At the beginning of every year, I try to stop and take stock of the projects I’ve done and I make a list of the things I’d like to try in the coming months.

This year, I have no list. There are no long lines of projects waiting, no techniques dying to be explored. This year, my goal is simply this: to knit.

2013 has been a long and difficult year, with old health problems cropping up in new ways and lots of challenges at work. Most nights, I am simply too tired to knit even plain stockinette.

I swatched for a sweater just before Thanksgiving. The stitch pattern was chosen, I knew which needle size I wanted, and all I had to do was cast on at the neck. Somehow, even casting on for a simple raglan was too much to think about.

Instead, I knit a hat. Since the hat was the only project I had on the needles and I didn’t have the brainpower to come up with another, I stretched the knitting out over several weeks, a row here and a row there. I finished it while we were visiting with friends a couple of days after Christmas, which left my needles empty.

In the lull between the holidays and heading back into preparations for the new semester, I picked up that swatch again. It took about 10 minutes to cast on, and about 5 days to knit the sweater.

The yarn is Briggs and Little Heritage, the yarn I picked up this past summer when I was on PEI. It’s a heavy weight, 2-ply wool, spun in a small woolen mill in New Brunswick and lightly heathered. The main body color is called Seafoam, and there are 4 other accent colors, too (I seem to have lost the labels for most of them, but one is green heather and one is natural white. Looking at their color card, I think the others must be fern and light blue or peacock).

The knitting was fast, at about 4 sts/in on a size 5 needle. I switched up to a size 6 for the shoulder color pattern, since it’s a slip stitch pattern and I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t pull in. The narrower bands near the cuff and hem use 2 of the more subtle accent colors to help balance the visual weight of the yoke.

Yesterday, I found the perfect buttons in my button box:

And with that, the first sweater of the new year is done.

(Of course, now I need to come up with a new project to cast on…)

I’m still recovering from a solid week of holiday visiting, so this post will be short on words. (I seem to have run out.) I did want to get the Christmas crafting up before the end of the year, though, and that’s coming soon!

I don’t usually do much holiday crafting, since deadline crafting combined with the end of a semester is usually a really bad idea. This year there were a few projects tucked under the tree, though.

The bunny did end up with a dress (though, sadly, not a tutu).

She also got new ears, which were much floppier and more rabbit-like than the first ones. I’m much happier with the new set, though I bet my niece would have been happy with either. I sent Branden off on a last-minute trip to the fabric store looking for supplies, and he picked out the fabric and accents for the dress all on his own. Didn’t he do a good job? (You know you have a well-trained husband when he can be trusted to pick out fabric for you…)

My sister got a Tardis scarf:

She’s a big fan of Dr. Who and made a request. I had plans for a different way of making the squares, and switched to waffle weave at the last minute.  Turns out that it makes a great Tardis. Who knew?

I absolutely loved the fabric on this one. It was thick and squishy, and there will definitely be more waffle weave on my loom. Hopefully very soon.

My other sister scored a couple of skeins of handspun (about 450 yards in total). She’s been toying with knitting lately, and so I thought it was a good time to encourage that activity with some special supplies.

A couple of holiday scarves also made it off the loom, just in time for wrapping.

The color isn’t quite right here, but the bright, holiday red wasn’t playing nice with the camera. Both were woven from the same warp (red 10/2 bamboo at 30 epi), and had different wefts. The one on the left was plainweave with kind of a blue violet color for my aunt, and the one on the right was more of a deep plum in a point twill, which I kept for myself. This picture does a much better job of showing off the color:

Together with my first Briar Rose sweater, it made the perfect Christmas outfit.

And there you have it. An unusually crafty holiday for me, and a fun one. Maybe if I start planning now, I’ll be able to do it all again next year.

So that’s it for my Christmas crafting. Hope you all had a good holiday!

Here it is, Sunday night again already, and I haven’t posted yet. Fortunately, I have been crafting more than my blogging might suggest. (Mostly, I have been swamped by work.) Also fortunately, the semester ends next Saturday, so I’ll be able to switch to a planning-and-preparing mode rather than a constantly-on-demand mode, so I might actually be coherent and creative again. But anyway. Here’s what’s been going on behind the scenes.

1) A lot of stockinette.

I need something mindless when the semester is crazy, and this laceweight moebius has been just the thing. I ran out of yarn yesterday, and started the cast off in a contrasting color. On a whim, I also added some beads. I kind of love it.

2) A quick diversion.

This was last weekend’s project. I heard through the grapevine that my niece is in a stuffed animal phase. I grabbed some yarn leftovers and did some doodling. Not sure I’m 100% thrilled with the ears, but I like how the rest of it came out.  I think she may also need a dress, but we’ll see what happens before the holiday.

3) Another quick diversion.

We have somehow managed to misplace all 5 pairs of Branden’s handwarmers. This is mostly my fault: Branden is constantly losing his handwarmers around the house and can usually only find one of any given pair. Last spring, I forced him to collect them all in one place so that we could find them, which means that they have all disappeared together this time. It’s gotten to the time of year when the steering wheel is cold in the morning, so I whipped up an emergency pair from some handspun in the stash.

4) Playing with a new toy.

I finally caved and bought a floor loom. I’ve been wanting a wider loom forever, and the smaller loom was starting to limit my ability to produce the things I want to produce. So, we bit the bullet and upgraded to a 36″ weaving width. It also has four more shafts (total of 8), so I have some experimenting to do. First, though, I took advantage of the wider weaving area to make a color gamp.

A gamp is really just a fancy word for a sampler. I made a warp with about an inch of each color in my stash, and am now weaving an inch with each color in turn. You get one square where warp and weft are the same color along the diagonal, and the other squares show you that color mixed with all the others. It’s a great reference piece to have on hand, and I’ve needed some color recently. I wove one in plain weave and am about halfway through one in twill. I can’t wait to have these hanging on my wall!

I got an early-morning text message last Saturday to say that my grandmother had passed away suddenly. It’s hard to say that losing an 88-year old is ever unexpected, really, but it did take us all by surprise. She was healthy and active until the end, which came quickly and without pain. This has been a week of family: a wake, funeral, holiday, and then the cleaning out of her apartment, all in the space of 8 days. Among the things we brought home is this:

A piece of my grandmother’s knitting.

Grandma would have laughed at the idea of being identified as a “Knitter.” For her, knitting was just something you did, not an identity you took on. When you had someone close by to knit for, you knit for them. If you didn’t, you gave things to charity. In fact, most of her knitting was donated; she didn’t think anyone in the family would want it (despite protestations to the contrary). And yet, she knit unabated for decades and only gave it up when her hands couldn’t hold the needles. She made some beautiful things. She wasn’t a designer by any means (she loved to tell people that she wasn’t even the least bit “creative”), but she completed more projects than I can count, all beautifully executed and flawlessly finished. This is one of the few pieces that survived the downsizing of her house, and I’m happy to be one of the lucky ones who gets to keep a piece of her knitting. Honestly, this afghan probably didn’t mean a lot to her, but it does mean a lot to me…one small piece of a collection that represents one of the most consistent themes of her life.

The to-be embroidered sweater has been fully knit for several weeks now, but is still lingering in the UFO pile from lack of a zipper. It turns out that this particular shade of natural gray is almost impossible to match. The closest thing I could find locally was this one from our local Joann’s:

It wasn’t a great match, and stood out pretty boldly, even when pinned into place in the sweater. Then I heard about a site called ZipperShipper, and went there to look for other options. I bought a few, since it’s hard to tell what colors really look like when you shop online.

Still no perfect matches, but the second and third work pretty well. The brass is quite heavy, but it might be less noticeable once it’s sewn in.

The beige one is almost too light, more like a dress zipper than a sweater zipper. I have a feeling it wouldn’t be very sturdy, and such a small zipper pull might be annoying in a sweater-weight garment. I’m currently leaning toward the brass, even if it is a little heavy.

The next question is: where/how much to embroider? The whole point of knitting this sweater was to make a canvas for embroidery, but now that it’s nearly finished I’m thinking that I almost like it better plain (I knew from the beginning that this might happen…I like bold design elements on paper, but seldom actually wear them). Of course, embroidery can always be taken out again, so I might try putting some in and then see if I like it better with or without.

While I’ve been pondering, I spun up one of my Rhinebeck luxury fibers:

My 8 oz of  40/40/20 baby camel/wool/tussah yielded about 625 yards of heavy fingering weight 2-ply. It has a nice amount of bounce to it from the wool, but also has some shine. And did I mention that it’s soft?

No idea yet what this will become, but I’m pretty sure that it has to gain some color first. It hasn’t made its desires known yet, so it’s tucked away in the stash for now, waiting for just the right project.

It has become more and more clear to me over the years that stash reduction just isn’t going to happen. Stash stasis seems to be the best I can do. I’ve decided to be ok with that: as long as the overall amount doesn’t grow (much) more than it shrinks, I consider it a win. Still, no matter how disciplined I am in my buying, the stash manages to increase. The increase has slowed dramatically, but still it continues to grow despite my best efforts to slow it down.

Instead of focusing on stash reduction, lately I’ve been focusing on stash conversion. Fiber gets spun into yarn, raw materials move one step closer to finished objects. The product might still be stash, but at least it’s being upconverted. In that spirit, I have been going through the yarn that has been languishing for years and turning it into fabric for sewing. It’s long been one of my ambitions to make clothes from my handwoven cloth. Originally, I assumed that I would plan a garment from start to finish all in one go, but lately I’ve been wondering if perhaps just getting to the fabric stage wouldn’t be a good start.

All of these fabrics have come off of the loom in the past few months. Most of them are from yarns dyed for my Etsy shop that never sold. They were never intended to be part of my personal knitting stash, and I just hadn’t found a use for them yet. Mixing a few skeins of similar colors together made for beautiful painted warps, and they’ve given me several yards of fabric to play with someday. It’s been fun watching the different color combinations come off the loom, and the yarn is quite heavy compared to what I usually weave, so the weaving has gone very quickly.

Last week, I decided to get to another of the ambitions on my list: weaving with my handspun. I had been planning to use the yarn that I spun from the Briar Rose leftover batts for a sweater, but wasn’t sure that I had quite enough of it, and the design wasn’t really taking shape. So, I took those lovely gradient skeins:

And wound them into a gradient warp. It took a lot of sampling to find the right color and structure combination for this fabric. The Briar Rose colors are so subtle that they were easily overwhelmed by any contrast in the weft yarn or from the texture of the weaving.

I did finally choose a combination, though, and yesterday started weaving the cloth.

So far, I love it. I wove samples of three different setts (three different densities of fabric), and ended up going with an intermediate one to start. It makes a fairly wide fabric with good drape, and will probably turn into a shawl or wrap. Once that’s woven, I’ll probably cut it off the loom and go back to a denser fabric that will be more stable for sewing later. The lighter hand and drape are nice for a shawl, but you want a firmer fabric if you’re using it for construction.

I’ve also had a couple of projects in the background on the tablet loom. One was overly ambitious and stalled out over the summer. I took one leap too far in design concepts, and realized that I needed to take a step back and learn some more before I’m ready to tackle that idea. So, I turned that project into a simpler one, and wove off a few yards of twill band instead.

I’ve decided that it would be good to have a selection of these on hand, too, in different colors and patterns. They’re most useful for trim and for small projects, and I probably wouldn’t want to put another project on hold for a month while I weave a band for trim. Building up a collection will also help me to sample the different techniques as I learn.

In that spirit, I put another band on the loom last weekend. The first go had a design flaw, but I’ve figured that out and it’s now coming along quite nicely.

This is a few months of weaving progress, but I realized that I haven’t really blogged about it, and my knitting and spinning aren’t terribly exciting right now. I’m still knitting away on the blue moebius cowl on the train, but that won’t really look like much until it’s off the needles. I’m also very close to finishing the teal, green, and olive yarn that I’m spinning from batts of shop leftovers. I’m hoping to finish that one soon so that I can play with some of the new luxury fibers from Rhinebeck.

And lastly, we finally managed to get finished photos of the Fall Colors sweater. I’ve worn it a few times now, and am very much enjoying it. I am now satisfied with the upper sleeve shaping, and am very glad that I went back and redid the shoulders one last time. I think I’d make the sweater a bit longer in both body and arms if I had it to do over again, though. I made it shorter than usual on purpose to give it more of a jacket fit, but now that it’s cold out I find myself wishing that it had another inch or so at the back waist and at the wrists.

Looking at how the back of the sweater hangs, it looks like I could have used a little more length in the shoulder back, also. (In fact, that’s likely where the desire for extra length at the back waist comes from…) It was hard to tell exactly what was going on up there during the knitting because of all of the distortion from the steek bands, so it’s good to know that I might need to work in a few more short rows up there next time.

I do really like the side shaping. Even if it meant a couple of extra steeks, that detail is one of my favorite things about this particular sweater.

The double layer of knitting on the body is nice and warm, too, and I think it’s likely that there will be more stranded sweaters in my future.

Rhinebeck 2013 was a quiet affair compared with the past couple of years. Without the previous convergence of friends from all over, it was a much shorter, simpler occasion. Branden and I drove out on Saturday morning, spent a couple of hours browsing the market, and then came home. We stopped at WEBs on the way back, and looked at looms. (Branden is working hard to enable a wider floor loom, which I have been dithering about for several years but haven’t acted on yet. Someday. Maybe soon.)

Of course, being me, I walked into the festival and instantly developed camnesia. Since Branden’s camera batteries were also unexpectedly dead, I have no pictures to show for myself. so words will have to do instead.

Every year, I try to come up with a couple of general categories of things to look for ahead of time. These things often change once I actually start shopping, but I like to go into the market with a theme in mind. After that, I just look for things that jump out and demand to come home with me.

This year’s theme was luxury fibers. I am perennially cold, and often walk around the house in wool slippers, a heavy wool sweater and scarf, and sit huddled up under a blanket when Branden is walking around in a t-shirt and feeling a little warm. Luxury fibers are often even warmer than wool, and that’s been sounding really attractive lately. I’ve also been focusing on making garments for work, and a little luxury helps to dress things up a bit.

Of course, I drooled a bit over the qiviut, but my cheap side (and love of large projects) won out and there was no qiviut this year. Of all the fibers I petted, cashmere was the one that was calling the most, but I didn’t find anything that quite fit all of the parameters. I have a scarf that I knit many years ago that is part cashmere, and it has worn beautifully and is wonderfully soft and warm. I’ll keep a weather eye out for the right yarn, but nothing popped out at me this year.

In the end, I decided to buy things that I can spin first. It’s always better to have two luxury projects for the price of one, right? For not much more than the price of a 200-yard skein of qiviut, I ended up with 8 oz of a 40/40/20 baby camel/wool/tussah blend, 8 oz of 70/20/10 wool/yak/tussah, and 4 oz of yak/bombyx top. Add to that a few ounces of carbonized bamboo, and I’d say that I have enough to keep me busy for a little while.

Of course, it’s always important to leave room for the unplanned things, too. On our first pass around the market, I saw someone with a skein that just leaped out at me. It’s a color that’s been gradually growing on me lately, and the yarn absolutely glowed.

The only other time I’ve seen a dye job this compelling was in a skein of Sundara silk that someone had knit into a shawl at the knitting guild in Madison. It was absolutely beautiful, and I’ve always hankered to spend a little time getting to know that kind of yarn a little more closely, in hopes that some of the dyeing skill will seep through into my fingers. I ended up with 2 skeins of Bugga from Cephalopod yarns, and I can’t wait to see what they decide to become.

Aside from that, I picked up a couple of cones of weaving yarn for the weft of a project that I’d just put on the loom.

The warp is a huge skein of Kauni that I bought while we were in Germany, which had a brief and ill-fated existence as a raglan sweater and has been relegated to the stash ever since. I’ve been intending to weave with it forever, but just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. When I emptied the loom a couple of weekends ago, I wound up the Kauni and put it right on. I tried some of the wool that I had in my stash as a weft yarn, but it was too light a gray and ended up washing out the colors of the Kauni stripes (on the left, in the photo above). So, I picked up a few options of Shetland cone colors at the Harrisville booth. I thought I wanted black, and almost didn’t buy the blue and the purple, but I’m very glad that I did! The black also overwhelmed the warp stripes, and I ended up going with the purple weft, much to my surprise. That’s the one I’d have left on the shelf if I’d had to choose, too. It just goes to show that you never can tell what you need until you try it (especially with weaving, I find!).

And there you have it: Rhinebeck 2013. I wore the Fall Colors sweater, complete with newly worked sleevecaps, and got several compliments on it, which was nice. Due to aforementioned camnesia, I have no modeled photos to show you, but we’ll try to remedy that soon. It’s a year later than I expected it to be, but it did turn out to be a Rhinebeck sweater after all!

And now, I’m off to spin up some batts and make my spinning wheel available for some luxury fibers.

Well, here we are, mid-October already. And next weekend is Rhinebeck! It won’t be as big an occasion as last year, unfortunately, since there aren’t as many people traveling out to the festival from far-flung places this fall. Branden and I will probably drive up for the day on Saturday and meet a friend or two there, but that’s about it. Still, the occasion combined with a lack of knitting on the needles was enough to convince me to go back and edit the upper sleeve shaping on the Fall Colors cardigan.

The sweater has been finished, blocked, and in need of tweaking for almost a year now. I didn’t quite finish it in time for Rhinebeck last year, and then the upper arms ended up a teensy bit tight for comfort in the final fit. I put it aside, but never got back around to fixing those sleeves.

Finally, I pulled it out, snipped a stitch, and pulled out the upper sleeve shaping. Let me tell you, there is no chance of running stitches around those steeks. Even the sleeve yarn that was simply knit together had felted to itself like glue after only one blocking, and it was a real pain to pull out the 4 inches of sleeve that needed to be reknit. Fortunately, I had extra yarn, as most of the original yarn didn’t survive the ripping process. The ripping was done, though, and the upper sleeves were reknit with more gradual decreases and a little more length, and the sweater is back together again. Minus a couple of ends to weave and a blocking, it might finally be done.

Or, it might not be.

I had planned this sweater as one with set-in sleeves, and did sleevecap shaping accordingly. Now that the upper arms are fitting more loosely, though, it’s looking more like a drop-shoulder fit. The colorwork at the shoulders is about 3/4 to 1″ wider than my shoulders, so it hangs off just a little bit. This isn’t a problem overall, but it means that the sleeves really should be knit for a drop-shoulder and not a set-in sleeve.

As a consequence, the shoulder looks oddly triangular rather than rounded.

The photo above is on the dress form, and is less distorted because she wasn’t contorting around to take pictures of herself in a mirror. Of course, she doesn’t have full arms, so it’s a little hard to see how the sleeve will hang when it’s on her. Here’s the best I could get in the bathroom mirror, with the sweater on myself.

I’m twisting my shoulder around to be able to take the picture here, so it’s not a great shot, but I think you get the idea. That extra shoulder shaping relieves tension on the colorwork body above it, and distorts the body edge out of shape.

I am trying to decide whether this will make me crazy or not (or, rather, whether it will make me crazier than redoing the sleeve cap yet again). Of course, some of the stitching will mold itself into to the correct shape again with blocking, but I don’t want to block until I’m sure I’m done, especially after the felted ripping from last time.

My gut feeling says that it’s time to rip it out, but then my common sense pops up to remind me that sometimes the perfect is the enemy of the good. And so, the Fall Colors sweater is back in time out while I think over what to do with it, yet again.

In better news, the moebius infinity cowl is off the needles, after many months of train knitting. One ply of the yarn is from Fiber Optic, and I dyed the other to match it. I had about 700 yards of laceweight yarn, and just kept knitting until I ran out. I cast on 400 stitches (for each half of the moebius) on size 1’s, which gave me a final size of just under 5 feet after blocking, and it’s about 14 inches wide.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a moebius cowl. I’m not a shawl or a cape type (much as I’d love to be!), but I do love scarves, and a long cowl like this falls somewhere in between. I knit the garter stitch circular scarf this summer in a heavier-weight yarn, but haven’t fallen in love with it yet. I’ll probably wear it around the house a lot this winter, but I was hoping for something that I could wear to work.

The moebius cowl is knit at a much finer gauge, and so has a lot more drape than the garter stitch scarf. The moebius twist also helps it lay flat more comfortably when doubled up, as I have it shown above. As it turns out, I love it.

It works equally well wrapped once or twice, and it stays nicely out of the way most of the time. It’s lightweight enough to be easy to carry, but the wool and silk make it very warm. The width means that I can pull it down over my shoulders, but it’s not too bulky to use as a scarf, either. The fine gauge makes it feel dressier to me, and I love how the colors work together.

I like it so much, in fact, that I’ve cast on for another.

This yarn is the BFL top that I dyed just before we left Seattle to use up the last of my liquid dyes, rather than packing them up for the move (a sure recipe for disaster). I spindle-spun the yarn in Germany, and got about 950 yards of laceweight. The color varies from a sapphire blue to a spruce green, and it’s been sitting in my stash just waiting for the right project to show it off. I wanted something simple enough to let the colorwork be the focus of the garment, and also something very wearable. A second moebius seems like just the thing.

In between knitting projects, I’ve also been whiling away the time spinning up the blended batts that I made a couple of weeks ago. I plied the first skeins yesterday.

Yet again, it seems that I have created greens and blues that are impossible to capture with a camera. The yarn looks a little grayish and washed out in the photos above, but it’s really quite a saturated blue-green. The camera is picking up strongly on the grays in the olive green, and seems to ignore the saturation of the other two colors.

If I had this yarn to spin over again, I think I might use a very saturated spruce green as the third ply, to give the brighter green something to pop out against a bit more. That would move the yarn solidly into the jewel tone range, and would really make it glow. I like the yarn with the olive well enough, but the other would be more dramatic. On the plus side, having that olive in there will help a garment knit from this yarn to coordinate equally well with jewel and earth tones, which is an important feature in my wardrobe. With the spruce in there, I’d probably only wear this with black or with very dark brown. With the olive, I could get away with a lighter brown, a khaki green, or even a gray just as well as with black.

So far, I have about 600 yards of fingering to DK weight yarn in the two skeins, before wet-finishing the yarn. My guess is that it will bloom up a bit to be closer to the DK weight by the time I’m done.  There are a few more ounces left on the bobbins, but it seems that I’m getting different grists from the three batts, so I will probably fill the bobbins again before plying off the third skein, to minimize breaks in the yarn. The light green and the teal are Falkland, I believe, and the olive is Polwarth, and it seems that spinning three plies of the same diameter leaves me with less length in the olive than the other two. I’ve run into this before when combining different breeds of wool in one project, and it probably means that I’ll have extra of the teal and green left over at the end.

The same thing happened with my hand-dyed Rambouillet and the Fiber Optic silk-BFL in the yarn I used on the moebius cowl above. Both fibers started out as 4 oz, and the brown ply was actually spun a little thicker than the silk, but I ended up with quite a bit of brown left over on the bobbin when I was finished. I left it on the bobbin unplied, just waiting to see what it might turn into. This turned out to be a good thing in the end, since I forgot to switch to a garter stitch edging to keep the shawl from rolling until the very end, when I ran out of the mixed-ply yarn. I could have pulled back 8 or 10 rows, but that would have involved picking up 800 stitches of laceweight, and was not a recipe for fun. Instead, I went back and plied up the leftover brown singles, and used those to make the garter stitch edging instead.

I have a total of 24 oz of fiber in the 6 blended batts, and I’m hoping that I’ll have enough yarn for a sweater in the end (at my current grist of ~74 yd/oz, I should get about 1700 yards, which will be plenty!). If I do end up with extra of the two stronger colors, plying them on themselves will make great accent yarns for edging and other design features.

Remember the skirt I was making a few weeks ago?

Well. I started the practice version, and got all the way through the waist finishing when I realized that the fit just wasn’t quite right. It needed some darts in the back. I pulled out the waistband and set about adding some darts for shaping. On the second or third try, I was beginning to remember just how difficult it can be to do final shaping and pinning on yourself. Working with sharp pins behind your own back while twisting to see what you’re doing in a mirror is not always the best way to get results.

I have often contemplated buying a dress form for just such a reason. Unfortunately, they are fairly expensive, and my body doesn’t fit the standard dressform shape anyway (even the adjustable ones leave something to be desired).

A long time ago I heard about people making their own dressforms out of duct tape. It came up again fairly recently in conversation somewhere, and when I got to this particular sticky spot with the skirt it came bubbling right back to the surface. We bought a couple of rolls of duct tape and some expanding foam, and started off on an adventure in 3D sculpting.

I have to say that Branden did most of the work on the dressform. Besides standing very still for an eternally long time to get completely cocooned in duct tape, I didn’t do much at all. Branden fashioned a quasi-skeleton out of cardboard, and then went to work filling the model with expanding foam. We figured that the whole project would take about a week.

A month or so later, it is finally done.

It turns out that expandable foam dries very quickly when it’s exposed to air, but not so quickly when it’s inside a duct tape dress form. We put the first two cans in one at a time, and left them to cure at least overnight. Then we noti can said that it only took 8 hours to cure, so we put the last 3 cans in about 8 hours apart. This turned out to be a mistake. Without the airflow, the foam took weeks to dry and harden into its final shape, and some of it is still slightly soft even now. Remedies included poking holes in the duct tape and other such measures, but did not greatly speed up the process.

Despite a few deformities acquired in the soft-foam stage, the dressform is a very good model of my body (for better or worse…not recommended for those who prefer their mental body image to reality). I have to say that it is a little odd having such an accurate replica of myself standing around in odd corners in the house, but it’s now hiding behind a chair in my office rather than standing eerily around waiting to dry, at least. Those stubborn darts took about 15 minutes to pin and to sew this weekend, and now the skirt is finished. I guess I’d better make more clothes, now that I have a custom dressform!

In other news, the embroidered sweater is off of the needles and blocked as of last night.

It still requires a zipper, which I am afraid will necessitate a field trip to the fabric store, as the zipper I bought last time doesn’t quite match.  Still, it is inching closer to done, and I do like the way the front rib details came out.

My spinning wheel has also been busy. I took those braids of roving, and sent them through the drum carder:

It seemed like a shame to blend such nice colors, but I want a mostly solid colorway with no dominant color stripes, so blended they must be.

I can’t say that I’m unhappy with the results, either. They’re not as eye-catching as the original braids, perhaps, but I do like the subtle color shifts, too.

Now that they’re blended, the olive also looks like it belongs.

I think I’m going to like this yarn.

The embroidered sweater is gliding smoothly toward the finish line (I’ll spare you a picture of its pale gray sameness). It would have been done by now, actually, had I not run out of yarn. I could have sworn I’d spun another small skein, but I can’t find it, so I must have wound it up at one point and not realized that I’d already knit it. I spun up a new skeinlet of about 250 yards yesterday, and now have a nice, medium-sized ball with which to finish off the sleeve and collar.

As usual, imminent finishing is causing me to scramble a bit to figure out the next thing for the needles. The mobius cowl is languishing in my commuting bag, so it may come out for a week or so to fill the gap and get some love.

I’ve also been short a spinning project for some time now. I finally got around to raiding my bin of shop seconds this past weekend, and came up with this:

That’s a pound and a half of mostly-Falkland in some mostly-related shades of green and teal. It’s destined to be a 3-ply yarn: one of teal, one of the bright green, and one of the olive green. (I think. I’m still a teensy bit on the fence about that olive in the mix. It will either muddy the waters or provide some grounding to the brighter jewel tones, and I can’t quite tell which yet. It may not make it to spinning, but only time will tell.)

The fiber is mostly semisolid, but there is enough variation that I might end up with long-repeat stripes like I did in the Blue-Eyes sweater. Sometimes I like that kind of striping, but it’s not really what I’m going for here. Also, I was a little concerned about evenly mixing the colors in the final yarn, especially since the teals are two different but related colorways. And so, out came the drum carder.

I broke the two teal braids up into foot-long segments, and ran them through the carder just once, alternating braids so that the batt is made up of layers of the two colorways. This should go a long way toward making the color more uniform, without losing the subtler variations in the hand dyed fiber. The bright greens will get the same treatment, and the olive probably will, too.

I’m spinning the batts as a very light laceweight single, but plan to three-ply them into a light fingering weight yarn in the end. This yarn won’t be ready in time to be the next knitting project, but it feels good to have something on the wheel again, after a month of it sitting idle! It’s also nice to be back into color, after quite a lot of gray. I do love the natural wools, but find that they are best alternated with something a little brighter, just to liven things up a bit.

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