My current work in progress:

1. pour moi, designed by Lori Versaci, knit from Wollmeise Merino DK in the "Stella Polaris" colorway on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
2. Outlander MKAL Shawl, designed by Rachel Rodin, knit from Lornas Laces Shepherd Sport in the "Beauchamps" and "Fraser" colorways on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
3. Myriad stealth projects.

Feeling Festive

Last night the KOARC, Lucy, and I decorated a tree.

tree121706 Feeling Festive

Lucy got to pick what to put on top of the tree.

treetop121706 Feeling Festive

For maximum festiveness, I put a little tree in the dining room as well.

littletree121706 Feeling Festive

So as you can see, many seasonal hijinks took place last night. Still, there was time for knitting.

sip121706 Feeling Festive

I started knitting the first sock from the Holly Spring Sock yarn. This yarn is quite interesting — it has a spongy, squishy feel. It feels more like 100% wool than the wool/nylon blend that it is. I had planned on doing a patterned sock but got mesmerized with the knitting and just kept going plain past the toe. I may do something patterned on the leg, though.

And I finished the Mountain Stream Scarf last night. Here it is, unblocked.

mountainstream121706 Feeling Festive

Cat included for scale. I blocked it this afternoon.

mountainstream121706a Feeling Festive

Cat included for scale.

And I cast on for my next project this afternoon.

newpeoject121706 Feeling Festive

Can you guess what it is? It’s being knit with yarn from my stash. icon smile Feeling Festive

Knit From Your Stash 2007

I see a lot of you have embraced this project and made it your own. Great! As I said before, use the rules that work for you, add or delete things, and feel free to download and use my button. I’ve glimpsed other buttons out there in blogland that are nicer than mine, so I may lift someone else’s button to use at some point. Feel free to link to my rules page, or to copy the rules onto your own page, modified or not.

I don’t plan to start another blog in conjunction with this. Those of you who are planning to knit from your stashes can report progress on your blogs. If you are blogless, please feel free to report in my comments.

A question from the comments: Will I post a photo of my stash? No. icon smile Feeling Festive It’s not nicely contained in one place, so it’s not at its most photogenic.

A Spinning Question

Lisa asked:
How are you creating the lovely stripes in the magic socks and the forest shawl? Are you navajo plying? Are you splitting the roving in 1/2 and spinning 2 bobbins in the same order and making a 2 ply?

How am I creating the stripes? Dumb luck. icon smile Feeling Festive

I am not navajo plying — this is simple 2-ply. For the yarn for the Forest Canopy Shawl, I divided the roving in half, one half for each ply. Then I took one half and split it into strips lengthwise and spun them in order. Same thing with the second half.

For the sock yarn, I divided the roving in half again, but I did not split it lengthwise because it was quite narrow to begin with (and incidentally was beautifully prepared — drafted like a dream). I broke each half into manageable lengths and spun them pretty much in order.

I did a bit more spinning over the weekend — but I’ll talk about that tomorrow.

We’ve made some great progess on the Heifer Project over the weekend. Don’t forget that the next weekly drawing is Tuesday — some great prizes to be had!

Knit From Your Stash 2007

stash2007 Knit From Your Stash 2007

I think we’re on to something here. icon smile Knit From Your Stash 2007

There has been a great response to this idea. And a bunch of questions. Let’s clear things up, shall we?

For L-B and me, the point of this exercise is to attempt to use yarn that has been marinating in our stashes. You know how it goes — you buy something you absolutely love and fully intend to knit x from it. Then you see something else and change your mind, and buy yarn for that project. Et cetera.

We both have yarn that we love in our stashes. I’ve got yarn earmarked for several Starmore designs that I really want to knit. I’m hoping to knit these in 2007. I’ve also got some Dale of Norway kits stashed away, among other things.

Several of you pointed out that L-B and I could buy yarn for each other and call it gift yarn. But that sort of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? It’s sort of like going on a food diet. If you look for loopholes and ways to cheat (“Why, yes, this 5-pound baked potato counts as one medium baked potato”) you aren’t going to make very good progress. Besides, I re-read our rules and there is no allowance there for buying yarn as gifts for other people (just for buying yarn to make a specific gift).

L-B and I do give yarn to each other as gifts. We also knit things for each other. But despite what L-B might assert in the comments (heh!) we will not be buying and giving each other yarn as Groundhog Day gifts, Flag Day gifts, Leif Erickson Day gifts, etc.

You can join us in this endeavor if you want to, but we certainly are not trying to force this plan on anyone.

If you do decide to join, you can certainly tailor this plan to suit you. Change the start and end dates. If you don’t knit socks, the sock yarn exemption is pointless. Ditto for spinning and spinning fiber. If you want to try this and some of the rules don’t make sense for you, modify them. Like Valerie, who does not knit socks, but wants an exemption for yarn she needs to buy to make things for her wedding. And Mari, who wants an exemption for baby/toddler friendly yarns so she can buy yarn to knit for wee relatives.

Other questions:

A number of you asked what I’ll do about the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Call me crazy, but it doesn’t tempt me that much. Last year, all I bought was some sock yarn. Some years I’ve bought nothing, and some years I haven’t even bothered to go. I may or may not go next year. For me, the point of the “get out of jail free” card is to cover an extraordinary circumstance — something that could come up that we hadn’t planned for, so that we could make a purchase for that eventuality without feeling like we failed. I have no event or purchase planned for it.

And no, I’m not going to go on a yarn-buying binge between now and the first of the year. icon wink Knit From Your Stash 2007 I’ve actually not bought too much new yarn lately, apart from sock yarn. The next big project I’m going to knit, and will likely start next week, is from yarn that I’ve had in my stash for a year.

And some of you asked if books were exempt. For me they are, because I can’t say that I “stash” books and never use them. I buy them and read them, put ‘em on a shelf, and pull them down and read and refer to them again and again.

I say tools are exempt, too. No, this does not mean I plan on buying twelve spinning wheels next year.

The bottom line — L-B and I are going to make an effort to refrain from buying yarn for the stash or for new projects, and we are going to do our best to knit from our stashes for nine months, to use yarn that was purchased because we loved it. We need to make it a reasonable plan because, like a food diet, if it is too strict it will be impossible to follow.

Anyhow. If you are interested in trying this, look at our rules and decide if they will work for you. If not, adjust them to suit you and set yourself reasonable goals. (Feel free to post my or your own modified rules on your blog.) Heck, if you are an insatiable yarn buyer, set yourself the goal of having every other project come from your stash.

If there are any button-makers out there, please feel free to create a Knit From Your Stash 2007 button that will undoubtedly surpass my lame attempt. Y’all are welcome to use the button I posted here as well — but you’ll have to save it to your own server to use it. I’ve got a handy little option on my server that makes it so that images on my site that are hotlinked to don’t show up on other people’s pages.

Back to knitting progress tomorrow!

Lucy Sez:

lucy121606 Knit From Your Stash 2007

I hope she has enough yarn to knit me more catnip mice.

Magic Socks

The Magic Socks are done. Alert the media.

magicsocks121406 Magic Socks

I knit these toe up, as per usual and used almost every last inch of the yarn. I didn’t want to waste any handspun, you know.

I’ll be starting another pair of socks asap. I’m thinking another pair of Whiskers and Paw Prints socks, but this time I’ll do ‘em toe-up. You know, just for grins.

I’ve got the yarn picked out.

sockyarn121406 Magic Socks

This is Scarlet Fleece It’s Tubular 2X! sock yarn in the “Olives” colorway. It’s a 100 gram skein with 480 yards, and is 80% wool/20% nylon. It’s hand-dyed by the very talented Kathy Oliver of Holly Spring Homespun.

Note: In next Tuesday’s Heifer Project raffle, we’re giving away three gorgeous skeins of this yarn, in three different colorways, that Kathy generously donated. Just sayin’. icon wink Magic Socks

Continuing in the theme of “all Holly Spring Homespun yarn all the time” I am continuing work on my Mountain Stream scarf, knit in the cashmere from Holly Spring.

mountain121406 Magic Socks

This is such a fun knit. Once you get past the initial construction of the bottom border and the corners, it’s pretty easy for the body of the scarf — just enough stuff to keep me entertained.

I’m really liking the cashmere I’m using for this scarf — I think it’s going to make a lovely scarf.

Which brings me to a question from the comments:

LizKnits asked:

Do you have any suggestions for selecting substitute yarns — both with regards to the thickness (sport versus fingerling) and the material? I’m wondering if there are any guidelines out there about what the impact is of switching from 100% wool to a blend or to something totally different like bamboo, for example, with regards to the drape of the material, etc.

Is it a matter of swatch and see?

In many cases it is a matter of swatch and see.

In the case of this scarf — the original was knit from Rowan Kidsilk Haze, which is a mohair silk blend, which is very fine and fuzzy. I’m knitting mine from a smooth cashmere 2-ply, so I know my resulting scarf is going to be slightly larger and look different. I didn’t bother to swatch in this case. I’ve knitted lace from fingering weight cashmere before and know what to expect.

In the case of lace, I substitute wildly and freely. I keep in the back of my mind the thought that I only want to knit lace from a fiber that I can block and have a reasonable expectation of it keeping its shape. I wouldn’t, for example, knit a lace shawl from an acrylic or cotton yarn.

For sweaters, I’m a but more cautious, and I try to sub yarns that have the same general properties as the yarn specified in a pattern. If I’m knitting a cabled sweater, I want to be sure and use a yarn that has the proper stitch definition, so that the cables will “pop.”

This was a huge problem for me in my early knitting years. I’d substitute any old thing that would (well, sometimes) knit to the same gauge, but the yarn would be all wrong for the project in other ways and I’d end up disappointed. When I was a teenager, I really cranked out some monstrosities.

Knit From Your Stash 2007!

A few days ago, L-B mentioned to me that she was thinking about attempting to knit from her stash exclusively in 2007. I, of course, laughed at her initially, but started thinking that attempting to knit from my stash exclusively was not a bad idea. Both L-B and I have stashes of epic proportions. L-B had suggested a period of 9 months of knitting from the stash, so that we could go to Stitches East next October and buy yarn there.

So, in a phone call this morning, we sketched out some guidelines.

Knit From Your Stash 2007

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start January 1, 2007 and run through September 30, 2007 — a period of nine months.

2. We will not buy any yarn during that period, with the following exceptions:

2.a. Sock yarn does not count. What? You think we are made of stone?

2.b. If someone asks for a specific knitted gift that we really and truly do not have the yarn for, we may buy yarn to knit that gift.

2.c. If we are knitting something and run out of yarn, we may purchase enough to complete the project.

2.d. We each get one “Get Out of Jail Free” card — we are each allowed to fall off the wagon one time.

3. We are allowed to receive gifts of yarn.

4. Spinning fiber of any sort is exempt.

So. I have put it in writing. I’ve got yarn for a number of very alluring projects in stash, and I am hoping to actually get to most of those projects next year. We’ll see how I do.

And anyone else who would like to join us in this is welcome to do so!

Lucy sez:

lucy121406 Magic Socks

I’m still holding out hope that I’ll get my baby chicks! Maybe Santa is going to bring them.

St. Lucia Day

Today, December 13, is St. Lucia Day. I was planning on writing something about St. Lucia and her importance in Swedish culture, but this morning I discovered that Kristi had already done so. Go read her beautiful blog post on St. Lucia. Her lovely photos of the saffransbullar she baked brought back some memories for me. I can almost taste ‘em, tender and warm from the oven, with the delicious perfume of saffron. Sigh.

If you’d like to read my account of my own brush with St. Lucia fame, read this blog post from December 13, 2002. Heh.

Thank you for all your lovely comments about the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl. *blush*

I unpinned it this morning. (Lucy really enjoyed this part. She flopped down on the floor next to me and rolled around joyously. “Momma’s playing with me at 4:00am! Ooooh, this is so fun!”) On a whim, I took it to the office with me. I pinned it up on a cubicle wall and photographed it, albeit in a somewhat blurry manner.

forestcanopy121306 St. Lucia Day

Then I draped it artistically over some packing boxes for another (somewhat less blurry) shot.

forestcanopy121306a St. Lucia Day

What’s On the Needles Now?

Pat guessed correctly. It’s another Susan Lawrence design, the Mountain Stream Scarf. Here’s the description of the scarf, shamelessly lifted from Susan’s site:

This lace scarf is knit using techniques from traditional Orenberg shawls. It is a small but challenging project and a nice introduction to the Orenberg construction.

The pattern calls for one skein of Rowan Kidsilk Haze (229 yards), with the warning that you will use almost the entire skein. I am using a skein of fingering/laceweight cashmere that L-B gave me earlier this year, and it has 300 yards. So I figure I can make a longer scarf by adding a few extra repeats of the lace.

The cashmere came from Holly Spring Homespun and is American-grown. I understand that they are expecting another shipment of it soon.

cashmere121306 St. Lucia Day

My scarf so far:

mountain121306 St. Lucia Day

I’ve done the provisional cast-on, knitted the bottom border, down the short row corners, and have started in on the pattern. This is a somewhat complex construction, but Susan’s instructions are impeccable — if you follow them exactly, you’ll have no problems.

So now I have quite a stretch of fun lace knitting with no complex construction issues. This will keep me happy for a while!

Lucy Sez

lucy121306 St. Lucia Day

“Look at the current total for the Heifer Project! Let’s party!!”

Mmmmmmm. Lace.

I did finish the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl yesterday evening, but decided to wait til this afternoon to block it.

Here it is, pre-blocking. It’s 46 inches along the top and 23 inches down the center to the point

forestcanopy121206 Mmmmmmm. Lace.

And post-blocking.

forestcanopy121206a Mmmmmmm. Lace.

It grew nicely — from tip to tip 58 inches along the top, and about 28 inches down the center back to the point.

Sorry about the icky pictures — it was dark when I came home, so hard to get a good pic. But here’s a close-up, taken with the flash:

forestcanopy121206b Mmmmmmm. Lace.

Yes, this project was a quick, easy, and most importantly, fun knit. I started it Sunday afternoon and cast off right before posting yesterday’s blog entry (but I didn’t feel up to blocking ’til tonight).

Even with Lucy’s supervision.

lucy121206 Mmmmmmm. Lace.

Going on the needles tonight, some more lace, this time in cream-colored cashmere.

cashmere121206 Mmmmmmm. Lace.

There’s 300 yards in that ball — anyone wanna guess what I’ll be knitting?

Heifer Prizes!

The trusty random number generator picked the following winners for this week’s prizes:

Julia B. wins Knitting Rules donated by Nina S.

Anne C. wins 2 skeins (total of 980 yards) of Claudia Hand Painted Kid Mohair in the Woodland Moss colorway, donated by Jackie Hutcherson, The Knitting Hutch.

Shelley G. wins Fearless Fibers Superwash Merino Sock Yarn in the Marrakesh colorway: fingering weight sock yarn in a large 4-ounce skein with 550 yards, donated by Deb Kessler, Fearless Fibers.

Imbrium wins handspun yarn and pattern kit: Approximately 2.5 ounces of a soft and warm chocolate brown handspun yarn (45% wool/45% alpaca) with glimmers of golden Tussah silk (10%), plus an accompanying pattern to make the “Klondike” scarf pattern, an original pattern from Beaver Creek Farm. Donated by Anne from How the West Was Spun.

Leigh K. wins Interweave’s Compendium of Finishing Techniques, donated by the staff of Unraveled Richmond.

Lois M. wins Two skeins, merino superwash sock weight yarn. About 220 yards per skein, donated by Rabbitch.

Susan C. wins 5 skeins of The Irish Ewe aran wool (350-400 yards each) and a Penny Straker pattern, donated by Dagny & Deb, The Irish Ewe.

All winners have been emailed. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far, be it money to Heifer or prizes to the raffle.

There’ll be another weekly drawing next Tuesday, of course.

But you’ll have to excuse me now — I’m gonna go snort some wasabi.