I Won the Sweater Triathlon!

Jimi Hendrix playing the National Anthem

 I don't know what a sweater triathlon is. That is just what they call knitting a sweater in the two weeks over the Olympics. A real sweater triathlon maybe would be if you knit three sweaters: one seamed, one in the round and one modular ... that would be a hell of a thing, hmmmm...

Anyway, I did it. I finished shortly before noon on Thursday, three whole days before I thought I would. The ends are woven in, the buttons are sewn on, and the sweater fits perfectly. 

Pictures of the finished sweater:

Final_Frontier_Complete_medium    IMG_2347_medium    IMG_2348_medium

Now I can go back to knitting my socks out of handspun wool and my beautiful lace scarf of red merino and silk, and spinning lovely alpaca. And wearing my newly completed sweater! 

The Summer 2016 Ravelry Games Update!

Halfway to the finish line! I can almost hear the cacophony of 200 or so Ravelry national anthems swelling the stands! 

My sweater is puttering along nicely:

Day_4_RG   Day 4

Day_5_RG_medium   Day 5

Pogo tired of watching me knit   Look! A cute kitty!

Day_7_RG_medium   Day 7

Day_8_RG_medium   Day 8

Bah humbug   Nicky would be tired of watching me knit too.

Cats 003   So would Nora.

Day 11   Day 11

I hope to be finished in time!

I am trying a sort-of new-to-me technique, magic loop knitting. It's where you use a circular needle with a long cord to knit small circumferences in the round, like on socks or sleeves; some people do it to bypass having to use double pointed needles, but I do it because I didn't have any freaking size 9 double pointed needles AND my Denise set of circular needles was missing one pair of needles --- you guessed it, size 9! Therefore I couldn't use the two-circular-needles method for small circumferences. So I am using a 36 inch (or 42 inch, don't know exactly) size 9 circular needle to knit my approximately ten inch circumference sleeve (which will be even smaller at the cuff). Good times. 

Magic Loop   Pogo's butt for size reference

The sleeves look too narrow, but hey. I can always unravel it and re-knit it after the Olympics are done if I need to.

I actually "invented" this method of knitting many, many years ago while on a camping/canoeing trip with friends. It must have been the 1970's or early 80's because Icelandic sweaters were all the rage, and I was knitting them for everybody on my Christmas list. The only thing I hadn't remembered to pack was my needles for the sleeves ... which I needed. Sigh. 

Most people would have given up on it, stuffed the sweater in the bag, and made a S'more. Not me. Maybe I needed to have the sweater done by the time I got back, I don't recall. But, I figured that there must be some way of making it work, and I knit the sleeves while pulling out the two feet of extra needle as I went. It worked. 

I had to chuckle when I found this on YouTube.com: The Traveling Loop method.

Or, the Being Stuck Up the Creek Without Double-Pointed Needles method. Hehe. 

See you at the finish line!!! 


The 2016 Ravellenic Games

(Previously known as the Knitting Olympics, but we can't use that name anymore since 2012)

I am knitting a sweater for this year's games. Yes, a whole sweater. No, not a sweater for a doll, it is for me. I have 14 days to do it; I have to get the ends woven in and take a picture by the end of the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

My Opening Ceremonies:

The yarn: 10 skeins Rowan Calmer, plum.


The pattern:

Final Frontier Sweater, designed by Annamária Ötvös.  From the pattern description:

"Final Frontier is a top-down, seamless, boxy pullover with garter stitch panels and an interesting construction. We start the work with the shoulder saddles, they are worked sideways and joined at the center of the back neck. Then the stitches of the fronts and back are picked up along the edges of the saddles and the upper yoke is worked back and forth in rows. Shoulders are shaped with some short rows and the deep yoke is shaped with unusually placed invisible increases. After the front placket is complete we continue to work in the round to the underarms where the stitches of the body and the sleeves are separated and body is worked in one piece to the hem. Sleeves are worked in the round from the underarm to the cuff. Stitches for the neckband are picked up and knit in twisted rib."

Cast on during the Opening Ceremonies in Rio (counts as Day 1) and knit the left and right saddle shoulders that evening:

Day 1


"The most important thing in the Olympic [Ravellenic] Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well."

— Pierre de Coubertin

Day 2: Upper Yoke Shaping, and Shaping the Front Necklines and the Raglans

Day 2

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life."

— Muhammad Ali, American boxer and 1960 gold medalist. 

Day 3. Finished shaping the raglan shaping, joined the piece into the round, and worked on the lower yoke shaping. It's beginning to look like a sweater!

Day 3 Ravellenic Games

“As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.”

— Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast and 1984 gold medalist.

I have 7 more rounds of lower yoke shaping, and then I will put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn to hold them, and knit for 14 1/4 inches and do 3/4 inch of ribbing, and then the body is done. I have no idea how long that will take, but if I keep knitting, it'll get done.... and then there are the sleeves. Luckily there is just the typical sleeve shaping. 

B E L I E V E, and you can do it!


I'm Done!

I finished my Knitting Olympic socks last night at 9:45 p.m.! Yayyyyyy! Here is a picture to prove it:


They look a little funny because they are not blocked. I probably won't bother blocking them, either, because I am going to wear them on Friday when I go to the SPA Knit & Spin in Freeport. So I will just wear them and they'll get blocked when I wash them..... when I HANDWASH them (they are NOT superwash wool... I have learned my lesson!=)

I will be happy to wear them on Friday, too, because I think that is the last day of the Olympics and it's just cool to be wearing the socks at the Closing Ceremonies, that I started spinning the yarn for at the Opening Ceremonies! It is very cool. Thank you so much, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, for having these Knitting Olympics! It was a ton o' fun! And I am so very glad I participated. Now I won't have to go through the next 4 years explaining why I didn't participate in the last Winter Olympics. Instead, I can crow about how fabulously I did in earning my gold medal! And speaking of which, I think the gold medal .jpg will probably be available at the end of the week and I can put it in the badge area of my blog. The badge area  is kinda new because I only just recently figured out how to do it. Right now there is only one badge, for the Knitting Olympics, and it doesn't link to anything, but a lot of my future badges will link to relevant websites.

I can't believe how little time it took to spin the yarn on a spindle and knit the socks. And it's a 2-ply, fingering weight, too. Unbelievable. Now I want to spin all the yarn for my socks.... I urge all of you to participate in the 2014 Knitting Olympics (hopefully it will happen again), because it really is fun to challenge yourself and find that you are, in fact, totally awesome! It was so much fun. Now I wish there was a Winter Olympics every year :) 

And in other news, I was updating pictures on my Ravelry page and I found that I completed 32 projects in 2009. That's good :) A lot of them were small projects, especially a lot of socks, heh heh. But I am pretty happy with my progress last year. I hope to complete more projects in 2010! 

Knitting Olympics Update

Things are going along pretty well on my Knitting Olympic project, although I haven't really had as much time as I thought I would to work on it. I really could have finished the whole thing by Sunday night, but I took Saturday off completely. I guess I just needed a day to sit and stare at the wall for a while. 

I have one sock completed and I am not quite halfway down the foot on the second sock:


I think I have just barely enough yarn in that little ball to finish the sock. It will be close, though. I have a spindle started with about one rolag spun so far, just in case I need to quickly get some yarn for the very end. I shouldn't have any trouble completing this project before the Closing Ceremonies, though, barring any accident or whatever. Actually I need to have them done by the time I go to bed on Thursday night, because Friday I drive to Freeport for the SPA and I will NOT be having any time on Friday or Friday night to work on knitting. So I just better have this done before then!!!! 


More Knitting Olympics Progress

I haven't done much because I have been so tired lately... but I have done some:


This is the first sock so far. The sock and the two little balls of yarn represent 7 of my 16 rolags of wool, so I have spun not quite half of my total fiber available. This 7 rolag's worth will be more than enough to finish my first sock, and I will probably get a few inches down the second sock before I run out. 

If you look close at the yarn between the ball and the knitting you will see that my handspun yarn is NOT perfect, it is a little thick and thin, but that's what makes it homespun. In my knitting, the yarn seems to even out quite a bit. Sure, you can see the slightly lumpy bits that show it is handspun, but it is not annoying to me. 

Close up of the top of the leg. 

The heel and gusset. Too bad the red needles clash with the pink, eh?  

I like this pattern stitch; it is fun to knit. And I am actually following the pattern exactly as it is written in A Fine Fleece, except I am not using any markers as Lisa Lloyd's pattern states.  I guess I have knit enough socks that I didn't really need to mark spots for decreases and stuff.

I have learned a couple things.... one is that I am able to spin enough yarn for socks, using a drop spindle, in far less time than I thought it would take. Unless something causes me to be unable to spin or knit for some reason, I should be able to complete both the spinning and the knitting well before the torch is extinguished. That makes me feel pretty accomplished. And also, it makes me really want to hand spin the yarn to make one of the sweaters in A Fine Fleece..... on a wheel though, not on a spindle, because there would be too many ends to weave in due to the short skein lengths I could make using a spindle!

The other thing that I learned is that if I am going to card another color of nylon into my wool, and am aiming for a heathery effect, the color that I am carding into the wool needs to be significantly lighter than the wool. I was hoping the orange would show up a little more than it does in this project, but the colors are too close in shade. You can see it in bright sunlight if you are looking for it, but it isn't obvious. I love the yarn I am making, and the fact that the orange color is hiding more than I thought it would doesn't bother me, but I think the next time I card nylon or silk into wool for socks, I am going to use white, or some really light color, and see what it will look like. 

 I have what, nine or ten days to go? It'll be a piece of cake :) 

Knitting Olympics Update

I have managed to get 7 of the total 16 rolags of fiber spun. Yay! It is going a lot faster than I anticipated.... so far anyway. I have started knitting with the first ball of yarn, and I have another ball of yarn drying on a rack by the stove at home today. I think between those two balls of yarn, that's all I will need for the first sock. Actually I think it will be more than I need for the first sock. We shall see :) 


I am still spinning away... I won't stop spinning until I have plenty to knit both socks with. I can spin any leftover fiber after the Knitting Olympics is done, but the spinning is going so fast... I might just spin it all anyway, if I finish the socks well before the end of the Olympics. I only planned about 5 days for knitting the socks, figuring it would be a struggle to get all the spinning done in 10 days, but hmm. I only started spinning on Saturday, today is Monday, and I am more than half done what I need for the socks. I figure that by Friday (one week of the Olympics) I will have all the yarn spun and maybe one sock knitted already. Woohoo! 

If anyone had told me back in February last year that I could spin enough yarn for socks on a drop spindle, and knit the socks as well in only two weeks I would have just laughed at them. But now I have found that I can actually spin enough yarn for socks pretty fast on a spindle. It kinda blows my mind. I think I could spin the yarn faster on a wheel, but not much faster. Like 16 hours vs. 20 hours or something. 

I'm actually having more trouble with the sock pattern than I am with getting the spinning done in time, which I totally didn't expect. The pattern has markers which I am not sure why I need them, so I am going to just work without them, because slipping markers will actually slow me down, and when I smash up horribly later on because I didn't put the markers in, you can all say "Told ya so!" But until then, I am going to kind of make this up as I go along. So I guess I am loosely following the Ancient Oak sock pattern in A Fine Fleece.... my own special way. 

Let the Games Begin!

I now declare my personal Knitting Olympic Games to be OPEN! Yayyyyyyy! (sounds of the cats snoring in the background overwhelm the announcer, who breaks down into tears of joy).

heh heh 

Yes, I have started my spinning. I have spun one whole rolag. It took about an hour. However, I *think* I might have enough yarn to make the socks if I only spin 10 of the 16 rolags. There's a lotta yarn in them thar rolags, which is fantastic. 

I have learned that spinning from my own homemade rolags of fiber is much easier than spinning with roving or top. The rolag holds together better and doesn't get clumped up like the roving did. I like it! 

So now I am taking a little break.... then back to the fiber mines. I hope to spin 4 whole rolags today,which is 25% of my total amount of wool, and then I will ply what I have and set the twist and start knitting the socks. I am going to spin a little, knit a little, so I won't spend time I don't need to spend on spinning yarn that I don't actually need. 

Last night I was thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. Actually, I was thinking "What were you THINKING?!?!" .... but things look more achievable in the light of day. 

Back to work :) 

Carding Wool and Getting Good Karma

I've been resting today, trying to fight off a cold (which I think I have succeeded in doing, yay!), but I did manage to card the wool for my Knitting Olympics project. 

Here is the BFL (pink) and nylon (orange) that I started with:

It's 4 ounces of wool and 1 ounce of nylon. I dyed the fibers a couple days ago.

The first thing I did was to divide both fibers into 16 separate but equal pieces:

See the striped toes on the left? Nora had to help.


Then I divided each 1/16th of wool and 1/16th of nylon into quarters:


My pieces are getting itty bitty. 

Each 1/16th got attenuated and layered:


I think the secret to successful carding is to make the wool wispy, very very very wispy, and to turn the drum s-l-o-w-l-y...


You have to build the fiber up, a quarter of a sixteenth at a time.... and then you have to take it off the carder and card it again, a quarter at a time. I could have carded it a couple more times but I wanted to keep the orange nylon a little bit visible, not entirely blended in.

Then I had a lovely teeny batt of fiber:


So pretty. Here's a close-up:


Then I rolled it up like a little sausage, and it is ready to spin: 


Lather, rinse, repeat, and after fifteen more times, here is my wool for my Olympic Knitting event:


It was all I could do not to start spinning them immediately, but I refrained. I really really really want to spin them now. Even though they do look like pink insulation.

 Oh, and at the store? Yesterday I met Jim from Good Karma Farm in Belfast, Maine, who stopped by to show me some of his yarn. I bought all he had on him, about 23 skeins, and he promises to make more soon. I love that Good Karma Farm uses fiber from local animals, spins the yarn on their own farm, and dyes it there too. This yarn is 60% Secret Island Sheep fiber and 40% Good Karma alpaca fiber from their own farm. And yes, the sheep are on one of the Maine islands, and it is a secret where. So just knit, and never mind :) 

Here is what I got:


I wish you could feel how yummy this feels. I would say it is between a worsted and a bulky weight, a chunky weight along the lines of Classic Elite's Montera. I have not yet swatched with it to find out. Each skein has 200 yards and retails for $16.00.

I plucked out two skeins to use for a modular knit scarf I am thinking of designing for my Modular Knitting class later this spring:


I can't wait to start knitting with this stuff :)


Olympic Training, and Things That Glow

I am working toward my Olympic spinning/knitting event! Last night I dyed 1 ounce of nylon orange, and 4 ounces of BFL fiber hot pink. I used Gaywool dyes, in the color "Madder Orange" and "Orchid". They came out the exact perfect colors, both of them! 

I am going to card the nylon in with the BFL. My hope is that the 20% orange will give a little depth and interesting orange sheen to the 80% hot pink, and it will end up a nice bright mostly hot pink color which will be fun to spin and then knit. 

I think the Ancient Oak sock pattern will be a good choice because the stitch pattern can be memorized pretty easily, so I won't have to read a chart (which would slow me down), yet the stitch pattern will not only be more interesting to knit, but it will help keep track of progress. And after all, its the Olympics, so I had to challenge myself to do something more than just a stockinette plain old sock. 

I'll card my wool and nylon together, maybe tomorrow, and I will get pictures then. Right now they are both drying on a rack by the woodstove. 

And in Non-Knitting-Olympic news, I got some new needles at the store the other day. You know me and my attraction to things that glow in the dark, right? 

heh heh heh 

Yes, I got SmartGlow needles! They glow in the dark! They are pretty much useless as far as light generation goes, as they don't create enough light to knit by, but hey! THEY GLOW IN THE DARK. They are awesome and also not too expensive, about $6 a set. So if you want inexpensive plastic needles that glow in the dark, I got what you need right here....

My batteries were low and therefore my pictures came out kinda blurry, but here is the packaging:


Here we are in the light.....


.... in the dark!