Thursday, June 29, 2006

Starmore Aran Swatches 6 and 7

Swatches 6 and 7 blocked and photographed! Both swatches represent Honeycomb panels and plaits. Note, I added a category to the sidebar for the Aran swatches so you can find the posts with swatches easily for comparison.

Swatch 6:

The center panel is a classic Aran honeycomb stitch, a variation of the honeycomb cable seen in the last swatches but worked back to back without background stitches in between the cables. On the left of the swatch is a plaited cable, with three strands, of which 2 strands (or 3 stitches) are worked at once in a 9 stitch plait. The strands are crossed so cable goes toward the center of the plait.

Swatch 7:

This swatch is essentially the same as swatch 6, with an Aran honeycomb center panel and plaits at the right and left. But it represents honeycomb cables crossed over two stitches (instead of 4 above), and plaits worked over 6 stitches (instead of 9 above). The plaits also cross away from the center of the plaited cable instead of toward the center as in swatch 6.

A comparison of Swatch 6 (top) and Swatch 7 (bottom):

You can definitely see the difference in scale between the 4 and 2 stitch honeycombs and the 6 and 9 stitch plaits in this photo.

Looking at the charts I thought that swatch 7 would take me about twice as long since the honeycomb went from 4 to 2 stitches. In reality, it took about 3 times as long to knit! I also made several mistakes in the smaller honeycomb panel (none in the larger one). It was a lot harder to read the stitches in the smaller panel, and the cable cross of 1 stitch at a time was a lot more finicky.

I cast on for 8 last night. Then worked on a sock. It looks a lot harder from here on out. But, I can say that the whole idea of getting to be an "intuitive knitter" is working out so far. I knit up a repeat or two of the chart, put the chart away, and knit the rest of the swatch from just looking at the knitting at hand.

Oh yeah...I couldn't resist:


Responding to Bezzie's comment yesterday about the merino roving, this particular roving was quite thick. I have had merino roving that wasn't though, so really you need to take your roving and assess what type of yarn you want as an end result, and then pre-draft as necessary to suit your needs. Some roving I don't even need to pre-draft. Some, like that merino needs tons. So yeah, I guess that doesn't help much. Or does it? You need pics?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Plumbing is expensive. Especially after 5pm and when you have to pay for an hour drive time for the plumber to get to your house.

And a flooded basement from broken plumbing sucks too.

Good thing we have credit.

Its all fixed now, but an experience I'd like not to repeat.

On a happier note, a couple of pictures of the roving I spun the sock yarn in yesterday's post from:

Really nice roving. Nice results when spun. You can see how thick this merino roving is. I really pre-drafted a lot before spinning in order to get the fine, even yarn. Each strip of roving was separarated into about 8 or so thinner strips before pulling the fibers gently to the point of their slipping past each other before spinning. Some rovings I can spin with very little to no predrafting, I think it really depends on the end goal for the yarn.

I decided to put the roving pics up here since one day it will all be yarn, and I liked the results of this color combination so much it's a style I'd like to repeat in my own future dye experiences!

I've finished the Starmore swatch 6, and almost 7. Seven is a little tricky. Lots of tiny cabling work, and a few places where I've cabled the wrong way; which I definitely blame of the stress of the emergency plumbing. I hope to block them tonight and put pics up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Handspun Sockyarn (and kittens)

The three little kittens (who have no mittens) are doing well! A couple of pictures from this morning:

Gray stripedy #1 (not too thrilled about being picked up):

Super cute and fuzzy little black kitten:

Yep, their eyes are all open, and they can actually walk now! With their little kitten legs under them instead of sprawled out to the side.

Handspun sockyarn! This was spun from superwash merino roving, hand dyed by Heritage Spinning and Weaving in Lake Orien, Michigan. Nice, nice roving. This skein is 100g/3.5 oz. (hey! exactly the amount of a ball of sockyarn! wow, and I just guessed!. I bought 8 oz of this roving, so I still have enought to make something else (after I spin the yarn that is).

Two-plyed, nice and fine! It really looks comparable to the Lana Grossa sock yarn I'm working with now, though I think I'll knit it on a smaller needles to compensate for the two-ply of the handspun vs. the 3+ ply of the commercial yarn.

The colors in these pictures are really accurate. Deep greens, purples and blues. I think taking the photos outside in the morning light really is working for me.

The whole skein. You can really tell that this is nice fine sock or fingering yarn too, compare it with that llama I posted last which was close to worsted.

I'm thinking I'll either use a nylon re-inforcement thread for the toes and heels of the socks with this yarn or hold the yarn doubled for the toe and heel. It depends on if I can find a re-inforcement thread that matches well enough.

Since I'm winding my finished skein from the bobbin onto the swift and can't be bothered counting the strands of yarn wrapped round the swift to get yardage, I'll just do the WPI method from now on when estimating the lengths of my handspun skeins. It really does take a lot longer to spin this nice fine sockyarn than something like that llama. I spun the llama in two sittings. I'd say this yarn took me about 6-8 sittings of spinning. Makes sense though. More yardage = more time.

Based on WPI, this yarn is 16 WPI, so around 480-510 yds, 3.5 oz/100g. (perfect for the sock plan).

Friday, June 23, 2006

I shoulda used this one....

Yep...wishing I used this for my L pic!

L is for Lizard!

A baby horned toad lizard. With Dory's paw. These little guys are really cool, my favorite lizards actually. We're lucky enough to still find quite a lot of them around here even though they seem to be declining in populations all around the west. I see them a lot in the late Spring/early Summer out on the mountain bike trails. I always stop to move them off the trail too.

Started knitting a pair of socks for Nate, in a 'manyly' self striping sock yarn. Color 1002 (the big sock) here:

Still want to cast on and start another Starmore swatch soon. I laid out the five swatches I already knit, and they're pretty nice together. Nate even commented that I should make a blanket with them when they're all done. I think I will. One day, when they're all done.

Spinning the merino still, and have some Shetland and Churro on spare bobbins that needs to be finished.

After posting this, I'm going back to the Starmore swatch post and adding detailed information about the cables, so if you're interested in the geeky side of knitting, check it out!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

L is for Llama!

At the Pagosa Fiber Festival we got to hang out with this Llama, Kimmie.

Not only was he very cute, his owner Karen was wonderful to talk to, and had very good llama owner information for us. We also watched him get his first shearing. A barrel cut for pack llamas. Karen is training him to pack.

While he wasn't very happy with the shearing, his fleece was VERY nice and soft. I wish I could have taken that home!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Kittens, Gardens, and Yarn

The three little kittens are good, all their eyes are now open, and they're starting to climb around a lot more! They still can't really walk though they do a wobbly crawl pretty well.

The roses are in bloom! The house has 8 rose bushes, all need some serious rose pruning maintenance and care, but they're blooming and beautiful. This flagstone patio garden area is pretty nice. I worked on it this weekend, I'm planning on using it for a nice herb and perennial garden area.

And, I couldn't resist. On Saturday we put in a little kitchen garden. Tomatoes, peppers and chiles, eggplant, zuchinni, cucumbers, squash and melon. Ah. I realized that in every house we've lived in I've put in a garden. I was a little sad thinking I wouldn't have one this year, but even though I didn't start these plants from seed and it was a little late, I think it will do well.

Handspun Llama! Two ply yarn...4 oz. About a worsted weight or a little lighter. Grays, greens, and blues.

The whole skein. Notice in the detail photo you can see some of the guard hairs. Even with the guard hairs, this llama yarn is pretty soft. The guard hair might make it itch as a scarf, but really it is some nice llama. Overall after spinning llama from the fiber fest, I have changed my previously biased opinion of llama fiber. I hadn't spun it before. I really do like this stuff.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Socks II

I'm recovering from the horrible cold I picked up on the trip (yay). I actually got to work on time today (minor victory).

I present, my latest knitterly accomplishment, another pair of socks! Cast on during the flight from Denver to Detroit, and worked on whenever a spare moment struck during the trip, I finished sock 2 last night while watching Deadwood (my favorite show).

Sock loving detail:

And a little less detail:

Online something-or-other sock yarn. My first foray into self stripedy sock yarn, and it wasn't bad at all. Knitted on size 2 (US) DPNs. One of the plastic (Pony?) DPNs broke (tip fell off) while knitting the toe of the first sock, leaving a metal stick (which kept sliding out) inside a plastic tip-less tube . I actually finished the toe working like this (because I had already lost the 5th needle in the set...I think I dropped it off a raft on the river last September), then headed to the nearest LYS the next day to buy more needles. I picked up Clover bamboo DPNs, which, to my dismay were slightly larger in diameter than the plastic size 2s. So I knitted sock 2 with the 3 remaining plastic needles and one bamboo needle. As far as I can tell, no gauge issues arose, and the socks fit fine.

Ceci...I forgot the Starmore swatch info today...I'll edit to add the detailed info later OK!

Kittens are super fat now. Roly-poly belly kittens. And one is just starting to open his little blue kitten eyes.

I think I'll work on finishing up that cardigan I started a while back next. Then cast on for some Nate socks.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Starmore swatches and kittens!

Well, we're back from our trip to Michigan. The trip was good, but I'm really glad to be back. Especially since last Saturday, June 10th, Kittenbot had kittens! I figured she was pregnant just a couple of weeks ago, and according to the vet, at that stage it's too late to do anything about it. So. Three kittenbot kittens were born. Two gray stripedy ones, and one black one. All boys. So cute!

They look like little bears when you hold them up, their ears on the sides of their heads....

Still so helpless, eyes closed, barely crawling.

I also finished 2 more of the Aran Knitting Starmore swatches on the trip. Below are details of the swatches.

Swatch 4:

Additional Knitting Geek info: Swatch 4: Double Cables. The cable at the far right of the swatch is the common double cable, worked with the first half of the stitches crossed right, and the second half of the stitches crossed left. The next cable, to the left of this one, is the same double cable with the stitches crossed in opposite directions. The center cable is a variation of a single rope cable. The cable is worked in alternating directions. Continuing left, the next cable is The famous Aran honeycomb cable in which two opposing rope cables are worked together without background stitches between them. The far left cable is a OXO cable, a variant of the honeycomb cable. Note though, that this swatch has many mistakes and areas where I tried different things to see What Would Happen.

Swatch 5:

Knitting Geek Info: Swatch 5: More Variations on Double Cables. The two cables on the far right are versions of opposing rope cables worked with background stitches between them. They are crossed over an odd number of stitches with the larger number of stitches (4) crossed over the smaller number (3). Supposedly this results in a "more sinuous line", but I can't really distinguish this. The third cable from the right is a version of an alternating arrangement of crosses in an 8 stitch panel. The cable on the left of this pic is a pair of two stitch waving cables with one knit stitch between them which becomes a part of the cable.

Swatch 5:

Swatch 5 geek info continued: The cable on the far left of this pic and the one to the right of it represent odd-stitch variations on double and reverse cables. Compare these to the two cables at the right of swatch 4 which are worked on even stitch intervals.

These are the parts of the swatches I knit when I put the charts away, and knit by looking only at the existing knitted cables in my quest to become an intuitive knitter of Arans. In the is working. The hardest part is taking that leap to put away the pattern, and trust yourself. But Swatch 5 turned out pretty darn good I think. And Nate heard the women across the aisle from us on the plane say they were amazed I could knit cables without a heck, if it impresses random people on a plane it must be cool.

Oh yeah, I picked up a cold from hell in Michigan too. Blargh.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

K is for Kittenbot!

Kittenbot! This little girl was abandoned and lied about by an irresponsible preivious owner of our new house. So she's ours now. Kittenbot!

And, Kittenbot, might soon be having kittens of her own. Sigh. Dang irresponsible pet owners who abandon pregnant sick kittens. Poor thing. She is very sweet, friendly, and, as you can see, cute!

Wilco agrees! Cute! I will lick her!


Heading to Michigan back around the 12th or so if anyone wonders.