Saturday, July 31, 2010

Swatch, Swatch, Swatch and Swatch again. :)

Most people hate swatching!  If you don't know what swatching is, it's knitting or spinning a small sample of your yarn or fiber and make sure that it's the correct gauge or thickness for your project.  Gauge for those non-knitters is stitches knit per inch.  Depending on the size needle and the thickness of your yarn, your gauge changes.  Most if not all patterns have a gauge for you to get with the needles and yarn you pick for your project.  Sometimes even though you knit with the same needle size and yarn as someone else, you may knit tighter or looser and your gauge will be different.  In these cases you would have to go up a size in needle or down a size.   OK...enough education for today.  It's early for me.

I've been planning out a sweater project with some of my hand spun.  Now, I could just spin up all the fiber and then see what thickness my yarn ends up being and find a pattern that matches but instead I'm trying to spin for a certain yarn weight.  My first attempt at a spinning swatch didn't go well.  First off, I spun up too much of a swatch...I tend to do that because I get so into spinning that I forgot that I'm just doing a swatch.  Second, my singles were way too thick for what I was hoping would be a three ply.  The sweater calls for a worsted weight yarn.  This is a standard medium weight yarn.  You can read more about yarn weight standards here.  The end result of my three ply swatch was more of a Bulky weight which wouldn't work for the sweater pattern I choose.

3 ply. 2 plies of brown merino, 1 of some other fiber.  Bulky weight
So, back to the drawing board I went.  This time I sat down with my fiber and worked on spinning up the fiber the way it wanted to be spun.  I then realized that I was forcing it to be thick and it really wanted to be a lot thinner.  Now I had to decide what to do.  I did end up spinning up a lot more single of the brown merino I was working on before I said...time to swatch! 
Both swatches.
 This time I decided that I'd spin up a small and I meant small sample of the two white fibers I now am going to ply the brown up with and see if this will need to be a 3 ply or 4 ply and which I can get gauge with.  Last night, I pulled out two different white rovings I have.  I have about 3/4ths of a lb of some pretty white Corriedale and less than 1/2 a lb of Cormo.  I'm thinking of doing a single of each of these fibers with two singles of the brown merino which I have probably now a little more than 3/4s of a lb.  I'm hoping by mixing the three different fibers in my stash I will have enough fiber to yarn for a sweater.

After spinning the other singles up, I wound some of the brown onto another bobbin and did a very tiny sample of three ply.  Two brown and one of the corriedale.  I then checked it with my yarn gauge and realized it would be way too thin.  So, I did two plies of the brown, one of the corriedale, and one of the cormo.  I checked and it seemed generally to be about right.  I'm still working on getting my singles a consistent thickness so it's not really perfect but I"m ok with that.  I plied up a little more of this 4 ply and then I set the twist last night. What do you think of how it's coming out?  It's a barber pole effect. 
4 ply worsted weight. 2 plies of brown merino, 1 of corriedale, 1 of cormo.

When I got up early this morning, I pulled out my small sample and knit up a gauge swatch to see if I had reached my goal.  Surprise, Surprise to me of all people, I have!!  It's not perfect and the gauge isn't consistent through the whole swatch but on average it's 18sts/4 inch which is what the pattern calls for!  

I also pulled off a yard of my spinning swatch so I can weight it and determine if I'll have enough lbs of fiber for the yardage I need.  That is for another day because I might have Special K take it to work and use the scale at his work, a machine shop! :)  For now I feel comfortable that I can keep spinning the way I have and just work on getting my singles as consistent as I can.

Hope you guys enjoyed this sort of lesson in swatching.  I know it's a lot of babble really but I didn't sleep well last night because of a leg cramp and I'm up early on a Saturday trying not to wake up Special K who is still sleeping.  When he finally gets up, we are heading to brunch and then to Babys R Us for some registering.

Happy Spinning and Don't forget it's a good idea to always Swatch! :)

PS. I know the pictures are crappy as I'm still using my cellphone to take pictures. :)  Some day I'll get a better camera. 

Friday, July 30, 2010

Some Red and some Brown....Lots of knitting and some spinning.

I'm so glad it's Friday!  This week has felt like it dragged on forever, however, there has been lots of knitting, actually spinning, and planning for future projects.  I was able to finish another newborn hat.  This one is for my cousin's baby who is due in the next couple months. Since at this point, none of the dogs would model for me.  This is all you get.
Newborn Hat for Cousin's baby
Before starting on all this baby knitting, I had been working on some hats for Christmas present. I pulled out some stash yarn and knit using the Warm Ribbed Winter Hat pattern by Lucy H. Lee in Malabrigo Burgundy.  Since I was taking pictures for my Ravelry projects, here is the picture of the first one I finished on Jackjack.
Jackjack in Christmas Gift Hat
And then there has been spinning.  I started on Wed knitting about 15-25 minutes a day.  I even have been spinning for a little bit when I've gone home for lunch.  I'm working on some brown Merino roving that I purchased at Maryland Sheep & Wool.  It's from the processor Zeilinger Wool Co.  My goal at MDSW was to purchase fiber from some of the processors so I can see if I like their processing.  So far, I've really enjoying spinning this fiber up.  I can't decided whether it's the processing, the fact that I haven't spun in a while, or the fact that it's Merino. :) 
Progress on Merino Roving.
I'm very excited for this weekend!  Tomorrow, Special K and I are planning to head to brunch and then out to Babys R Us to start looking at things to register for.  I hope we can find a good bedding set because I haven't really seen what I'm looking for yet.  Other than that, I plan to get some crafting done, finish organizing the baby's room, and clean up the house.  I'm sure some other things will get squeezed in there but I do love weekends.

Hope everyone has a great weekend!  Happy Knitting and Spinning!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ten on Tuesday.

In an effort to blog more often, I found a fun weekly post to try out.  You can sign up over at Carole Knits.   This week’s topic: 10 Things to Do Instead of Watching TV. 

Since I tend to watch a lot of TV, I thought this was a great topic.  Reminds me that I can and often should do somethings other than sit in front of the TV and veg with my knitting or spinning.

1. Read a good book.   I love reading and when I get into a good book I pretty much have to finish it and put everything to the side to finish it.  I also stay up WAY too late!

2. Cook or Bake something new.  This has been my nesting since I got pregnant.  Poor Kenny has been forced to eat more because I am often baking something yummy or cooking something new.  I've tried a lot of fun stuff lately and got a new recipe that I'm hoping to try tonight! 

3. Take dogs for a walk.  Dogs need lots of exercise and mental stimulation.  They always can use a good walk, where they can stretch their legs and smell new smells.

4. Train dogs.  This goes along with the walking but you both can learn something fun and new.  They always can use a refresher on any tricks you've taught them.

5. Knit something complicated.  When I knit lace or something I need to focus on, I can't watch TV.

6. Listen to an Audiobook or Podcast.  This is great because it can be done while knitting, spinning, cleaning, or walking.

7. Clean!!  This is often my last choice but honestly it's something that has to get done!!

8. De-clutter or Organize a section or room in your house.  With the baby coming in Nov, we are having to re-arrange our house to make the old stash/office room the baby's room.  We are almost there!!

9. Play cards or board games.  Kenny, my family, and I love to play games!  Kenny and I will play Scrabble or Quiddler or other games.  My family loves Russian Rummy or Spades.

10. Dye some fiber or yarn!  

Hope everyone enjoyed this!!  Happy Ten on Tuesday!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Barknknit Baby news!

As I have already mentioned in the blog, we are having a baby this November!!  Our due date is Nov 29th.  We are very excited!!  Last Monday, we had our big ultrasound to check that all the body parts are there and find out the sex of the baby!!  We originally had some disagreements about if we would find out or not.  Special K did not want to find out and as a knitter I couldn't imagine not finding out. :)  In the end Special K gave in and we told the lady we'd like to know.
Baby Barknknit at 21 weeks
 As many of you probably already know, we are having a GIRL!!!  I'm really excited that baby barknknit is a girl!  I haven't started knitting for her yet but I already have picked lots of cute tops and dresses to knit!  She is healthy and it's fantastic feeling her kick throughout the day.  It's still surreal to watch my belly grow.  Here is the last belly picture I took.
Belly Pic at 20 weeks and 6 days.

Today, I'm 22 weeks.  I have a ways to go. I'll try to keep up with the blog.  I know lately I haven't podcasted or blogged but I'm working on it.  Right now we are focusing on getting the baby's room mostly done.  We have removed a lot of things from the room, including my stash and the computer.  We still have a bit to go before we are even close to being done. :)  I'll share pictures when we are.

Happy Blogging!

Knitting, knitting, and doggies!!

There has been lots of knitting!  For a couple weeks, I stopped knitting because my brain was fried!  I was working on the Moonfleet Shawl and i messed up.  After the mess brain just couldn't fix it...there it lies waiting for the day I feel like tackling the mistake.   In the meantime, I've been knitting simple ribbed or stockinette items.  I started with the Warm Ribbed Winter Hat by Lucy H. Lee.  I grabbed yarn from my stash and knit a hat and a half with some burgundy Malabrigo.  Then my sister bought yarn so I could make her one.  Here's a picture of hers.  It's made in Cascade 220 Superwash.
Tammy's warm hat.
I then realized that hey, babies are being born soon and have been born and I have not knit for them!!  So, I grabbed some other yarn from my stash and started making newborn hats using Easy Peasy Newborn Sock Hat by Keri McKiernan.  So far I've finished two and have another cast on.  The first one I finished for my cousin who had her baby last week.  It's going to be in the mail tomorrow!  Here is my sister's dog Roxy modeling it for us and yes, it has been washed before I send it.

Roxy, my sister's dog in newborn hat
Next, I knit a hat for my friend who is having her baby soon.  This was made in some fun yarn I had leftover in my stash.  I think this one is pretty cute too! I couldn't get my sister's other dog to model for me so I used Abby. :)
Abigail Grace in a newborn hat.
This weekend we increased our dog count to four...just for a week. :)  Two of my sisters and their families and my other niece are on a road trip and we are taking care of Lucky, my sister's schnauzer and Roxy, her Scottie.  They are both really cute and have little attitudes at times.   They had so much fun on Saturday, or it was just too hot on Sunday but this was them laying around the house while I was watching a movie and knitting.
Lucky and Roxy lounging.
And of course since they must be by me lately.
Abby and Jackjack taking up my couch space.
Well, there is a recap of my knitting and some cute doggie pictures!!  I'll be back with more!!  Happy Knitting!!!