Cast-On Monday: Handspun Twist & Shout, Farfalla in Fall

I’ve been doing a lot of spinning since the New England Fiber Fest — I’ll save the details for a FO Friday post, but for now feast your eyes on my long-draw woolen 2-ply from Spunky Eclectic’s hand-painted Targhee roving:

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This was my first time with a new spinning technique, so the finished product is a bit unevenly spun and is definitely “thick and thin” in weight.  I chose a simple pattern for bulky yarn that would let me wear the sumptuously soft, pretty blue yarn right by my face: Twist and Flounce by Sharon Dreifuss.  I love how it’s working up so far:

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I also started a project with the test skeins from the gradient dyeing day with Kate.  I met Christiane Burkhard (of Lismi Knits) at Fiber Festival, and got to see her Farfalla in person.  It had been in my queue for quite a while, and seeing it in person made me bump it up in my queue.  I had had plans to knit some faux-isle mittens and hat with the coordinating/contrasting skeins of bright fall colors and slate gray, but the yarn was perfect for a Farfalla.  The design here is so clever, and it’s an enjoyable knit so far:

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Cast-On Monday: Geschenk, Stucco, and a new idea …

Three new projects this week!

First up: I cast on using some of my handspun for Geschenk.  The  handspin in question is from Patches and Butterscotch (of Long Island Livestock).  I bought it at last year’s FFNE — spun it as skinny as I could and then made 2-ply.  I got about 230 yards out of 4 oz of llama roving.

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Second, I started a Stucco using two skeins of sumptuous Danu in Iris. It’s a simple pattern for a wild yarn — I’m a couple repeats in, and I think it’s going to be great! (I’m always worried about how strong-contrast variegated colorways will look as I knit them up.)

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Last but not least, I started a new design prototype.  I’m using Llyr in Leaf — a sweet tonal green. I’m using half-linen stitch again. The item in question is an asymmetrical cowl with two buttons — it’s going well so far, and I’ll show you more when I can :).

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Cast-On Monday: It’s Been Too Long!

The 5th challenge of The Fiber Factor was all-consuming for me … lots of new techniques to conquer, and leagues of hand-sewing and hand-embroidery to do before I could rest.  My fingers bled, my eyes crossed: my piece was a harsh mistress :). One thing that kept me at my task was knowing that I had not one, not two, but THREE mystery KALs lined up to start right when the project was due. Yippee!  Naturally I started them all as quickly as I could. We shall not mention that I already have the specs (and a bit of bling) for Challenge #6.

First up: the RHK Mystery KAL by Sara Elizabeth Kellner.  RHK stands for Rabbit Hole Knits — Sara designs adorable stuffed toys to knit, and this seemed like a great opportunity to make one.  This MKAL is free — all you have to do is join her forum.  I’m using some left-over Tosh Vintage in Rosewood:

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Next up: the Autumn Mystery KAL by Susanna IC.  Right now the pattern is still $3, but the price will go up as clues are released.  Buy now to get the best price! 🙂  I’m using two skeins of Tosh Sock in Mare and the browner beads:

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Last but not least, the Morticia Halloween KAL 2013 by Boo Knits.  I’ve been dying to do a Boo Knits pattern, and I had this skein of Alfar just begging for a good use.  I’m doing the “two kids of beads” option, making the larger shawl:

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Cast-on Monday: Fall in Alexandria

So … I got this knitting machine for Challenge #4 of The Fiber Factor.  It’s really good at cranking out stockinette … so obviously, instead of working on the challenge, I packed up the machine and brought it over to Kate’s house. (You know, Kate, the amazing hand-dyer over at A Hundred Ravens.)  We rigged up two swifts and two skeins of her sock-yarn base ( (aka Iachos).  With her managing the swifts and me minding (and winding) the machine with the sock yarn held double, we cranked through 400 yards and created a tube-shaped dying blank about 5 feet long (tall?).

Why, you ask? Because with such a blank, we could do a fabulous gradient dye job! What fun!  It took about 40 minutes (with two people) to make the blank, which is longer than it took to dye it.  Later on Kate & Company reversed the process and made skeins out of the blank.

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My desire was to emulate the beautiful fall leaves against a slate-gray stormy sky. With Kate’s guidance (and editing eye) we focused on the leaves on the test skein (dyed “normally” with short color repeats), starting with a pale yellow, moving through bright oaky orange and a cherry maple red, and finishing with a more mahogany color. I begged for a second skein of the slate gray to do colorwork with the short-repeat skein.

Here are those two colorways, skeined and then caked:

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The gradient colorway is AMAZING in person — here it is in skein and cake:

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I have selected Alexandra by Dee O’Keefe (shawlette size) — so far, I’m in loooove!

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Cast-On Monday: Liberty Fractal

I’ve been waiting and waiting for the solid colors of Liberty Wool Light to come out … lucky me, here they are!

I bought yarn for two different double-knitting projects: Fractal Cowl by Emily Peters, and Open for Business by Alasdair Post-Quinn.  The Fractal Cowl is knit in the round, with a straight-up double-knitting pattern.  I’m doing this one first to learn more about double-knitting, before I tackle the “Open/Closed” sign (which has a different pattern on the front and back).

Here’s my yarn for the Fractal:

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CO Monday: a vest and yet-another-cowl

I’m done with the knitting (and finishing) for my project for Challenge #3 of the Fiber Factor.  We had the photo shoot on Friday just before sundown — my friend’s daughter modeled for me, and my other friend took the pictures.  I knew we were getting great shots while on site, but the actual proofs were even better! I’m looking forward to the time when I can share.

Still on the to-do list for this challenge:

  • finally finalize the all-important name
  • arrange for and complete my “for the public” session with our mentor, Josh Barrett
  • make the video for the judges (I have some footage, but probably need more)
  • select the 12 best photos, and decide which two will be the “main” and “supporting” photos
  • finish up grading and pattern writing (just have sleeves to go)

So, I cast on two new projects this week!

First-off is a new(ish) design project — it’s destined to be a Classic Elite Web-letter pattern, sometime this fall.  I’m using scrumptious squishy-soft Chalet to make a cable-edged squared-off vest — a layering piece for fall and early winter. I swatched for this design some time ago, but now is the time to get the thing done. So far, so good!

Second, I started yet-another-cowl.  This time, I’m using glorious Llyr in the new-ish colorway “Aphrodite” (drool at it, I command thee):

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I’m making a Song of the Sea with it — perfect combination of yarn and pattern, IMHO.

CO Monday: Challenge #3 (Blank Slate)

This week I started a new challenge for The Fiber Factor!  The theme for challenge #3 is “Blank Slate.” All twelve contestants were told “no need for a color card this time.” I knew this meant we would either be working with a yarn we already had a card for — or, more likely, we didn’t have any choices.  On Challenge Day, we each got a box with 15 skeins of Kenzie in a gorgeous oatmeal-cream:

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I’ve been doing a lot of swatching — used up almost a whole ball! Of course I’m saving the swatches just in case I need the yarn, but I think I’m going to be ok. I actually sewed a mock-up of my design in caramal-colored knit fabric from my local JoAnn’s. I am in LOVE with the shape I’m working towards, and I have a great “special detail” in mind that I haven’t seen before….

CO Monday: a Plethora of Interim Projects

I’m done with my project for Challenge #2 of The Fiber Factor!  I still have to film the video for judging, and mail the sweater off … but for all practical purposes I’m done.  So, time to catch up on some neglected projects, right??  Wrong.  Time to cast on three new projects, yay!

For what it’s worth, I also pared down my Ravelry queue and went through my stash and put a LOT of things up for sale — see something you like? PM me on Ravelry!

Here are my new projects, in order of casting on.  (I cast on TWO after midnight, the night I finished my FF project.)

#1 — My very own Oswin, using A Hundred Ravens Alfar. Oswin is a crochet project. No, really!

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#2 — I’m using Malabrigo Mecha in Arapey to make Hester’s Hope, a shawl from the latest “What Would Madame DeFarge Knit?” book.

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#3 — After a false start with a too-colorful yarn, I settled on The Fibre Company’s Road to China Light in Malachite for Sivia Harding’s new cowl pattern, Lorelei.

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CO Monday: Blue Yonder Lambton, Olive Medallion Socks

Having finished one pair of socks for my mom, on to the next!  This time the yarn is Claudia Hand-Painted in a lovely shade of olive.  I chose Andrea Fox’s pattern Medallion Lace Socks. I decided to do these ones two-at-a-time, and I’m already done with both cuffs. Yay!

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I also dug up some old-ish sweater stash: two batches of Shadow Tonal in Blue Yonder. I bought this is two chunks … which means I have two different dye lots.  In person, they look the same, but from experience I know that sometimes even “same-looking” yarn will make an ugly line of demarcation in a finished object. I should be ok though, because I plan to knit with this yarn mostly double-stranded, so I can easily take one ball from each dye lot and thus avert any dye lot lines.

I’m making a Lambton Top (Theressa Silver) from the 2011 Jane Austen Knits. Instead of trying to find a lace-weight and DK weight in the same colorway (or using stripes like some knitters have), I am using single-stranded Shadow for the laceweight portion, and double-stranded Shadow for the DK portion.  So far, so good!  I’ve read in other people’s project notes that the neck can be too big … for now, I’m making it as-written. I used a crochet cast-on, so it will be easy to go back and add some more fabric if I don’t like the size of the neckline.

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