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Even though it has been hot and humid beyond all reason I have still been playing with my yarn.

First up the Carbeth is almost finished.

knitting carbeth sweater

I know, what is that big hole if it is almost finished? That is the underarm section that needs grafting together. I must admit I stopped and put this aside for a few days while I pondered whether to do Kitchener Stitch or a three-needle bind off. What I finally realized is that the holes were not going to close on their own and I had to make a choice. Since the sweater is knit holding the yarn double so the closing needs tobe done holding the yarn double. I felt Kitchener wouldn’t work for me so I went with the three-needle bind off. It looks good.

The trouble is that either side of the bind off are holes that need to be sewn together. I thought a simple mattress stitch would work well and it would if the stitches on either side were not so large and out of shape. I ended up mattress stitching what I could and then sewing the remaining holes shut so it looked like a neat underarm. I have four more yarn segments to weave in and the sweater is ready for blocking.

I have also been playing with my spinning. My latest is definitely in the category of yarn and is almost dead on in terms of the size I want.

spinning yarn tibetan spindle

I wound this into a little ball and am going to make a second spindle full then ply them together. I don’t know what I will knit out of it, but I am going to knit it up even if it is just a square. If it comes out nice I might frame it as my first actual spun yarn and date it.

On my list of things to buy is a knitty noddy so I can get some sort of count on the yardage. I also need a wpi (wrap per inch) tool to get a handle on the weight of the yarn. I am going for fingering but I might be in the DK territory.

I can’t explain my passion for spinning. Just that every time I spin with the spindle my soul sings. It has been a very, very long time since I have experienced such a feeling and I am so glad that I finally got the nerve to give it a try. Of course I am still very much learning, reading and watching YouTube videos, yet the pleasure and peace I get from it is well worth all the research and attempts.


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I don’t mean to grouse but I am going to do just a little of that. I’m knitting the neck of the Carbeth sweater when all of a sudden a hole appears to the right of the final two decreases. A whopper of a hole. I try everything to get the decrease to play nice with the stitch before it. I even drop the stitch before it down and crochet it back up to tighten it a bit. No go. To make it even worse, I was following the instructions to remove the markers as the final decreases are made. Now I am faced with ripping back two rows to below where the yarn is making a hole while I try to get the now unmarked decreases in the right places. Why is it that even the simple things don’t go right?

Since this project is coming to an end I am in need of a new one. To that end, I put aside the Carbeth and decided to have a peek in the bins and boxes that hold WIPS. Naturally, the Security Guard of All Yarn knit up or not was right by my side. Yarn Rascal loves going through the bins and boxes because we never know what we’ll find.

This time I came up with a sock and a sweater that I started five years ago at the time of my breast cancer.  I started the sweater just after my mastectomy. Not a good time to start that kind of project because my brain was not fully working what with learning to accept the mastectomy, the cancer medications and the radiation treatment I had what they call brain fog. Because of the mastectomy I thought that everything I wore from then on had to be extremely oversized. Don’t get me wrong, I love loose fitting clothing. But there is loose fit and then there is wow that’s kind of big. Well the sweater fell into the latter category. The body is knit and unfortunately it is so large that I can’t see ever wearing it. The yarn is good yarn and I’d hate to waste it even though it is black. I never knit with black yarn so you can tell what kind of mindset I was in when I got this project going.

Along with Yarn Rascal, I decided if we locate the pattern I was using (another example of how my mind was not working. I usually keep all patterns attached to their wips) I will attempt to undo the whole sweater and start again. Unfortunately it is not a pattern I bought through Ravelry so it is not in my library there. I am looking in all the places the pattern might be without any luck so far. Again, I need to remind myself my brain wasn’t really functioning at the time.

As for the sock we uncovered it was just that: a sock that was three-quarters done. I recognized the pattern as one I have in a book on knitted socks, but as for the yarn…well we can’t find it. I have no idea why I snipped the unfinished sock off the ball of yarn or where I would have put the ball of yarn after doing so. Usually an unfinished sock goes in a see-through project bag with the pattern and with needles and yarn attached. Believe me, Yarn Rascal did a thorough search of all yarn balls and couldn’t find it. So I ordered the yarn and will start the sock all over again.

Of course first I have to finish Carbeth. If the knitting gods don’t throw me another curve it is possible that I could block the sweater this weekend. I can only hope.

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Yarn Stash

Over dinner about two years ago The Skipper was gently discussing the extent of my yarn stash. He ended the topic with the comment, “Soon you’ll have yarn hanging from the ceiling.” I laughed at the idea and said, “When I have yarn hanging from the ceiling then I’ll know I have a problem.”

Fast forward to yesterday. Yarn Rascal and I were walking by the craft room and I briefly glanced in then stopped. I abruptly entered the room, Yarn Rascal by my side, and slowly closed the door behind me and leaned against it. A bit of the stash had escaped its confines and was collecting in the large wicker basket I had by the side of the love seat. Hanging from the tops of tall bookshelves was yarn that I had spun and set to dry. Okay, yarn hanging from the top of bookshelves is not yarn hanging from the ceiling, I thought. Get a grip here. And that’s when I saw it. I had two small spun “skeins” (I use the word in its loosest sense) hanging from two separate small brass hooks stationed in the ceiling. The brass hooks once held hanging plants. They now held yarn. I had yarn hanging from the ceiling.

My heart beat wildly. This couldn’t mean…I mean it just couldn’t be, I thought. I have two skeins of yarn working their way via the mail to me as well as another large bundle of unspun yarn. I don’t have a problem. I just have to think about this for the moment.

One: Bookshelves don’t count. They are absolutely not the ceiling. Two: I grabbed the small step ladder and immediately removed the two skeins hanging from the ceiling. Thankfully they were dry. See? No yarn hanging from the ceiling. But…my mind said, they were there. My eyes swept the room as I thought. No this is wrong. It’s not what it looks like. Then I got it. The spun “yarn” ( I use the word in the loosest sense) is really not yarn, it’s not like true yarn. I wasn’t, technically, hanging yarn from the ceiling. It was an experiment with wool that I was undertaking and I had run out of hanging space so I hung the wool, not yarn, from the ceiling. My heart began to beat normally.

I took a deep breath and decided to tidy away the escaped stash. I opened the closet door and there hanging from the ceiling like a piñata was an unopened package of yarn that I was keeping away from Yarn Rascal. No, No. I thought. This doesn’t qualify as yarn hanging from the ceiling. It’s a package. A package that inconsequentially happens to contain yarn. I can explain. I can explain it all and immediately closed the closet door.

Slowly I opened the door to the craft room and peered out to make sure The Skipper wasn’t about. Then Yarn Rascal and I slipped from the room and I quietly closed the door to the craft room.

Today, all the drying “yarn” is down and stored away in Yarn Rascal’s favorite bin. Except for the stash that is sitting in the wicker basket, all looks normal. False alarm. I really don’t have a problem.

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I knew it would happen. It was just a matter of when.  And when was yesterday. We have a new unwelcome member at the zoo. Yes, a big racer snake that’s taken to curling up on the flagstones of the patio right outside the sliding doors to the kitchen. Obviously, snakes can’t hear, because if they could then this one would have quickly moved out of my sight when I let go my scream. It’s not that I don’t like snakes, it’s that I have a full blown phobia about them.

Years ago when the Bronx Zoo lost its baby asp snake in its reptile house for three days I lived in fear that I would come across the damn thing even though we are nowhere near the Bronx Zoo.

The unwelcome racer positioned himself right in the middle of the chipmunk crossing. I will completely freak out if I see it eat a chipmunk. The Skipper took a broom out and shooed the snake away. Snakes don’t bother The Skipper. He kept them (wild ones) as pets in his childhood.

Is summer over yet? Can’t we go back to the snow and ice when all snakes are asleep or whatever they do during winter? I’m ready for summer to be gone.

In other news, here is a picture of the first *yarn I *spun. (Words with an asterisk in front of them means that I am using the terms in their loosest sense and in no way resemble what the words mean in reality.)

spinning plying yarn

A ton of things are wrong with the *yarn. Too many to actually name. I’m going wrong somewhere in my drafting. I am not able to get the *yarn down to a thin finger weight. Ideally, I want to make a 3 ply fingering weight yarn. Why 3 ply? Because the third ply in fingering weight yarns make the yarn more round and off-set or neutralize the push and pull of a 2 ply. When I buy fingering weight yarn I always try to get a 3 ply because it makes such a difference in the way the stitches look. Anyway, I am thinking of Googling the nearest yarn stores out of the area and see if any give a class about spinning. I’ll start with destinations an hour away and then move out from there. I figure 2 and a half hours one way is about all I can manage as that would be 5 hours round trip. Here’s hoping I find something closer. Other than that it’s back to studying YouTube videos. Oh, and the little bit of *yarn I did make I made into a ball and put it in Yarn Rascal’s favorite bin, the one he opens every night no matter what. I was so happy when I heard his delighted little squeal when he came across it. He immediately brought it to the bedroom door tail thump, thump, thumping. He was so happy with himself.

The Carbeth sweater is at the point where I am decreasing toward the neck. I am very happy with it but for three things. One, I need more yarn which I ordered today. Two, I need another two sets of circular needles in the 16 inch / 40 cm lengths. Three, the way the underarms are formed is going to cause problems with closing up holes. Delicate surgical sewing will be necessary.

Due to the heat and humidity the air conditioner has been running non-stop. It feels good having a winter sweater in my lap and on my legs to off-set the cold. Now if I can just find a way to keep the snake away from the patio and the chipmunks I could approach something close to relaxation.

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The number of ways I can find to annoy myself is amazing. This is the latest way.

spindle spinningYes, that is a Tibetan spindle, its bowl, and a whole lot of unspun merino wool. I’ve managed to have a whole 4 seconds of proper spinning where everything was clicking just right. It made my soul sing. However, I’ve not repeated those seconds.

I am teaching myself by reading and watching spinning videos how to do this. I’ve made progress too. It now takes me only one hour to get an empty spindle started as opposed to a half a day.  Once I get some “spun” wool (I use the word spun very loosely) I try to make a temporary cop. Then I try to slide that down the spindle to make a permanent cop. Almost everything will slide down to the permanent cop area near the whorl. Everything but the wool I used to start the spinning. It’s wound so tight it needs some serious tranquilizer prescribed for it. So I am making little cops near the top of the spindle until I can relax my starting style. I figure that might take a year or so.

When I went to purchase the unspun wool I didn’t know how much I’d need, but I figured it to be a lot since I have no faith in my ability to learn this craft. The online retailer offered wool in ounces, pounds and a whole sheep or two. My cursor really hoovered over the whole sheep choice. I mean, once I bought them and they were delivered what could The Skipper really say. Instead I went with something close to a pound of unspun wool. I know me and I know I need a ton of practice at this.

The rubber met the road, so to speak, on my spinning journey when the unspun yarn arrived and had to be introduced to Yarn Rascal. He knew something was wonderful and different the minute I hefted the bag in. Thank the spinning gods the package was Yarn Rascal proof because he went bananas. When I told The Skipper what I bought he said a number of things, but eventually he said it was going to take the two of us together to introduce Yarn Rascal to unspun yarn.

I decided to open the yarn package on the dining room table while The Skipper held Yarn Rascal so he could see but not touch the yarn. Remember in the 1960s when women wore kerchiefs on their heads and when they’d take them off their whole head of hair would pouf out into a large aura around their heads? Well, breaking open the package of yarn was much the same experience. Unshackled it was a lot bigger and a lot more yarn than I had imagined. Yarn Rascal went ballistic, jumped out of The Skipper’s arms and ran right on top of the table at the beach ball size thing of yarn.

Now unspun yarn needs to be handled gently in order not to felt or stick together or otherwise become unspinnable. A salivating, tongue hanging to his little ankles, wild eyed, screeching Yarn Rascal in no way bodes gentle handling. So I did the first thing that came to mind. I threw my body over the table and on top of the nice big beach ball pouf of yarn flattening it to within an inch of its life. This quick action has exacted its toll. Every time I go to spin some “yarn” (I use yarn in the loosest sense of the word) I have to predraft the fluff and air back into it.

Yarn Rascal was introduced to a small piece of unspun wool once we calmed him down. He is very interested in it and whenever he hears the spindle and bowl click together he comes running from whatever he’s doing to watch.

At some point I am going to put the “spinning” ( I use the word spinning in its loosest sense) down and finish the second sleeve of the Carbeth sweater, but right now I can’t  seem to keep my hands off the spindle.


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Well the Carbeth sweater is coming along. Surprisingly we haven’t had a really hot and humid day the whole time I’ve been working on it. I thought for sure the knitting gods would dump the hot and humid on me instantly. Rather the days have been around 68 F / 20 C. Very unusual for this time of year. But that’s not to say the knitting gods have passed me by. No, I am on their radar.

I usually knit with fingering yarn and small needles no larger than US 5 (3.75 mm). Most needles I use are between US 1 (2.25 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm). The ones I’m using for Carbeth are US 11 (8 mm) and US 10.5 (6.5 mm) in both circular and double-pointed. The sleeves are knit on double-pointed needles. It’s like knitting with logs. Slippery logs. The double-pointed needles are especially problematic. If they are held any way other than perfectly horizontal  when not in use (and who can manage that with double-pointed needles?) the needles slip right out of the stitches. Add to the fact that the yarn is held double, which I usually avoid like I would Ebola, and I have some seriously challenging knitting going on.

I knew all this going in. It wasn’t a knit within my comfort zone. Still I wanted the sweater. It’s called masochistic knitting at it’s best. The body up to the under arm is complete. I only had to rip back 3 times when somehow I forgot to knit a double strand and knitted a single one instead.

I’ve also finished one sleeve that contains increases. How can an increase be so complicated? It’s masochistic knitting, remember? I have this obsession  thing about increases being invisible. So the increase that is truly invisible is the lifted increase. You knit into the collar of the stitch below the one on your needle. Then you knit the one on your needle. It makes a beautiful right leaning increase. For the left you do the same–sort of. You work the stitch on the needle then you go what looks like two stitches but is really just one below, knit into the collar of the stitch and you have a left leaning decrease. While my right leaning decreases were coming out okay, the left ones were not. Riiiiiiiiip! Start again. Do the same things. The left increase is still wonky. Put knitting down. Comb through knitting books for the specific increase I am doing. Finally find it verifying I am doing it as stated. Pick up knitting. Make left increase. Stop. The increase is still wonky. Wonder if knitting it through the back look would change anything. Try it. Left increase is now looking good. One problem solved.

I am working on the second sleeve now. After this I join the front, sleeve, back, sleeve together and from there I am lost. The instructions are to keep 8 stitches on hold for each sleeve and back and front. These stitches are not knitted up when the pieces are joined. They are grafted together at the end of the sweater making. I cannot envision how yarn gets from one part of the sweater to the other. Even joining other balls of yarn where these 8 stitches are will not work knitting in the round. So I am off to Ravelry to find out if anyone else had this problem and what to do about it. I have visions of the sweater being left unfinished because I can’t figure this out and my heart starts its anxious palpitations. I tell myself I will finish this sweater. I will.

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Before I started on the Carbeth sweater I had to finish these:

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock 2

They’re for The Skipper. The pattern is called Tracks and Hurdles. In high school he was a track person so I thought the pattern appropriate.

madelinetosh sock yarn knitted sock

The pattern is a multiple of 10, so it would only work with 20, 40, 60, or 80 stitches. Luckily, I was using a superwash merino, MadelineTosh Sock in Nassau Blue colorway, and I could drop down from the usual amount of stitches I’d need to 60 knowing that the stretch in both the pattern and the yarn would give The Skipper enough room to make the socks comfortable. They work perfectly.

Usually I Kitchener stitch the toes together, but this time I did a 3 needle bind off instead. So much easier! No counting. No trying to remember whether the needle goes in purlwise or knitwise or whether I just worked the same stitch twice.

So I am on to my Carbeth and as predicted, the temperature rose from 60 F / 15 C the day before I began the sweater to 90 F / 32 C on the day I cast on the sweater. Life never misses an opportunity to mess with me. Thus, for two days we’ve had 90 F / 32 C weather and I have had the beginnings of a wooly sweater in my lap along with a furry Yarn Rascal draped around my neck so he can slither down my front like a semi-solid bowl of Jell-O, ooze into my lap and land on top of my knitting. Today, surprisingly, we’re back to the 60 F / 15 C. I don’t usually catch breaks like this.

It appears we are, nonetheless, moving toward something called Summer, however hesitatingly. Dilly-Dilly and King George (a pair of robins) have nested again this summer just outside our kitchen window in the Mountain Laurel. Last year I fretted the whole time Dilly-Dilly and KG gave birth to then raised 3 baby robins. By the time the babies fledged I was ready to have a nervous breakdown in celebration. I was so sure she wasn’t feeding them enough, covering them enough, or in other words just worrying over every little thing.

This year I am trying to accept that Dilly-Dilly and KG know what they are doing. We have two antique bird baths in the Serenity Garden and KG has claimed one for himself and his lady. No other birds allowed. So the other day I decided to drive the one and one-half hours to the salvage store where I get my antique bird baths and pick up a third one so the rest of the birds don’t have to crowd into the one bird bath KG allows them. By the time I arrived home the eggs had hatched and we were seeing two bald little heads with large mouths poking up out of the nest to feed. Robins usually have 3 babies but I am working hard not to dwell on this because I will make myself crazy and I have two 88 year old parents to take care of who drive me round the bend on a regular basis. My default mode is anxiety.

New to the zoo this year is Chippy. He’s a chipmunk who does chipmunk yoga stretches in the morning on the pedestal of the sundial in the garden. Chippy had captured my heart which means I buy him organic almonds and feed him an handful or so daily. The Skipper says Chippy and his friends have dug tunnels around the house and one of these days the house is just going to sink from sight. He would like me to stop feeding Chippy. I don’t believe that a little chipmunk who does yoga will be the cause of the house sinking into the ground, but heaven knows I’ve been wrong before. Unbeknownst to The Skipper Chippy is going to be fed all summer and autumn. If the house sinks it sinks.

Also new to the zoo are two mallards, male and female who are inhabiting our pond. Hank the heron flew in the other day. When he saw the mallards he became quite indignant and flew off. Haven’t seen him since. So for all those with a heron problem forget the alligators and the 3 foot high string get a pair of mallards.



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