Saturday, September 29, 2007

Weekend Roundup

I love the tracker thingy at the USP website. After I mail-order something, I can watch in fascination and increasing anticipation as the item slowly makes its way towards me.

I live out in the boonies. There are several different scenarios for how a UPS item reaches me.

1. The wonderful UPS people deliver it to my doorstep. This is my favorite, obviously.

2. The semi-wonderful UPS people deliver it to my mailbox. My mailbox is a few miles away, on a paved rural highway.

3. The UPS people keep it in their truck for a day or two until they get around to delivering it. They're allowed to do that kind of stuff in rural areas, apparently.

4. The silly UPS people decide that I don't exist, and put the item into limbo in some storage warehouse until I can track it down and convince them that I really do exist and my address really is valid.

Yesterday, they chose option 2. I wanted that package. So, I headed out after dark to get it.

Getting toys in the mail is so much fun.

What was in it? Nothing too major, really. A few books, on lace knitting and on braiding. A #00 (1.75mm) circular needle, which is a beast that hasn't existed until recently. The braiding books and the circular needle were the most exciting.

I might do a few book reviews later. For now, I want to read the books and think about them while I form some opinions. First impressions are important, but not always complete.

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A commenter on the Hyrna Herborgar post asked about the handspun I used.

She wrote:

"Wow, that's handspun?? That is lovely. You must spin a VERY even thread.

"I have the book but haven't knit from it yet. I did see that a lot of people are enjoying knitting the Hyrna. Maybe me too?"

Thank you for commenting, Lynda! You are my very first commenter, and I appreciate it.

Yes, it's really handspun. Yes, it's fairly even. It's not perfect, but plying and knitting hide a lot of imperfections.

I've been spinning for many years. Experience helps. I'm not sure how many miles of yarn I've spun, but it's a lot.

However, the single thing that makes the biggest difference in how even a particular yarn turns out is fiber preparation. A smooth, VM-free, nep-free, easy-drafting roving makes it easy to achieve a smooth, even yarn. Compacted, VM- and nep-filled, hard-to-draft roving makes it easy to achieve a lumpy, bumpy yarn. I like both styles of yarn.

In general, I don't bother to fight the roving. I usually spin for fun and relaxation rather than for a specific project. The easy-drafting rovings are a lot more fun to spin than crummy roving. One of the ways I've acquired experience over the years is by spinning both.

Sometimes when I dye things, I get a bit too enthusiastic with the admiration during the dyeing process. The roving can get a bit compacted (that's a euphemism for "half-felted"). Or, if roving sits in my stash, it can sometimes start to felt itself from variations in temperature and humidity. Grab bag rovings and clean-the-carder rovings (or batts) are also likely to vary in spinnability. I spin them all. Why not? Life's too short to spin utter junk, of course. But if you're having fun and like the resulting yarn, you don't have to always spin a perfectly even yarn from perfect roving.

I know that many spinners have already figured out all of the above (or have their own philosophies tempered by experience), but I thought I'd blather about it anyway.

And yes, you should knit the Hyrna Herborgar shawl. It would be a good way to dive into the wonderful world of knitting from foreign-language sources. The shawl is not very big. The chart is easy to follow. And the result looks very impressive for the amount of effort it takes. You don't want all the other lemmings to laugh at you for your excellent self-control, do you? Follow the herd! Knitting the Hyrna Herborgar shawl is much better than diving off the nearest cliff.

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After I'd been knitting for a while, I decided that my diagonal garter stitch scarf was going to end up being too long. So, I'm on the second incarnation of it. Same yarn, same needles, same basic pattern.

It's wider now. I hope my calculations about final length will be about right.

I got tired of the backwards loop increase, and I got tired of having to pay attention at the beginning and end of every other row.

So, this version is the Really Mindless Diagonal Scarf variation. There's an increase row: k1, kfb, k to end (kfb is the "knit in front and back of stitch"increase). There's a decrease row: k1, k2tog, k to end. I cast on 3 stitches, as before. I then did increase rows until the scarf was wide enough, I'm now alternating increase and decrease rows until the scarf is long enough, and then I'll do decrease rows until it's done.

I find this more satisfying as a travel project now. I'll try to take a photo this weekend to share. However, it's going to look a lot like the first one except for a slight variation in width. I still like the way diagonal garter stitch looks with this particular variegated yarn.

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I am continuing to make progress on my Lacy Cables stole/shawl. I'm close to 1/3 done, I think. I'm on the second ball of yarn. It too needs another in-progress photo. I think it looks better and better the more I do of it. The underlying stitch patterning becomes more dominant as the shawl gets bigger. It's going to look great after blocking.

I am not making much progress on my poor sweater. I'm still working on the last sleeve. However, I'm pretty sure I'm going to do a raglan yoke with a plain crew neck after sleeves and body are united.

One of the lace mailing lists is starting a KAL this weekend, of the Herbert Niebling Frosted Ferns doily pattern, which I have mentioned in some earlier posts. That will be by next doily project. My stash of #30 cotton is getting low. Either I find something when I run errands today, or I use a deep red thread for the doily.

The pattern is about 115-120 rounds. There are 6 pattern repeats per round. I'm pretty sure that one 50g ball of #30 cotton will be sufficient. I don't think one 50g ball of #20 cotton would be sufficient. If I were to knit it as a shawl, I'd probably want 900-1000 yards of sport-weight yarn. I like this pattern better as a cloth than as clothing, so I'll knit it as a doily instead of a shawl. It should keep me entertained for the next month or two.

Our cooler weather has me wanting to cast on another project or two -- maybe another hat, or some mittens, or more socks. We shall see. In the meantime, I am working on the above, interspersed with spinning. My new braid books may inspire me to drag out the maru-dai and/or braiding disk to share with everyone.

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Note to self: take photos of all items mentioned above!

How hard can it be to take a photo of a ball of yarn, after all? It doesn't move, unlike cats and squirrels. So far, though, all attempts to get a clear, in-focus photo have failed. This blog is meant to be a learning experience. I will master the art of taking photos of inanimate objects one of these days.

If my driveway photos turn out well, I'll share those, too. The aspens have decided that fall is here and thus it's time to turn yellow and drop all their leaves. Carol Lee claims that the yellow aspen leaves of fall give the best yellows from aspens (for natural dyeing). I keep meaning to test that claim. Somehow I don't think this will be the year I do it, but you never know. In any case, my driveway vista is especially pretty this week.

3 comments:

Cherizac said...

Taking pictures for my blog is the worst part of blogging! My camera sucks, the lighting sucks, and my knee hurts too much to try any interesting backgrounds, like the rose bush. But your photos have been lovely!

I'm glad you've started a blog, as I follow your comments on ST quite often. I hope you keep it up!

woolywoman said...

OH, man I love ups tracker. Thought I was the only one who kept refreshing the page, so I can watch my stuff travel to me

The Doily Underground said...

Thanks for the commiseration on taking photos! It's a challenge, that's for sure!

I'll keep working on it. Eventually I will improve.

Thanks for the general encouragement and kind words, too. I hope I'll manage to keep it up while still maintaining a reasonable presence on the mailing lists I enjoy.

And yes, I adore the UPS tracker. With my stuff, there's always a bit of uncertainty once it gets loaded onto the truck for delivery. That's when the anticipation kicks into high gear. Refreshing the page can keep me entertained for a lot longer than I should admit to. Some vendors have similar trackers, so you can see when your order moves from the warehouse to shipping, for example. Fun, fun!