Flash Your Fiber Stash

I keep saying I've got nothing to spin. I use this as a lousy excuse to dye up some more fiber (although one needs no excuse for that).

Finnish spinners on ravelry had this thing today, called Flash Your Stash. And then, I had an Epiphany. (Yup, 'tis a pun.)
flash your stash
I can never, ever, ever (Priscilla, anyone?) use that excuse again. Ever. That pile of fiber is what I found in the first 3 bins in my den closet (right before a massive bag of yarn fell on m I gave up). There might be more, but I am frankly terrified of looking for it.

And before you ask, yes, it is my personal stash. There is fiber I couldn't sell to anyone (for various reasons, most important of which is I was afraid I would not get the colors ever again). There are fibers dyed to test new colors and combinations. And finally, there are fibers which remind me of friends and events.

Like this one.
merino-bamboo-silk mix 2
It's merino-bamboo-silk mix (perhaps it is a 50-25-25 mix), there's approximately 3.5 oz. (100g) of it, and when I saw this at Allspunup, I had to have it. I just had to, although the colors are not me per se, but they're so bright and happy, they're like candy! And this is an important braid because it always reminds me of the days in Seattle, when I used to raid my friend Kristin's (of Allspunup) bins for fiber. This was one of them, and I still remember Kristin's face when she saw me holding this precious treasure I dug up. It was quite priceless.

Kristin taught me most of what I know about spinning and fiber, and we used to stir them ol' dye pots together quite regularly for quite some time. Happy times they were. She was gracious enough to let me dye up fibers, practise and experiment. Some of those fibers are still in my stash, along with the ones she gave me. (I was doing the right thing, helping a friend in need. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.) And her fibers are so, so pretty. I wish I could mix colors the way she does, her eye for color is uncanny!

Here's a collage of (some of) her fiber in my stash (click to enlarge & see details):
My creation
1. merino-silk 7, 2. merino-silk (asu ice cave), 3. bfl 5, 4. asu enchanted, 5. asu polwarth, 6. merino 5, 7. merino-silk 5, 8. merino-bamboo-silk mix 3, 9. merino 4, 10. merino-bamboo-silk mix 2, 11. merino-silk asu ms crabtree, 12. merino-silk 1, 13. merino-bamboo-silk mix 1, 14. merino-alpaca mix 1, 15. asu goldwish wearing a tutu

As mentioned, there are some fibers I dyed to test different color combinations. Some were a success, some fell into the category of dear-lord-what-is-this weren't. Some could not be sold because colors leaked. It happens (especially with very intense colors), and when it does, those tops will never be sold, but end up in my oopsie bin and I am, yet again, stuck with fiber. It is a tragedy, really.

Here are some of the test batches and ones I just had to adopt.
adopted fibers
1. bfl-silk 5, 2. sw bfl 2, 3. bfl-silk 4, 4. bfl 6, 5. bfl-mohair, 6. merino-alpaca-silk 3, 7. bfl-silk 3, 8. merino-alpaca-silk 2, 9. sw bfl, 10. bfl 4, 11. bfl 3, 12. merino-alpaca-silk, 13. bfl-silk-bling mix, 14. pigeonroof merino-silk, 15. merino 3, 16. merino-alpaca mix 2, 17. merino-silk 4, 18. merino-silk 3, 19. merino-silk 2, 20. sw merino 1, 21. merino 2, 22. bfl-silk 2, 23. bfl-silk 1, 24. bfl 2, 25. silk top, 26. bfl 1, 27. polwarth 1

And because I have a problem and I keep hogging fibers, I have adopted fibers from other dyers too. (I have merely helped friends, for their stashes have overflowed with fiber and I, though it pains me, will do anything for friends. And I have no stash problems. Tucked away in the closet, no one will notice them.)
adopted fibers set 2
1. pigeonroof merino-silk, 2. merino 1, 3. merino-silk 6, 4. sw falkland

If I'm being honest, I have a bit of a problem buying fiber on say, Etsy. The colors can be off by a mile, and after two very, very bad experiences with felted fiber, I've become rather timid when buying fiber online. These have landed in my stash merely after a friend has recommended the seller. And I think the bright, colorful Woolgatherings merino-silk would've landed in my basket even without recommendation. The colors are just perfect!

You can see all of these on Flickr. I'll try to update them onto ravelry as well, but after editing all these pictures, and organizing all this wool, I think I will need to spin now!

Stuck in Stockinette

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2012 will be a better year than 2011, in every aspect. And what better start for a new year than a blog post about UFOs from the last! I have been hesitant to blog about UFOs as I can't take decent pictures of them - examples of that will follow -, but blogging about finished projects only produces .12 posts per year and it would be fun to post a bit more often. (One could always post pictures of recent purchases but one is ashamed to do so anymore, considering the Barn of Yarn already full of yarns to be knit.) The blog is, or I want it to be anyway, a journal about my projects, so UFOs have to be posted. I apologize for the pictures in advance.

I set up the studio and photographed all UFOs I could find. Granted, I didn't search every nook and cranny of the Lair - these were found within 4 ft of my desk. It seems I am stuck in stockinette stitch.
väiski sweater 2
This is one of my favorite sweaters made with my trusty knitting machine. Finally, I seem to have found the measurements and adjustments with which my knitting machine produces the garment I want. And I have learned to sew the seams and work the decreases 3 sts in, so the seams sew up nice and properly. I'm really happy with this one, especially the collar.
väiski sweater 1
The bpdy was naturally knit in pieces, bottom up, but the collar was knit sideways, with short rows for shaping. The shawl collar is a wonderful way to display shawl pins and brooches (of which one seems to have collected a decent stash), so I think I might make another sweater like this one. I used less than 5 skeins (and less than 2000yds) of my Väinämöinen sock yarn, so the sweater is rather lightweight but still quite warm.

I'd love to show you a picture of the sweater on me, but the reason I photograph with my trusty dress form is that I like to tweak and play with the flashes and my camera and take a million pictures of which perhaps three will end up here on the blog. That, and because my dress form has a waist line. Which I very clearly don't (damn Christmas, damn chocolate).

Speaking of the holidays, I spent them knitting stockinette as well. I spun some bulkier yarns in October, and one of them ended up being a cap/hat/slouchy beret-esque thing.
merino cap 2
My display head is rather small, 20" hats would look best with it, so this hat looks a lot more slouchier than it is. But it is slouchy nonetheless, for I find very tight-fitting hats rather umcomfortable. This handspun merino hat is rather thick, so I knit up another one with my Louhitar yarn, which is a lot more lightweight and perfect for spring:
louhitar cap 1
And as I was on a roll and dug up some Reynolds Odyssey yarn in my stash, I made a third hat.
reynolds odyssey cap 2
All of these are knit from the top down with a garter stitch edging. I used the One for All Cap pattern as a sort of a reference, increasing 8 sts on every other row until the cap was slightly larger than my head, then knit in stockinette until the hat nearly covered my ears, decreased about 20% stitches for the garter stitch band which was knit until nearly out of yarn.
reynolds odyssey cap 1
All three were surprisingly quick to knit, and the results are rather lovely. Stockinette stitch shows really well the colors and stitches in handspun and marbled yarns, and the garter stitch edging is a fun way to use up bits of left-over yarns.

(The reason why the hats are photographed with the display head is very similar to why I photograph sweaters with the dress form. The display has a distinctive and pretty chin. Just one of them. I, uh, don't.)

The Louhitar cap yarn was left over from a larger project, a cardigan I finished for the November craft fair in Tampere.
louhitar cardi 1sm
It is, again, just stockinette with garter stitch details, and the simplicity of it makes the colors really pop out.
louhitar cardi 3sm
The details for the cardi can be found on ravelry.

Colors really are very important this time of year, which is why stranded swatches have been on my needles not once, but twice.
The grey and white one is knit with KnitPicks Palette, the other one with Geilsk Tynd Uld. I bought a set of #000 and #00 (1,5mm and 1,75mm) DPN's and the smaller size is perfect for the Tynd Uld, producing some 10sts per inch in stranded pattern.

As much as I love stranded knitting, it is a little bit slower than just plain old stockinette. And colorwork doesn't necessarily mean it has to be stranded knitting - mosaic knitting can be just as much fun. Remember the cardi from nearly a year ago? It has literally haunted me ever since, I wanted it to be finished, but the colors really bugged me. I took the body apart several times, tried different color combinations, but could not make them work. So finally I used the original colors, paid attention to the color sequencing and the striping and knit away. I finished the body in early 2011, and went on to work on the first sleeve, but the colors were murky, so I frogged the first sleeve a couple of weeks ago. Another round of careful knitting with colors, and this is what the cardigan looks like now:
faux fair isle cardi
It could be better, the brown-orange-yellow contrasting yarn could pop up a bit more, but for now, I am relatively happy with it. And Kauni (or the Estonian wool yarns from Aade Long and Evilla) really works with patterns like these. I knit up a swatch with two solid colors and they just looked a bit dull. So Kauni it is, but perhaps I need to knit up another one with brighter colors, with more contrast. After I finish the second sleeve. Which would mean another trip to the stash, finding a third ball of the contrasting color. So it may be a while.

Especially since I cast on for another pair of the Sleeping Beauty Socks. (I have no excuses except for the fact that this hand dyed skein was just sitting there, literally, on my desk, and no digging in the stash was needed.)
sleeping beauty socks no 4
I've made 3 pairs of these, one for myself and two for a friend who loved the pattern, so casting on was easy as I have the lace pattern memorized. The only difference to the earlier pairs is that this is knit with 68 sts and I've added two purl stitches to the large chart in the pattern. (The eyelet panels are then worked with 2 purl stitches on either side of them.) I want to finish them soon, for the color is really pretty and I can't wait for being able to wear them. And I promise I will photograph them on my feet (if they fit, the foot is a bit narrow)!

Till then, again, Happy New Year everyone!