Monday, April 21, 2008

Birthday Yarn for Jackie

Last year, for Jackie's birthday, I had the inspiration to spin her some handspun yarn as a gift. I'd just bought some beautiful alpaca/merino/angelina batts from Loop (in the Lavender Mint Tea colorway) and Jackie had mentioned how much she liked the color. So....I thought, since I had time, and Jackie is totally worth it, I'll spin it up for her.

Come to find out, it was the BEST spinning I'd ever done (probably because I was thinking such lovely, friendly thoughts at the time) and the finest yarn (in wpi - wraps per inch) that I'd ever made. It came out to a fingering weight, 2 ply yarn that was perfectly balanced (that only happens to me 1/3 of the time....I tend to overspin and underply) - it was a MIRACLE!

She loved the yarn (which made me soo happy), knit something almost immediately with it (The Montego Bay Scarf....which made me even happier) and then even wore the scarf a lot (which caused me to have gleeful, handspun-ery hallucinations)!!!

To see this yarn, go here to my Flickr account. It's the last pic in the left hand column.

Fast forward a year....

And Jackie's birthday was coming up quickly. Having recently purchased some Spritely Goods fiber - which was HIGHLY recommended by the Spinning Goddess Cayli - I thought....this is perfect for another Birthday Spin.

So, I frantically used all my spare time (that I wasn't cleaning, cooking, working or with the kids) to spin this yarn. I didn't knit all those days....eeek! The fiber (a luscious mix of soft merino, angelina and firestar) was a dream to spin and the color truly cheered me on....she calls it, "Globe Mallow"...and it's a limited edition colorway. I'm SO glad that I picked it up. It was wonderful.

So, here's what I did:

Step 1: Take pics of fiber BEFORE ripping open.

and a close up:

Step 2: Draft Fibers (30 minutes).

Step 3: Spin on my Ashford Joy (5 hours total...not all in one day)

Step 4: Take WPI gauge before Plying...28.

Step 5: Ply (3 hours), Soak (overnight), and Dry. Take Picture of Finished Yarn (over 300 yards).

And then, I decided to rename the yarn, since it had a different (but lovely) look and color after finishing. It was inspired by jokes I overheard Tim and Ben saying to each other while I was spinning:

"Cantaloupe-I'm Already Married!"

I can only hope that Jackie likes this yarn half as much as last year's. I'm dying to see what she'll knit up with it.

And I'm trying to decide (early) what I'll spin for her NEXT year!

Can I sleep now? (zzzzzzz..........)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Hand Me that Lipstick, would ya?

I want to give a big hug and thanks to everyone who commented on my last post for my Forest Canopy Shawl. Squeeze! It meant so much to me to read all of the wonderful things you wrote...especially since I was a little wary of how the finished handspun came out and the overall look of the shawl.

I'm actually working on yet another Forest Canopy Shawl...this time in Elsbeth Lavold's Silky Wool, which is super nice to work with - looks a bit like a crunchy silk, but feels (and knits up) heavenly. I'm using a blue-toned red colorway and, if you can believe it, I'm using this as my easy knit to bring to knitting group! Is that crazy or what?? I'm calling it my "Spouse Lace" - reliable, soft, comfortable and relaxing.

But, I have a little secret.

Know what it is?

Come closer and I'll tell you...

I also have a little "Mistress Lace" on the side. (or should it be called Mister Lace ?)

Yup. You heard correctly.

I'm cheating on my lace relationship. I's shocking, isn't it??

If you promise not to tell, I'll share with you.

Just this once, though. (ha!)

Meet the Leaf Lace Shawl -

Prism's Merino Lace yarn, Lipstick colorway (fitting, isn't it?):

I'm only a few repeats into it so far, but I have to say - this is more of a high maintenance project.

*The yarn is extremely fine.
*The pattern is not quite as mindless and enjoyable as the Forest Canopy shawl pattern.
*I'm actually having a bit of trouble either putting it down OR going back to it....contradictory, but true.

but it's also...

*Incredibly vibrant - the color is stunning.
*So delicate and feminine.
*Gives me so much happiness when I finish an 8 row repeat.

Here's a close up of my love/hate lace:

All affairs aside, I have been going crazy with buying lace patterns, buying lace yarns and trying to spin laceweight, as well. I'm feeling overjoyed (and sometimes overwhelmed) with the beauty of some of these lace patterns and I'm continuously inspired by other people's lace knitting....especially Cayli's. Have you seen all of her gorgeous lace shawls?? I can't keep up with all the lace I want to knit. But, I don't have to, right?

I've got a few lace projects that I'm dying to do this year and that I HOPE to finish -

1. Knit Spot's Wing-of-the-Moth Shawl
2. Knit Spot's Honeybee Stole
3. Susan Pierce Lawrence's Spring Things Shawl
4. Miriam Felton's Seraphim Shawl

I've got all the patterns and almost all the yarns/needles for these at my fingertips.

Will I finish them all? Finish none? Who knows....but I do LOVE thinking about it.....!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Forest Canopy Shawl

Another AMAZING lace knit! I can't believe my luck. I may have enjoyed this even more than the Icarus Shawl...if that's possible. It could be because I was able to use my own handspun for it, but I think it's mostly because the pattern is written like a dream. I not only finished this as quick as a wink, but I actually craved knitting it. I'd pick it up whenever I had a free second and hate to put it down. I even managed to knit it while with my knitting group! Unheard of!

Before I babble on more about this, here are the details of the project -


Pattern: Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl by Susan Pierce Lawrence (another lace genius!)
Yarn: My own handspun, using 8 oz. of Louet 100% wool top in colorway, Violets
Yardage: 300 yards of 2 ply (around 12-13 wraps per inch- dk weight)
Needles: Knit Picks Options in size 8, 32" circular
Time: 4 freakin' days!!!! (including blocking day)
Fun Level: A+ (I'm casting on RIGHT NOW for another kidding.)

Wanna see more pics before I say more????

The fiber before being spun up on my Ashford Joy wheel:

The 2 finished bobbins of yarn (as well as my 4 oz bobbins of icelandic/mohair and llama):

The yarn (in singles) tested for wraps per inch:

The finished yarn, in three skeins:

Now, I HAVE to tell you (in summary) why I loved this pattern so much...

* Susan wrote this pattern is the clearest, most direct, unconfusing way possible.
* She takes you through each and every piece of the lace and describes why you are taking certain steps.
* The charts are large and easy to read, with no squinting.
* Includes a large picture on the front of the pattern, so you can easily see the design and what you're aiming towards.
* Includes directions in both chart form AND written out.
* Uses only 1 skein of yarn and can be easily adapted to other yarns.
* While knitting this, you can distinctly see where the stitches are supposed to line up and where the yo's are supposed to go. If you put the project down, you can see where you left off with very little trouble.

Okay.....MORE pictures!

Working on the lace (not really looking it's best...very crinkly at that time):

The shawl blocking on my bed:

A close up on the lace and a better depiction of the actual color of the yarn:

I first heard of this shawl last year (I think) from Melissa and thought to myself, "Oh, what a simple and pretty shawl."...but then totally put it out of my mind. Then, after seeing Jackie make hers out of the Elsbeth Lavold Silky Wool, I was excited about how beautiful it came out. Finally, I saw Heather's gorgeous shawl, in which she used her own handpainted fiber (which she spun up herself) to make the shawl, and I was floored. I didn't want to wait any longer to make it.

And I'm SOOO glad that I didn't wait.

If you've never knit lace before, I really and truly recommend this pattern for your first lace shawl. I can't tell you enough how much I loved it and how much I enjoyed (and relished....mmmmmm) this knit.

I'll leave you with a couple final pics of the shawl....

and this...

Now, TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK !!!! (you like?)