UndyedYarnpire’s Fiber Opera

January 29, 2010

good, bad, and ugly.

Filed under: stuff — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:24 pm

Ravelry has added email notification for private messages. You have to opt in to get them. Open message box and click the email options tab at the top right.

The posting announcing this announced that they had abandoned their official “site announcements” thread a while ago. I had not been aware that the official outlet moved. I had been aware of the creation of the casual forum with user announcements, but had had no idea this had been adopted officially to the exclusion of all other media.

Yesterday’s knitting group did not go amazingly well despite being one of the most interesting ones since I took over. I really enjoy teaching advanced things and knitting with people who know things I do not know. That does not happen often because the teaching aspect is advertised. Yesterday though, I think I was fired. Now, what makes this awkward is that I am not sure; it was handled badly. I consider myself socially wrong-footed a lot of the time, but even I am more adept than that.  Still, I could spend the rest of my life never dealing with a child again, so it is probably for the best. If I want to teach, I will find another opportunity.

The second cowl I was making is too small of a neck-diameter. I am torn between buying another ball of yarn and adding a seed stitch section on both ends for holding the buttons and buttonholes using a different (stiffer) yarn of the same color.

Still no spinning.

January 23, 2010

Winter doldrums

Filed under: project lists — UndyedYarnpire @ 7:26 pm

This week’s project updates feel pretty pathetic.

I have a half finished cowl, which is similar to the one posted last week.

I still have not finished the first sleeve of my Leuca sweater. After that, I need the second sleeve, then I need to attach them to the body, then I need to actually finish the sweater. I should have known better than to start a sweater that needed #6 needles!

I have half of one legwarmer done. I think. It is hard to tell because I managed to get it onto a 16″ circ and now I cannot try it on. I suspect there is a problem because I have knit through almost 2.5 ounces of near-worsted weight yarn. I am going to finish the entire 4oz ball for one legwarmer. Since this is more than 300 yards of yarn, I am really suspecting that I must be doing something wrong. I think what I want is for it to balloon out though, from the under-knee ribbing. I know the original idea was to make legwarmers that would be like the top-half of a two-piece sock, this is not the yarn for that.

The repurposed sock-mittens are done. I had been wearing them with the gash, but now they are sewn. Very nice and warm and surprisingly well-fitting. I still cannot believe I felted my first pair of hand-knit socks, but at least the effort was not wasted!

I have that half-finished sock also. I should probably admit that I am not going to finish those. But the yarn will not be good for anything else. I spun the superwash merino+ bamboo fiber  cable-plied… 2×2, so it is definitely sock yarn.

There is that pillow I was doing, but it still needs 2 more rounds tinked. I just dread working on it.

I am, supposedly, working on another elephant. This is not what I want to be doing.

Perhaps it is spinning time. The knitting seems like work, but the spinning is just fun. The problem ends up being, “What do I do with the yarn now?”

Jared Flood coming to California

Filed under: stuff — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 1:18 am

What do I not understand about knitting classes?

I teach one and it chafes, but I am a volunteer and the participants are drop ins who do not usually speak English. So my job tends toward damage control. Keeping people from attempting things I will not be able to fix. I make samples of everything instead of showing patterns. I make step-wise projects… so it is easy to see how to complete something. Then I try to speak slowly while pointing, so hopefully they get what I am trying to explain.

However, I have not seen a knitting class that looks interesting and useful and is a good value.

Most knitting classes are for beginners. I completely admit that a beginning class would have been a lot easier than the months of effort I spent teaching myself from books. It was impossible to tell what I was doing wrong. I could tell I was doing it wrong, but often the diagram did not help me sort it. A lot of knitting books cribbed diagrams from each other as well, so, if the diagram did not explain, getting another book did nothing. I am well beyond this level now, and my frustration is what keeps me helping other people to learn.

There were times when I would have liked a class to learn an advanced technique, but usually I am looking for 15-30 minutes of explanation and samples and perhaps an offer for a repeat of that after I have done the grunt work of churning out half a kilometer of fancy knitting. I would love to be able to talk to people who have done 6 Fair Isle sweaters about whether they have problems during decreases with the floats getting too long.  I would love to be able to talk to someone experienced with cable projects about how much stiffening they get in the fabric and whether their swatches were enough to determine what kinds of stitchcount adjustments were needed to compensate for the lack of stretch.

One of my (nominally) local yarn stores, Nine Rubies, which is actually somewhere on the south side of Neptune from my home, is having Jared Flood in to do classes.  I have conversed with Jared via email several times and he seems like a nice guy. I like a lot of the things he does creatively. I especially like how he uses really excellent photography to make easy knitting look fabulous. So I went to look at the class offerings.

There is a class on Girasole. It tells you to download the pattern online. Pattern is $6.50. The class is $75. Part of the class is discussing yarn choices for the project but you are expected to bring your project yarn to the class.

Another class is about Koolhaas. It says you must download the pattern from Knitting Daily (but does not give a specific link, so I spent 5 minutes wading through KD’s really awful user interface trying to find the pattern since I had misspelled its name in the search box.)  It does not seem to be a downloadable pattern. You can buy the whole magazine for $14.99. Maybe that is a .pdf of the magazine and it is a download? The class is $60, plus supplies. With a $15 pattern, those are some expensive supplies. [edited: If you followed the Ravelry link, they do link an individual pattern download for $4.50.]

I am sure the store expects you to buy your materials there. They do not have online shopping for classes, so you would have to go in to register anyway. Why can they not sell you the pattern? I cannot buy Ravelry patterns because they only use Paypal (which hates me, and it is mutual). Charge me $65 for the Koolhaas class and put the pattern in a plastic sleeve for me.

It also seems like a very expensive class at $30 per hour with a dozen students. They have Jared Flood teaching 10 hours of classes, each with probably a dozen students (it does not say, but you know they will fill the room for a big name like this.) So the store is selling $4800 just from the classes. Jared Flood will get a large fraction of that money surely, and there are expenses associated with putting on a class. But considering these are not advanced classes, it seems dramatically overpriced for a very crowded room. You might be able to ask a question, but there are going to be 10 other people clamoring for attention.

I taught a woman who only speaks Chinese to cable. For free. I taught it to myself from a library book. What can Jared Flood possibly explain about stranded colorwork that would make it worth 6 times what the Starmore Fair Isle book cost? I understand that I am devaluing my time by volunteering for a task that is Herculean because of the language barrier. I understand that there really is value in seeing something done when the book explanations and diagrams do not click for whatever reason.  But if I spent that kind of money, instead of buying what seems like a really basic class, I would rather just take Jared out for dinner.

January 20, 2010

cowls and mittens

Filed under: knit — Tags: — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:43 pm

I blame laziness. I really hate blogging pictures. They have been taken for a while now. Uploaded right away even. Just needed pasting the link. So here goes.

From cowl two

Yeah. I finished it. It is the replacement for the other collar thing I created. I really do not think the first collar thing was something anyone but another knitter could love. This is, at least, suitable to the recipient.

I am making a second black cowl with the other half of the ball of yarn. This one is on slightly larger needles and with slightly more spacing, so the blocking is less crucial.

I went back to my legwarmer, realized the cabling makes it too tight and unstretchy. I tried it on and it went from enormous to laddered. The space between the cables was weak and that is where the pull happened. The yarn did not break, but it looked like pantyhose after a cat has used them as a scratching post. Frogged. I went ahead and cast on again. Plain stockinette. I drew some pictures of wild things I could do to make a not-quite-matching legwarmer for the other leg. Honestly though, the stockinette goes slow enough.

I felted the Ceris Major socks.

My solution was to clip the heels out, darn a seam for some of it, then pick up in the round for a thumb scye. I have not added the new yarn yet, but for instant mittens, I am fabulously pleased. Sure I am disappointed that I killed a really excellent pair of socks, but it was not my fault. The yarn said superwash merino + alpaca and claimed machine washability. It was not superwash alpaca and that is a crucial point. Live and learn. It has been so cold that I am really grateful to have mittens that are already done.

January 11, 2010


Filed under: knit — Tags: , — UndyedYarnpire @ 3:38 pm

I finally finished the replacement cowl. I had received a reprieve on the gift timing and realized that the gift ought to improve in suitability. That meant I had to suddenly start on something new and it needed to be done as quickly as possible.

So my legwarmers went on hold the very next day and I started a cabled cowl. I did not use a pattern. I used the idea that if one mounts the buttons on the long edge and the button holes along the short edge, one gets a v-neck collar. Then I looked up how to do cables and came up with a very simple motif.

One should cable about as often as there are stitches in the cable. So I did 115 rows and cabled every 6, giving me 19 cabled rows. The length is perfect, although I had expected to go to 120, I just stopped.

Buttonholes were done attempting the TechKnitting method, which is found under “Chain Binding 2a” and something about improved loop cast-on. I only had to rip it back once and that was because the buttonholes were enormously too big.

I used Gloss HW from KnitPicks in “black”. I like that yarn. It needed a #9 needle though, so I certainly do not consider it a bulky weight. That is at most an aran-weight. But it is pretty solid, multi-ply, good fiber contents, did not shed, and relatively inexpensive at $8ish for 100g. I think as long as you understand that KnitPicks yarns are at least one full size rank smaller than they say they are, you end up with nice yarn for the price.

I will probably write this up at some point. There will be pictures after it dries and the blocking pins are removed.

I have not done any spinning or knitting on other projects since I started this cowl, January 2, 2010.

January 2, 2010

New Year, new projects. Old successes.

Filed under: discussion, equipment, fiber, patterns, project lists, spin, yarn — Tags: , , , — UndyedYarnpire @ 11:46 pm

Recently spun yarns:

From Fiber Club
purple yarn (one ply angora+merino, one ply Falkland for the main yarn, n-plied and wrapped for the two smaller side skeins– 4oz total)


From CMF
turquoise yarn (“Avalon” CMF Corriedale pencil roving, 8oz 2ply in 2 skeins.)


From yarn school fiber
calico yarn (3 ply alpaca: tri-color roving from Alpacas in Wildcat Hollow)


From Fiber Club From fiber dye
Robin Hood (2ply overdye SW BFL)

New Year’s Eve, I cleared my yarn area. I pulled things I was never going to finish off the needles and put everything away in the tubs. There was some squishing required, but everything still fits. (That is the limit. 4 small tubs for yarn, 2 big tubs for roving, 1 under-bed storage for overflow… anything else has to be turned into a finished object.)

I found the sock I started last March. It is feasible to finish it soon because I had already finished the heel turn. The mate will need to be made, but that was worth rescuing.

The pillow front is still on the needles, despite needing 2 more rounds tinked.


New Year’s Day I started a new project, leg warmers for me. The yarn is 2-ply bulky from 8oz of “12th Planet” CMF BFL. Its a nice sort of brown purple colorway.  I think I am going to base these on the “Tree Trunk” pattern which is a straight tube with cables on a knit field. I want mine shaped though.

I measured my leg. 11 inches from ankle to knee. I then put tick marks every inch. Then measured around with a measuring tape. So I cast on and my number is 48. I figure I should have 8 repeats of 3×3 cable around. Then  after the increase, there will be 4×3 cable, then 4×4, and so on. At the biggest circumference, I will have 6×6 cables.

I added an inch of horizontal ease so it can go over jeans. And I plan to pretend my row gauge is more like 8.5 instead of the 7 I really get. That way these should have a little bagginess. Cuffs at the ankle and knee, possibly with a lace edging to be added afterward.

Today I also started a replacement cabled cowl. It is kkpp 3×3 pkkp 3×3 ppkk. Same cable idea. Using Knitpicks Gloss Heavyweight yarn, which is about Aran weight. 4sts/inch 6rows/inch using #9 needles.


I need another row on my abacus. I want one where there is a fat bead every fourth row. Maybe I just need an abacus where the beads can be interchanged and a big box of beads.

If I can find a new abacus frame, I will most certainly buy bird-shaped beads for this cable pattern (and feather-and-fan) so it goes, “Duck, duck, duck, GOOSE!”

My current abacus frame is a rectangle of wood with beaded wires just wrapped around the edges to hold them in place. The wires cannot be bent and unbent without self-destructing. There is a crossways wire to be the Rubicon. It is a tight horizontal wire threaded under the bead wires and beads have to be lifted over it.  That means if I drop the abacus, I do not lose my place. It is entirely functional with 3 bead wires. I have one wire with alternating big/little beads which I use to keep track of which kind of fancy row I am on. Then I have digits counters (10 medium beads on one, 10 little beads on the other: tens and ones digits). Sliding the beads is fun and does not require both hands unlike those little twisty row counters. Row counters are not useful if you resent having to use them.  I need one more row to count the frequency of fancy rows, but that changes from pattern to pattern.

Speaking of which, when you have chosen a cable, how do you tell how often to execute it? Like my 3×3 cable, is that every fourth row as shown in Knitting In The Old Way or was some of the chart omitted? Most of the examples were 2×2 cables and were every fourth row. I asked a friend who said a good rule of thumb was spacing equal to the number of stitches in the cable. (Which is going to make those legwarmers even more complicated!)

Back to the abacus. I think I could make a travel one with seed beads and coil-less safety pins. That would be a fun project right there.

Now I am going to stop and actually go find the pictures to add. 2010 really needs to be the year of the much more streamlined photo blogging procedure.

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