Tour de Fleece 2018

Amazingly, I have never participated in the Tour de Fleece, so I decided to go for it this year.  My goals are very modest: spin a little each day, generally with my Turkish spindle, and turn this into sock yarn:

After five days, this is what I’ve accomplished:

It’s not very impressive, but I’m on track with my goal, which is simply to spin a bit each day.  Once the cop is too big to accommodate more, I’ll pull it off and start chain-plying the yarn from the center-pull ball, like I did with the last batch of fiber.  At some point in the future, possibly by the end of the Tour de France / Tour de Fleece, I will have one or two balls of 3-ply superwash yarn with which to imagine socks.

Brand: The Fibre Studio Fifty Shades of Gradient

Fiber: 100% superwash merino

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Gradient shawl in progress

I’m ignoring the loose loopy-ness on my pink gradient shawl that I showed you a couple of days ago, assuming it will work out in the blocking, and forging on ahead with a lace design.  Here is what it looked like before I frogged some of it. The top stitch pattern didn’t look right, but I ended up with the same results again, so I have modified the stitch pattern to suit my needs.

This photo depicts one and a half lace stitch patterns here, inspired by Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, but modified from their originals to suit my stitch-count purposes.  Whenever this design turns into a pattern, I will be charting them, because as you know, knitters fall into two camps, but we ought to all be in the charted lace camp!

Do you prefer charts or written directions?

Black Devil Anglerfish

If nothing else, I continue to learn about myself as I get older.  This time, the lesson learned is that I do not think amigurumi is for me.  I have had this adorable book for NINE YEARS and never knitted anything – though there is still hope that I will take up amigurumi needles again to create toys for children in my life.  Maybe.

To force myself to experiment, I signed up for a swap that gave me a long lead time, but true to form, I started the project mere days before the deadline.

This lady is truly formidable.  I am fascinated by the creatures we cannot see and have been flabbergasted by the things I have been able to see when I have gone diving.  It will never approach the apparent ferocity and cold-heartedness of this creature, though, who lures in her prey and temporarily allows a parasitic male into her life, only to completely absorb him and his complementary reproductive functions.  My version is roughly the same size as the real one pictured here.

The pattern was detailed and flawless.  I’m not sure I can claim the same about the execution.

What do you think about amigurumi?

Pattern: Deep Sea Anglerfish

Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (Azule) and Knitpicks Stroll (Train Station and Pearlescent)

Ravelry project page: Black Devil Anglerfish

Frogging blues

I got into a gradient groove and pulled out my “Xenon” colorway of Freia Ombre Lace, which I loved when I knitted the Dew Drops Shawl a couple of years ago.

The idea I had was to use the construction of my Lunar Eclipse shawl to make a laceweight version, and with this yardage, I would have a larger product and more options to develop a wider edging.  But this yarn does not want to be a garter stitch crescent shawl.

It turns out that the method I used for increasing, which doesn’t include adding any give at the ends of the rows, works in a heavier weight smaller shawl to create that crescent shape.  But when I tried to add a number of additional rows, given this yarn is three times the length (or more) of previous versions, the inner curve becomes too circular.

Maybe this is an interesting design element to explore, but it wasn’t working for me, so I frogged the shawl.  I think I have frogged it three times so far.

So I switched to a traditional triangular shawl construction that I plan to knit in stockinette with a lace edging.  When I worked the Dew Drops Shawl, I had no problems with the final result, having used the prescribed method* for adding yarn give on the edge so there isn’t unnecessary pull fighting with the shape when blocking.

This time around, though, the result seems to be extra loose and loopy.

This needle is a size up from the one I used before, but the result should still be proportional.  Over the weekend, I pulled my needle out of this false start, but then I reconsidered, picked up the stitches again, and for now I am plugging along.

What will this shawl’s fate be?  Uncertain so far.  I’d like to add my own lace edging and pop out another pattern.

*The secret is using a yarnover at the beginning of every row, then dropping it before working the remaining stitches.

What is your go-to shawl construction?

I’m lichen it!

I come from a family of punsters, so even though I probably could help myself, I shamelessly choose not to.

This project didn’t even last me until the true start of my vacation.  I finished it as I was stepping off the plane in Porto, since as is typical for me, I stayed awake through three movies instead of going to sleep.

(I mean come on, it’s only a six-hour flight, which is barely enough time to get settled and fed and watch some media before they want you to eat breakfast! I usually do the less than smart thing and stay awake until the last 30 minutes of my trans-Atlantic flights.)

This time around, after frogging my first attempt and deciding to orient the colors in the opposite direction, I achieved the intended result.  [Blocking still needed…]

Pattern: Lunar Eclipse

Yarn: Freia Ombre Sport

Colorway: Lichen

Ravelry project page: Lichen

Notes: I pushed the envelope to get the most out of this gradient yarn as I could, so I added four or five ridges on to the written pattern instructions before beginning the initial edging triangle.

Lunar Eclipse

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the release of my Lunar Eclipse pattern!  It is exciting to have designed something that over 850 people favorited, and almost 800 people have downloaded.  I know there aren’t many FOs up on Ravelry, but the pattern is out there.

This week I picked up a ball of Freia Ombre Sport from my stash pile and asked myself why I hadn’t knitted with it yet.  A while back, I knitted this shawl and had wanted to do it in the Lichen colorway, but it wasn’t available.  I love the South Beach colorway as well, but Lichen was speaking to me, so I purchased the sport weight and let it marinate in my stash for a while.

Having knit this yarn up into Lunar Eclipse a couple times already, it may seem silly to do another one, but it is so quick and fun!  This time, I had to follow my own instructions, since it has been a couple of years since I designed it.  That was an interesting experience to be sure, finding out whether I understand my own instructions.  So far, so good.

The Brisket Cable has been neglected in my versions of this scarf so far, so this time I’m making sure to include it.

Three-ply yarn from my Turkish spindle

I’ve been playing with this Turkish spindle since last October, when I picked it up at the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair (SAFF).  A friend turned me on to it, and I purchased one right after she did – I loved the feel of it, and the light weight, plus the magic of disassembly that leaves me with a center-pull ball at the end.

I was happily spinning away when I realized I had never learned to chain-ply properly.  In the midst of my research, I discovered a video explaining how to spin and chain-ply at the same time (well, almost – spin a segment, chain-ply, then wind your yarn on, then spin again …), but this is a next step, as I had already developed a medium-sized cop.  (I also consulted this Abby Franquemont / Interweave video on Turkish spindle spinning in general.)

The fiber origin is a bit of a mystery, but feels like a not-too-crimpy plain old wool: no merino, silk, or other additives.  I acquired it at a fiber guild auction at which some of the members were working to re-home and divest a large fiber supply of a woman that had passed away.  The only note was the total weight of the fiber.

The single is S-spun and (therefore!) the 3-ply is Z-spun.

Final result (so far – I have 7.5oz of the stuff) is 49g of worsted-weight three-ply yarn that looks good enough to me!

This morning, I started another batch, and it took me around an hour to spin 7g.  Over the weekend I spent 1+ hours plying.  So an almost-50g ball requires around 8 hours of work to complete.

Fun sock yarn!

Every once in a while I think I’m going to start blogging again. Life has been happening and really getting in the way. But I’m hoping that now, being relatively settled again, back in the US but in a new location, it will be a good time to dig in to this blogging thing that I enjoyed so much for many years.

I’ve been posting over on Instagram semi-regularly, and I know people love the visuals, so that’s what I’ll focus on here for now. There isn’t a cross posting option, so if you want to follow me here, I recommend you do it through WordPress or whatever your blog reading platform is. On Instagram my handle is @heatherknots.

On to the pretty picture portion of the show! This is my fun mindless knit of the moment – Sock #1 of my Pairfect set with a Regis yarn collaboration with Arne and Carlos.

I’m a tiny bit worried my foot is too long for this yarn to accommodate my toes… but, updates to follow!

You can see that I used a heel flap construction. The main reason I don’t use whatever method pictures on the label is that the circumference of my heel around to the front of my foot/ankle along that diagonal is quite large and, being risk-averse, I wanted to ensure my foot will make it into the sock when it’s finished!

Other construction notes: I cast on 78st on #1US needles. I began with 72 maybe, but the pattern didn’t work out. The ribbing is 72st, since I only ripped back to the beginning of the stockinette. Generally I will also decrease further for the foot to fewer stitches than for the leg, since my feet are more slender than my calves. So the foot will be only 64 st.

America. We Need To Talk.

This past week I intended to parade more photos of blocked finished objects on the blog.  Instead, I spent the week mourning the deaths of citizens and police officers.  I’ve had to take a break from Facebook and only visit in short periods, preferring the eye candy of Instagram, after the first three days or so of responses.

My take on all of this is, America, We Need To Talk.  Seriously.  We need a literal or figurative Coming To Jesus about this issue of racial violence perpetrated by the State, and the perceived need for retaliation.

Can we acknowledge that despite our country being birthed in a spirit of Some Animals Are Created More Equal Than Others (according to George Orwell), the time has come to move past this premise?  Can we acknowledge that many of the current laws, law enforcement cultural conditioning and assumptions were birthed in a time when slavery was not long past and women may or may not have yet won the vote?  These assumptions are outdated, but they survive.

Can we acknowledge that we as a society are divided and wounded, and that it will take deep cuts to reach the poison, but that this is the only way to heal?

If we cannot acknowledge, and believe it when we say it, that we do not yet live in a post-racial society, that the echoes of a history of slavery still reverberate, that people are still afraid, which is irrational, so difficult to counter, and yet unwarranted, then we cannot move forward.  If we cannot look at the cold, hard, facts and say This is Unjust: the disproportionate police stops, frisks, imprisonments, and deaths of people of color; if we cannot know and understand that laws governing drug arrests and sentencing were born out of racial stereotypes and perceived threat to white women (property of white men), and stand up and say This is Unjust; then we are destined to fail as a society.  We are destined to fail to heal, fail to understand, fail to excise the poison, and fail to thrive.

I am tired on behalf of all of us that have ever felt the need to protect the feelings of someone more privileged in society, be it based on gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, or wielding of financial and political power.  I am tired of protecting the privilege of those that have always had more power.  I am thankful for white male allies that do not accept the current patriarchy as the only possible paradigm.  But I am also tired of the surprise each time some horrific event transpires (or some event that turns into three – or more – awful national events in one week) and the cycle of acceptance and exhaustion that leads us to ultimately tune out and attempt to move on.  I’m tired of the nay-sayers of white fragility that have chosen not to develop the compassion necessary to be shocked when they learn of others’ experiences, and due to discomfort or perceived threat choose instead to silence the other.

The fact is, nothing has truly changed if we only react with a sad-face on Facebook.  The most important communications I’ve seen this past week have been the lists of concrete actions we can take to change the manner in which law enforcement is implemented in our local communities.

And – we need to have more discussions about the underpinnings of our laws.  Is it still assumed that black men consume coke and, on it, are a threat to white women (property of white men)?  Is it assumed that Mexican men consume an outsized quantity of marijuana and (see last sentence)?  Is the law still on the books in the state of Ohio, for example, that assumes women are the property of some male family member by categorizing rape under property law and damaged goods?  Is it still legal in Texas for a man to rape his wife?

We need to talk about colonialism.  We need to talk about slavery.  We cannot look at the current state of our society, from either the perspective of the minority or that of the privileged, and say this has not influenced our thinking, our behavior, the very assumptions upon which our laws are built.  We are not “colorblind.”  We are not “post-racial.”  We need to decide whether we care about our neighbors, about violence in our communities, about what it means to continue to tacitly permit extrajudicial beatings and killings in a country whose privileged masses collectively think we are the greatest democracy in the world.

When we hear the slogan, “Make America Great Again,” it should not engender a vision of the antebellum South in which white men had the weapons and wielded them over their women, children, and slaves.  It ought to be a phrase that begs a vision of a freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all, as it says in our Declaration of Independence. We ought to assume at this stage that “all men” refers to all humans, and reassert that the purpose of government is to protect our “unalienable rights.”  Let us recommit to that ideal, while understanding that the road is long, the night dark, the struggle has not ended, but that so long as any of us is in virtual or actual shackles, none of us is truly free or safe.

Happy July 4th!

  1. Pendant Stole
  2. Garden Shawl
  3. Fountain Pen Shawl

 

I don’t have anything special planned for today, and it has been a particularly wet weekend here, so I haven’t joined any of the community outdoor activities either.

But I began watching the “John Adams” miniseries, and while I don’t often feel particularly patriotic, the luxury of living in a free nation I suppose, it makes a big difference to watch a version of history that makes it real.  I feel more connected when I can connect to historical figures through their characters as they are represented on the screen, and to understand the reality of their daily circumstances in the months and years leading up to independence from Britain.

Of course, every account, especially one presented on the screen, is biased and fictionalized to some extent, but I believe that we can learn a lot from fiction, too, and many fiction writers write to teach and to convey a message.  In this case, it is to understand in a way that allows me to put myself in the shoes of some of these historical figures the reasons that they needed to express in a document the truths they held to be self-evident.

Having lived in countries in which people are less free, I know the struggle is important.  In this day and age, we as Americans are still struggling to ensure that these truths, about the rights of humans, that our forefathers held to be self-evident, are manifested in each citizen’s reality, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

So it seems a little disingenuous to me to say “Happy” July 4th, but perhaps “July 4th observed and the struggle continued” is more appropriate to echo my sentiments.  Not as catchy, I realize…

Are you celebrating the 4th?  How are you connecting with the historical significance of the day?