Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christmas wrap up

With Christmas being in the middle of the week this year, it seemed to go by in a blur. Even so, we had a fantastic Christmas. The husband and I had agreed not to buy each other gifts this year (although I did manage to surprise him with seasons 2&3 of the original Star Trek that I picked up for a song months ago). We both have most of what we want and its hard for him to get me the knitting stuff I want and for me to get him the vintage toys he wants. So we gave each other the gift of a shopping spree. I got EZ's Knitting Around DVD set, Harry Potter & the OOTP DVD, and the books Teach Yourself Visually Spinning and the Harmony Guides Knit & Purl. The family gift exchange was great. Everyone enjoyed their gifts. My sister gave me the Mystery Science Theater 3000 DVD (one of my absolute FAVORITE series. She also pointed out you can go here and get rifftracks for recent movies. I'll be checking these out for sure.)

The most special gift I got was a scrapbook from my mom.
She made scrapbooks for both my sister and I. It was so touching I couldn't even look at it without choking up. I have looked at it since then and it's wonderful. Chock full of memories. I will treasure it always.

Wheel update: I heard from Bob yesterday and got the tracking info for the Minstrel. It's schedule to be delivered on Wednesday (although I have my fingers crossed they'll bring it on Monday, it's already in Pennsylvania so the possibility is good). I've decided I want to use a Danish Oil finish on it rather than stain and polyurethane. I checked at the one hardware store in town, but they only had the Danish Oil in Natural and I've got my heart set on Red Mahogany. And for as precious as this wheel is to me, I'm not going to just settle on something. There's another store in town here I can check. And there's always Lowes or Home Depot. Bob suggested Antique Oil, which Ace did have. So if I really truly can't get the Danish Oil I want, I might go with that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wheel update

Hooray!! Santa whispered in hubby's ear found a way for me to get my spinning wheel NOW! Well yesterday actually. I ordered the Kromski Minstrel from Winderwood Farm. I'm so excited. Bob said I could have it in as few as 3 days (which I think is HIGHLY unlikely since we are in the middle of the holidays) but certainly in a week. Squee! I'm so excited. Wait, did I say that already. Oh, who cares. I'm SO EXCITED!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Yarn diet...the rules

Ok, if I'm going to do this yarn diet, I figured I better set some rules ("they're really more like guidelines") for myself.

Rule 1: The diet starts now. Although technically the last time I bought yarn was 3 days ago, I'm officially starting to count from today.

Rule 2: I will not purchase yarn for any new projects until
a. April 15 (might as well use another significant date to keep things simple) OR
b. I have enough money for a wheel and what ever I need to get started spinning (roving, books, videos, etc)

Rule 3: If I run out of yarn for a project currently underway or one started from stash, I can buy enough yarn to finish that project.

Rule 4: I will save the money not spent on yarn towards the purchase of a new spinning wheel.

Four rules sounds like enough. Should I change my mind about the wheel at any time in the next 4 months, I'm going to stick to the diet. The purpose for the diet is two fold: save money for a wheel AND reduce stash. For motivation, I'm going to put one of those nifty counter things on my sidebar to help track how long I can stick to the diet. I imagine this will be infinitely easier than any food related diet I've ever stuck to. There's plenty of stash to dive into and hopefully enough variety to keep me interested. Wish me luck.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Huge catching up post!

Hooray! I finished Mr. Greenjeans and it turned out fabulous!
Mr Greenjeans
I had just enough yarn with the 5 skeins of Patons Classic Wool. There was maybe a quarter of a ball left in the end. I followed the pattern except for 2 things: I messed up when I started the cabled part of the body, starting with a cable column rather than a plain column, but unless you were familiar with the pattern, I didn't think anyone would notice; and I didn't switch to smaller needles for the cables on the sleeves. The body was pulling in so much, I was afraid the sleeves would be too tight. In the end I think it would have been fine to use the smaller needles. After washing, the cables loosened up quite a bit and the sweater fits perfectly. Can't wait to wear it Christmas day!

Now I'm working to finish the socks I've been slogging away at all summer. The Drops Tube Socks are officially not tube socks since I turned a short row heel, but I haven't come up with a new name of for them.
Tube sock?

I came thisclose to ripping the Jaywalkers because I just couldn't get motivated with them. I love the yarn and hated that it wasn't getting knitted up. However, I just couldn't rip them and now I'm glad I didn't.
Jaywalker
I've gotten past the heel turn and am getting into the rhythm of the pattern now. The socks are moving along much quicker now. The problem with both patterns is that they require me to pay at least a bit of attention and count some amount of stitches on every row. I just haven't had enough quiet time to ingrain the patterns into my brain and fingers. Hopefully now, though, they'll start going faster.

I started on the Ali Bag. Since I couldn't find the yarn called for in colors I liked and for a price I wanted to pay, I opted to use 4 strands of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes.
Yarn for Ali Bag
This appears to be working fine, except I grossly miscalculated the amounts of yarn I'll need and already run out of the 2 main colors!
Ali Bag - ran out of yarn
Luckily KP has them in stock and I was able to get my order in before they closed for the holidays. They shipped a few days ago so I should have them late next week.

Montego Bay has been frogged and the yarn re purposed into a Chevron Scarf. Mom had picked out some Sockotta yarn for me to make her a scarf we saw on display the Ball & Skein. I tried knitting the pattern from the shop. Hated it. Tried 2 more patterns, hated them. The yarn just wasn't cutting it on it's own. The cotton was too stiff, the colors were to jacquard. In steps some Sea Silk (formerly Montego Bay) and Joelle Hoverson's Chevron Scarf pattern (from this book) and voila
Chevron Scraf
lovely, pretty, soft scarf. I'm not crazy about knitting scarves, they seem to take forever. But I think this will be really nice when it's done and mom will love it.

One other finished object to report.
Irish Hiking Hat
An Irish Hiking Hat knit in Patons Shetland Chunky. Turned out a little too small to line it as the pattern calls for. But it's nice and cozy even without the lining (and it looks super cute if I do say so myself). I added a seed stitch border so it covers my ears nicely. This was a super fast knit, I think it might have taken a weekend. I will definitely be knitting this one again. Next time with a few more rows on the crown to allow for lining.

Only one item of stash enhancement to report
Araucania Ranco Multy
A skein of Araucania Ranco Multy. The colors are gorgeous. The Ravens yarn is still waiting in the wings. I'm committed to getting these socks off the needles before starting another project.

I've decided to go on a yarn diet for awhile. I've got a good amount of sock stash and yarn for several other small projects to keep me busy for at least a few months. The reason for the diet? Apart from motivation to use up some of my stash, I've decided I want to get a spinning wheel. The seed was planted decades ago. In my Grandma Miller's spare bedroom was a spinning wheel. I loved looking at it. It fascinated my child's mind, although I never got around to asking Grandma about it. This past spring, a locally made spinning wheel was auctioned off at our library's spring auction. And the seed started to sprout. The wheel was gorgeous. A Saxony style (think of Rumpelstiltskin's wheel or look here for examples). But I knew nothing about wheels and was hesitant. My sister and I were bidding together against another lady. We had no idea what it was worth, but knew our budget. R (the gutsier sister) kept bidding well past our budget, leaving me somewhat quaking in my boots knowing I'd be the one expected to learn to use it if we got it. (Un)fortunately we ended up not winning it in the end. In hindsight, now that I've started researching wheels, I see that she got it for a steal (if I recall it went just under $300). I was somewhat relieved, but still...the idea of a wheel was intriguing. I see bloggers like the Yarn Harlot & Wendy and hear podcasters like Kim & Lime and Violet all talking about their spinning and the sprout grows the tiniest bit at each mention. I see fabulous rovings on Etsy and think of the beautiful potential it has. Then along comes Ravelry (the Mecca of knitters) and see all the gorgeous fabulous handspun yarns my fellow knitters are creating. Now the sprout has got roots and at least a pair of leaves. So I decide to just do a little bit of poking around on the internet and see what wheels are out there and get an idea of what I might like. It's overwhelming! There's so many choices! But each day, I'm feeling more and more like this is the next step I want to take in my fiber journey and so I look and research some more. At the moment, I'm leaning heavily towards a Kromski Minstrel castle wheel. It's small size will fit my space much better than a Saxony but it's old world look suits my aesthetic better than a modern portable wheel. It's going to be awhile before I save enough for the wheel of my dreams (and why settle for less, right?) For now, I'm reading everything I can about wheels and spinning. Then, in a few months when I've saved enough money, we'll see if this mighty sprout is still niggling away at me or if the phase has passed. More on this subject to follow, I'm sure.

And now, wishing everyone out there a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and joyous New Year!