very good, but I think the composition of the class leaves something to be desired. Only one of his good buddies is in class with him. There are two boys who tend to have behavioral issues, and I suspect that putting them together won't help. We'll see.

I put aside Paper Crane for a bit to work on Hallett's Ledge. I'm almost finished with the body of the sweater.

I'm farther along with the back now, of course. I just haven't taken any new pictures. I think when I'm done with the body, I'll pick up Paper Crane again and finish the body on that sweater. Switch back to Hallett for sleeves, and then back to Paper Crane again. It's a plan.

So far I'm having no issues with the pattern. It's all going very smoothly. I hope it fits! It looks small, but I know that the rib-like pattern will stretch out when it's blocked.

The other thing I'm doing now that I have time again is spinning. I just started a spinning project this morning. I worked at it all morning long until my hand was cramping and I needed a break.

I'm spinning some Crown Mountain Farms merino in the Thistle colorway, a colorway I like so much I unknowingly bought it two separate times, two separate years, at Maryland Sheep and Wool. Here's what it looks like pre-spinning:

Here's the bit I've spun so far this morning, about half a bobbin, with the obligatory dime shot following:

I plan to make a two ply yarn out of this. I think it will end up as a heavy laceweight or fingering weight, but we'll see.

I've been reading another great book, Skippy Dies, by Paul Murray. It's about boys (and others) at a school in the UK. There are parts that are read aloud/laugh aloud funny, and parts that are full of the pathos in any teen's life. Very, very good.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Little Worried

I've actually had a little time to knit, here and there, betwixt and between. I got a lot of knitting done Sunday evening during the Emmy awards. I made it all the way to the eyelet band in the middle of Hallett's Ledge:

Once I hit that nice little milestone, I put it aside to concentrate some more on Paper Crane. As of my last post, I had bound off for the armholes and finished the little front panels. Since then, I've knit all the way up the back, doing the armhole decreases, and finished the increases and the casting on for the fronts, as well:

All I have to do now is knit 79 more rows and the body of the sweater is done. Unfortunately, I'm beginning to wonder if this will fit me. It seems small. Very small. I know that it will grow a bit in the wash, but I'm still afraid it won't fit me. I'll be very sad if that's the case, after all this work!

Now that I've done all that, I'm going to put Paper Crane aside for a day or two to go back to Hallett's Ledge. I need a few days of worsted weight after all that laceweight.

In ankle news... I haven't been back on the treadmill since my Saturday attempt. My ankle was definitely sore and achy for a few days after even that short, gentle walk. I really don't want to overdo it and make my recovery longer, but this is driving me nuts.

The gimpiness did allow me to read a lot while we were away, and now is as good a time as any to give a reading report. First up is One Day, by David Nicholls. This novel tells the story of two people who meet up in college and have one date. Over the years, they stay friends, though they both have feelings for each other. Their friendship survives miscommunications, missed signals, life changes, and more. The book was well-written and enjoyable. I think I particularly liked it because the characters were very much my contemporaries. I liked it so much that I read another book by Nicholls called Starter for Ten, about a young man going to college and trying to prove himself and find himself. I liked this book less, perhaps because the main character wasn't that likeable to me, and I found his complete cluelessness annoying and not very believable.

After those, I read Mr. Peanut, but Adam Ross. It starts out seeming to be about a man wondering how to kill his wife, but is really an exploration of marriage and how married people can be so close and so in love, yet not really know each other at all. There are many layers to this book, stories within stories within stories, including examinations of the marriages of two policemen involved with the main character, one of whom happens to be Sam Sheppard, whose wife's murder was the subject of much tabloid reporting and also became the basis for the television show (and movie) The Fugitive. Mr. T didn't like this book, finding it overlong and full of extraneous stuff. I, on the other hand, liked it a lot. The ending really did put things in perspective, too.

After that, I picked up The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine. This book examines the fall-out from an elderly man's decision to divorce his long-time wife and take up with a younger woman. His wife, along with his two step-daughters, leave Manhattan for exile in Westport, Connecticut. I enjoyed this book quite a lot, even if I did harangue Mr. T about not divorcing me when I'm 73 years old. I did want to smack some of the people in the book, too, for being clueless, easily manipulated, or just plain mean.

I read The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman next. I almost didn't read this, because it sounded a bit chick-lit-y for me, but I was happily proved wrong. Like The Three Weissmans, it features two sisters, one more responsible and one more flighty. The book portrays life in the dot-com boom and bust period, with a dash of 9/11 thrown in, but in the context of two young women finding their way in the world and discovering what they want and who they are. I enjoyed this book a lot, more than I thought I would.

I'm still reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and enjoying it a lot. I'm almost done with it. The book is written wonderfully, about the interaction between Europeans and Japanese back at the beginning of the 19th century.


For now, I'm dealing with ants in the kitchen and everyone getting antsy about the start of school next week.