Tuesday, February 22, 2005

This week so far...

I got up Sunday feeling like playing around in some wool, so I pulled out a Suffolk fleece I bought a year or two back (lovely fiber, fine and springy). I went through, pulled a pound-plus of the prime wool, and washed it - beautiful bright white. So I got out the Wilton cake dyes and vinegar and started microwave dyeing it in primary colors - about 3 ounces each of red-red, bright blue, kelly green and yellow, and I also did one lot of violet just for the fun of watching the different colors strike. I also left some in the lovely bright white. I got it dry, then started combing it on my double-row Viking combs, since I want a mostly smooth yarn.

I finished up the combing after work and supper Monday night, and got just a little bit spun. It's lovely stuff. Lots of spinners don't like Suffolk and other downs breeds, but I started spinning them several years back for socks. I love those socks - they're cushy and warm, even at the end of a long day. I thought I'd make a sampler Fair Isle project from this; maybe I'll do socks - I don't really need the small purse I was thinking about making, but can always use more socks!

Tonight I'll continue the spinning, work on my grandson's other sock, and get to sleep early - I have a breakfast meeting Wednesday. My birthday is tomorrow, too, so some serious pampering is in order for this soon-to-be-50-year-old!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Roseleaves Tunic Completed!

The flu is seriously not fun! I'm behind on my blog simply because I've been so sick - and still I'm not feeling well. Oh, well, this is about knitting and spinning - mostly! - so here goes.

I got the Roseleaves tunic finished, and the picture is below. (I added this later - on March 18, in fact!) Modeling for photos, or taking them, isn't high on my agenda right now. I did wear the tunic to dinner once, and to work twice, and to my needlework group yesterday, and garnered lots of compliments. It is indeed lovely. I like the basic nature of this pattern, and I like the way the finished project fits; I can definitely see myself making more of this type of thing, with different laces and perhaps a stockinette yoke with some patterning. My favorite Old Shale would be lovely, perhaps combined with a yoke in a stockinette Field of Flowers design...I'll have to think about that a little more.

Roseleaves Tunic Posted by Hello

While I was looking at dye for the tunic, I ran across some Regia sock yarn in the perfect colors for socks for my grandchildren. I didn't buy it then, but did go back and get it earlier this week. The first sock is completed, and there are at least three more to go - more likely five! But they're fun to knit, and require little concentration. Little concentration is about my speed right now, so it's a good match!

I've ordered the Philosopher's Wool book and a pullover kit. My colorwork skills are not as polished as my lace skills, and these designs are lovely. I've spun quite a bit of down fleece, too, and know pretty much what the wool should be like. The colors are beautiful. Where did I store that Suffolk fleece, anyway?

The other benefit is that the colorway and Fair Isle designs are already charted, so I can concentrate on learning the needle manipulations instead of worrying about charting designs on my first large project. But I also bought the book "1000 Knitting Motifs", and can feel ideas percolating already.

Now it's off to find that fleece, perhaps wash a little, and play with some food dyes. Then I can spin up the results and practice my knitting skills before the kit arrives!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Catching Up

Mother's Christmas 2004 Shawl Posted by Hello

I finally got the pictures from the holidays edited, and thought I'd post my mother's Shetland-paterned, Orenburg-worked rectangular shawl. I talked about this a bit earlier, but a more detailed explanation - well...

I bought a pound of Shetland sliver at SAFF 2001 thinking I'd make myself a Shetland shawl. It was a logical choice - I love to spin very fine, and I love lace. I got sidetracked on other things, though, and the sliver sat patiently waiting. In June 2003 I pulled it out and spun 3 ounces for a similar shawl for my mother-in-law. I gave it to her for Christmas 2003, and listened to my mother hint for the next eight months. She wasn't nagging, just hinting!

Finally in August I started spinning, again from that pound of Shetland sliver. I had some other alternatives in the stash, but this had done so well before, and I still had plenty...what can I say, it was a excuse to revisit an old friend! I spun three ounces in 1-ounce increments, removing an ounce from the bobbin and plying it before spinning the next ounce. Spinning weight was approximately 4200 yards per pound, 2-ply was 40 wpi. Meanwhile, I planned the pattern.

After lots of swatching, which was fun in itself, I finally settled on my three elements - two from Sharn Miller's Heirloom Lace, and one basic faggotted insertion. The center is the Leaf Lace, and the edging is the Doris Edging from that book.

Working the previous shawl in Orenburg fashion kept me well-entertained, and I didn't think it was as difficult as picking up all the edge stitches, so I started this shawl the same way, working nine repeats of the Doris Edging. Next I turned the first corner, picked up from there to the end of the lace strip, turned the other corner and started knitting the faggoting together with the edging and center. After 26 repeats of the edging up the sides, I again turned the corner and finished things up the week before Christmas. Blocked size is approximately 22 by 70 inches - a little small for a shawl, perhaps, but Mother isn't that large a lady! Also, I wanted something she'd wear a lot, and she's doing that with this size - it goes well over a suit jacket or dress.

I used LOTS of markers, and charted all the repeats out carefully - what can I say, it worked! If I were doing it again, I'd probably choose a different border - something more intricate - but what I've done looks pretty good! Mother loved it, and I loved making it for her.

My "What next" dilemma is solved, and I've started Meg Swanson's Roseleaves Tunic from A Gathering of Lace. I had some beautiful Shetland lamb roving from Cyndee Wilson in Ohio, and spun up quite a bit with no real project in mind, so I've used it for this. I dyed it with some cochineal and let it dry. I've knitted madly since then, and am largely done with the yoke - I'll start the sleeves sometime today or tomorrow. And the lovely brown Shetland lamb that I was spinning with this in mind will do very well for a shawl I'd like to make for myself, perhaps combined with the black I'm spindling!

Now to decide whether to make it round or square, and whether to use a doily pattern I've been eyeing in a larger needle size or make a more traditional Shetland pattern, or maybe try EZ's Pi Shawl with lace patterning in the bands, or...

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Sari Silk Sweater Posted by Hello

The promised picture of me in the sweater - it's really pretty, but the growth factor makes it difficult to wear. Oh, well, I'm trying to decide on my next project now. It will be more successful. And, if I do decide I absolutely hate this, I can always rip it out and re-use the yarn in something else!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

And this is only mild irritation! Don't get me really riled!

Okay, this is a rant – fair warning has been given. Every once in a while something pushes my buttons, and this has accomplished that with a vengeance. You don’t have to agree with me, but at least listen to me!

How can anyone possibly look at any article on archeology, paleontology, geology, or physics and deny evolution? A New York Times article of February 1, 2005, offers the following statement in an article by Cordelia Dean titled Evolution Takes a Back Seat in U.S. Classes: “"The most common remark I've heard from teachers was that the chapter on evolution was assigned as reading but that virtually no discussion in class was taken," said Dr. John R. Christy, a climatologist at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, an evangelical Christian and a member of Alabama's curriculum review board who advocates the teaching of evolution. Teachers are afraid to raise the issue, he said in an e-mail message, and they are afraid to discuss the issue in public.”

I’m not rabidly scientific; I inhabit a house with an entity that, for lack of a better term, I call a ghost, and sometimes know things before they happen. Neither of those phenomena is scientifically provable, but they’re a part of my life – I believe in them, if you will, just as I do in Christianity. Evolution, on the other hand, offers factual scientific proof. How can any rational human deny the concept? Didn’t you evolve yourself, from babyhood to adulthood? Granted, that is a microcosm, but it’s a valid statement. If an individual evolves in such a dramatic fashion, how can you deny the evolution of a species?

Why do people insist that religion offers all the answers to all questions? These same people wouldn’t go to a restaurant to get their auto repaired – that would be silly! So why do they go to church to learn science? One has little to do with the other – nor should they, since they encompass completely different spheres of human enterprise. Each endeavor is worthy in itself, but they are different things.

Granted, I grew up in a scientific environment – in the Southeastern United States, no less - but in a town that held a major national laboratory. Throughout most of my teens you could find only a handful of places open on a Sunday in Knoxville, which was even then a fairly good-sized city. Blue laws were largely unspoken, but definitely in force. You simply didn’t work on Sunday (unless you were a member of a profession that had to maintain a 24/7 schedule), and you didn’t shop on Sunday. Decent people didn’t do housework on Sunday, and they mostly spent the morning and early evening at church services. Sundays were a “day of rest”, and were spent with family or friends, even among young adults. The Bible was a blueprint for society, and, even if you didn’t really believe in what it said, you nevertheless lived by its rules, because if you didn’t you were ostracized by all the neighbors. But nobody used it as a science textbook!

My religious teachers took a common-sense approach to fundamentalism that appears to have been forgotten. The Bible was a book of theology, history and sociology. It offered principles for a workable, responsible society - along with examples of some of the possible results of ignoring those precepts. It explained the world of approximately 5,000 (or 2,000) years ago according to the understanding of the people who lived in that world. Just as we offer explanations of the world around us according to our present scientific understanding. According to my teachers, God created Man to study and learn about the world in order to become more like Man’s Creator. In other words, Man was a work in progress – an evolutionary process!

Perhaps that approach hasn’t been forgotten. Perhaps it has merely been overshadowed by the clamor of those few who have realized that the loudest squeak gets the most attention. Our media groups and legal system tend to reinforce this ill-mannered behavior by giving it all the attention it desires.

But the silent majority is still here, and we still believe in a separation of church and state mandated by good manners and common sense. We still go to church on Sunday, work at our scientific jobs through the week, and try to raise our children to respect secular and religious authority – even if that authority isn’t really worthy of much respect. So why doesn’t anyone listen to us?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

It's Finished, and It's Terrible!

I finished up the silk sweater on Saturday. Washed, blocked, and wore it on Sunday. I have a picture, and will post it later. I wasn’t happy with it on wearing; it 'grew' too much. I figured a little distance might help; maybe I was being too picky. After all, silk does tend to stretch, and I knew that when I planned the project. So I washed the sweater and put it away for awhile, to give myself a little distance. Then everyone at work asked me yesterday if I’d finished, and when was I going to wear it? So I put on the sweater this morning over a black silk turtleneck and black slacks to show off the wonderful colors.

It’s growing again! According to the gauge, this sweater should fit with about 4 inches of ease. It should also end just at the bottom of my hips. But after wearing it for 4 hours, the hem is three inches above my knees, the neckband is creeping toward my shoulder line, and the sleeves, instead of being just below the elbow, are three inches above my wrist! Oversized is one thing, but this is ridiculous. My gauge on the sample was 5 stitches and 6 rows per inch – I just measured the gauge now, and its 3 stitches and 4 rows per inch!

What on earth can I do? Should I give this away and start over with spinning more of the fiber, or unravel the entire thing and start over, either on needles two sizes smaller, or with fewer stitches? I still love the yarn, but this sweater is a nightmare. Maybe knitting from the top down will help? At least then I can hang it up overnight while knitting and keep an eye on the “growth factor” in that way. Any advice, anyone?