Sunday, March 30, 2008

A garden report already?!

I'm still here, slogging away in tax season hell. This was another particularly heinous week and I'm so glad I have the weekend off. Yesterday was bright and sunny, although cold. Dad tilled my garden last week so I was able to get my onions planted. March 29 planting in my garden, that may be some sort of new record for me. It was so nice to get out in the fresh air. I put in 10 rows of onions this year. I planted a variety of sweet onions including Candy Sweets, Texas 1015s and Walla Wallas. Candys have always done pretty good for me, I'm interested to see how the others do. It will be several weeks before I plant anything else out, until it starts warming up some.

I've started a new pair of socks. Another toe up pair, these using the Lime and Viole
t Sasquatch sock yarn I got last year in a color called Darvoset.It's knitting up very pretty. I'm also trying to finish the cotton V-neck tank I started last year. Man I hate knitting with cotton. I don't know why I keep talking myself into trying it again. I can stand it for about a day or two, then I just want to chuck it. I'm knitting the neck band now and hope to finish the damn thing this week. Just to be done with it. It actually doesn't look too bad, and the fabric does feel nice. I'm just not happy knitting it.

Which brings me to the new KnitPicks summer yarns. They've got a n
ew yarn called Comfy. It's a cotton acrylic blend that comes in a gorgeous subdued color palette. For a few tremulous moments, my mouse was poised on Add to Cart. Milan would be fabulous in the Blackberry color or maybe Flamingo. But then I made myself remember all my cotton-cursings and stopped myself. The little devil on my shoulder keeps saying, this time will be different. But I'm not letting myself be tempted. At least not until there is some chatter on Ravelry about how this yarn behaves. At the very least, I'm going to restrain myself to one ball the next time I need to order from KP so that I can try it before committing to a sweater's worth.

The yarn diet is in the home stretch. Only 17 days to go. Easy-peasy. Although, I must say, it it hadn't been for the wheel and my fiber pimp, opps I mean Jen, keeping me busy, I might have caved a month ago. I'm about 80% leaning towards the Elann Superwash Worsted and 20% towards KP Swish for Milan. It will probably all come down to which color strikes my fancy the day I breakdown and order.

Speaking of my fiber pimp. Check out the new goodness I got:This is a batt I bought called Cozy Stripes. Jen said it was inspired by a cold rainy day in the mountains and wanting to feel cozy. The colors sure feel warm and cozy to me. Along with the batt, she sent me two test batts of Harry Potter house colors, Gryffindor of course!I've started on the first batt already. This one had the gold and burgundy somewhat blended together. It's spinning up a bit barber pole, which is really awesome. I'm going to do a whole bobbin and then probably ply it with a black or brown solid single. I'm afraid plying it on itself will just end up looking orange from a distance.I haven't opened the second batt yet. The gold and burgundy are layered in this one. I'm interested to see how different or similar it ends up compared to the blended batt.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Arrrrgh! spinning frustration

The last few weeks I've been limping around with a sore foot. Being that it's tax season and all and I couldn't take off from work to stay off it, I tried my best to stay off it when I was home. I followed every bit of advice people gave me...ice it, soak it, rub it, prop it up, use heat, wrap it, but the worst was don't spin. The thought was I should keep it elevated and not make it work. My foot was starting to feel better until a week ago we ran into a major computer problem that had me on my feet running from my workstation to the servers (which are located in the basement) for a whole day and then 3 days later another computer issue that had me standing for several hours. Needless to say, all my progress was negated and I was limping as bad as before. So I finally went to see the doctor. Thankfully, there's nothing major wrong. She feels it's either a touch of tendinitis or just an inflammation of the heel. It's just going to take a while to get better. She gave me some anti-inflammatory drugs and gave me stretches to do. I bought some inserts for my shoes that also seem to be helping. But, joy of joys! she told me I should be exercising my foot. Riding a bike is ideal she said since it moves the foot without putting much weight on it. You know what that means, right? SPINNING! Treadling certainly moves the foot very gently without bearing weight. So I'm back to spinning with a vengeance. I finished spinning and plying the rambouillet/columbia roving.Final statistics: 4 ounces, 271 yds. Even though I spun the singles fairly fine, the nature of the wool resulted in a very springy yarn, lots of loft. No plans for the yarn, as yet. Perhaps mittens or a hat.

I got this bit of excellence from Jen earlier this week.
It's 2 pounds of wool/mohair mill end rovings. I very much desire to spin this into a soft singles yarn (think Malabrigo type). So far, I'm not having much luck. After 2 months of trying to spin as fine as possible, it's really hard to spin thicker. It's like going back to day one of spinning. The thing is, the thinner the yarn, the more twist you need, so it IS actually easier to spin thin. You have more time to draft while the twist is entering the yarn. But thick yarn needs very little twist, so you've got to move much faster before the twist builds up. I seem to be having the best luck using park and draft. This means you treadle until you build up twist in the yarn then stop treadling and draft out the fiber letting the twist run up the yarn. Then you treadle to wind on and start over. But I find the starting and stopping tedious. This was my first attempt, splitting the roving in two strips.
It was EXTREMELY energized when I wound it off. I probably should have left it sit on the bobbin at least overnight, but I'm really impatient. I soaked it in warm water and hung it under tension to dry. It's still very tight and kinky, not the soft fluffiness I'm after. My next step is going to be splitting the roving in 4ths. Maybe if I start out with the roving closer to the finished size, so I don't have to draft as much, I'll have better luck. I've noticed this roving really sheds, I assume that's the mohair in it. I'll have to remember to drape a towel over my lap while I'm working with it.

I finished the handspun socks.
These were knit using Wendy Johnson's toe up sock pattern. The pattern is super easy, although I think they look a little weird laid out flat. They look much better on.They are a bit on the thick side, but super comfortable. Of course, now the weather is warming up so I probably won't get to wear them much until fall. So I'm left with 3 projects on the needles...the Jaywalker socks, which I seriously don't even want to look at; the chevron scarf, which doesn't thrill me either; and the v-neck shell which has been hibernating for months. I am going to make an effort to get the shell finished so maybe I can actually wear it this spring. I wish I could love cotton more. I love wearing cotton, but knitting with it really just grates with me. I'll probably cast on another pair of socks so I'll have on the go knitting, but I've got to try to finish at least one of these languishing projects.