Tag Archives: orange

Slowly simmering….

I’m slowly and only very occasionally working on my latest Lacy Batkus.  I still love the pattern as always, but I’m not falling in love with this version yet.  My handspun is a bit stiff and though I embrace all yarns thick and thin, it appears that the skein is getting increasingly thicker overall and thus the needle size may end up a bit small.

Lacy Baktus progress

But my old favorite pattern may start to feel the pressure of a new pattern in town…

Mimsy Hitchhiker

I’ve started a Hitchhiker by Martina Behm out of my handspun Pigeonroof Studios BFL “Mimsy.”

Mimsy progress

I wasn’t crazy about garter stitch and handspun before, but this single yarn is perfect for it.

Mimsy detailAnd damn near downright ethereal with incredible lightness and drape.

I’ve had problems in the past determining what to do with fuzzy yarn and this pattern is perfect in its simplicity – it was also perfect for some recent airport knitting time.  I do fear that I may run out of yarn before I make it the perfect size, but I should have just enough for an acceptable length, and I’m sure I’ll be able to block out a little more.

Other projects still in the works?  The cotton blanket is currently taking its last laps and I still need to decide how to do the border. I’ve started a quilt with applique letters that is kicking my ass at the moment.  And my spinning queue is bigger than ever.  My goals for the Tour de Fleece are spinning my recent PRS purchases:

PRS Tour de Fleece

It’s all superwash merino in colorways from left: Jadeite, Storm, and Lettuce.  Rather subdued and monochromatic for PRS, but I love them, and I love them combined.  I have plans for a shawl and I was initially thinking it might be something feather and fan-ish, but I’m on a garter binge now so it might be one of the trendy stripey patterns, or one of my own if I get my act together.  You may have noticed how “perfect” I’m feeling with my new handspun and Hitchhiker above, so now I wish I could make fulled/felted singles out of this, but it will have to be two-ply.  I have another braid of SW merino in a brownish colorway, but I don’t want to commit to finishing it in the near future and I’m determined to perfect my chain-plying skills on it, so it will be for another time.

And I need to finish spinning the zucchini blossom I put aside earlier.  I still want to turn it into socks, but I’m still on the fence about making a two or three-ply.  I found some complimentary commercial sock and other superwash yarn in my stash that could be used for stronger toes and heels, and possibly soles.  I thought these would be lighter summery socks, but if I make a three-ply they will be thicker… either way I’m happy I can eek out some more yardage with the commercial stuff.

PRS-squashblossomHmm, I will need to decide soon.

Decisions aren’t easy for me these days.

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New England travels – increasing my fiber…

While in the White Mountains, we decided to use up a rainy day in Portland, Maine.  I recently bought some Quince & Co. Osprey yarn and was anxious to hit a yarn store near its hometown to buy fondle some more.  We underestimated the drive down to the coast on slow and winding country roads so by the time we got there, we were too hungry to do anything else.  So we got some tasty-as-all-get-out lobster rolls at Fisherman’s Grill (and you can spot my old cardigan in action, or at least knotted around my waist and waiting for action, along with a tiny peek of my old sh*t “rain”coat, aka the sucky soaker).

New England-lobsta roll

And ate them (along with some badass insanely delicious onion rings) in the car!?!?!  This is a strange and rare thing* for us and it felt very very wrong, but the food tasted very very good.  And after our onion and roach of the sea feast, we were sleepy so we decided to drive all the way back to nap away the rainy afternoon in the cabin and skip the rest of Portland.  (Sorry Portland, see you more next time).

But back to the Maine-based Quince & Co. yarn.  I loved the stuff.  At first I was a little unenthused about it since they offer few tweeds or heathers and their advertising is beautifully photographed with feminine and ethereal and often pastel colors, and I feel a little too mannish for the stuff.  If I see another baby chick yellow or sea rose pink drapey cardigan paired with a demure sundress I may sprout a chin hair.

New England-Quince & Co.So I chose some of the murkiest colors they had to offer, but I must say I love murky and they did a great job with a green that sometimes looks brown (Marsh) and a grey that sometimes looks blue (Storm).  And the yarn base feels soft but durable and has a wonderful spongy sproing factor.  It reminds me a lot of the wool I bought in Abruzzo last year about which I have yet to write and made a huge impact on the products I buy.

New England-Osprey

The yarn also has a great stitch definition and does that thing where the stitches appear in column-like rows on one side, but I can’t remember the term for it…  But regardless, I’m in love with the stuff and will buy more at a later date.  I’ve pretty much taken a blood vow to only buy domestic/North American products when I can, especially wool, and especially buy wool from places and people I visit.  I’m making an exception for a couple of American indie dyers who source globally but have an incomparable and awesome product, but for the most part it’s all red white and blue (and just white and red for Canada) sheep for me (and of course the colors of another country’s flag when I’m visiting said country…. you get the drift).

So of course I wanted to make a short detour on our way back through Vermont to Green Mountain Spinnery.  Sadly I wasn’t there at a time they gave tours, but I happily inhaled the lovely sheepy perfumes and peeked at some of the equipment.   I was also exceptionally restrained in my purchases since I knew I could always buy online from them, so I just picked up a few skeins of their Yarn Over yarn.  I love the stuff – it’s made from leftovers spun together in unrepeatable muted colors and is sheepy and rustic and feels like a good strong wooly yarn (my camera liked it too and got excitedly saturated, but it’s a bit more faded in life).  I’m sure I’ll regret not buying a sweater’s worth, but I really don’t have the dough or a lack of sweaters to justify it now.

New England-GMS

And I really couldn’t justify spending much at the great local gear store Farm Way but you bet I nearly spun around in the-hills-are-alive fashion in the Ibex section.  Yep, wool, mostly American-made (except it’s Australian Merino), Vermont-based, comfortable, practical, and sadly, pricey even when on sale, and what I do have of it fits a bit strangely since the really on sale stuff isn’t usually in my size.  So instead I bought a pair of Vermont made Darn Tough wool socks and N became my Sugar Daddy for a new rain jacket.

New England-socks

It’s a little weird to buy wool socks since I knit them, but I’ll never want to knit (or be able to) really fine-gauge ones or cushy-soled hiking ones.

And my old and continued favorite of domestic wool yarn is Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride – I can’t neglect to mention them and I have a huge aging stash of the stuff…you can find it on crazy sale sometimes.

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Now I’m putting some pressure on myself to come up with some White Mountain inspired patterns, but for now I must finish other things.

* We/I eschew and abhor many aspects of American culture, especially in regards to its foodways and habits of eating fast “food” shite in cars.  Yes, we are snobs but love our tasty tasty Euro-centric, farm-to-table, fresh out of the garden, local, locavore, low on the food chain, sustainably raised, only when in season, not from a factory or feedlot, organic, chemical and preservative-free, not-out-of-a-box-or-bag, Mediterranean-inspired, stuff that has been eaten for thousands of years and should be for thousands more, grub.  Although I have to admit I cringed violently when a server at my favorite restaurant mentioned that the veal they were serving that night was hand-fed by children… I call that 4-H, or child-labor, or just plain f*cking ridiculous, or Portlandia come to life (only it wasn’t in Stumptown)…  And those onion rings above?  Yeah, I watched the guy take an onion and slice it up, dredge it by hand, and dunk into the fryer – they didn’t come pre-breaded and frozen, yee hah!

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Falling off the wagon and joining the crowd…

I’ve never been one for KALs, SALs,* or anything-else-alongs, preferring to shut up in my hidey hole and go about my business at my own pace.  But my last experience with Pigeonroof Studios roving was something I was craving to repeat so I decided to have another little taste.

Pigeon zucchini

I’m torn between actually making this into socks which I first set out to do with my original order of PRS superwash merino roving, or having it nearer to my head or hands… I’m quite the sucker for greens and oranges and this takes the cake!  I’m leaning towards socks, so I will make this a three ply just in case.  I know I won’t get very good yardage with a three ply, but this is so summery that it begs to be short socks.

PRS zucchini

And then over the winter it was announced that there would be a special color for a limited two-month window to act as a spin-along and um, I caved when I saw it was a green blend for May/June called “Mimsy.”  I’ve never done anything at the same time with a group with the exception of occasionally knitting the same thing along with (or after) a knitter friend (who I knew in life, not virtually).  I feel like it is what… too conformist?  Too creepy and whiffs of citizens of a bad government all marching as one?  Too… what?  I’ve secretly longed to be in a few quilt block contribution projects that I learned about after the fact, but I don’t want to waste the time trolling the various interwebsocialnetworkingblatheringblogtimewasting sites to find one currently open.  At the moment the greatest benefit I can see in a -along is the motivation to work with a material in a timely manner and/or other people might be able to offer suggestions, tips, etc., if something comes up or a decision needs to be made.  I’ve been lurking on the PRS group on ravelry and they seemed like a nice bunch, so I jumped into the common soup (you can’t make me drink the cool-aid though).

Mimsy

I also justified the purchase by requiring myself to learn a new technique with this spin, so I got the colorway in BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) so I could make felted/fulled singles or try Navajo/chain plying for the first time.  However, I jumped the gun and already experimented with Navajo plying and suck at it, so it is back to a question of the singles.  I was thinking that I would make mitts or mittens with the finished yarn since it matches one of my tealy-blue wool jackets, but if I make singles, I will have more yardage than hand wear would need and I fear the yarn might not be quite as hard-wearing as it would be if plied, so neck wear it will probably be instead.

PRS with turq

(I hesitate to mention that I also have some solid turquoise-ish** roving that could be blended or plied with it to stretch it further, but I could potentially screw it up.)  But that does get me thinking…  Spinning beautifully dyed wool always results in beautiful yarn, and in a way I feel a little bit like I’m cheating since I didn’t dye it myself.  Sure everyone spins differently and the colors can really change depending on the technique, but it all ends up being uniform in its gorgeousness.  So if I blend it with another color, my potentially f*cked-up skeins would at least be unique and more of a I’ll-do-it-by-myself-thankyouverymuch along… hmm…

And then what was that, there was a sale?

Pigeon two

Yeah, I have a problem…

And the even bigger problem with this last acquisition is that I’m contemplating getting a third braid to go with this project – a striped shawl/scarf – and a third would make it larger, and I mostly like a big-ass neck thing these days.  I’m thinking either a yellow or a brighter deeper green might work… and keep it in a monochromatic-ish palette, but what attracted me to PRS in the first place is its often joyful disregard of monochromaticity, but whatever, I love these colors.

PRS eye

This is your face on PRS.

*Knit Along, Spin Along.

**None of the pictures with the color blue are remotely accurate in terms of color – anything with blue should be more greenish.  The last one is almost right in terms of the wool, however I am not pink (and I do have an index finger on that hand).

The rovings are, from top picture to bottom:

Zucchini blossom in Merino Superwash

Mimsy in BFL

Jadeite in Merino Superwash

Lettuce in Merino Superwash

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Love affair…

…with the Lacy Baktus pattern.

A few years ago I came across this pattern by Terhi Montonen who made it as a variation of Baktus Scarf by Strikkelise on Ravelry.  For a while (longer than I’d like to admit) I thought this pattern was called batkus and in my often 12-year-old-boy brain, I thought of it as buttkiss, so buttkiss it will always be to me.  I knit my own hybrids of a basic watch cap, plain socks, and one particular Stephen West hat pattern over and over again for gifts and hard-wearing work-a-day items, but the Lacy Baktus is the only pattern I really feel like I could knit ad infinitum as is without modification beyond size.

I made the first one a few years ago with two skeins of the tongue-twisting Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino yarn (or KPPPM) that I picked up from School Products on a scorching hot summer day in NYC.

baktus1-in progress

I didn’t quite capture the colors correctly in the in-progress pic, but the second image is accurate.  That one also shows our former awesomely textured and colored garage wall… sigh.  But I really liked the finished scarf/shawlette hybrid.  I loved that it stretched lengthwise but it was a long tapered triangle. The only minor fault I have with this one is that it is at times slightly too short – we’re talking only an inch or two – when I tie for more warmth or protection against grabby wind the ends poke out rather than drape downwards, but no big deal.

baktus1-detail

Maybe it was the same year, or the next, but I was caught without a gift for my mother’s birthday.  I’d already picked out this Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn for myself and had it patiently waiting in my stash, but I knew my mom liked orange and at the time had a pair of eyeglasses with purple and orange streaks in them, so it was a good match.  N and I were in a long-distance purgatory at the time too so I had a lot of time to knit in airports and trains.  I found this to be perhaps the most perfect travel project since it required no complex thought and was extremely gratifying to watch grow and then shrink, and could be interrupted and shoved back in my bag with little worry.  I even used some ghastly but surprisingly comfortable TSA-friendly plastic needles whose origins are completely unknown to me – I think they came from a box of miscellaneous sewing supplies from a garage sale.

baktus2-in progress

The Happy Feet had a bit more yardage, so the finished scarf was the perfect length even before blocking.  Mom wouldn’t model it for me, but Dad is a good sport.  I’m tempted to re-buy this yarn to do a re-run for myself, but I have plenty of other pretty things languishing in my stash, not to mention I think this color is discontinued.

baktus2-done

But I had to have another, and I thought an even bigger one would be that much better.  I actually bought the yarn specifically for this – usually I see something on sale and buy as much of it as I can reasonably justify and figure out what to make with it later, but I actually went seeking for something with a little bling.  Yes, I said bling – highly uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted a scarf that could look a little more downtown and a little less rustic farmyard.  So I bought sock yarn called “Disco Color” (audible cringe) by Schoeller Stahl’s Fortissima line, but it was perfect because the little strand of silver metallic polyester* is surrounded by hard-wearing wool and along with the grey there is a nice greenish teal that fails to show up in the pictures.  It is the same color as bits of wood I’ve been finding in the forest, though I don’t know if it is a particular tree species, fungal or floral organism on or in the wood, or tinted by green deer pee.**

ADK 2012-detail

So I worked on this most of last Spring and early Summer when I was not coping very well with the slashing and burning of my job and subsequent relocation and it was rather soothing activity.  A large section of it was done when while we were resting from hikes in the Adirondacks.

ADK 2012

Then it was done before I was ready to finish it and I had to wait for the weather to cool down into autumn to wear it.  But wear it I did, and continue to do.  It’s also been traveling quite a bit.

baktus3-restaurant

baktus3-cafe

baktus3-cemeteryAnd it does well to dress-up a t-shirt (even after it has spent a day on the trail), and I do in fact own several very similar grey wool t-shirts.  I like grey and I like wool, nothing wrong with that, right?  And at times it has also functioned properly and well as an honest-to-god good wooly warmth machine and left the cafes and city streets to go hiking with me.

The sunset just barely catches some of the bling…

baktus3-hiking

And you know what?  I decided I wanted another, and then maybe another after that.  And I thought that since I love the pattern so much, I will make one with a yarn I don’t really love at the moment to see if my opinion of it will change.  If it doesn’t, I will have another gift to give, if it does, I will have a new scarf in warmer colors.  This one will be a little larger than the second (orange) one but not as gloriously large as the grey.

Remember the much maligned Redwood Roving Mix?

Baktus-new

Yep, onward!  And a last-minute long weekend trip back to the Adirondacks last month was the perfect time to start it.

ADK 2013

I will take my time with it though since I have other things waiting to be completed.  I’m thinking this might also be a good project for the beach…***

Baktus on rock

I can’t say I’m falling in love with this one yet – my uneven (intentionally) handspun makes it look a bit more wonky than I’d like, but it feels good to be making it…

*Yes, these two words, especially in combination, typically make me run for the hills…  and I believe this yarn might be discontinued as well, but it can still be purchased from various shops and online purveyors.

**Happens when the deer eats something in late winter – you can look up a pic of it yourself.

***I detest swimwear and all things beach bum, but the sea is somewhat sorta close by and we currently have no yard so I can pretend it is our outdoor living space at the moment.

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On color and vests

So I admit, I was whiny about my inability to get what I wanted with the redwood roving mix, but I keep thinking about color and I’m trying to understand it in terms of spinning.

vest

This is made from some of my earlier handspun yarn that I mixed myself and liked. Some will think of it as Pepto-B, bubble gum, and berry & orange sherbet barf, but I think of it as campfire embers.  This was also (in my mind at least) a success with taking a color I don’t really like (the pink) and mixing it up with others to tone it down.  I’ve got some strong and opposing feelings about certain colors – some pinks and yellows I abhor, some I love, some that I abhor I love on others, or love knowing that others love them.  This was also made up of souvenirs from nearly one coast to the other.  The burgundy and bright orange were some crappy batts seconds from a now forgotten booth at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and some goldish-lavenderish roving came from there as well; the pink was a bag of dyed  Border Leicester locks from SuDan Farm at the Portland, OR farmer’s market.  We were in Portland during one September when it was being its characteristic grey and damp self, and the colors in the market happily screamed out:

portland toms

portland fiori

portland peps

The booth with the locks also screamed out to me since it was the only one I saw with wooly goodness and I was immediately on it like the fly on sh*t.  I first selected a bag of cheery bright yellow locks and then decided I wanted another to keep it company, but I’m not sure why I picked the pink – this particular pink falls into my category of not liking it, but glad it exists.  But I think at the time it was just showing off at the moment in super-saturated glory amidst the grey.  When I got home, it didn’t appeal to me so much, so I knew it would have to take second seat to some of my other more loved colors.  However, I wanted to retain the bright warm mood to turn it into a garment or accessory best worn on grey days which my old city had aplenty.  The yarn turned out to be pretty stiff and scratchy and felt most like baling twine, so it wasn’t going to be something I could wear next to my skin, but I didn’t have enough to make a sweater, so…. enter the vest.

This brings me to ranting territory, and by the way, the vest above is loosely based on the  East-Knit Vest in 5 Sizes pattern by Kathy North – but I improvised most of it, so don’t use mine as a reference for the pattern.  But, why are vests often inherently frumpy?  I wish to exclude the long flowing designer-y ones, those that are more practical as an outer-garment, and anything for men or children and just focus on the basic waist-ish length knitted vest for women.  There is almost no way that I can wear this and I don’t look like: a matronly frump, a homeschooler of the creepy variety, a media stereotype of a spinster in the making, an aging woman who still sleeps with teddy bears and a unicorn nightlight, someone who wears mom jeans, or someone who still wears what granny made in the ’70s even though she shouldn’t.  Part of the problem could be that it doesn’t suit my body shape* and the yarn is bulky and loud and attention-grabbing, but there is still this [nearly audible to others] underlying drumbeat of frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump, frumpity dump dump…** whenever I wear it.  I’m not particularly fashionable, I don’t give a damn how others judge the way I look, and I frequently wear a down vest, but I just can’t rock this one…  I still wear it though, occasionally.

*My vintage dress dummy is not me – she/it has impossibly high tits, though we do share the same approximate waist size.

**Phrase coined by my old [former, not elderly] co-worker and knitting friend F. W.!

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Thank you Mr. Moth (just this once)

Normally I  go on ad nauseam about my utter hatred of the clothes moth but my feelings and fears are shared with anyone who has a love of all things wool, so I won’t this time.  This time I must acknowledge my thrill of finding an otherwise perfect cashmere sweater that was banned to the thrift shop for possessing a tiny hole or two, so in a sense I have the moth to thank for my awesome collection of oh-so-soft sweaters.  But I could also thank the non-needle inclined [lazy?] person who would discard something so easily fixed (and often in my size)!

But this blazing beauty was one that was eaten beyond any hope of repair:

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From a distance, it seems ok, but it isn’t, I couldn’t possibly document every hole, and some were lovingly/desperately stitched closed with a fuchsia thread that actually blended quite well – so much so that I keep finding new repairs I previously overlooked.

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DSCF7118 - CopyBut it is a perfect blaze orange, so I gave it a new life as a hiking-during-hunting season hat and mitts ensemble.  I was able to unravel a bit of the shoulder cap so that I managed to harvest some perfect mending threads and spent a few hours closing the wounds (some more convincingly than others).  But I will cease to unravel any more since it is a pain in ass and fragile as all get out – the remaining scraps will work as mitten linings and quilt squares.

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I was sure to keep plenty of mending yarn left!

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