Thursday, May 31, 2007


The singles from the Ashland Bay top are coming along.

A closer look:

It took me a bit to get into the groove with this. I think as a newbie spinner, I have to learn how to get along with each new fiber I try. What I think I already know doesn't necessarily apply. Yesterday evening I felt like I was taking this beautiful fiber and wrecking it. Today, I feel like I'm making yarn. Practice is good.

And a few images from the garden...




Wednesday, May 30, 2007

High Fiber Diet?

I just got a long-awaited order from Paradise Fibers.

Ashland Bay English Wool Top, Bayberry, 1 pound.

A closer look:

Paradise Grey Romney Sliver, 1 pound.

I don't really know about how to pick fiber, but I'm pleased with these two choices. I started right in on the Ashland Bay English Top. I'm hoping to make a fairly consistent sport to DK weight yarn. I'm getting to the stage where I can be fairly consistent, but all my two-ply yarn comes out fingering weight. Learning to control the thickness is a bit of a challenge for me. The Romney feels very nice when I snuggle up to the ball of fiber, so that bodes well for the yarn! The Ashland Bay feels a little less soft, but the colors are so wonderful that I'll excuse that.

My order took a long time because I also ordered two cones of Naturespun Sport and one was unavailable. But they very nicely gave me a coupon for 10% off my next order and they still gave me free shipping, even though I didn't make the $75 threshold.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fair Isle Evolution

I spent last night and this morning working on this swatch for my next Fair Isle project. It's an interesting process.

At first, I try to figure it all out in my head. For me, that doesn't guarantee good results. I have a lot of yarns in the reds/maroons/rust range and was thinking about using those in a warm, autumnal kind of project.

I got out several different Fair Isle reference books and chose three charts from Sheila MacGregor's Traditional Fair Isle Knitting. Starting at the bottom, I paired an olive drab with my dandelion-dyed yellow in the peerie pattern. I wasn't pleased with how vividly the yellow read against the olive in the knitting, though the colors looked nice together in the balls. Moving into my first larger pattern, a 15 row border pattern, I felt that the pale green in the background might not be warm enough to work out. I also screwed up the pattern near the middle of the chart. Obviously, in this swatch you can see that I wasn't thinking much about lining up my pattern repeats. I'll do the math on all that when I get to a garment.

For the next repeat of the peerie, I swapped out the dandelion-dyed yellow with a natural light tan. This makes the olive read more brown, which I felt helped it, but I still wasn't quite happy. I decided to use a natural brown with a lighter value heather to it with the natural tan.

As I moved into the smaller 9 row border pattern, I introduced a plum purple and a lighter olive green to the foreground colors. I really liked the way this section worked, even though I didn't expect great results by looking at the colors in the balls.

For the next repeat of the 15 row border, I tried to use more of the dandelion-dyed yellow and brighten up the middle of that pattern. While I was knitting it, I liked it, but I thought the pale green background had too much value contrast with the dandelion yellow. So, I subbed in the golden-grey yellow on the final section of that.

After I cut the swatch open and gave it a quick wash to block, I kind of decided that I did like the first version of the 15 row border after all.

So, what I'm going with:
Natural brown and tan peerie.
The 15 row border as it appears in the lower part of the picture, but without the errors in color placement.
The 9 row border as it appears.

This leaves me with only one challenge. The gold-grey background color was a random ball I found in my stash. I'm not sure where it came from, but I suspect it was in a large grab bag from St. Vincent's some years ago. There seems to be less than 25 grams of it, judging by my comparisons to full balls of Jamieson's Spindrift. So, I need to try to find a similar color in currently available Shetland 2-ply jumperweight yarn and buy about 75 grams worth to make a sweater. My first step is to ask to look at the Spindrift color cards out at The Sow's Ear. If there's a good match, ask them to order a few for me. Failing that, I could send a snippet to Schoolhouse Press and see if the Jamieson and Smith 2-ply Shetland has a good color match. Failing that, I'll have to swatch again and see what else might work.

I wish I could just spend all day playing with color. It's exciting to see how things change when they get paired with different partners. There are some real surprises for me, even though I think I know a bit about color.

In Other News
Last Saturday Knitting met this afternoon. Cindy, Yarn Thrower, and Linda were there. It was a great time, although we missed MollyBee, who didn't make it. Next month Molly!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Sparrow

This is the best of Owen's sparrow pics. They were all a bit blurry, but I was able to sharpen this one a bunch.

Photos from our weekend. And of yarn.

I just looked at the few pictures I took while we were in Illinois with my folks over the weekend. Sometimes when I look at a picture of my mom I'm struck by how much of an an unknown she is to me in some ways, and yet, how familiar in others. In the picture, I see the old lady she's becoming and it seems way too soon. And I see the mom I've always known and also, the person I feel that, as a daughter, I can never entirely know.

We were all at a big playground a few blocks from my grandmother's house. Owen took 20 pictures of sparrows.

The Little Emperor spent about 20 minutes spinning on this gadget.

After all that spinning, look how happy he was:

In Other News

Today the UPS man brought me a box with over 4 pounds of fingering weight yarn. On cones. I had seen this yarn at the WEBS site last week. Last week when I was playing around with all that fingering weight yarn I own and trying to make it work in a project. And then I realized that I really need some lighter values, because without enough value contrast, you get mud. So, I was browsing my favorite cheap yarn sources because paying $5 per 25 gm ball of Jamieson's is really a last resort option for me. I ordered a pound each of the four palest choices in that listing. (Pale yellow not in picture.) The yarn is still in the spinning grease and has a rough feeling on the cones, so I skeined off a bit to wash and see how that changed things. I think it'll soften up enough to be a good purchase.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Elizabeth's First Law of Childhood Vomiting Upheld

We were away over the weekend. My folks had gone from NH to IL to begin the process of cleaning out my grandmother's house. It's going to be a very long-term project. But it gave us a good reason to have a quick visit with my folks. We got back yesterday evening. All was well.

Around 3 a.m. we awoke to Owen's voice yelling for us to wake up because he was about to be sick. Which he was. But fortunately, it went where it should have gone: down the loo. I don't think he's got The Bug because he was really completely well today. Of course, he had to stay home from school to be on the safe side. But after a cautious start, he ate normally and all was well.

We are rapidly sailing into the end of the school year. Hard to believe. I was just rereading some of my posts from last summer, when I was so eagerly anticipating the beginning of the school year. I had such ambitions for this year. I'm not sure where all the time went. I guess I need to make the most of whatever time I have left in this school year. Because I know when summer hits, I may as well just put on a referee suit and wear that until school starts next fall.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Handspun Attempt

Last week I got my wheel dusted off again, after many months of neglect. The cat had chewed through the hemp drive band and I needed to put on one of the rubbery ones that came with it. This isn't a hard thing, but was enough to keep me focused on other stuff for a long while.

I dug out a volleyball-sized ball of roving I bought at Rainbow Fleece Farms last spring. (Or was it the spring before?) This fiber has some very long staple strands and some shorter fuzzy stuff along for the ride. Since I was rusty from not spinning for a while and the fiber took a bit of getting used to, the end result was a bit uneven.

Even as I got the hang of working with the fiber and using the length of the staple, I still got a few little bumpy bits that refused to smooth out. I think this fiber will always make a slightly rustic yarn. It's just the nature of it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

(knock on wood) We Are All Well!

Can it be? After weeks of moving from one sickness to the next, I believe we are all well at the moment. I ended up getting the tummy bug from the little guy, which was really no fun. But, thankfully, it was rather short-lived.

Tonight, I gave my friend Jim his sweater and got a quick pic of him in it:

It fits him very well. Like it was made for him! Which it was, so there you go. This picture suffered from an overly-zealous flash, which I tried to adjust in Photoshop. Still, the reflection on the glasses is a bit annoying. Jim says we'll get an outdoor pic soon.

Now I'm in the doldrums between big projects. I still have the Mead Scarf on the needles. And I still have the long-standing UFO, Scott's Tweedy Sweater. But I'm in that unsettled stage where I poke around in the stash trying to see what calls out. I think I hit on a plan earlier today. But it'll probably be a stealth project, so maybe I better get a few small things going, too, just to have something to take pictures of.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Is There an Unwritten Law...

that every time a child develops a gastro-intestinal illness, the initial onset of symptoms shall appear between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.? Think about it. If you are a parent, how often when your kid comes down with a major gut-spilling illness, does it start at a normal, convenient time, like 11 a.m.? My kids only barf in broad daylight if they get carsick, or they've already been barfing for 12 hours.

So, the misery continues Chez SABLE. My sinuses, Mr. SABLE's dangerously infected eye, the Little Emperor's mildly infected eyes, the two week cold from Hell for me, Mr. SABLE's run in with the cold, which was not as severe... and now the Little Emperor is laid low with the gut bug. And maybe Owen's getting the cold. We have had enough! Enough, I say!

On a cheerier note, The Last Saturday Knitting has moved to 2 p.m. on the last Sat of each month. Same place for now: the Victor Allen's on Maple Grove, near PD, on the far southwest side of Madison. And I will be there this month, unless I'm quarantined like Typhoid Mary or something.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

James Hoodie Pattern Now Available!

Everyone loves a comfy hoodie! Jazz it up with a simple Fair Isle motif. This project would make a great first Fair Isle project for an intermediate knitter.

Skills used: Steeks, Fair Isle stranding, Sewing in zipper.

The James Zippered Hoodie is written for 8 sizes, from 12 months to Child size Large.

Gauge: 22 st and 28 rows=4 inches/10 cm in stockinette st

Requires DK wt yarn, at about 120 yards per 50 grams

Pattern price $5, immediate download
Add to Cart View Cart

Monday, May 07, 2007

That's Done! What a Relief!

A couple of years ago, maybe even several years ago, my friend Jim asked me to knit him a sweater. I've mentioned this before. He ordered a couple cones of Bartlett Yarns Fisherman Sport wt. and I launched in with the expectation of finishing in a week or so.

A week? you say. Well, yes, because I intended to whip this thing out on my knitting machine and that seaming would be the hardest, slowest part.

Take a good look:

It looks pretty basic, right. Downright boring, right?

It's a double-sided fisherman's rib, a.k.a. a brioche stitch. Knitting this sucker by hand would have been slow and tedious. In theory, knitting it on the machine should have been a pretty speedy proposition: about 12 hours of actual labor. Ah, but the machine and I had to learn to get along.

Eventually, we did.

I just this evening did the last bit of finishing: darned in the last few ends and stitched up the last few seams.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. I hope Jim will be, too. I hope it'll fit him. He's out of town this week, so I won't find out until the weekend. I'll try to get a pic of it on him.

Friday, May 04, 2007

New IK Arrived...

There's probably a special place in hell for those of us who do things like this to magazine pics, but hey, I'm willing to risk it.

There's not much a I truly love in this issue, but I usually feel that way about summer issues, so no surprise. Fall and Winter are really my seasons.

But I do LOVE LOVE LOVE Kate Gilbert's Syncopated Caps. There are a few other things I might like if I was young and thin. Or had a more femme sensibility. Those are projects like Shirley Paden's lace top that I admire as knitting but know I'd never make something like it, unless it was a gift for someone very near and dear to me.

I do think that they listened to input from readers about the new layout. Yes, the instructions are still at the back, but they now include the designer's name and a little blurb near the big photo.

Oh, and that short little white sweater? It would be cute if it was long enough. Or even if they styled it over a little black dress and the model wasn't acting like she wondered who shrunk her sweater in the wash.

(cough, sneeze, hack) Oh, Hi! (cough, cough)

We've been having a craptacular week here. The Little Emperor came home from school on Tuesday with goopy eyes, which wasn't too surprising, because kids in his class have been sharing that lately. Over the weekend, I started coming down with a cold which has hit me hard. You know how some colds just kind of slow you down a bit, but really, you go right on with life and it's no big deal? And others? The expression "It's just a cold," was not meant to describe those germs. I started with a four day sore throat and have coughing and sneezing and stuffy sinuses. My temp has fluctuated a bit, but stayed under 100, so it's not influenza. It's just a really obnoxious rhinovirus. I've been sleeping an extra four hours a day when I can and just dragging through the waking hours. Mr. SABLE took some days off, so I could rest while he did kid duty.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit better in the afternoon and I realized it was time for dandelion dyeing! I had two 100 gram skeins of Knit Picks Bare, in fingering weight saved for this.

I got a paler yellow this year than last, but I used proportionately less alum and cream of tartar to mordant the yarn and probably a lower proportion of dandelions, and I probably didn't let everything cook as long this year, either.

Still, it's nice yellow yarn; enough to be a major component of a fair isle garment.

Mr. SABLE is itching to try rhubarb next. We have a lot of that, too.