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I’ve been on a knitting roll that is about to come to an abrupt end. The projects seemed to roll off my needles easily but now I am embarking on masochistic knitting projects and they won’t be flying off my needles so effortlessly.

The last of the knitting roll projects is finished.

log cabin gloves knitting free pattern

log cabin gloves knitting back side

These are a free pattern from Fringe Association called Log Cabin Mitts. They were fun to knit. The yarn is Shelter from Brooklyn Tweed in the colorways Iceberg, Tartan and Almanac. The second picture shows the front and palm of the mitt. They are sturdy and warm. The best knitting attribute is that the thumb gusset is a pleasure to work. No fiddly gusset here. I am studying the construction of the thumb gusset to see if I can adapt it to other mitts I might make in the future.

This morning I had a surprise visitor waiting for me on the back patio.

barred owl

It’s a Barred Owl. Although I have heard owls I have never seen one in the wild. This is my first. I was so happy. I snapped him with my phone camera, but wished I had my Canon camera to do him more justice. He’s a kind of cool persona. He let me come out and talk with him and he didn’t fly away or get upset. I’d love to see him again.

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I completed the first of my masochistic knitting projects.  Setzer by Brooklyn Tweed in the flannel colorway. It’s a cowl and worked in the round with short rows.

setzer cowl brooklyn tweed shelter yarn

I liked the lines of this cowl and was intrigued with doing short rows in the round. Basically anything with short rows interests me but doing it in the round would surly add to the masochistic nature of the project. And it did: wonderfully.

I ripped back a total of three times. Continually getting turned around on the second set of short rows. As I always tell myself in these circumstances: “Read the instructions carefully.” Don’t just read them and plug in your assumptions of what they are not specifically saying. Read and follow what is written and that which is not written will become clear at some point before madness strikes. It usually works out fine.

I would definitely make another one of these only I’d alter it to sit closer to the neck and allowed to be pulled over the nose and mouth if needed.

Up on the needles now are the “infernal” socks. These have been being knitted for years and are truly masochistic knitting. They don’t have short rows but the pattern of lace roses is quite the challenge. I’ve already changed the ssk to skp, and altered the way I knit the purl stitch that immediately follows the yarn over in two rows. Which means on the following rows I need to remember I did a different kind of purl stitch and need to reseat the yos all the while counting decreases and remembering what row I am on. In short, they are not mindless knitting. I have never used a life line for a sock but for this one it is a must. I couldn’t bear having to rip them back and begin again. That would be padded cell time for me.

As if all this is not enough knitting pressure I have spun and set the twist on the yarn for the knitted dress that is as small as a match stick. I am ordering the size US 000000 needles today. They are not much thicker than a sewing needle. It should be interesting.

On the spinning front I have some corriedale I want to spin into sock yarn (LOL). The difference between merino fiber and corriedale is the same as soft fluff and iron. I will be trying to figure out how to handle the corriedale and then give it a go on my spindle. In the meantime I have developed a slight hankering for a spinning wheel. Who knew a spinning wheel could cost the same as a down payment on a house? Further there is a long list of maintenance that needs to be done on a wheel where as my spindle I just pick up and twirl. I must stop eyeing spinning wheels on the computer, though one by Schacht has caught my eye. I am now going to wrestle with the corriedale.

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If you love a big cozy shawl then Sprig of Hope shawl is a must knit.

sprig of hope hand knit shawl

The lace pattern is bold enough to be visible and not  get lost amid a yarn with multiple colors in it. I used Madeline Tosh DK with size US 8 (5 mm) circular needles. The colorway is Firewood. I loved the knitting and the lace edging is simple to follow. It is a delightfully cozy shawl and I love wrapping myself up in it on cold nights.

I would like to say that the knitting gods left me alone during this knit but that would not be the truth. When I completely finished the shawl and laid it out for blocking I realized I’d dropped a stockinette stitch. How I managed this is a wonder. It should have been immediately recognizable while I was knitting. But the gods had other plans.

Wanting to impale myself on my knitting needles I ran through the other options I had.  First, my perfectionist self said let the shawl dry then rip it back the full two-thirds to where the mistake was and reknit from there. This thought stayed with me for quite awhile as I stared at the dropped stitch. It turned what was to be a relaxing day into one where my blood pressure pounded at my temples.

Next came the small voice of sanity. Fix the mistake by using a crochet needle to weave the dropped stitch up and then securely sew the free loop to the back of the shawl. It took me all of 15 minutes to do this and the mistake is not visible from the front nor is the sewing obvious in the back. Even better, it is not a weak point in the knitting. I’ve been wearing the shawl often and it is still holding strong.

The next picture has nothing to do with the shawl. It is Yarn Rascal in his holiday bow-tie.

yarn rascal in holiday bow tie

What he is staring at is The Skipper who came in to the room holding a skein of merino yarn that Yarn Rascal hadn’t molested seen yet. It was to be one of his holiday presents. Let’s just say he got that particular present early.

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For all the joys of fiber work perhaps this is the most joyous of all. Go from raw fleece to a finished knit dress all in one day! Slow down my rapidly beating fiber heart.

First start with raw fleece. In order to pick out 100%  of the absolutely best fibers for this project lay out the entire fleece on the floor in the shape of the sheep. Select a small amount of fiber that has neither too much, nor too little crimp, is neither too close to the sunburned tips, nor too close to the butt. Make sure you know the orientation of your selected bit of fiber. It should go from tips to butt without including either of those things. Remember, we only need a thimble full of fleece.

Take down a measuring cup and fill it with hot water and a tiny, tiny dab of soap. Gently swish your little bit of fiber in the water by slipping in one end. Remove. Then slip the other end in. Remove the fiber and gently wring squeeze all water out of it. Let it dry by lightly swinging it through the air.

If you are arthritic, please take your arthritis medicine now.

Once dry use either a dog or cat flicker brush and with quick wrist snapping motions open the lock of fiber. Next get out your spindle and spin 1, 200 yards (1097 meters) of very, very, very thin thread the type of which even a spider would envy. Wrap your new thread into a teeny-tiny ball.

With 000000 # needles….ooh! Don’t have those? Not to worry. Take 4 match sticks. Don’t cheat and use the long ones for lighting fireplaces. With regular match sticks and a sharp razor blade gently plane them until they are round. Carefully remove match head while doing this. These are your knitting needles.

Now you are ready to knit this dress, with waist shaping:

tiny knit dress by jessie driscoll

While I am poking fun at magazine writing above, this is an actual tiny knit dress by the talented Jessie Driscoll. The pattern, yes there is a real pattern, can be found in Ply  Magazine

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Spin the Tail of the Dog

It was bound to happen. Only a matter of time really until I caught up Yarn Rascal’s tail in my spinning fiber.

yarn rascal tail and unspun fiber

Can you tell which is the tail and which is the fiber? Yes his tail (on the right) has very nearly the same consistency as unspun merino fiber. In fact his nickname is Woolly Bear because his hair all over his body is like sheep wool in consistency. He must be brushed and combed out every day between full grooming sessions (much to his dismay).

Yarn Rascal sits right next to me hip-to-hip when I am spinning. He has earned the title of Spinning Manager. After all, everything I’ve spun so far has gone to him, so he thinks it’s his from start to finish.

While I try to keep the fiber wrapped around my wrist when spinning I don’t always succeed because I become quite hot and the hand holding the fiber starts to sweat. (If you are ever cold just wrap fiber around your wrists and neck–don’t even ask about how I know the neck thing– and you will heat up very quickly.) When my hand becomes over heated I unwrap the fiber from my wrist and let it lay by my side on top of Yarn Rascal and his tail.

Yarn Rascal is a sunny personality guy. If his eyes are open there’s a good chance his tail is wagging. Because the consistency of the fiber and his tail are so similar the fiber grabs onto it and becomes one with the tail. The first few times I didn’t catch the melding of the two quickly enough and Yarn Rascal was beside himself with delight (excessive, over-the-top tail wagging) as both the fiber and his tail raised together toward my hand to be spun. I was not over the edge with delight over this. It meant spinning was finished until I detached fiber and tail, then brushed his tail to make sure I had gotten all the fiber out of it.

In addition to spinning, I’ve just completed a large shawl that I want to rave about in my next post. I have also been knitting a cowl that I have now ripped back twice. It includes short rows in its design and I’ve gotten myself lost twice now. I think I’ve worked out how not to mess up this next time but it is starting to feel like one of my masochistic knitting projects.

Tomorrow is oral surgery so I should be out of things for the entire day.

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And so it snowed. We received 7 inches (18 cm) last night into this morning. I am a snow lover so I don’t mind at all that our first snow fall was this early. Today it is melting.

Since the weather is this chilly, I thought it might be a good time to explain the references I’ve made to my haircut. I razored the back and the sides, leaving just a small very short amount on top. I did this for a number of reasons, not the least of which are the hot flashes I get from my breast cancer medication. The hot flashes are the worse right where I shaved off most of my hair. It does help not having a lot of hair in that area of my head. I also did it because I am tired of good hair days and bad hair days and having to spend time drying and styling it. I wanted to be free of all that. Finally, at 62, I feel the freedom and the power that comes from wearing what I want and not being dictated to by fashion magazines.

Because I am the shy type (painfully so), the pictures of my hair cut are not my face. The two pictures represent what my hair looks like as I had my stylist put together a detail from each picture.

The back and sides of my head look like this picture.

hair cut 2

Yes, shaved very close like that.

The top of my head looks like this:

haircut 1

Basically the cut is wash and wear. It’s cut so that it falls right into place. But because a good portion of the head is shaved, I do need to wear hats in the colder weather. So I added to my hat collection.

The recent hat I just finished knitting is called Shear by Brooklyn Tweed knit in Arbor colorway Sashiko.

shear hat brooklyn tweed knit hat

It was a fun hat to knit and I am enjoying wearing it. Arbor is Targhee wool, not neck soft, but I really like it for this hat. The pattern and suggested wool go together perfectly.

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Knit and Spin

Things have been busy here and there are still many balls up in the air, so to speak. I caught some upper respiratory bug in September and it has made a home in the left lung which has been compromised by my mastectomy treatments. I’ve tried everything in the homeopathic line to get rid of it but nothing has worked. So today I start the antibiotics prescribed by my doctor. The doctors weren’t kidding when they said that removing lymph nodes would compromise my immune system forever and that the radiation treatments would continue to take its toll on my left lung in the long term.

On top of it all, my camera’s battery has died a seemingly permanent death and I need to find a replacement. So the following pictures were taken with my phone.

hand knitted sock

This is one of the socks I knit The Skipper just last year. I honestly believe if I were to knit socks for a bear the socks would be in better shape at the end of one year than The Skipper’s. The man is just tough on socks. He said he “really liked these socks especially the color.” I remember the yarn was Lorna’s Laces but I can’t quiet recall the colorway. Neptune? Peacock? Something like that bought many years ago. I will have to do a search on the internet.

While I am knitting (a hat for myself since I razored all my hair) I am also very deep into spinning.

hand spun merino wool yarn

The bottom skein is the very first thing I ever spun. The top skein is the latest. 112 yards (102 m) of true fingering weight yarn. Spun and plied all on my spindle. While the spinning is looking better and the drafting is going better, I have yet to put it to the ultimate test and knit it. I am going to do that with this latest skein. I am curious to know how much is biased and how much is balanced. There are areas where it was over spun and over plied, but I am hoping they evened out some during the setting of the twist.

Yarn Rascal is thrilled with the spinning. Whenever I take up the spindle he sits close besides me and watches intently. I always spin a little ball of yarn for him and he gets so delighted when I give it to him. He has quite the little stash of hand spun.

I am off to scour the internet for The Skipper’s sock color.

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