Monday, September 26, 2016

Debate Socks

My plan for this evening is to watch the first presidential candidate debate – available in the U.S. and globally on broadcast and cable TV, online, and even in virtual reality – and to knit debate socks. I got yarn expressly for the occasion, BMFA Super Sparkle, colorway Stars Speckled Skein. It's red, white, and blue shot with silver sparkles, and I love it.

BMFA Super Sparkle yarn, colorway Stars Speckled Skein

It's expected the debate will be both widely and closely watched in the U.S. and around the world, with TV ratings comparable to the Super Bowl, the most colossal of all U.S. sporting events,First debate and with far more profound consequences. Stock markets around the world are down in advance of the debate, reflecting concerns about the outcome. For all that, a fizzy sports rally atmosphere would seem to prevail at the site of the debate, Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY.

I'm not going to try liveblogging the debate, but such a momentous occasion calls for at least a sock update at the close of the day, and perhaps a bit of commentary. So, gentle readers, happy viewing wherever you may be or not if you so choose, and in any case see you on the other side.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Finally Fallish

It still looks much like summer roundabout Exit 151, but fallish temperatures arrived over the weekend. Suddenly my Morning Walk gauge swatch for #FallSweaterChallenge begins to have just the right amount of anticipation.

Gauge swatch

With a bit of finger-blocking, the gauge of the swatch is spot on. But rather than block the swatch properly, I'm going to tink it and cast on. While #gaugematters, as per usual I'm that worried about not having Enough Yarn. (I'm also wondering about who thought up that particular hashtag. Jeepers.)

Meanwhile, a last bit of summer goodness arrived over the weekend: my bonus yarn for completing three monthsCamp Loopy 2016 button of Camp Loopy 2016 projects (to recap, that's 3 Color Cashmere Cowl in June, Simple Straight Skirt in July, and Sabine in August). Thanks to the moderators, elves, and my fellow pirate campers, it was one of the easiest and most congenial KALs I've ever participated in, and the yarny incentive surely doesn't hurt. There was a choice of three – I selected Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock dyed in an exclusive colorway, Color in the Clouds. I love, love, love its funfetti cake speckles!

Bonus yarn

There was an unexpected additional loyalty incentive in my parcel: a Loopy Groupie drawstring project bag, Loopy Legends yarn, and sweets.

More goodies

I ordered something to keep my bonus yarn company – alas, that got mixed up, but is in the process of being set right. Still, color me a happy summer camper and (hopefully) soon to be well on my way into fall knitting.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Destination: Vest

Happy Equinox! Summer temperatures and humidity may linger, but the days are getting noticeably shorter roundabout Exit 151. With Mercury the communicator going direct, it seems only fitting to post a post.

Planetary matters are on my mind today not least because last Friday hometown hero Buzz Aldrin, resplendent in a Destination: Mars T-shirt, was in town. He was third in his class at West Point, was a fighter pilot, holds a PhD from MIT, and is one of the first humans to walk on the moon and is among the first humans to successfully complete a space walk.

Buzz Aldrin

In his honor the middle school he attended was rededicated as Buzz Aldrin Middle School. Appropriately, it's a STEM school.

Buzz Aldrin Middle School

There were many speeches and reminiscences, Buzz led a rousing (?) cheer, and the local bakeshop made astronaut cookies.

Astronaut cookies

Foolishly, I forgot to wear something suitably geeky-patriotic to the ceremony (I have a NASA T-shirt somewhere) and to bring a hat, a bottle of water, and a U.S. flag and so paid the consequences. I may have been unprepared, but others came ready. I saw one well-equipped couple using wire cutters to help themselves to the event posters fastened to the school fence! Aiya.

Woe and alas, that fun Friday segued into a nervous weekend in the NY/NJ region. The current story is a single suspect is responsible for homemade bombs that exploded Saturday morning in Seaside Park and Saturday evening in Chelsea and for a pressure cooker bomb found in Chelsea and five pipe bombs found in Elizabeth later that evening. The manhunt included an ill-advised cell phone alert and, after a shoot out and chase, the capture alive of the suspect. Most people reacted calmly and responsibly, a few not so much. The NJ beaches re-opened, life goes on – albeit a bit more nervously.

At the beginning of this month I signed up for the Fall Sweater Challenge. I assiduously read about the sponsors and how to get points,Fall Sweater Challenge button joined the FSC Ravelry group, selected a pattern, and ordered yarn. And then waited... patiently....

Sigh. Some participants started their projects in August.

It may be crystal clear to others, but I don't quite comprehend the pash of have and have-not hashtags for #FallSweaterChallenge. The hashtags are worth points and the points are worth prizes, although some things worth points don't seem to have a hashtag, and other things that have hashtags don't seem to be worth points. There were supposed to be participant numbers but somewhere along the way the participant numbers got dropped. Same thing with deadlines. Ah well, here goes.

I selected a designated designer pattern, Morning Walk vest by Becky Herrick, and joined the #MorningWalkKAL.


#ipickedyarn: My yarn arrived smelling strongly of vinegar, which made me worry the dye was not fully stable, often a problem with shades of red. So I gave it a bath to rinse out any excess dye. The yarn is #BMFA Targhee Worsted in colorway Vine Ripened Red, shown with some Jersey tomatoes for comparison.

Jersey tomatoes and yarn

One of the early stated goals of FSC was to flood Rhinebeck with FOs. Oh all right, despite my feeble launch I'll give it a go. Next steps, swatching and beyond to Destination: Vest!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Another Wrap

The month of August has fleeted away with only one blog post, backwards progress from two in July. Aiya! It's a new month, time for another wrap, verily, a wrap sweater. Behold Sabine by Julie Weisenberger, worked in Shibui Knits Linen, colorway 2032 Field. Here's the front of the cardigan.

Sabine front

As per usual with Cocoknits patterns, Sabine is well-written, enjoyable to knit, and the results are delightful. The pattern calls for Superior, a luxurious cashmere/silk/merino blend, but is equally lovely and considerably cooler in chainette Linen. I'm a sucker for out-of-the-ordinary yarn – Linen sometimes made crinkling sounds when still in the skein, but it softened considerably with handling or in humid weather. The knit fabric blocked easily and drapes beautifully. Here's a view of the back of the cardigan.

Sabine back

My only lament is how long it took to start and finish the sweater, my August Camp Loopy project. Initially I swatched and cast on for Hitofude, then realized I really want a Hitofude in a different color. I tried double-dipping with the 2016 Ravellenic Games, but was DNF, shorthand for the other frustrations of my frustrating August. At least I finished the cardi before the end of August, although I posted its photo to the Camp Loopy gallery so late, I'm still waiting to learn if it beat the September 1 deadline.

Other than that quibble (which is more about my schedule than the sweater), I'm very pleased. I wanted a transitional piece, a cardigan in a rich autumn color yet a breezy summer fiber for those fall days when the school year/program year has begun anew but the weather is still sticky. Summer clothes no longer seem to match the increased formality and tempo of the season, and heavy fall fabrics are completely unbearable. Enter Linen Sabine – perfection in cardigan form.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

July Wrap Up

July was alternately so miserably hot and so torrentially rainy and there was so much negative stuff going on off the blog that the month seemed interminably longer than usual. And then it was over without any blogging. Well, let me catch up with an interminably long wrap up post.

At first I balked at writing this and wanted to insert various qualifiers, but on reflection this year's Tour de Fleece was a success, unqualified.Tour de Fleece button I accomplished my goal of finishing a half-braid of fiber using a new-to-me technique, sampled a luscious new-to-me fiber, and spun another sample using another new-to-me technique. All cause for happiness and satisfaction, but it's only in retrospect that this has sunk in.

The half-braid of Gale's Art Polwarth, colorway Sweetness and Light, turned into 297 yds (271 m) of fractal-spun 2-ply with 63 yd (57 m) of plied-against-itself 2-ply left over. I was surprised by the way the colors of the fractal-spun aligned – there were far more sections of solid color and far fewer sections of barberpole than generally occur in random spinning. I'm curious to see how the yarn will knit up.

Finished fractal-spun and random spun

The luxurious Victory Farm Paco-Vicuña also was a surprise. I had expected the downy-feeling fiber would be difficult to spin, so spun it July 9, one of the challenge days. It turned out the lovely fiber spun so easily and beautifully the only challenge was stopping with a 12-yd (11-m) sample skein. The results remind me of baby camel – I'm going to have to rummage through my stash to find that sample skein and compare the two.

Sample skein of Paco-Vicuna

While I'm glad I tried ply on the fly and I'm pleased with the end product, I did find the three steps forward, two steps back process more time-consuming than I like. There's 52 yds (47 m) of ply on the fly and 72 yds (65 m) of ordinary 2-ply spun from Zarzuela's Fibers SW Merino, colorway Santa's Coming! pictured below. Unsurprisingly, the ply on the fly has long segments of pure color while the ordinary 2-ply has delightful barberpole effects. I do rather like the barberpole effects. Somewhat surprisingly, the POTF felt like a crepe yarn while it was getting its finishing bath, a difference I don't notice when it's dry.

Ply on the fly and 2-ply

At some point in the spinning action, the hook on my (apparently camera-shy) birdseye maple Bosworth got bent, which of course made it spin eccentrically. I was afraid I might have to send it back to Journeywheel for repairs, but was able to straighten it out with (padded) heavy pliers. Whew! I love my Bossies – the longer I spin, the more I prefer them. Indeed, while mousing around the Journeywheel website, I noticed this beauty, a 30 g pau amarillo midi...

30 g pau amarillo midi spindle

... and clicked. A new bright yellow spindle, reminiscent of the Maillot Jaune, seemed a fitting conclusion to my TdF.

Having watched the Republican National Convention, of course I watched the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Inspired by the most moving speech of the convention, I made myself a pocket U.S. Constitution. As my puny stapler can't possibly secure so many sheets of paper (mighty in thickness however small in size), I sewed the pages together.

Pocket U.S. Constitution

I also blocked and seamed my July Camp Loopy project, Simple Straight Skirt by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, knit in Cascade 220 colorway 4002 Jet. I dislike finishing, but also hate to see anything less than the full effect. In this case, mattress stitch seams.

Skirt seam

Blocking, seaming, and the addition of waistband elastic transformed the skirt from a vaguely skirt-shaped lumpy mass into an honest-to-goodness skirt that fits perfectly. What an excellent pattern – well-written and perfect results. I don't know why I've had such a mental block about knitting skirts, but now I want to Knit All the Skirts! It's too hot right now to comfortably model a wool skirt, I'll have to remember to do that when it cools down.

Skirt FO

Last but not least, another singleton sock came down from the Clothesline of Shame, Clouds by Rebecca A., worked in Regia Design Line by Kaffe Fasset, colorway 4261 Landscape Caribbean. A fun pattern and a fun yarn, it's just everything that intervened that made it take so long to finish the pair. One sock uses wrap and turn short rows, the other uses Japanese short rows.

Clouds Socks FO

Now it's on to the Ravellenic Games 2016. I needed some jollying along – the antipathy I've harbored against the Sports Event That Shall Not Be Named has only increased in two years, and the multiple hazards of the host country and my own general state of blah were formidable obstacles. Sometime this week that turned around (hence the need to wrap up July). I've joined Team Loopy 2016 and Team BBMF 2016 (rated M), and am ready for the Mass Cast on tomorrow!