cat survey results are in

96% of survey participants spin yarn and and 92% knit.
27 participants overall.

First Question: How do you feel about cats?

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Who doesn’t like cats?! That must be one of the non-spinning, non-knitting people, who accidentally selected the wrong answer and was just having an off day.

I am also disappointed at the low percentage of being absolutely crazy about cats. But at least over 75% feel positively about cats. I can live with that. Somehow.

Second Question: How many cats live with you today?

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Well, there’s potential for growth! 18% might get a cat. Yay!

Thank you for participating in the survey! :-)

felty Finn

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Out of the wash. Starting to notice the felted-together strands, attached to each other like velcro DSC02094

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Dry skein, after having pulled apart each strand: DSC02088

And in familiar rolled up skeiny form: DSC02106

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Here’s the swatch. 14-16 wpi, 3.5 mm needles. Perhaps I should move up a needle size. It’s not extremely soft, but it’ll definitely do for a warm not-next-to-skin sweater. DSC02111

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overcoming knitting fear

Take the survey!

This is going to be a rectangle.

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Its width is 60 cm (23.5 inches). If it were a a bit wider or narrower, that would have been fine.

The 1×1 rib at the bottom is so and so rows, it doesn’t matter really how many, as many as I thought looked nice at the time I was knitting. If I knit up less, or more, that would be just fine too.

The height up to the armhole will be 50-55 cm (19.5-21.5 inches), so that it’ll be a nice tunic length. I measured this length off of a tee I already have. But a shorter or longer length will do as well.

That’s the plan for now: to knit a rectangle.

At the armhole, I’m just going to continue knitting up straight and figure out how to make the neckline. I’ll think about it when I get to it.

Knitting without a knitting pattern terrifies me. It doesn’t matter that I know it shouldn’t be that hard, or that I know how to draft sewing patterns from scratch. I don’t know why, it’s like I think that if I don’t follow a pattern, instead of a tee I might create a monster. It’s an irrational fear.

source: Danger Crafts Maddox Monster Actually, creating a monster might not be so bad.

It also doesn’t matter that I majored in Math in HS and that I have a bachelors degree in computer science, so the arithmetic should be simple for me. Or that there are a million helpful explanations out there in blogs, books, videos, and what not. I am scared like a cat at the sound of a rustling plastic bag at the thought that I have to make actual decisions about measurements and “design elements”. I am scared to the point that I can’t do it.

So I decided to take it one step at a time. Step 1 – make a rectangle. Actually, step 1 was to make the swatch, so that I could tell how many stitches are needed to make a 60 cm wide rectangle. In my case, the answer was 144, because in my swatch, there were 24 stitches in 10 cm. More or less. So there are 24×60/10=144 stitches in 60 cm. This is knit fabric, and an oversize tee. It will forgive me my mistakes. I keep telling myself that.

I might knit up the top part (starting at some point above the armhole) in a different pattern, maybe something like this one.

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I’m knitting the back and the front separately, and I will seam them together. At least I’m not afraid of seaming knit garment pieces! Thank wool for that. There are several reasons why I’m making this a pieced tee:

  • because breaking up the garment into its constituent parts makes it less scary.
  • because the book I got from which I want to learn more teaches how to make knitting patterns using pieced knitting, and when I am less scared I want to follow that book.
  • and maybe most importantly, because you can make the same knit garment in a variety of ways: top down, bottom up, side to side – and I want to take that complexity out of the equation. After I’m comfortable with pieced garment making, I think it’ll be easier to tackle different ways that that same garment could be constructed.

Are you intimidated by some aspect of knitting? Do you want to join me in overcoming at least a small part of that fear? If so I would be happy to support you, and to have your support. To know that I’m not the only person out there with this irrational fear. Maybe we can help each other through it. Leave me a comment, or drop me an email, if you are so inclined.

More Drop Spindle Spinning

Good morning, readers! I’m whipping up a short update post before getting ready and heading for work. I promised myself I would get better at taking photos which I put up on the blog, instagram, etc. I will make an effort! But that effort has not yet been made, so please excuse the blurriness etc. I do promise better photos soon! Here’s another look at Jessie’s girl. I wore it once to work so far and it’s a comfy and flattering tee. Nowadays, I wear tunics and tights most days, dresses other days. Which is why I lengthened the tee a bit to make it more of a tunic. I’m happy with it. DSC02060 I’ve been spinning on my drop spindle quite a bit. Here’s my re-spun (I spun it badly, then fixed the slubby parts) and two-plied Corriedale, I think it is: DSC02036 DSC02050 It’s amazing to see the transformation that happens after washing. People say the yarn “blooms” and I see what they mean! My latest spinning is approximately 3 oz of Romney undyed combed top – my first ever 3 ply. This office chair was used as a makeshift skein maker: DSC02062 and here is the 3-ply hand spun (spindle spun!) yarn: DSC02064 It’s not easy to ply such a length on a drop spindle, just because of the weight of it all. But I am proud of myself for doing it. I’ve been spinning more consistently and drafting flows much better now. This is the above 3-ply yarn, before plying – I spun it into a 3-ply ball as Abby Franquemont suggests. 17341473861_03a31f8727_k Here’s one of the singles being spun: 17141724690_d30f4aba3b_k I am contemplating getting a Hansen miniSpinner. It’s so expensive, but it seems like a great tool. Gotta run!

Jessie’s Girl, casually blocked

I finished knitting up Jessie’s Girl – a lovely, simple pattern, with short rows at the shoulders. I needed to make adjustments for my stitch count, so that slowed me down for a bit (lots of pen and paper and ruffled brows) – but it gave me a chance to practice making those adjustments and understanding the pattern better. Short rows are still rather new to me.

The instructions were great, and I enjoyed making it. I lengthened the hem by 10 cm (4 inches), but otherwise followed the instructions for size M (except for my different gauge). I really love patterns that are simple but are still so wearable and lovely. I gave the pattern 5 stars.

The yarn (100% cotton, teal) is of a uniform color – the fluctuations in color are some weird digital artifact. The tee is photographed here inside-out, so you can see some woven in ends. Please disregard! :-)

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No pins (because the cats like them too much) and no blocking wires (because they are way too expensive! They’re just wires! I cannot bring myself to buy them). The garter stitch rows stretched apart very easily, and I like to casually block anyway. I don’t like to go too crazy with blocking or else I will hate doing it.

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Now for the hardest part – waiting for it to dry!

Jessie’s Girl, by Elizabeth Smith

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drop spindle: 3rd ounce of fiber

Yesterday morning I started spinning my 3rd ounce of fiber, and it was a dream! The fiber, R.H. Lindsay Domestic Wool in Grey Fawn, is rustic and not very soft, and even has small pieces of dried plants in it. I don’t care! It’s perfect! The fibers stick together and they’re hardy and strong, so I could spin relatively thin and even. Since I spun a thinner yarn, the same amount of fiber lasted longer, and I got more practice out of it.

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spinning the single (fiber: R.H. Lindsay Domestic Wool in Grey Fawn)

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forming a two-ply ball for plying (left) from a center pull ball (right)

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plying

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the plied yarn!

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I’m going to wash it and knit a swatch out of it.

Since I’ve run out of fiber for spinning, and since I realized I’d spun my previous fiber (Ashland Bay Superwash BFL) too thick, I thought I’d try re-spinning it. It’s going slowly, but well:

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Here are the fibers I’ve ordered (8 ounces of each). I hope they get here soon!

I’m reading the kindle version of “Respect the Spindle” by Abby Franquemont. It is inspiring, in-depth and fascinating so far. Highly recommended.

stash ethics

I’m taking the “no stash” path.

This means that I try not to buy yarn unless I’ve completed the previous project I’ve been working on, and only after I’ve decided on the next project I’m making.

Why spend money now for something you don’t need now? Something that may be sitting in your closet for a long time, maybe several years?

I prefer to wait until I’ve learned all I could learn from the current project before I choose which yarn and which project I’d like to make next. I prefer to buy just the right amount of yarn, which is hard if I don’t know what pattern it’s for.

It feels good to finish a project and be able to go and pick out new yarn for the next one, take it home, swatch, and knit with it! No stash guilt… Travel light!

Even though I really try to follow these rules, I’ve broken them several times. I’ve definitely not lived by these rules in the past in terms of fabric for sewing… Maybe that’s why I’m trying a different approach. Because I’ve seen fabric pile up and stay stashed for years, and even though I’ve given much of it away, I still have a lot left. Think of all the yarn (or nicer quality fabric) I could have bought with the money spent on the stashed old fabric…

What are your stash rules (or lack thereof)?

Are you happy with your stash situation?

a hint of summer – completed (April 2015)

I can’t believe I finished it in 2 1/2 weeks.

I made it tunic length, much longer than the pattern calls for (53 cm / 21″ down from armhole instead of 40 cm / 16″).

It’s quite a heavy tee, as the 100% cotton thread is rather dense. I am happy with it! I would love to make another variation of this excellent versatile pattern again soon.

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I had only one skein (50 grams) of the light blue yarn, and obviously it ran out mid-sweater. No worries, I just improvised with some this ginger-brown cotton yarn from my mom’s stash. Improvising and letting go of always being in control is therapeutic for me… And it’s fun, too.

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The pattern calls for a finer yarn, to be knit on larger needles and blocked somewhat open. But I decided to use the cotton yarn I had on hand – in any case, since this is meant to be worn in summertime, I figured a yarn with any wool content just won’t do.

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The hem is a 1×1 rib. The provisional crochet cast on and short rows at the shoulder were cool to learn and use for the first time.

Tell me what you think!

East End Tunic – completed (March 2015)

Sorry for the blurry photo :|

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It ended up being more of a dress than a tunic – I figured I might as well finish all 7 skeins of yarn.
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Looks much better with a finished neckline:

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I didn’t know how to avoid this hole while picking up stitches, so I just fixed it by stitching it up in the end.

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The beginning of the seed stitch is like the pattern instructs, but the rest is improvised.

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See how soft and velvety the fabric is?

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All in all, I’m happy with it, though there are things I’d like to do better next time, and I am sorry to say I prefer more informative pattern instructions than these.