A Lot of Dyeing Going On Here

I have knitting to report but before I get to that, here’s what else I’ve been doing. There has been a lot of dyeing going on around here. We will be dyeing our own yarn next month, which is what some of those boxes contain in the back ground. At the moment, however, we are working on a custom dye order for Anne Hanson of Knitspot Designs and Bare Naked Wools.

Before we proceeded with the order, I skeined some of their base to dye samples of the colors they want.

These are the results I sent. The bottom samples are actually less violet in person than they look in the picture. It is actually a silver color. After they approved which colors to use, we spent a couple days getting the dyes mixed and the yarn prepped. We also added a fourth dye pot and propane burner to gain efficiency.

We planned to dye the larger portion, the blue, first. Monday was chilly and damp but was better than Tuesday, so we got the blue yarn dyed before the bad weather started. It will be awhile before we get this fully dry though. We had to bring this all in Monday night. We’ll put it back out ASAP. The silver will get dyed later this week, if possible, but Tuesday was too cold. It makes it difficult to heat the pots and rinse when it below 40 degrees.

It would be great to get the second half of the order dyed by Thursday, if possible, because I am going to The Yarn Patch in Crossville, TN on Friday afternoon. They are hosting a trunk show with our yarns on Saturday, February, 4. I am really excited to be invited. That brings me to the knitting portion of this post. I need some knitting on the needles for the weekend because I will be hanging out all day Saturday at the shop and will want something to knit, right?

If you remember, I worked on a few ideas for shawl designs. I haven’t totally pitched the idea for the triangle one but I am not ready to commit to it yet either. So, I needed something to knit. My son expressed a desire for gloves when I was knitting the ones for Christmas gifts. This began my interim knitting project with some stashed Cascade 220.

This was a quick knit and my needles are once again empty. So, now what to knit? I decided to move on to the other idea I swatched instead. Do you remember this?

My plan is to begin this idea. I am going to knit this design in my Classic Merino Bamboo yarn. I narrowed my color choice down to these three colors: Ironstone on the left, Garnet in the middle, and Fern on the right. I am leaning towards Ironstone. What do you think?

Am I Just Wasting My Time Here?

The big question in my mind at the moment is am I just wasting my time here? I am still knitting little swatches, poring over stitch patterns, and charting them to see how they will work together. I am not sure if I have a winner yet.

This is my latest attempt. I hoped to accomplish a couple of things here. The first thing is to see how the elements I had tested in my first swatch would work out with the shaping I plan to use. This is to get the visual effect of the stitch patterns when they occur next to each other. The second thing is to figure out how the charting would work with the increases.

Here is my first swatch I knit to get a feel for the three patterns. You notice in this sample, I tried knitting garter ridges between the patterns. I didn’t like that for a couple of reasons, but mainly, it was awkward to do because all the stitch patterns begin on wrong side rows. It is more complicated to get the garter to work nicely when I change colors on the wrong side rows.

There is a theme going on with all three of the patterns I picked out. They all have slipped stitches and begin on the wrong side. I like the idea of that but it is a bit of a bugger to chart. I wonder at this point if it is worth pursuing or am I headed back to the drawing board? I have already invested quite a lot of time to get to this point and I am still not sure if I love it. I have two other rough ideas I want to explore. One will be the bottom stitch pattern from the above picture with a cable element. The other is the lace pattern from my last post.

In other news, I have finished the Cables and Lace Blanket. I wasn’t able to make it quite as large as I wanted because I ran short on yarn. It is a nice size despite that and I have been enjoying it on the chilly mornings while doing my reading with my coffee.

Do You Swatch Before You Knit?

The answer to the question “Do you swatch before you knit?” is, for myself, yes and no. I will sometimes swatch for a sweater for gauge. I will also swatch for a project if the yarn is new to me and I want to get an idea of it’s properties. When I am working on design ideas though, knitting up samples of stitch patterns is essential. I want to get familiar with the pattern; see how it looks and feels with the yarn and needles I may be using; and to work out the chart.

I am a firm convert to knitting stitch patterns with charts. Written directions are fine for verifying a charts when there is part that is confusing. Knitting from them (written directions) though is an exercise in frustration for me. I always chart lace, cables, etc. before knitting a stitch pattern if it is not already done by someone else.

Here are a few interesting stitch patterns I am working with at the moment. I charted both of them first and then started knitting some samples. I worked up both stitch patterns in two different yarn bases. The red samples are in my Classic Merino Superwash Sport in Garnet. The fingering weight samples are in my Classic Merino Bamboo in Sea Oat. I used US 5 needles on the sport samples and US 3 for the fingering weight ones.

I took both of these pictures before I blocked them. I wanted to have a record of the texture because I planned to block them as for a shawl. My initial idea was to design an asymmetrical triangle using both of the elements. After working up all four of the samples I am not sure if that is still the plan. I like both but they might end up being used in two separate designs. I also can’t decide between the bases. It’s early in the process so anything goes at this point.

I mean, just look at the post blocking pictures! It’s hard to choose between the slightly chunky texture of the sport weight and the light, silky drape of the fingering weight Merino Bamboo. I will be moving on to the next phase of swatching with the shaping and see how that works. At the same time I can determine whether combining these two elements will be a good idea or not. I share those results in my next post.

I’ll leave you with a few photos of my new pizza stone and the pizzas we made for New Year’s Eve.

Here We are Again Facing a New Year

Here we are again facing the start of a new year. I will choose to be an optimist and look for the good I hope for in the days ahead. There is always both good and bad but I find it’s healthier to focus on and be thankful for the positive and pray for strength to get through the negative. So, welcome, 2023!

I am making plans for the coming year this weekend. I have twenty festivals and a possible trunk show on the schedule. We are also ordering yarn to dye for spring/early summer shows. Jerry is busy on the lathe in the wood shop at the moment making more Darning Eggs and Nostepinnes. (Note this picture was from a few months ago, we don’t have leaves on the trees here at the moment).

I probably should be knitting some new samples for the booth soon, but for the moment I think I will finish my Cables and Lace Blanket first. I am on the last skein of yarn so it shouldn’t take much longer. I am not decided on what my next booth sample will be. I am still considering designing a shawl but we will see.

I did get all the Christmas knitting done in time.

They were very well received.

In fact one of my daughters hinted that that hat would be perfect for her to “borrow”. I volunteered to make her one to which she didn’t say no, LOL. So, I took the day after Christmas off, a well earned break I decided, and made one for her too. This is the Hot Waffles pattern again and I do highly recommend this one for a quick, fun knit.

We had a nice holiday gathering with lots of good food and presents. I am afraid that I am terrible at getting pictures while people are here. I received lots of useful and fun stuff. I picked a few out myself, which were some new large ceramic mixing bowls for bread rising and a larger pizza stone. I also got the classic Julia Child Mastering the Art of French Cooking 2 volume set. I also got a candle, framed pictures of two of my grands, handmade lotion bar and body balm made by my daughter. I love this by the way. I use it all the time.

Here’s the one thing I got that was really fun and I actually have a picture handy. It’s that Rush sticker on my window. Love!

Okay, I will close for now. It’s just three of us here tonight. I promised my 12 year old son that I would make pizza. Maybe I’ll even take a picture of my new pizza stone in action! See you soon. Happy New Year!

On This, the Longest Night of the Year

On this, the longest night of the year, my holiday preparations are in the final sprint.

The larder is stocked for festive meals. There are some lights, candles, and a tree to ward off the darkness. The presents are mostly wrapped, except for a couple items. I am still waiting on two things in the mail.

I am feeling very confident that the gift knitting will be done in time too. The Hot Waffles set is all done. It is washed and drying so that it can be wrapped tomorrow.

One of the fingerless gloves in Classic Merino Superwash Sport is finished and I am knitting in earnest on it’s mate. These are pretty big so it’s a lot of knitting for a glove, so I’d better get back to work on them.

Keep the lights burning, and the needles clicking! Remember the days start getting longer tomorrow. :-) Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

A Bit of Catching Up to Do

It looks like I have a bit of catching up to do here on the blog. My last post was before Thanksgiving when I was in Texas for the East Texas Fiber Festival. After I returned home it was full on Thanksgiving cooking and baking time. We had a nice day with all of the local family for dinner.

Festival travels are over until March so I have been using my time to refresh. I have been doing more cooking and baking. Christmas preparations are underway too. I have all the shopping done but I haven’t started package wrapping yet. I am still waiting for a few deliveries so it can all get done at once. Oh, and I am knitting a few gifts which I am pretty sure are doable in time.

The red hat, which will also have a pair of fingerless mitts to go with, is Hot Waffles by Anne Hanson. The blue will be fingerless gloves in Classic Merino Superwash Sport Sapphire. I am following the pattern in Ann Budd’s Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns.

This project wasn’t really a Christmas gift. Elijah had a old Santa hat from somewhere that was looking very worn out. He likes to wear it this time of year though so I offered to have a try at knitting a replacement. I took the measurements from the one we had and made it to match those. He said it wanted it fit loose.

I made it using some of my Classic Merino Superwash Sport in Garnet. The white was some fingering weight baby wool from stash.

With all the Christmas knitting that I have been doing, I haven’t been working on my blanket much this last week. Some progress has happened though since my last post so I’ll put up a picture just for fun.

If I don’t get another post done before the holidays, Merry Christmas!!

Greetings From the Great State of Texas

This morning I am sending you greetings from the great state of Texas. It’s been three years since I was last here and I am excited to get my booth set up today for the East Texas Fiber Festival. I am writing from my hotel room which is about a half an hour from Canton, where the venue is located. It was a long haul to get here but for a change I took my time and stretched it out over two days. It was an uneventful drive this time. We made sure to check and grease all the bearings and air up all the tires.

Due to the leisurely pace of my travels, I had a bit of knitting time at the end of my driving days to get some knitting done. As you can see I have almost finished my second Shapely Mitts. I only have to knit the ribbing at the finger end of the hand and then work the thumb section to have a completed pair.

Progress on the Cables and Lace Blanket is coming along as well. I found that I use about 23g/84 yards per each pattern repeat. What this means, which is the good news, is that I did estimated well for the yardage required to make the Medium size. The bad news is that I don’t have quite enough yarn to make that size. I started with under 1400 yards. I knew that but hoped I had over estimated enough in the pattern that it would work. Oh well, I’ll just have to leave off a repeat saving enough for the border.

I am going to cut this short and head over to the venue for booth set up. See you soon!

One More to Go and Other News

In my last post, I was in Asheville for SAFF. We had a local show the next weekend, Fiber in the Boro. Both shows went very well and we now have only one more to go, the East Texas Fiber Festival. I am looking forward to returning to this one since I haven’t been there since 2019. The festival was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. It was on the way to the festival in 2019 that my trailer broke down. One of the wheel bearings blew and I was never more glad that I have a tandem axle. It could have been much worse if it had happened with a single axle. I was very fortunate that I was less than a mile from a trailer parts supply store who was able to give me a number of a mobile mechanic who was able to get me back on my way in a few hours. After returning home safely, we replaced all the hubs and brakes on the trailer.

Anyway, on to other news. I have been enjoying the two week break from travels. We have been getting some work done, such as restocking some yarns and making more Nostepinnes and Darning Eggs.

There was also finally enough time in my schedule to get some house cleaning done that I have had on my To Do list. Jerry does a great job of keeping the place clean when I am gone, but there were a few jobs that no one had gotten around to for awhile. One of those was the cleaning the windows and curtains. I washed them all on Monday since the weather was still warm and dry. We are getting some rain today and the temperatures are supposed to drop starting tonight. No more open window days for us for awhile. I am glad I could get that task off my list before the cool spell hit. I like when the windows are all clean, especially going into the darker days of winter. It helps brighten up the indoors a bit.

There has been time in the evenings for some knitting too. I have made progress on my Cables and Lace Blanket. The second ball of yarn has been added and I have completed four pattern repeats. That means I am around 25% complete since I plan to do sixteen repeats. I weighed the current ball before beginning the 5th repeat to gauge how much yarn is used per repeat. It weighed 57g.

You may remember that in my last post I was planning to make a new pair of Shapely Mitts with a partial skein of a hand paint from my business stash? The yarn is my Classic Merino Superwash Sock yarn, but the colorway is discontinued.

I have knit one and have started the second. I normally refer tonal solids, but the occasional variegated skein is fun too.

We Are Getting Down to the End

The 2022 festival season is wrapping up. We are getting down to the end of our show schedule with only three more festivals to go. I am currently in Asheville, NC setting up the booth at SAFF (Southeast Animal Fiber Fair) which begins tomorrow. I didn’t get any booth pictures today before I covered up everything.

What I do have pictures of is my work station in my hotel room where I am doing a bit of website updating, order shipping and blog posting.

I also have some new knitting on the needles. I know that in my last post I mentioned that I was going to start another size test knit for the gansey pattern I am working on, but that didn’t happen yet. It will, but I wasn’t ready with enough numbers and info to cast that on. So instead I am test knitting the medium size in another of my patterns, Cables and Lace Blanket. I made the original sample in the small size using Organic Cotton Sport. I am using a discontinued base which I had a few skeins of un-dyed in my stash. I was in the mood to use it that way instead of dyeing it. This yarn is a sport weight merino wool that is similar to my current Classic Merino Superwash Sport, except that this one is not machine washable. I love this base. I hated to discontinue it but most people seem to prefer superwash wool. The yardage is similar so it should help me to verify if my yardage estimate in the pattern is correct. It’s a fun and relaxing pattern with enough going on to keep me interested.

Knitting only one thing at a time is my usual practice but every now and then I like variety, especially if I am not in a hurry for the current project to be finished. So I went stash diving before I left for Asheville for a second project to put in my knitting bag.

Many years ago I dyed hand painted colorways in addition to my tonal solids. I switched over to all solids several years ago, but I hung on to a few souvenir skeins from that time for myself. Here’s one of them in my Classic Merino Superwash Sock base in a colorway that I called Malignant Narcissism. It’s a Rush song title, for anyone who cares.

I will probably make a pair of Shapely Mitts from this. I can always use more of these. It’s hard to have too many pairs of finger-less mitts on hand.

A Silver Lining and a New Pair of Socks

As I reported in my last post, Hurricane Ian led to a festival cancellation, but there is always a silver lining if you are willing to look for one. If the festival had gone on as planned that would have been great, but only if it wasn’t a wash out. If that had happened though I would have been extremely challenged to get this amount of work done in the two days home I would have had. As it turned out I had four extra days, which was not totally a bad thing after all. What would make it even better is if I managed to make up those lost earnings from the one show in the five remaining, right? One can hope and I am ever hopeful.

So, I have been making good use of those extra days! We got some yarn dyed in some bases and colors that were getting a bit low on stock. In addition to that I also restocked the trailer with more yarn, swifts, darning eggs, and nostepinnes.

I got the dyeing done for New Era Fiber, which would have been put on the back burner for sure if I had only had two days home.

I also hate to get behind in book keeping chores. I am very fortunate that I was able to get all that caught up, including all my quarterly sales tax filings. I almost forgot that I needed to get the oil changed in the truck. I got that done on Monday while I was restocking the trailer. Then on Tuesday I got the groceries and even had time to wash the truck again.

The one thing I haven’t been back to work on yet is my Gansey sweater pattern. I got about 2/3’s of the directions written in the hotel last week for the size I knit. I still have a long way to go so I can see it being maybe next year before it is all written, charted, and tested. I do think I am going to start working on a test knit for one of the smaller sizes I am planning to include, but more on that next time I think.

For now, I do have a finished pair of socks to report. I have already worn them once and I love them! I did run out of yarn but I found a scrap ball from another project in a comparable color. Believe it or not it took all but about two yards even of that yarn, but I made it! The color is a little off here but as you can see the toe on the left sock is close enough don’t you think? I mean when they are in your shoes who sees the toes, right?

I am heading off to Ann Arbor tomorrow for the Fall Fiber Expo. It is supposed to be pretty chilly so all the better to wear all the hand knits!