My current work in progress:

Stornoway, designed by Alice Starmore from her book Fishermen’s Sweaters, knit in Frangipani 5-ply guernsey wool in the Aran colorway, on a 3.0mm needle.

Archives for November 2005

Just Do It

Kelly in New Mexico commented:
I do have a question related to the mermaid though. It quite obviously takes alot of knitting, so here’s my question. How do you not get bored and want to move onto something else when the knitting is basically the same throughout?
I’m bad to have socks on needles to go back and forth on when I’m doing a long project, but you seem to stay true to the project. Just wondering. It might help me when I feel like my knitting will never end on some projects. Thanks!!

My response? Just do it!

I did not allow myself to knit on anything else while working on Mermaid. I started one of the Frostrosen mittens while at the Knitters Review Retreat at the beginning of this month, but stopped working on it when I got home, and knit on Mermaid exclusively. I figured having the promise of other projects I can work on when I completed Mermaid would keep me going.

Did that work? Judge for yourself:


I just did it. A completed Mermaid.

I finished the last of the sewing aout 5 seconds before my guests arrived last night. When they left, I soaked Mermaid in warm soapy water and rinsed. Then I put her in the washer on the spin cycle for a few minutes, then laid her out on towels to dry. She was perfectly dry this morning, so here is the official “in the bathroom mirror” picture.


I love my Mermaid!

So I resumed work on my Frostrosen mitten:


And the flip side:


Current Spinning

This is Portland from Spirit-Trail, purchased at the Knitters Review Retreat.


The colors are lovely. This is very easy-to-spin roving.


Reader Talia emailed me this morning and told me about a Yahoogroup set up for new spinners — it’s called Spin-Free.

Suzanne asked:
Do you like the Kookaburrah Woolwash better than Eucalan?

I actually have both and like them both. I think the scent of the Kookaburra is a bit stronger than the Eucalan, but as it’s a nice “herbal” scent, it doesn’t bother me.

In answer to Shelley, the Autumn Spice is worsted weight, and the skein is about 160 yards.


I went out Christmas shopping and to lunch with my dad. Here’s my dad at lunch, being a good sport and letting his insane daughter take a photo:


Lucy elected to stay home and rest. She said that she needs her beauty sleep.


P.S. to Linda — that little critter behind Lucy in yesterday’s shot is actually supposed to be a cougar (mascot of the Kane County Cougars) — that’s not a dpn stuck in its head — that’s a whisker!


Tel Me What You Want, What You Really Really Really Want

(This blog entry brought to you by that rarely seen Spice Girl, Autumn Spice)

Isela asked:
I just barely started spinning. Yesterday, I plied my first yarn, however, it twists on itself. How do you suggest taking the twist off–I guess, how do I balance it before winding it into a ball?

Here’s what I do.

Here is the Autumn Spice, freshly plied.


I wind it off:


Tie it in a few places to make a skein:


It’s pretty well balanced, as you can see — it’s not twisting on itself.

Time out for an extreme close-up!


Mmmmmmm . . . yarn . . .


Anyhow, back to the subject at hand.

Even though this skein is pretty well-balanced, I still give it a bath to set the twist.

Here’s Autumn Spice, relaxing in her bubble bath:


That’s warm water with wool wash in it (I’ve used Kookaburra Woolwash).

I rinse the skein in warm water, then gently squeeze out the excess water. Then I hang it on a hanger:


At the bottom, I’ve looped some “s” hooks through the yarn to weight it and set the twist:


“S” hooks are available at the hardware store and make great skein weights. Let the skein dry — I usually turn it halfway through the drying and reweight it in a new position.

Then presto-chango, you end up with nice dry, balanced yarn.

Thank You!

Thank you to the anonymous person who arranged to send me this:


This is a shawl pin, from Designs By Romi — isn’t it lovely? She’s got lots of beautiful pins on her site — the perfect holiday gift for the shawl-wearer on your list.


Lucy is having a nap so she’ll be wide-awake and the life of the party later this evening when my knitting group arrives.


Sunday Spinning

Sunday plying would be a more accurate title.

I finished spinning singles from the lovely blue hand-dyed top from Holly Spring Homespun on Friday night. I let the bobbins sit quietly for a while, and then plied the singles today.


This wool made some very pretty yarn! Kathy, that was a great dye-job you did!

Approximately 350 yards, worsted weight. It’s soft and lovely, and enough for a big cozy scarf.

One of my favorite parts of spinning is winding the yarn off the bobbin onto a niddy noddy.


There’s something about taking yarn that you have spun and running it through your hands as you wind it on the niddy noddy that is immensely satisfying. I love looking at at and the feeling of it as it runs through my fingers. I’ve got lots of skeins of handspun that I can’t bring myself to knit up — I sort of feel like they are complete as they are, being skeins. Maybe I’ll get over it and actually knit up this yarn.

On Saturday morning, I spun up half the “Autumn Spice” roving that will become yarn for Phyl. I love this colorway.


Some Knitting Was Accomplished

I didn’t finish Mermaid, but I finished the first sleeve.


I also made a good sgtart on the second sleeve — it’s more than half done. I plan to do some serious knitting this evening, so I ought to make some good progress.


I’m off from work this week — yay! — and tomorrow night my Tuesday-Lunchtime-Knitting-Group is coming for a potluck dinner. Should be fun!




Yup, the new baby wheel’s name is Maia.

A number of you guessed some variation in spelling of that name: Maja, Maija, Maya, etc.

A lot of you guessed Gemma. When the guesses started coming in and I kept seeing the name “Gemma” pop up I thought “What a pretty name! Isn’t it odd that so many people are arbitrarily guessing it?”

Then it occurred to me . . . um . . . Gemma because she is a Majacraft Gem. Duh! Yes, I am slow sometimes.

And there were guesses of Gemima or Jemima, and gemstones names, like Opal and Pearl. And some for Madge and Marjorie.

Thank you so much, everyone who offered a guess. I loved reading all of your emails! As I got hundreds of them, I can’t answer them all personally, so please consider this a huge thank-you to all of you.

Oh. You want to know who won?

I said that if no one guessed the name with the exact spelling, I’d give the prize to the first person who guessed it with an alternate spelling. That person is . . .


Phyl submitted her guess of Maja just 21 minutes after I posted the blog entry, so she is the clear winner. I know that Phyl does not spin and I also know that she sorta likes the color orange. So instead of sending her the handspun I designated as the prize for a non-spinner, I will spin the Autumn Spice roving into yarn for her.

I did a little test spinning on Maia this evening.


She is a sweet little wheel and spins very nicely!

Speaking of spinning, Kris asked:
Thanks for the brief wheel tutorial but I’m a bit confused sooo….I have a dumb question. I don’t spin (although I dream of spinning one day) which may be obvious in a second. Can you do everything you want to do spinning wise with just one wheel or do you need different wheels for plying, etc.?

A very good question! You certainly don’t need multiple wheels to be able to spin and ply — one wheel will do all that for you. However, some wheels are more versatile than others — offering more options, like a variety of drive ratios.

In a Google seach, I found this page on The Woolery website that talks about how to select a wheel. Also, if any spinners out there would like to weigh in on the subject, please feel free to do so in the comments. I am very much a novice spinner, and approach the whole thing in a very unscientific way.

Hey, Guess What?

We did get the cold air last night. I actually wore a coat today. Yay!

But something I found a bit excessive? I’ve subscribed to the “Alert DC” system so I get immediate text notification and update information on my cell phone during a major crisis or emergency. (That’s their description of the service.) I got an alert today, informing me that there would be freezing temperatures tonight. This is an emergency? Sheesh!

Here’s a picture of this morning’s sunrise. Sandy, I was looking up!




Yup, still plugging away on that first sleeve. But it’s almost done!

Beauty Tips From Lucy

Marta asked:
How does Lucy stay so trim? Portia is, ahem, pleasantly plump. I thought it was a breed characteristic…I guess not. 🙂

Lucy thanks you for noticing how svelte she is.


The King of All Remote Controls and I were discussing how petite Lucy is just the other day. When she first adopted us, she was obviously underweight. She’s put on a little weight since then, but not much. She’s grown a bit as well, but her weight stays under 10 pounds. I think the reason is that she’s just not that interested in food. There are very few treats that tempt her — and she’s even gotten lukewarm about Greenies!. She doesn’t seem to eat very much. I give her a high quality holistic food (Artemis Fresh Mix Adult Cat Formula) as her main diet, so even though she doesn’t eat alot, I know what she’s eating is nutrionally sound. She is also quite active for an indoor kitty, because she is so playful. We play fetch every day — she runs like crazy back and forth chasing her paper ball and gets a good workout! She’s the picture of good health and a very happy kitty.

Have a good weekend!

The Third Wheel

Rob asked a very good question:
I am about to dive headfirst into spinning, and am already drooling over wheels. I think the friend who is going to give me my first wheel lesson this weekend has hopes of selling me a wheel, but I am also doing a lot of window shopping. So, a question — why buy the baby? Do the three wheels I see in the picture do very different things?

A very good question indeed!

Katarina, my Kromski Minstrel, was my first wheel. I learned wheel spinning on her and love her. In a fever of obsessive-compulsiveness, I bought my second wheel, Lenny the Lendrum, a month later. Lenny spins like a dream: smooth and quiet. But I discovered that I prefer plying with Katarina, so I have been spinning singles on Lenny and plying them on Katarina.

Lenny is a folding wheel and came with a nifty carrying case. So when I went to the Knitters Review Retreat at the beginning of this month, I folded Lenny, put him in his case, and took him to the retreat. And took him home again. And did a number on my back schlepping Lenny to and fro and fro and to. He’s sort of on the heavy side (at least to a delicate flower like me) but I think it’s more his size than his weight that I found awkward to deal with. Like Eric Cartman, he’s not fat, he’s big-boned.

So I ordered the baby wheel. Much smaller and more compact. Because she is more portable, I’ll be more inclined to take her places with me.

While she’s my third wheel, she’s not a third wheel. If you know what I mean. Get it? Get it?

Actual Knitting Content

I sucked it up and actually did some knitting on Mermaid. I finished the body!

Here’s work on the i-cord edging:


Because Lucy elected to supervise from a distance:


Instead of up close and personal, as usual, I finished the i-cord edging. Wheeee!


Now I just gotta get those sleeves done.

The weather forecasters predict that it will be 30 degrees colder tomorrow. Dare I hope?