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Swatchy Swatch

April 8, 2011 - 12:19 pm

Today’s telephone time crafting has been swatching Henrietta.  My goal is to end up with a shoulder wrap thing, with alternating swaths of stockinette and lace, set off by garter ridges.  There have been a number of patterns lately that use this technique to good effect.

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I started on US 6’s, which is the blue/green swatch on the right.  I liked it, but I wanted to see what a larger needle would look like, so I switched to US 10’s.  Holey Moley.  It looks like lace!  It has the right character for the rough handspun look I was imagining.  And it will knit so quickly!!

Both of these swatches are 21 sts across.  The one on US 10’s is 40 rows.  The one on US 6’s is 56.  If I wanted a sweater, I’d go with the 6’s.  Since I want a lacy wrap, it’s the 10’s all the way.  The swatch is .4 oz, so roughly 1/10th of the yarn I have.  I’m going to play with some designs, but I’m thinking I will be hard pressed to get a decent wrap out of that.  Maybe an Elizabethan collar sort of thing, that wraps around neck and shoulders.

No yarn was cut in the making of these swatches.  🙂  I cast-off the first swatch, looped the last stitch around the whole swatch and snugged it down, and cast-on for the second.  There’s a small puff of yarn left after the second swatch, which is mostly out of frame on the bottom of the picture, which I dealt with the same way.

My plan is to unravel the swatch, and start the FO with the small skein, then shift to the larger skeins that are actually fractal spun.  I believe the shorter repeat in the small skein spun from two ends of a short repeat ply will work well in the smaller start section of a shawl.  It will still be stripey.  I’m thinking start with the pink end then work through the green, followed by the pinker end of skein B worked through to the dark end of skein A on the bottom.  I’m not committed to that yet, though.

Henrietta and the Strawberries

April 6, 2011 - 5:01 pm

Strawberries are perverse plants.

Last spring I built them a lovely mound.  I amended the soil.  I planted 4 varieties developed in the region, mixing ever-bearing and June bearing so we would have a big initial crop and then a constant small supply.  I trimmed their runners, so the mother plants would focus on their own roots rather than offsets.  We let each plant set a few fruits, but plucked most of the flowers.

And then suddenly it was winter before it had ever really been Fall.  I never put them properly to bed; I just left them to their own devices.  Today I perhaps reaped the rewards of my inattention, except I prefer to believe it’s their perversity, not my lack of care, that made such a mess.

They had, somehow, migrated.  Instead of neat little offset rows of plants, they were scattered about with big empty spots and over-tight spacings.  This could have been the work of raccoons going after grubs.  It could have been the work of the cats and dog.  But I think it’s the plants.  They had also set a bumper crop offsets on the driveway and brick paths.  Lots of perfectly good dirt, but nooooo, let’s set down roots between these two bricks!  grrr.

All is now orderly in strawberryland again.  Runners are trimmed back to the mothers so I can weed around them, and all the weeds are removed.  The volunteer poppies and parsley have been heeled in elsewhere in the garden.  The offsets are re-planted in the inexplicable bare spots.  All that remains is a good feeding and some mulch, and they should be good for the season.

It felt good to be out digging in the little plot of Earth that’s mine to tend.  I had a very grumpy day, but there is something relaxing and, well, grounding about tending the land.  Even though it was cold, even though there’s now hail coming down and I’m still shivering, it was good.  I’m still a bit down and disheartened, but no longer ready to chew nails and snap at people.  I feel much more at peace and ready to face the things that must be dealt with.

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In other news, Henrietta is all spun up, plyed, and awaiting finishing.  250 yds (unfinished) of worsted-ish yarn from 4 oz.  I’m pleased.  🙂  As ever it’s shockingly darker than I expected, but I like it.  I want to try to make a wrap of some kind, but I believe it will need to be mixed with another fiber; 250 yds isn’t a lot to work with, and I expect to lose at least 10% in the finishing.

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The tags are for me to remember what end to start from when knitting, since I set up what should end up being gradual color shifts.  I racked my brain trying to come up with a way to mark the yarn that would survive a fulling, and then realized I have plenty of scrap fabric and a laundry marking pen.  I made up tags, lettered them sequentially (writing on satin is hard!)  and tied them to the starting ends of the skeins, so I’ll know where to begin when I start knitting, no matter how long the yarn marinates.

It ended up that my first ply– the one that was split as a single length of the braid– is much shorter than the second ply.  I *think* this is because I slipped into semi-worsted point of contact spinning, rather than the honest long draw I was doing on the first ply.  Semi-worsted is much more well suited to cuddling on the couch watching tv.  🙂

Henrietta spins!

March 26, 2011 - 8:55 am

I’m not certain if it was Stacey’s intention, but the name Henrietta and the merry mottled colors of this braid remind me of a book my Granny read me as a kid, The Tale of Henrietta Hen.  I purchased the braid on a complete whim, after finding out from David that he & Stacey had been friends many years ago.

Here’s the braid:

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And an illustration from the book:

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So not a complete match for colors, but a reminder, one of the other.  This braid is dyed on a striped base; it’s dark and light BFL.  That means the singles will barberpole naturally.  The braid also progresses from mostly light at one end to mostly dark at the other.  I have been reading a lot about fractal spinning, where you make one ply of a full color transition and then the other plys are splits, and wanted to try that.  I decided to split the brain in half, and then split one of the halves in thirds.

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It didn’t quite work out that way; I ended up with uneven initial splits when I weighed them, so I took a fourth split off the single, and ended up with these:

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The small split on the right in the basket has less of the dark color; it’s the final piece.  I kept weighing it as I was splitting it to make certain I ended up with equal weights.

These are put up as crocheted crochet chains, btw.  I find this a tidy way to store them, and easier to work from than the long ropes.  I make a crochet chain, and then make a crochet chain from that, starting from the same end I started the first chain.  That way as I pull the thinner chain to spin it, I’m also pulling the second level chain.  Maybe this makes sense.  It works well for me.  🙂

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I’ve started spinning, and I love it.  Watching the colors transition is enchanting.  I’m working on a low twist fluffy long draw, aiming for a sport to worsted-ish weight two ply.  I keep plying the yarn back on itself to see what it looks like, and I’m happy with the yarn so far.

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I’ll see what sort of yardage I get.  I would like to make this into a little semi-circular shoulder wrap.  If I don’t have enough from this braid, I may stripe it with another Stacey braid called “Wine Stains.”  We’ll see!

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