Thursday, July 27, 2006

Progress on the shawls front

Today's post actually has pictures, thanks to my wonderful boyfriend who visited and brought his camera. Now I can prove that I really do knit and spin here!

I've made it past the trees on my Pacific Northwest Shawl. Slow and steady, I'm moving on to the sand dollars.

Here are some pictures of my latest spinning and swatching:

This is a closeup of two ply, fingering weight soy silk. This was my first attempt at getting laceweight, and my first try with soy silk, which is very similar to real silk. The result looks like seaweed to me. It is very soft, and slightly lustrous.

Top: the two ply fingering weight from above, middle: the single that made that two ply, bottom: finally, laceweight two ply.

I made swatches of each to compare.

The bottom two are only half of the swatch pattern for the Peacock Feathers Shawl, as I got tired of it once I realized the yarns weren't going to work. In this picture the yarn order is reversed. Two ply fingering weight on the bottom, too big. Singles in the middle, too small and uneven looking. Top: two ply laceweight.
The winner:
The color variegation is not too much for me, and the weight should be just right. Now I actually have to do all the rest of the spinning, and then the knitting. This will be a long project, but worth it, I hope, in the end.

It has been extremely hot here, but we are rewarded with beautiful sunsets:

This is the view from my backyard. Things like this make it a little less hard to bear when I'm missing my boy.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Some spinning

In order to distract myself from my immediate problems of employment, rent, etc., I have been doing more crafting lately, especially spinning. I bravely dove into the soy silk I bought at Web-sters, and have been working on getting laceweight out of it. So far, not a huge success. This fiber really is a dream to spin, so soft and my thread has only broken once. The colors, bright apple green, seaweed, teal, and turquoise, are delicious to watch slip through my fingers. Getting the right gauge has not been so fun.

After spinning about a half-bobbin full, I plied some and wound it off, along with some of the single. I washed it (lots of dye came out, turquoise doesn't stick well), and knit up some swatches for the Peacock Feathers Shawl, which I'm considering using it for. The problem now is that the single is a little too thin, but the two-ply is a little too thick. There is also a big difference in color. Obviously, the single preserves the color changes more clearly and with more brilliance, but I'm not sure I want my shawl to be that variegated. I rejected the Knit Picks yarn because it was too variegated, obscuring the pattern. There are still color changes in the two-ply, but they are more subtle, and I think I can handle them. So now it is back to the wheel, as I must try and get my single thinner in order to get a true laceweight two-ply. I will probably have to get more of the roving in order to have enough yarn for the shawl, but it will hopefully be worth it. I love the resulting yarn! My plying is improving, also.

I've also been working on my Pacific Northwest Shawl, in Emerald Zephyr. I finally finished the seagulls, and get to start on the trees. I like doing a shawl that changes pattern, especially as often as this one does. It should be a little less boring than the Flower Basket Shawl I just finished.

Well, back to spinning for me!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Many changes

It's been a long time since I posted on this, and I feel guilty. I have been very, very busy, though. Since my last post, I have also written and presented a thesis on Sherlock Holmes and Umberto Eco, played two orchestra concerts, graduated from college, found an apartment, moved 500 miles, and started looking for a job. Phew!

One unfortunate aspect of my move is that I no longer have access to a digital camera. When people visit me, I might be able to get pictures of my projects, but until then, this blog might be a little boring. The happy part about this move is that I finally have an LYS! This is the Web-sters in Ashland. I've already been in and bought something, so I'm working on the "Fetching" gloves from the latest Knitty, in cherry red. It's a project I won't be able to use for a while, as it's been rather hot here. However, the red is cheering me up. I recently finished another Caryl's Kerchief, but am uncertain if I like the color of the Koigu I used. I also finished Ruby Slippers Conwy sock number one, and started the second one. These are for my mom.

To live up to its name, this blog should contain content about peacocks, right? Lately peacock motifs seem to have been following me around. I found a neat article on peacocks in India in Piecework magazine's May/June 05 issue, along with a pattern for an embroidered peacock. I also was recently delighted by the book Murder, With Peacocks by Donna Andrews (and the resulting series). This is a domestic cozy that I picked from the shelf at the library because it had peacocks. I expected it to be poorly written and too "chick-lit" for my taste. To my surprise, I enjoyed it thoroughly and laughed my way through it. This is not a book to read on the sly at work!

My mind has also been brought back to the Peacock Feathers Shawl, which I started and abandoned. I was using KnitPicks alpaca silk yarn, and now utterly detest the color, which is too variegated for me. I would still like to do this shawl though, and have gone back to my original plan of using Jaggerspun Zephyr, for which I have found a cheaper source. I am afraid the shawl as written will be enormous on me, however. I read that Eunny Jang used cobweb weight yarn and size 1 needles, and still ended up with a shawl almost as big as the projected measurements. If anyone out there knows a guaranteed way to make it smaller, please let me know!