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!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Another Week That Was

Another week, another tragedy. Sigh. To cheer myself up from the horror, I retreated to the pleasant fantasy that is the Tour de Fleece and attempted ply-on-the-fly...

... using a bit of leftover Zarzuela's Fibers SW Merino, colorway Santa's Coming!

Zarzuela's Fibers SW Merino, colorway Santa's Coming!

It took me a while to get used to the three steps forward, two steps back process. So far I like the result well enough, not as sure about the process. I'm going to suspend judgment and spin a bit more.

To pass the time while watching the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, I started my July Camp Loopy project, Simple Straight Skirt by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. Soon I had half a skirt. Much to my surprise, it resembled a reasonable facsimile of a skirt. I'm not sure why I should be surprised, but I am.

Half a skirt

Unhappily, the bad news just kept on coming. During the RNC I received word that a beloved friend and mentor passed away suddenly. Which officially makes this a Rough Patch. Sigh.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Week That Was

It's been a sad, sad, sad week of gun violence across the U.S. Each incident has been more dreadful than the last, culminating in the horror of a bomb robot used to kill a mass shooter who targeted police.

In difficult times, I knit. For Summer of Socks 2016 I finished By the Seine River by Dona Knits, worked in Regia Design Line Jazz Color by Erika Knight, colorway 6454 Kind of Blue. It was an easy, fun knit that really should have been finished much sooner.

By the Seine River FO

And I spin. Project 1 for the Tour de Fleece 2016 is to finish a half-braid of Gale's Art Polwarth, colorway Sweetness & Light. At the beginning of the week it looked like this.

Spindle candy

At the end of the week it looked like this. I randomly spun the first half of the braid, but fractal-spun the second half. The broad strip is on the left spindle, the thin strips are on the right spindle. I'm going to let the singles rest before plying them.

Gale's Art Polwarth fractal-spun singles

Today is one of the tough mountain stages for the TdF. Chilly llamas on the road are a possible additional hazard. I think I must spin up some of my paco-vicuña in their honor.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Prosperous Voyage

On the last day of the month my June Camp Loopy ship has safely come in: behold my 3 Color not-Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli, blocked and styled as inspired by stashmaven.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, styled

The kindly mods in the Lace Lagoon thread indicated June projects need only be done, and do not require blocking, but I have an aversion to rumpled FOs, especially rumpled lace FOs. At casa Jersey Knitter, blocking is not optional.

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, blocking

That's so much better!

The pattern is simple and well-written – an easy, straightforward, fun knit. As always for me, the challenge is finding sufficient time and motivation to knit. I opted to change the ribbing and not "correct" the jogs at the end of rounds as I find the jogs endearing, the fixes not so much. For the BO I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy BO, but on reflection I kinda wish I'd used a tubular CO and BO for something so close to the face. The interesting alpaca-cotton yarn, Manos del Uruguay Serena, shares many of the best traits of each constituent fiber. I thought it might bloom alpaca-like after washing, but instead it retained the crisp stitch definition of cotton. It should prove to be a comfortable three-season cowl when cowl season comes around.

As long as I was emulating others, I struck a pose similar to the designer's. Let me tell you, it was hot in there!

3 Color Cashmere Cowl, modeled

Suffice to say that as a fashion photog, I'm no threat to Richard Avedon, recently in the news.

Overall, I enjoyed the first month of my first year at Camp Loopy and the company of great mods and congenial fellow-campers. Initially I wasn't sure I wanted to go camping all summer, but June was so pleasant, I'm getting ready for my July project, Simple Straight Skirt by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, using Cascade 220, colorway 4002 Jet. I'm assigned to Gold Pirates.

Yarn for July Camp Loopy project

The July theme is Buried Treasure, that is, a long-queued or long-desired project. I've always wanted to knit a skirt, but somehow never have. Hopefully this is the year!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Yarn the Movie

The raffia bag is finished, except for FO photos. Remiss of me, I know, but I've been in an uncharacteristic hurry to finish the bag and take it on adventures. It went on its first adventure on Friday, to see the movie Yarn at the IFC Theater in NYC. Here's the official trailer:

I arrived a little early, so had plenty of time to take the semi-obligatory photo of the theater marquee. The theater is in NYC's Greenwich Village – if gentle readers recognize the location, you know how hard it was to get such an unobstructed shot.

IFC marquee

That accomplished, I rambled off to Washington Square Park to enjoy the nice summer afternoon. The light was lovely on the Arch, and the park was full of – dare one say thronged with? – people chilling and doing their respective things. ^ Being arch.

Washington Square Arch

Whilst I was drinking in the atmosphere, a mini Pride march went by in advance of the main event Sunday. However small it was in numbers, nonetheless it was complete with signs, banners, flags, chanting, musical instruments, singing, marchers of all shapes, sizes, and ages, and even a serendipitous rainbow in the fountain. It was fabulous. I love NYC.

Mini Pride march

I love the movie too. It's an enjoyable summer flick – light, diverting, even film-festival-y. It features self-consciously poetic narration by Barbara Kingsolver and equally lyrical images of mostly crochet works by artist-activists Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar, Olek, Tilde Björfors, and Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam. Next to seeing the various artworks and the reactions to them, I especially enjoyed seeing the various processes of construction and installation and how one large installation was frogged (zip!). I was pleased to see how generous one of the artists was in encouraging her collaborators to speak. There was scant exploration of various assertions about the boundaries between art and craft and between artistic and utilitarian, the value or devaluing of women's work, and misogyny in the world of commercial fine arts – or rather, they were presented as self-evident yet radical truths. So film-festival-y.

The Friday evening screening included Q&A with director Una Lorenzen moderated by Vogue Knitting editor Trisha Malcolm (on the left and the right in the photo below – sorry about the blur and the giant head).

Una Lorenzen and Trisha Malcolm

The session was enlivened by a disruptive appearance from the audience by Olek, who declined an invitation to come forward to speak and who (eventually) said she liked the movie. Dunno what that was about, but a whiff of controversy is so very film-festival-y! Una mentioned she'd like to make more movies about yarn artists, a wish that was warmly received. Trisha promised to post additional information on the VK Facebook page.

Overall, I'm glad I saw the movie and would recommend it. Plus it was nice to be with and to chat amiably with fellow crafters. The current screening schedule is online – hope you can make one.