Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Not in Focus

Today is being one of those days. You know, where you want to get certain things done but just can't stay in focus. I flit from project to project.

A general observation: Spinning very slippery laceweight alpaca feels very different from spinning somewhat grabby thick-and-thin Aran-weight Icelandic wool. Like duh, right? The other spinning project is a spongy, sproingy, short-staple wool which is a fairly fine single and will end up being a jumper-weight 2-ply.


I spent a few minutes rummaging through the stash looking for a doilyghan-suitable pile of yarn. And I found something! It's an old thrift store purchase, a single-ply worsted-weight wool/viscose mix in an off-white.

Some people get lucky with their thrift store finds. I usually don't. The worst was that cone of dusty wool yarn. Two weeks later, it became obvious that it was infested with moths. That turned out to be an expensive purchase. Usually, I find overpriced oddballs and odd-smelling partial balls of Knit-Cro-Sheen in ugly variegated colors, or mis-matched and incomplete sets of dpn's. I don't bother buying those.

The wool/viscose yarn was one of my better buys. But that's not saying much. It was bagged up in the thrift store, so I couldn't inspect it as closely as I wanted. When I got it home, I saw that all the wool was balled up. That's OK. Except that all the balls are two-stranded. Well, I guess I can live with that, because it would be a pain to separate them back into individual yarn strands.

I used the yarn to knit an Elizabeth Zimmermann Ribwarmer vest. In the middle of the project, it also became apparent that I was dealing with at least two different dyelots. Ugh. I finished the ribwarmer because I wanted the experience of doing it. I've never worn it in public -- it needs a dip in a dye bath at the very least. If I were being realistic (and someday I will be), it really needs to be returned to its primal yarn state.

The ribwarmer pattern is a lot of fun and deserves to be knit again in a decent yarn someday.

Anyway, there's still plenty of this thrift store wool/viscose left. I think it will get turned into a doilyghan experiment. I am rationalizing to myself that different dyelots won't look quite as awful when they're concentric circles of varying widths. If I dye it afterwards, it will still look good.

If I were feeling very virtuous, I'd skein the yarn and dye it before I knit with it. I am not feeling virtuous. I'd love to get this yarn out of my stash and made into something I'm willing to live with.

I'm going to do Marianne Kinzel's Azalea pattern. I'll let y'all know how it goes. With photos. Even if it's barfomatic.

The next time I'm near a decent yarn store, I clearly need to add a few basics to my yarn stash. Or the next time I place a mail-order with an internet fiber company. What I'd really like to use for a doilyghan is something like Jaggerspun's 3/8 heather yarn. Brown Sheep's wool/mohair single ply yarn is another possibility. I also need some laceweight yarn for a planned doily-to-shawl conversion project.


As usual, rummaging through my stash leads me to rediscover all kinds of interesting things. I've used most of the large batches of stuff. Most of what's left are smaller batches, impulse purchases and oddballs and leftovers.

I enjoy knitting socks, mittens, hats, etc., from these small quantities. I'll often use two strands. It makes for faster knitting, it makes a small quantity of yarn go a bit farther, and it's a great way to experiment with color/texture/etc. mixing.

The unspun fiber is equally inspiring. I have several large batches and a lot of smaller batches, including a lot of stuff I've dyed with friends. Note to self: spin more, and spin faster!


My lacy cables shawl continues to grow. I am still enjoying it. Soon I'll get to the obsessed stage. When that happens, everything else gets dropped and I work exclusively and obsessively on that one project until it's finished. I'm looking forward to that. There are several projects I'd like to drop into the "shawl" slot.

Scarf, sweater, and doily all continue to progress in fits and starts. The scarf and sweater are perfect for no-focus knitting. Pick it up, knit a few minutes, put it down, go do something else. The doily takes more commitment, since I hate putting it down in the middle of a round.

It's a cute doily so far. I like the way Niebling developed the leaf motifs on this pattern. He uses 4 yarnovers in the middle of the leaf to represent the midrib of the leaf. Two are structural; they cause the leaf to grow in width. The other two are decorative. They are balanced by decreases at the edge of the leaf. The leaf edges are nicely defined by the decrease lines. Having the yarnovers offset from the decreases causes the stitches to bias, another deliberate and decorative effect.

When the leaf is wide enough, two of the yarnovers drop out. The appearance of the leaf doesn't change much now that the yarnovers are balanced by the decreases. Finally, all the yarnovers stop, and the decreases then reduce the leaf stitches to the center tip. There are extra decreases along the sides of the leaf every now and then. They make little serrated points, which is Niebling's way of trying to make the leaf resemble an actual oak leaf.


I think I'm going back to play in the stash and flit from project to project. Maybe I'll cast on for the Azalea lap blanket. Maybe I'll see if one of my medium-sized batches of yarn is suitable for a proper Elizabeth Zimmermann Ribwarmer. Maybe I'll get bored with that and write up my wrister pattern. Or take photos of the Mommes Lysedug that I did as a small shawl and lap blanket.

It's one of those days. Not in focus.

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