Friday, October 29, 2010

Drop Spindle Spinning

I've tried to spin yarn before, but not really having any clue what I was doing, I never got very far.  I have 3 drop spindles and some practice fiber, all of which has been buried away in the closet for the last several months.  When I saw that Cloverhill Yarn was offering a beginning drop spindle class, I jumped on the opportunity.  After two hours of class, I definitely had some progress to show for my time.

 I loved every minute of it. When I got home, I pulled out the pretty trindle and fiber that I got at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival last year, and I sat down and started spinning. It's new, it's awkward, and it takes my full attention as I try to draft the fibers evenly and keep the spindle spinning. I'm still big on "park and draft" -- meaning I stop the spindle from spinning as I work on drafting the fibers.  My yarn isn't perfect but not lumpy either.

 When you first start knitting, each stitch takes concentration, and in the beginning, it seemed to me that there were always new skills to learn.  I loved that part about learning to knit.  It was easy to block out the world and just stare at the loops of yarn over 2 wooden sticks.  Simple, but so much to pay attention to.  After knitting for several years, rarely do I shut out the entire world and focus only on my hands and stitches.  A big part of me misses that aspect of knitting.  I miss the escape it provided.  For the past several days as I anticipated stress at work, I found myself reaching for the spindle.  Spinning requires my full attention, and there is neither pressure to rush nor an expectation of how much I should be spinning in a given time frame.  No rows to count or fabric to measure, just a calm and quiet twirling spindle.  Progress is slow, but I'm definitely seeing some results.

I'm not sure whether spinning will stick more this time or whether once again the tools will be put aside.  I'm not too worried about it one way or the other.  Right now, I'm just enjoying the peace.  Although I admit, I might be a little eager to finish up the 4 oz of purple fiber I'm working on now so I can move onto this:

Friday, October 22, 2010


Whippoorwill is finished!  Despite some setbacks, it came together rather nicely in the end.

Pattern:  Whippoorwill (Ravelry pattern)
Ravelry Project Page
Yarns: Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs Oleander--Absinthe
            Madelinetosh Sock--Emerald City
Needles:  Size 7 US
Cast on:  October 1, 2010
Finished: October 21, 2010

I know there are a ton of mistakes somewhere, but I have no idea where and nothing is visible. Maybe no mistakes are actually there then?  I didn't waste too much time puzzling that one out.  Instead I enjoyed waltzing around work today with my pretty new shawl wrapped around me and felt like a million bucks. 

It's a very good size shawl--the amount of drape is a little more apparent in this back shot. I only knit the medium size, but I wanted a large shawl that I wouldn't have to constantly be throwing back up over my shoulder.  Since I didn't have enough yarn for the large size, I knit the medium on size 7, so at a little larger gauge than the pattern instructs.  The finished size definitely exceeded my expectations.  It's perfect for warm or cool weather, and I knocked out two skeins of stashed sock yarn to make it.  Basically an all-around win.  I love when I get to say that!

Whippoorwill is an accomplishment for me for another reason.  Picking colors for many people is the fun part of knitting, but I agonize over it.  I have a hard enough time deciding on one color, but when I have to add on a contrast color--oh, the horror!  It can take days of indecision, asking for opinions, changing my mind, even abandoning the project altogether.  This time, however, it came together rather smoothly.  I happened to hold the two skeins together, and it just seemed like it would work. I've gotten so many compliments since I added on the contrast color, I think I can claim this color combination as a success.  This is a rare occurrence for me.

Speaking of the greens, when I added the finished pictures to Ravelry, a trend became ridiculously obvious. Here's a shot from my Ravelry project page of the last three projects I've finished.

Now, here are two more in progress:

It's pretty obvious that I've been on a green kick lately.  This isn't exactly uncommon for me--there have been blue phases, and purple, but I think I might be ready for a change.  I received another package this week--not yarn this time, but something I was even more excited about.

I think I feel a red phase coming on.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


I should have known better than to have been so overconfident in my last post.  The knitting fates rarely let you get away with such cockiness.  Within 6 hours of that post, the project smacked me right back down to reality and time consuming re-knitting.  To make a long story short, there was an incorrect stitch count, a misguided attempt to "wing it" which I quickly realized was ridiculous, followed by the decision to yank the needle out of approximately 385 stitches without a lifeline (yes, I really need to learn not to make important knitting decisions at 4am). For the past two nights I've been picking up stitches, repairing dropped stitches, counting, recounting, trying to mark pattern repeats, and generally get the pattern back on track.

It's as fixed now as it's going to get, and I learned a valuable lesson:  when the pattern says to count your stitches frequently--do it!

This morning I finished the main color section of the project while almost holding my breath and then breathing a huge sigh of relief.  My cake of yarn seemed to be diminishing a little too quickly last night, and the worry that I wouldn't have enough started to set in. This yarn is a skein from a monthly club and to get more I would have to beg for someone's leftovers or a trade. I finished the last main color row without a problem, but  here's all that's left:
Despite these issues, I really have been enjoying this pattern, which I'll go ahead and reveal is the shawl Whippoorwill (Ravelry pattern).  I was actually quite excited to get back to it each night.  My knitting mojo must really be back.  I certainly hope so since I received a box filled with soft tweedy yarn this week and cast on the Chelsea Skirt last night in between my shawl repair work.
The yarn is Knit Picks City Tweed HW in Chipmunk.  Given the latest knitting smackdown, I was very diligent and made a nice big swatch.  So far, so good.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I've been working away on a new project.

Just this teaser shot for now though!  It's actually fairly well along, and if I keep up the pace, I should have a finished project by the end of the weekend.  I'm so happy to be enthused about knitting again. You know that "really, I'll put it down after one more row" phase?  That's been me for the last several nights.   It feels great.  I'd write more, but since I can't put it down and haven't mastered knitting and typing simultaneously, something's gotta give.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Never say never

As a kid growing up, I watched my Dad finish marathon after marathon.  By the time I was a teenager he had run 20 marathons.  He tried to get me involved in running, but it never took.  For pretty much my entire life, I jogged sporadically for exercise but never seriously.  Three miles was the farthest I worked up to, and I never had much enthusiasm to try to push further.  Until this year. 

A little over a week ago, Mike and I flew down to Orlando, Florida (Disney World!), and on October 2 at 10pm, I started jogging with a crowd of over 12 thousand at the Disney Wine&Dine half-marathon.  A little after midnight on October 3, I finished my first half-marathon--13.1 miles!
Mike and I pre-race
It was so much fun! The course took you through three Disney parks, and there were bands and characters along the way cheering on the runners.  We ended in Epcot for a late-night party, and got back to our hotel sometime around 4am.  The whole experience was a blast from start to finish, and I can't explain how excited I am about this accomplishment.  It's huge for me.  A year ago, I would have never believed I would be able to run this distance.  I ran more slowly than I hoped and missed my target time by about 10 minutes, but I could care less.  I finished a half-marathon, running the entire race (except planned walking through the water stops), and that's all that matters.

I spent the next several days pretending I was Minnie Mouse.

It was a much needed vacation from home, from work, and I admit, even from knitting.  Despite great intentions, I did almost no knitting.  I think I needed the break.  I'm ready to make all kinds of progress now.  Let the fall knitting begin!