Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coming up for air

It has been a mad couple of weeks, starting with a two-day external program review (two reviewers visiting from off-campus; I chaired the internal review report writing process, so I needed to be heavily involved; twelve-hour days, etc etc), following up with a delightful (but busy!) weekend taking care of the three children of dear friends of ours (leaving me to shake my head in awe at parents who regularly handle five kids), and ending with a twenty-hour stack of papers to grade (as in, it took me close to twenty work hours to grade 35 papers).  I guess I know where the last two weeks have gone!

In all of that, I haven't managed a whole lot of knitting, alas.  I did get two swatches knit with the sample yarn I spun for the gansey.  In fact, I got those done relatively early on in the whole thing and have been carrying the swatches around in the bottom of my book bag for nearly a week and a half, hoping for an opportunity to take a picture - even if it had to be on PhotoBooth - to share.  That actually turned out not to be a bad thing, as I am reassured by how well they survived.  (Also, in answer to a question that someone left about blocking my yarn before I knit with it - yes, I do soak, snap, and hang (unweighted) my skeins of handspun before I knit with them.  I also blocked these swatches after knitting.)
The swatch on the left is knitted with the woolen-spun yarn, size three needles on the bottom, and size two needles on the top.  The swatch on the right was knitted out of the worsted-spun yarn, on size two needles (because I liked them so much better in the first swatch).  I am thinking that the size two needles on the woolen-spun yarn is the way to go; any opinions?  I should say, by the way, that several people pointed out the flaw (that I hoped no one would notice) in my blatherings about spinning style and warmth/weight issues.  Woolen-spun yarn, while lighter than worsted-spun, tends to be warmer, because all of the air in the yarn (which makes it lighter) traps heat.  (I should note that part of the reason why I didn't say that is because ganseys are traditionally knit out of a tightly-spun five-ply, and they were used by fishermen in some of the worst weather you can imagine, so I kept ignoring what I've read again and again about woolen-spun yarn being warmer, because obviously these sweaters kept those guys warm!  I wonder if it's a wind/rain thing?  In other words, perhaps a tightly spun and knitted sweater is more wind- and rain-proof?  That would be even more true if they were spun in the grease.)  In any case, there are three four factors (I feel like the Spanish Inquisition) which make me think that going with the woolen-spun yarn is going to be the way to go:  first, it's going to make Rick happier, as he doesn't tend to like weighty layers; second, I like the way the knit/purl motifs look better in the woolen-spun yarn; third, this fiber seems happier spun woolen - it's a bit more wiry when it's spun worsted; and fourth, I spin faster when I spin woolen, and I'd like to finish this sweater sometime before the girls graduate from college.

Of course, now I need to find the time to actually spin the yarn.  Even though the woolen spinning goes much faster, I still need to get to the wheel.  On the other hand, I also need to get to my spindles, as I'm teaching another intro to spindling class a week from today at my LYS (I don't know if anyone who's reading is from around here, but right now there's plenty of room in the class, if you want to give it a whirl - it's a very low-key commitment to try something that you might like a lot, and we always have a lot of fun)(and yes, I meant that pun-like thing in the last parenthetical).

Meanwhile, I've been knitting a little bit here and there.  I finally knit my very first baby surprise jacket.
And my second.
 And you know what?  It really is quite a surprise the way a total amorphous blob, given the right twists and tweaks, turns - hey presto! - into a sweater.  Very cool, and I haven't the faintest clue how anyone, even the immortal EZ, could have come up with this thing; truly, it must have been inspiration, in the original sense of the word.  I also took a 30-minute skill-building class today on mattress stitch (appalling that I haven't done it before, I know), and stitched up the shoulders on that first sweater like a pro.  I have decided that I am not particularly fond of sewing up garter stitch seams, but at least I know that I'm doing it right.

I knitted the first one (which will be accompanied by little bitty matching booties) for Knit for the Cure, which is a fundraiser that my beloved LYS puts together every year.  The store gathers up knitted donations which they sell in a booth at the end of the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in San Diego.  I'm also walking this year in the 5k (on November 6th), with the team that my friend Pam has put together: Purls for the Girls.  If you happen to like to donate to that particular cause, and you haven't had a chance to do that this year, I know the team would appreciate your support tremendously.  If you do, please let me know, and also (regardless of whether you donate) do let me know if there's anyone you'd like us to be particularly remembering or thinking of as we knit our way through our 5k walk.

The second jacket is for a friend of mine at work whose baby is due soon; there will be booties to accompany that one as well.  These little jackets knit up pretty quickly, and they work well for meeting knitting (garter stitch all the way, and very small).  They also seem to be about all that my brain can handle these days; I am so terminally distracted by my ever-growing and unshrinking to-do list (which now stretches into mid-December at least), that I actually completely forgot to bring my computer to work one day this week.  It's always a bad sign when I forget something that obvious and important (especially when I've left the computer sitting right next to my bookbag, and right under my car keys).  Clearly, it's better not to try something like a pair of Cookie A socks or stranded colorwork at this point in time.

With luck, the next post will come much sooner than two weeks.  Meanwhile, happy weekend - what kinds of fun things are you all doing to celebrate your Saturday?


Anonymous said...

You have been busy!
Twenty-hour paper grading marathon,ugh.
Your BSJ are adorable! I've been eyeing the pattern for a few months but haven't gotten up the courage to dive in. To think that it's actually a relatively easy, none stressful thinking knit!
Rick's not likely to need his sweater for northern sea fishing any time soon so go with the yarn that's most pleasing for you to work with.

Willow said...

Busy, busy! Just reading about your two weeks made me tired.

I spent today spinning with my guild at Seaside Scottish Highland Games in Ventura. I was hoping you and your daughters would be seemed like everyone was having a great time. I did. And so did everybody who was in the audience when Celtic Spring was performing. Loved those kids!

Wool Enough said...

Aren't BSJs fun to knit? I loved doing mine, and it was only for practice. The ASJ, however, being a good bit larger, takes much longer (but still fun). And babies are sort of blobby so you don't have to fuss much about the shape, but adult women are a whole other story.

Lynne said...

You have been busy - I hope you get some down time this long weekend!

Gwen said...


Woolen. You like it best, both in the spinning and the knitting. Good. Also, it may trap more air, but it's likely to be less windproof. Which you already covered.

Aren't those Baby Surprise Jackets fun? I don't find them quite mindless, because of keeping track of the increases and decreases. But more interesting than a straight scarf.

Jane said...

It's now Sunday here, and I've been up most of the night with a vomiting child. You'd think it would be easier once they were teenagers!
Love the baby jackets, makes them so interesting to see the different direction of the stitches

Mary Lou said...

I say go with what Rick would prefer. Unless he is going off on a fishing trawler in the North Sea, of course. I missed my chance at a drop spindle class last night in order to go to a horse show. I did knit while waiting for the jumping, however. September was like that for me, even easy knitting got ripped out because I was so scattered. Here's to a calmer October!

Brandi said...

I think everyone has been crazy busy since school started. I don't teach anymore but I do go in and spend a day with middle school showing them how I process wool( i take all my pointy tools in lol, at the end of the demonstration which includes a lesson on differing animals and plants that yarn can come from I give them all a drop spindle and let them spin a bit of their own yarn to take home.I'm thinking of adding a CSM and weaving demostration for the upper grades. I know I'm beat by the end of those days. Sometimes even though I am always busy here at the farm it can seem like relaxing compared to that.

twinsetjan said...

I'd go with the woolen too. It looks fantastic!

Love the BSJs too. I've knit a couple and feel another coming on.

EGunn said...

Fortunately, I find that spinning (especially woolen) requires almost no brain power. For me, it's the rest project when even stockinette is too much. And you have plenty of woolen spinning to be getting done. =)

The swatches look great! I always go for the smaller needle. I always kick myself for doing it (because it makes the knitting that much longer), but I just like the fabric better.

Hope you find some quiet time in between the crazy!

Belia said...

As the name implies, knitting pattern are tools which shows you how to create different items like afghans, sweaters, etc. They can be very detailed and will include information pertaining to the type of yearn used, stitches by row, etc. etc. etc.

Nana Sadie said...

I LOVE your Baby Surprises!!! And I also am totally red-faced that I'm only just NOW getting to read this post...
busy? Me? nahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Carrie K said...

What? You can't knit and grade? Or would you be too tempted to stab the papers with your knitting needle?

Those BSJ's are adorable.

There's a difference between woolen spun and worsted spun?