Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Still knitting

The tam proceeds apace. I am now well into the widest part of the hat, which makes for some interesting shenanigans with all of the knitting and needles and all, but in about eight rows I get to decrease a little, so that's very exciting. I must admit that the three-color rows kind of kick my butt from time to time, especially when there's purling involved. Turns out that I can knit just fine with both hands, so when I have a two-color row, each hand gets a color, and that's good. It's less good if I need to be able to purl with both colors, because I've never learned how to purl when I'm carrying the yarn in my left hand. I could probably find a tutorial online, I know, but when I get fiber time, I feel like I should be working on this hat, rather than playing around online (too much). And then when there are three colors, the manipulations get very wonky. It turns out that, so long as I don't have to purl, I'm actually better at carrying the two colors in my left hand and picking the one I want with my needle, than I am at carrying two in my right hand -- if I do that, I keep having to put one down and pick the other up, and that's time-consuming.

Note to self: must learn to purl whilst holding yarn in left hand.

We've been watching the stages of the Tour of California each evening. We're all very excited about this one -- there are lots of amazing riders, many of whom we've watched in the Tour de France every summer, and, get this, the final stage ends right near here in Escondido! Guess where we're going to be on Sunday? (In fact, the plan at this point -- subject to change, of course -- is to try to catch them at the top of one of the grades going up Palomar, and then to race down to Escondido to catch the finish; this may end up being a bit ambitious, but we'll see.) It's hard to actually "watch" the race on TV while doing stranded colorwork, but I'm doing my best.

In the meantime, I'm trying desperately not to string the beads onto the yarn to start the latest STR installment. I mean, look at those colors.
So pretty. I'm dithering over whether to knit the pattern that came with this installment, or another one by Sivia Harding (both Ravelry links). I'm really leaning toward the latter; there's something about it that I'm finding more inspiring, and it's not like I have any other beaded socks, so I want these to be something very out of the ordinary. But then again, maybe the former pattern works better with this variegated colorway. Opinions? Since I'm working on the anemone socks right now as my travel knitting, I can dither a bit longer.

It's been chilly and rainy these last couple of days, and Younger Daughter's teacher has been wearing the mitts I knitted on the playground in the morning; I'm glad I finished them before this last storm blew in. (Yesterday, the skies opened up on us as I was swimming laps with a friend. The temperature dropped by about 5 degrees -- and let me tell you, that makes a difference when you're wet, swimming outdoors when it's in the 40s is so cold that the pool steams! -- and it finally started to rain so hard that the life guard asked us all to get out of the pool since she couldn't see the bottom anymore; that was OK with us, as it was starting to feel like it might sleet.)
I bet the Tour riders are wishing they had something this warm and cozy.

And I've been spindling again. I'd been missing my spinning a lot, but with this tam deadline looming, I haven't wanted to start something big on one of the wheels. So I'm making time to spin the lovely Bunny and the Beast fiber that I got from Fuzzarelly; I adore this fiber in so many ways. The colors are stunning, and the blend is beautiful and soft, and the batt feels like a puffy cloud (Nancy, is that the right term for this presentation of fiber? I'm still not that up on my spinning vocabulary). If you're looking for a merino/silk/angora blend to spin, I can't recommend this one highly enough. I've been wanting to savor the experience, so I'm spindling it up on my Jenkins turkish spindle.
One of my favorite things about a turkish spindle is the fact that the spun fiber, if wound around the legs correctly, automatically makes a center-pull ball. So when I've spun enough, I can pull out the spindle shaft, then the legs, and ply directly from both ends of the ball (which I particularly love because, among other things, I always end up using every bit of the singles, as I don't have to worry about mismatched bobbins full of singles). The only thing that slows me down with a bottom-whorl spindle like this is the half-hitch I have to tie at the top (I know, weird). I've been wondering for ages whether it's possible to make a small hook, almost like at the top of a crochet hook, at the top of the spindle shaft? I figure there's got to be a reason not to do it, and the reasons I've come up with so far are: it would mess with the balance of the spindle, and/or the top of the spindle shaft is too thin there, and it might split. Maybe the hook wouldn't hold the yarn to spin? But you can use a hook on a top-whorl spindle, so I don't think that's it. (Wanda? Am I on the right track at all?) Either way, I love spinning with this spindle; it's light and easy to use, and last night I took the first ball of singles off and started plying.

I haven't quite figured out what I'm going to knit with the yarn yet. It's so soft and lovely that it could be something near the skin. The girls both adore this purple/pink colorway, so maybe hats for them? Or, what about dream pillows, maybe even embroidered, with bags of buckwheat and lavender inside? So many options... Meanwhile, it's nice to be able to take the spindle with me into different rooms of the house so I can spin socially when I don't feel like working on the tam. Last night, I sat at the bar in the kitchen and kept Rick and Younger Daughter company while they worked on her experiment for the science fair at school.
She is causing erosion by playing with water, sand, and slope. I think she's her father's daughter.


Miss 376 said...

She looks fully engrossed in that. Isn't it lovely when you see something you have made and given as a gift being used

KnitNana said...

I LOVE the STR - what a gorgeous scrumptious colorway. And no, I think I'd go with the original pattern (but that's just me).

You do realize that by posting the photo of the Turkish spindle, you have done a very good job of enabling me right into buying one? And learning to spin? I've bookmarked the site, and am holding off (so far...) - the reason I'm holding off is b/c I'd have to buy a DVD player, too, so I could get the instructions to use it properly...I know, I should already have one of those, right?

What a great photo of DH and DD! I think it's wonderful she takes after her dad, and he WANTS to spend time with her. My DD didn't have that at all and photos like this one always bring tears to my eyes! She's a lucky little girl, and you're a special family!!!


1) Beads! Yum.

2) Have you tried to purl the Norwegian Way? I use my left hand to "throw" yarn, and purling was always my nemesis until I learned this method. For three-color rows, which I haven't done yet, I would carry two in the left hand and one in the right.

3) I didn't know that one could make a center pull ball from a turkish spindle. Thank You.

Anne said...

Yay, Tour of California --I've been watching online whenever I have a few minutes and Tues was so cold and yucky -- like New England in November. Are you rooting for a particular team or cyclist? Love that STR. (Did you see the YH post about seeing someone knitting those socks on the plane but being too shy to speak to her, and then that very woman responded in the comments within hours?)

twinsetellen said...

KnitNana is on to something. That Turkish spindle is very appealing. I am not looking at it again.

As for purling on those multi-color rows - I had my best luck when it got crazy by putting one strand around my neck and purling Peruvian style - flicking the purled yarn over the needle with my left thumb.

EGunn said...

I would go with Sivia's version. She was wearing them last weekend, and the beads are really nice. They are more subtle, though, so if you're going for a really beady look you might go with the original pattern.

The handspun is beautiful. I haven't fallen in love with spindle spinning yet, but it would be nice to have something portable!

Looks like YD and Rick are having fun with their project!

Anonymous said...

Nice spindling, an embroidered dream pillow would be lovely.

Thanks for the shout out. :-) Ed very carefully makes each individual shaft for each spindle for optimum spinning. If you do anything to it the balance will be affected. Do you need me to do a slow-mo you-tube video of casting on the half-hitch? Once you get used to the motions it should be easy and mindless.

Please let KnitNana know that her computer should be able to play the dvd, unless she has a really old one. :-)

I lean towards Sivia's pattern.

Lynne said...

They both look very comfortable with the science project!

If the teacher is wearing the mitts, she must like them and, with the weather as you described, why wouldn't she?

Alwen said...

I learned to knit backwards: as a little girl, the first thing I learned was purling with the yarn in my left hand, and for years I called that knitting.

It was the knit stitch that was hard for me!

The STR yarn does look yummy!

Marianne said...

Lovely spindling, those colours are rich and gorgeous!
I also love the science experiments, I get to do those with Conor :^) (he's also a lucky dude to have Aardron as his da, as he also loves 'experimenting', it must be in our genes.)

Carrie K said...

Purling left handed (well, holding the yarn in your left hand) is soooo much simpler than purling right handed. I wish I could show you.

The tam looks cute! So do those mitts.

Did you see the lovely downpour the Amgen Tour of CA had crossing the Golden Gate Bridge? The winds were 75 mph and blowing cars out of lane on the Bay Bridge the night before. Yikes

Gwen said...

I have a lovely partial mitten for my brother I've been working on for a while. A long while. The corrugated ribbing just about killed me. And I have to do it again for the second one!

It's (finally!) been good weather to watch erosion outside the windows too. More fun on the kitchn floor though.

Mary Lou said...

I just have to avert my eyes from that spinning stuff -- I just can't take on another activity -- or make room for the tools! The color of those socks and beads are fab -

Wish I could show you a couple of purling options. It does take a bit of effort to learn purling with the left hand but so much faster when you do.

Bea said...

I vote for the "another one" sock. Do you have enough beads for that one?

Colorwork is one of those things I may or may not try this year depending on whether I get the urge to make a colorwork project. It really is something I should give a go though.

I love Turkish spindles. Not because I want to spin on them. I just love the way they look.

Interesting science experiment. I hope she does well in the science fair.