Month: November 2010

great fiber no buy: day 14- hitting a slump

I have been knitting! I have not been spinning! I have not been working on christmas presents! But I have been knitting!

This is actually something of a Big Deal for Me.

I have SAD, which starts kicking in around mid-November. I find myself starting to slow down and wanting to just…give up for awhile. Nothing too radical, but just…stopping. Just sort of…let life happen to me. I really don’t have energy to do much of anything other than mindlessly stare at a computer screen and brood.

Unfortunately the socks that I’m working on right now don’t really fit either Mid or myself. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them in the end. I can wear them, just not well. Mid can’t get them over his heel at all. I might gift them on holiday wishes, I haven’t decided yet.

I have a bunch of pictures to post later. I’ll do that either tonight after work or tomorrow.

great fiber no buy: day 11- resolutions

there was a meme going around ravelry that i think that was fairly cool. it was your 2011 fiber based resolutions for the year.

i’m not sure that i view this list as being resolutions so much as goals, but i think that it’s a good idea to have a plan of attack on paper. i’m going to be starting from tomorrow, but since it’s already the end of november i think that it’s close enough to 2011 to count.

so here it goes:

– knit 10 items off of my queu

i currently have 529 patterns on my ravelry cue. the vast majority of them are free patterns. actually knit 10 items off of that queu

-finish processing and spinning one of the two fleeces.

i have one and a half babydoll fleeces sitting in my hallway. i have to get them processed.

-learn how to wheel spin

-clear out one bin of yarn.

mailings through holiday wishes counts towards this goal

accomplished 1/1/2011

-the chili boy challenge

mid is referred to as chili boy on ravelry, and he has requested 11 pairs of socks. that’s not that much if you think about it from the perspective that it’s 1 pair of socks a month.

1/11 completed.

– knit 6 charity projects

– knit a project a month for myself


– fill my trade page

– improve my spinning

yes. that’s vague. i know.

great fiber no buy: day 10-accomplishment

happy belated thanksgiving to my american readers! we somehow ended up with 5 invites to dinner, as well as the normal nonsense that goes into my holidays (i’m fairly certain my full name is fluffy drama shaw). but it was a good day, for the most part.

i managed to finish mid’s socks yesterday while at a dinner. the weird thing is, the pattern is fairly straightforward (they’re an easy knit), they’re fairly attractive, and they’re a fairly fast knit- but my project makes #3 on ravelry, including the design project. i don’t get it. they’re not going to be my fallback sock pattern but they fit mid well, and he LOVES them.

he in fact loves them so much that he has demanded 11 more pairs (because his socks come in bags of 12).

i’m going to be knitting awhile.

great fiber no buy: day 8- vacation

day 2 in the life of a sock

here’s another blurry camera pic of the second sock. i actually managed to get a fair bit of it knit yesterday. i’m actually quite surprised how much i got done, this one is going a lot faster than the first.


i got hired into a permanent position with my firm at the end of august. i had been working as a long term temp for about a year, and there was a chance to go temp-to-perm this summer. one of the perks of working for the multinational that i work for is a rather healthy amount of vacation time, of which we are expected to take as much as possible by the end of the year. i was then faced with (the rather envious, i suppose) the problem of finding ways of using up the four days i had to take by the end of december.

i took today off on a whim. i don’t travel for thanksgiving, and i don’t need black friday for anything other than wanting a long weekend. i took a shot on today and got it.

and well, frankly, i needed the day off. there’s been a rather intense tension pain going on between my shoulder blades for about a month now, and i’m just about burned out on life in general.

so today has been a rather laid back day in general. i slept late, worked on the sock, ran some errands, and have started cleaning my room (my room, it’s horrible. it’s something out of resident evil. i expect to find zombies hiding in the corners when i move something).

be good to yourself, readers. this is the beginning of what can be one of the most stressful times of year for a lot of people.

great fiber no buy: day 7- the sock issue.

one week down!

apparently my mom bought me roughly 14 ounces of alpaca at the show that she went to. it’s very odd, the area that i grew up in is becoming something of an indie dyer region. i guess it’s good for raising fiber producing animals- the weather is good, the grass is good, and it’s already heavily agricultural based. i’m not complaining since it means that i’m finding a lot more local producers, but it still strikes me as a little weird to go into, say, and etsy shop and see names that i recognize.

day one-birth of a sock

blogs are better with pictures, and i finaly discovered how to use the camera on my phone this afternoon while i was starbucks before work. congratulations,  have an akward picture of my leg.

mid has been very excited about his new socks, which could work out to be an weird situation for me.

here’s the thing. socks are great, but i have a love/hate relationship with handknit socks.

on the plus side:

-the patterns are, at their most basic, fairly straightforward. while there’s a ton of ways to make heels and different toe shapings, the basic shape remains the same from sock to sock. at the truly most basic, a large enough tube will function as a perfectly good sock.

-they’re small enough to be portable.

-socks require so little yarn that even the most expensive sock yarns aren’t that much of a budget hit.

-they’re fairly low stress knits.

-they can last forever- i have a pair kicking around


-i just find them boring. i can’t get into them. they’re just not all that exciting. i’m much rather work lace

-sock yarn….i know that there are plenty of sock yarn dyers on etsy that do some really pretty stuff (i love this) but there’s a lot of really ugly sock  yarn out there. i sometimes think that companies just stick the ends of dye pots together and see what happens. i remember the rise of the self patterning sock yarn, and i’ve never really understood it. i like the idea of self patterning yarn, i just wish someone would do it in pretty colors.

-they’re mindless. i’m not big on mindless knits, not for entire projects at least.

-people always want socks. i never have people ask for sweaters. it’s a weird con.

-they feel like they take forever. for such a small project, they just drag, and drag and drag…

i admittedly have a very weird relationship with socks. i’d much rather work lace on small needles than socks, but socks are admittedly much more useful in day to day life…

Great Fiber No Buy: Day 6- it’s not my fault!

an early post, but relevant.

my mom apparently went out and bought me two bags of alpaca roving (yes, bags. i have no idea what size bag we’re talking about, i’m guessing anywhere between four ounces total to a pound, knowing how she buys wool) and a new spindle.

so while my diet has been broken, i’m also not the one to do it…

Great Fiber No Buy: Day 5- Knitcore


sunday is my free knitting day. i work on whatever project i feel like. today was my 1426 socks. i’m up to the gusset of the first sock, but i’m going to swap out for another gusset. i think i know what she’s trying to tell me to do, but i have a gusset i like just as much that wouldn’t require as much fiddling as she’s trying to get me to do.

current pattern modifications: 11 gusset dec rows (presuming that your gusset is 16 or 17 sts deep, then you work 10 rws, which makes a gusset of 19 sts deep the way the pattern is current knitted 11 gusset dec rows).

every four st increase in the width of the sock is calling for an increase of 4 rws to the foot length, so for an average male sock of 76 sts then i should aim for 56 rws, give or take (68 sts = 48 rws).

gusset directions: “Starting at center back of heel, work across first needle to last 3 sts. K2tog, K1. On needle 2, work across evenly. On needle 3, K1, Sl1, K1, psso,
then work across to the end of the needle. You should be back at the center back of the heel.
Next round: work even.”

(in case you’re wondering, this is the basic sock generator that i use, and have used for close to 10 years).


I’ve been going to a new knitting circle for three weeks now. this is something of an event for me. i’m not very good with meeting new people (imagine that). but i really needed a new/expanded social circle- i like most of mid’s friends well enough, but at the same time, they’re his friends and most of our interests don’t overlap. for example, i have absolutely no interest in fire dancing, drinking homebrew, or hula hooping.

it’s been going well enough. it takes me 3 or 4 times of hanging out with a group to get a really good feel about whether or not i’ll return on a regular basis. there are some issues- they really hate acrylic. i work with it just fine, and have problems with ‘fiber snobs’. however, i’m also aware that my issue with fiber snobs is intense enough that i’m almost a snob in the opposite direction. however, i seem to be meshing well enough, or at least, as well as i can. i have a rather dominant personality (what i’m trying to say, delicately, is that i’m well aware that i can be an ass) and it can get worse when i’m in new social situations.

but i haven’t gotten the cold shoulder, entirely at least, and there are some people that i like enough to outweigh any negative impressions i get from other people. and it’s like a line from a poem i’m found of, everyone has their own stories to tell.

mid likes it because it’s at a coffee bar in a part of town that he’s fond of, and he likes the coffee bar. i like the barristas, and i like the coffee (it’s actually the brand i used to sell at perk’s). i go and i spin, and i knit socks. i have also taken up a habit of waving at the people who stare at me through the window like i’m some new exhibit at the zoo.

Great Fiber No Buy, Day 4: Foiled!


-green shawl- got 1/2 an hour knitted. this project is really starting to bore me. the colors are too alike, but the other greens in my stash are too different. in some cases that wouldn’t bother me, but right now the thought of mint green and forest green together just makes me cringe.

-pumpkin- 45 min. about halfway through. i’m about done with the first set of pumpkin colored roving, and i have the first two sets of singles spun and plyed.

-valkyrie vest- 1/2 hour.

-smoke- 1/2 hour. so much faster now that i’m splitting the roving.

-plying- 1/2 hour. started plying last month’s worth of smoke singles.

-1426-1 hour. up to rw 10 of the heel of the first sock.


i tried to go buy a new spindle at the one store that’s easily accessed in the area that carries spinning supplies, and discovered that they had sold all of their spindles. all of them. the place was pretty busy, which was a good thing i guess. i’m definitely not accussing of lying, but at the same time, there were people there holding spindles and getting first lessons, but the woman told me that all the spindles were gone earlier during the week. i vaguely remember hearing that they were teaching a spinning class requiring pre-registration though, so it’s probably not all doom and gloom like i’m thinking it is. i’m just in a less than pleasant mood to begin with.

it doesn’t really help my mood though. this was the first real test of my no-buy. i did walk out of there empty handed (and after a minor faux pas, i did tell someone where else to buy a product that the store didn’t have, in front of the owner. not good form, but sometimes you have to ask yourself, how much do you really care if every time you go there is an akward situation). but now mid doesn’t want me to get a spindle off line (gods, i don’t know why. i can’t figure it out) and wants me to go back in two weeks in hopes that they have spindles. i  may just order the stupid thing anyway. she did tell me how she thinks i can fix my ashford but i’m not sure it’s worth my trouble for a student spindle that i’ve gotten a lot of use out of.

the great fiber no buy: day 3- on call

today’s projects:

-1426 socks- i’m almost up to the heel of the first sock (i know, i said that yesterday). i’m about a half inch off and then i can start turning the heel. the significance here is that i’ve been skipping this project while i’m at home because it’s my ‘travel’ project the way that the purple roving is my ‘travel’ spinning.

– purple roving- the first skein of wool is currently soaking overnight, and will be thwacked and hung tomorrow. i got about 64 yards out of about 3/4 of the first ply ball. i need to decide what i’ll work  on plying next- continue plying the purple singles that i have spun or move onto starting to ply smoke.

-smoke-i got very little of this spun but it’s kind of like the socks, the fact is that i got anything done at all. it’s 8 oz of an alpaca/shetland blend (called smoke) that i’m spinning as thin as possible to get as much yardage as possible and then n-plying. this one will be either a vest or a shawl depending on yardage. part of me hopes to get enough to do the christmas lights shawl but i think that’s a pipe dream.

valkyrie vest– another quasi-neglected project. it’s a fun knit once i figured out what the charts were trying to tell me (as much as people claim that it’s easier to visualize a knitting pattern from a chart, i actually find it easier to grasp written directions). i got about half a decrease rep done. i’m about 85% done with the back.

-pumpkin- another pre-named project. pumpkin’s one of those projects that you either hate or you love. it was a kit that my mom brought back from rhinebeck one year containing acidic shades of pumpkin orange and green, cream, and a chocolate brown. i got about half way through the kit before giving up. i spun part of it up as a 3 ply, which may end up overdyed as part of my junk project (more on that later), and i’m currently practicing/attempting cable plying with the rest. it’s the project that will never die.

I Really Hate Being on Call

on paper it looks like i got a ton of stuff done, especially when you consider that i also did some errands, and worked. it’s the working that was…problematic. not to get into the boring aspects of my job but my schedule is not as set as it looked on paper. a good chunk of my day consisted of calling in to see what time i got to go in. the upside of this is that it gave me the amount of time that i normally get on the weekends to knit and spin, which i took to its full advantage.

i did make some headway into the whole, make the yarn disappear bit. i’m active every year on holiday wishes, and this year the two big themes seem to be bpal and knitting materials/yarn. i’m giving away any handspun that doesn’t have a set project in mind for it once it’s finished. it’s not as good as knitting and it’s not helping me with family christmas presents but it’s out of the house regardless.

spinning is so much easier when you don’t make it harder on yourself. really. this is something that i’m figuring out now. someone told me once that there’s no wrong way to spin as long as you’re producing something vaguely yarn shaped and you’re happy with it. i think they were thinking about someone with a higher mental capacity than myself, or a better grasp on the obvious.

if the braid is not spinning well because you’re drafting too much wool…then don’t draft too much wool. apparently i’ve been using my braids wrong since i started spinning and never figured this out until now. i would get clogs in the wool where the twist entered the drafting zone and i would then get bumps in the yarn. it’s great for atmosphere and the lovely ‘i don’t really know what i’m doing but i’m going to call it art’ effect, but i’m trying my damnedest to actuallly improve my skill set.

did you know…there’s no law that says you can’t split your braid? you can actually pre-draft a little and still, gasp, call yourself a decent spinner? did you further know that this can actually help to produce a smoother, stronger yarn without so many ‘artistic’ moments?

the things you discover, truly.