Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Last week I stopped progress on Summer Anklets because I wanted to photograph the yarn in the skein.

The yarn: Fleece Artist Merino sock yarn, purchased in LK Yarns in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They had a basket of mini-skeins and I was hard-pressed to pick just one. I loved the colors, but it was just 1.8 oz, so I decided to knit anklets.

I knit most of sock 1 and then most of sock 2, and then alternated a few rows on each to maximize yarn usage:

Summer anklets - in progress

I had less than a yard left. Poifect.

In the process, the ball of yarn was unravelled from the inside and out. I was dazzled:

Fleece Artist yarn

Thought of log cabin squares:

Fleece Artist yarn

Marvelled at the unexpected arrangement of colors:

Fleece Artist yarn

Inspiration is wherever you find it.


Summer anklets

Summer Anklets
Finished: 4/14/07
Pattern: A mish mash: Toe up socks with figure 8 cast on (20 sts), increased to 56 sts; Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' short row heels from "Priscilla's Dream Socks" in Favorite Socks.
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino sock yarn in ... Angelfish?
Needles: #1 (2.5mm)
Notes: These socks make me happy. The yarn feels wonderful and the colors make me smile. This was my first time trying Priscilla G-R's short row heels and while it's a bit fussier to work the turns, it minimizes holes better than my previous wrap method.

I couldn't believe my eyes. Sunshine! I even managed to get these photos this morning between cloud cover:

Washed cormo lock (the top end is the slightly felted cut end):

Washed cormo lock

Based on feedback the other day, I'm trying to comb it with the Forsyth combs. We'll see how it goes (initial attempts are so-so).

Clover Leaf Farms silk/merino, 4 oz spun up:

Clover Leaf Farms merino/silk

Love the colors. The plan is to spin the other 4 oz which is a different (hopefully complementary) colorway, and then ply them together.

Pink Panther socks, just started the heel:

Pink Panther sock - in progress

The second pink band had much less black dye drool on it. I think both bands are interesting.

And last, a new project, Trellis from, in Rowan All Seasons Cotton:

Trellis - in progress

The yarn feels soft and squishy while knitting. It's the actual yarn called for in the pattern, which is so rare for me. I bought a few skeins specifically for this project at that yarn closing sale back in April. Anyone know if the All Seasons Cotton stands up to the washer and dryer?

It didn't rain at all, all day. I looked for pigs, but didn't see any. I wouldn't have been so shocked.

Thanks for the links to the calculators. Alas, I got them just a bit late. I knit on. With only 4 rows to go, it looks like I have enough yarn for 2 rows. Heh. So close. I want to use every last inch of the yarn so I'm going the improvisation route. If that doesn't work out, I'll rip back.


Did you know that these:


are t-shirts? Funky packaging, eh? These were from TechEd. They come out all wrinkly and accordian when you open them but they're nifty, brick-like and easy to tote around.

More random

We picked up the quilty coverlet thingie and it's been great. Except for the oppressive heat last night when we stripped down to just sheets, we've been working with only shared, communal layers. It's wonderful!

We never make our bed and it never stops raining around here so it'll be a while before I can show it to you on the bed. But here it is in the store when we bought it:

new coverlet

Just a bit more random

Is it normal to walk around stores like Target, Walmart, Lowe's, Home Depot and the Dollar Store, and look at, er, scrutinize everything in terms of useability? For dyeing?

Goodbye, Jaywalkers.

Jaywalkers - goodbye

Your funky pooling intrigues and boggles, but you defy gauge on needles I own and I can't buy another pair of Addis for you. You're high maintenance, I'm cash poor. Except when it comes to yarn. Or fiber. (Didn't you see how many needles I own???)

Hello, handspun socks!

handspun socks

You're a lovely addition to my sock collection. Your irregularly spun parts remind me of those early days of butterflies when my Joy came home and endears you to me. Your mismatched stripes are charming. We'll do some walking come fall.

handspun socks

handspun socks
Finished: 6/5/06
Pattern: my own
Yarn: handspun 2 ply superwash merino, dyed by Paradise Fibers
Needles: #3 (?)
Notes: Love 'em. Not my best yarn, not my best socks, but coolness, they're pretty much my first wheel spun stuff and now they're useful.

When I said my posting would be spotty, I didn't mean non-existent. Hehe.

The conference was actually quite good. It was Microsoft's TechEd, and a LOT bigger than I expected. There were 10,000-12,000 attendees, another ~3,000 Microsoft employees and ~2,000 vendors. Yeah, a lot of people.

The exhibit hall was immense:

TechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hallTechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hall

with lots of giveaways to be had. I walked away with 10 tshirts, a bunch of pens, a yoyo, 2 flashlight, some squishy lego like pieces, blah blah blah. Typical conference loot, eh?

The food hall was also immense, here's 2/3 of it:

TechEd - food hall

When they opened for lunch the words "cattle call" came to mind: mindlessly following the masses towards food lines. The food: not so hot, in all senses. On the first day I walked for 5 minutes after getting my food, looking for a friendly place to sit, preferably with women, preferably with people still eating... I was near the other end of the hall before I ran out of options and sat down at a table that matched neither criteria. And had an interesting time nonetheless. One of the people at the table was from Turkey, another from Dubai. The next couple of days I didn't search so hard, met an interesting person from Australia who started up their own business and who made me want to buy a video iPod (he showed me the cutest videos of his kids singing itsy bitsy spider; I showed him my knitting).

Besides the sessions/lectures/workshops throughout the day, Microsoft folks were on hand at Technical Learning Centers to answer questions, show demos, etc. They wore identifying blue shirts:

TechEd - TLC
look at all 'em blue shirts

I sat down with a Business Intelligence guy to talk about the reports I'm setting up at work and got great guidance on what to change, how to improve. That made my day. (I also laughed at myself trying to explain to him what I'm doing. I'm used to "dumbing down" the geek speak and hardly ever talk to peers so I can't actually do the geeky geek speak.)

They also had hands-on labs where you could walk through tutorials of various technologies:

TechEd - hands-on labs

It wasn't just a developers conference, it was all things Microsoft, from servers, networks and connectivity to data, websites, web services, applications, Office, and so on. A broad audience. There were over a thousand sessions, and then informal presentations that were not listed online, so it was hard to wade through and find the ones that were most relevant. A bit overwhelming. But I did sit in on some excellent sessions and walked away with good tips and a glimpse of what the future will hold. Some cool stuff.

Oh yeah. The building was huge:

TechEd - location

so walking from session to session was quite a chore. It took me until Friday to get oriented. And then it was all over. Figures, eh?

My new summer shoes performed well under all the stress:

new shoes
happy shoes

It was a little weird seeing so much Microsoft everywhere. Although all my programming is with Microsoft technologies, I have mixed feelings about The Empire. I prefer Firefox to IE, google to MSN... But I can't see building websites with anything but ASP.NET now. It makes it way too easy to build complex data-driven websites.

Hey, you want to know one of the funniest parts of the conference? With a roughly 10:1 men to women ratio, the women's bathrooms were always empty and the men's had lines. Ha! HA!

But you didn't come here to hear about Microsoft. You're here for the fibery stuff, right? :)

That many sessions means much progress was made on FBS:

FBS - in progress

She's almost done!

I also started a sock using Pink Panther to see what the striping looked like. This method leads to splotchy transitions between stripes.

Pink Panther socks

The first pink stripe was the most mucked up one, so it's rather spotty. Even with my mucked up pink band, I think it's still a cool effect. I think it would be easier and less stressful to have color transitions that don't need to be so distinct, like gradual color shifts or color blending.

Oh yeah. On the last day of the conference I saw this:

TechEd - exhibit hall

and was actually sad.

What's that in the bushes?

Hansel & Gretal

They look like socks! They look kinda familiar...

Hansel & Gretal

...but what are those white spots?

Hansel & Gretal


Hansel & Gretal
Started: 4/22/06
Finished: 5/6/06
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Danette Taylor's superwash merino in ... Seaweed?
Needles: #4
Notes: My Sockapaloooza pal was Molly of The Wild Swan. I wanted to personalize her socks so I read through her blog for ideas. When she signed up, she listed jewel tones first, and I happened to have the perfect jewel toned yarn. I had a hard time with the pattern until I read in her very first post that she loved fairy tales. An idea was born.

I don't know how I chose Hansel & Gretal, but once it got in my head, it wouldn't leave. I began thinking of ways to conceptualize the story, to symbolically represent it in socks. The breadcrumbs in the path were what I remembered most. Actually, I had to hunt down the fairy tale online to make sure I was remembering it correctly.

From breadcrumbs to path in the woods; it was a creative challenge I enjoyed from start to finish. I adapted the path from a pattern book, and out of trial and error grew the trees. I knit the second sock to be symmetrical:

Hansel & Gretal

and the path continued into the twisted stitch ribbing. The cast off edge was sewn to look seamless:

Hansel & Gretal

The final touch, the breadcrumbs, were stitched in place haphazardly:

Hansel & Gretal

as if dropped and eaten by birds.

The knitting is done! Socks have been washed and are drying. Not long now.

Here's where they were last night:

h&g - almost done!

Can't wait to send them off!

Here are the rest of the "also ran" trees. After the two initial and unsuccessful tries, I tried reversing the direction:

h&g tree attempt #3
kinda bush-like

and then switched gears. Knit-purl tree:

h&g tree attempt #4
too Christmas-y; also, looks better with a stockinette ground

Lace tree:

h&g tree attempt #5
blech; didn't bother finishing the top

Finally I went back to the bush-like one and added a trunk:

h&g tree attempt #6

I was originally going for pine forest. I don't know if the Black Forest is pine or not, but in my head it is. Ah, well. Close enough.

I have to tell you this. When I was a kid growing up in Toronto suburbs, birthday cakes were delicious Black Forest cakes bought from some yummy cake shop. Sweet but not too sweet. Chocolate shavings, just enough whipped cream, cherry on top. Moist. Light. I always looked forward to birthdays, mine, my brother's, my sister's. Loved those Black Forest cakes. Every time I hear Black Forest, be it Germany, ham or cake, I think of those birthday cakes and smile.

Only the ribbing left on h&g, and only the realization that after the ribbing I would still have to sew the bind off before washing it made me put down the sticks and back away from the knitting. Sleepy, bleary eyed, making mistakes. A good time to stop.

To distract you, here are some photos from the backburner. First, Stripey number plied up:

stripey number 2 ply

stripey number 2 ply

I just couldn't capture the colors, where are the purples? It's lovely colors like the dyed fiber, but it just looks blue here. At least you can see the yarn.

And the plied Sunfires silk as well:

handdyed silk - sunfires

It was only an ounce, not much at all. Too bad I didn't dye up more of that.

Speaking of silk, some lovely Interlacements rovings from eBay:

Interlacements silk

There's tons of it, and I want to go spin it!

Last, the handspun socks I worked on while listening to the Yarn Harlot:

handspun socks

This is the second yarn I spun on my (first) wheel, way back in February. Which I rushed through to clear up bobbins before my first official BASD meeting. Hehe. Plying took a lot longer than I thought. Still does.

Speaking of plying, Carole led me to Claudia's post about plying (good stuff), and now I realize that, since the stripey number had been sitting on bobbins for almost 2 weeks, they lost their energy and that's why it seemed I was overplying them. I wasn't. I picked up some pointers that I'm anxious to try out. Post Sockapaloooza. Almost done!

for the second design element?

h&g - in progress

It's a tree! (I hope you see a tree there.)

h&g - in progress

On the leg, the path continues front and back, flanked by trees, a forest, if you will. I couldn't find a tree I liked so I made one up. I'll try to take photographs of the also ran's. One design element left. Anyone want to guess what it is?

srvana asked about how the path was knit up. The path knit stitches are twisted, separated by purls, and travel every other row. It's not difficult, just kinda... requires patience.

Thanks for the nice comments on the socks, both handspun and Sockapaloooza! I'm calling the latter h&g, I think it'll be easier to type.


Progress on h&g... progresses. I stumbled quite a bit on the second design element, searched books and the Web for patterns/solutions, and swatched several different ideas before settling on a workable pattern. I'll take pikchas tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, here's where I left off last night, just past the heel:

h&g - in progress

that sheepy place

Hey, guess what? Guess who's going to Maryland Sheep and Wool? Yup, me. How did you know?

Hehe, yup.



I know! Isn't that cool? I'm catching a ride with someone from BASD who is volunteering at the festival, and therefore arriving early and leaving late. I didn't get my act together in time to sign up for classes (honestly, I was in a bit of a daze about it and it hadn't sunk in... until... oh... a day or two ago?), so I'll be wandering around, trying not to spend all my money. I don't want to think about how much stuff will be there to tempt me. Okay, I do. :)

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit intimidated by the whole thing. Getting there early and leaving late, like a hardcore fiber nut or something.

Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

I'm worried about meeting people, knowing what to say. I'm worried about not meeting people and wandering around alone.

I know, it will be fine. Great. Fantastic! Mindblowing!! Or at the very least, pretty darned cool.

special mayo

Speaking of cool, look what arrived in the mail yesterday:


Heinz mayonnaise! All the way from the U.K., sent by Cat in what is, perhaps, the first ever (and possibly last?) yarn-condiment trade. If the shipping weren't so high and the travel time so long, we'd have a real trade route here. As it is, I shall horde my condiments, even the mysterious Brown Sauce, and make it last.

There was some chocolate, too, but it didn't make the photo shoot. Hehe. Thanks so much, Cat!

but not least

To Julie: thanks so much for your comment, I am so flattered! Oh garsh, you're too sweet. But yes, go dye and spin something!

The Red and The Black

The Red and The Black
Started: 3/8/06
Finished: 4/15/06
Pattern: standard toe up socks
Yarn: handdyed, handspun Romney 
Needles: #4
Notes: This was a fun project that started with, "What if..." What if I dyed roving so that the colors gradually shifted from red to white to black, with pinks and greys in between? How would it spin up? 

The dyeing didn't go quite as expected, but the results were cool nonetheless. I split the dyed roving into lengths that repeated the entire color cycle. I divided the roving into two piles, and further divided into strips; the width of each strip determined how wide the stripes ended up. When spinning, I began each bobbin at the same roving end so that the final yarns would begin with the same color sequence. I then navajo plied to preserve the colors (see finished skeins). You can see how the striping plays out here:

The Red and The Black

The striping obscured patterning, or patterning obscured the striping, so in the end I knit a plain sock with short row heels:

The Red and The Black - heel 2

I love how the heel turned out!

The only cheat I made was in finishing the top of the second sock. To make the sock end in black and match the length of sock one, I skipped over a color sequence and continued in black.

This is, I think, my third project knit with handspun, and it was a good learning experience. There were times the yarn felt a little rough, most likely from overtwist. There were other times it felt quite nice. The balance between tighter twist for sock durability and looser twist for softness -- still figuring out where that is. I'm sure it's a long-term spinning life lesson. There wasn't a wide variance in thickness, at least, not enough to show in the knit socks. The socks themselves are thicker than other socks I've knit, and quite sturdy as a 3-ply, so no wearing until the Fall. I usually wear loose clog-style shoes, so the bulk shouldn't matter.

I love these socks. I love the striping, and the fact that I made them stripe. I love that I dyed, spun and knit them. I love the boldness of the colors and the symmetrical heels and the almost matching stripes. Can you tell my feet are happy?

The Red and The Black

I knew I needed most of the first Sockapaloooza sock done this weekend: there's not much time left! I've had a creative idea for the design for a while, but wasn't sure if it would work, or how to realize it. My first thought was to do it in lace, but that was problematic. Last night I thought I'd scrap the creative idea and just make a nice sock, and almost committed to that route before I felt I was copping out by not even trying.

I pulled out books o' stitches, charted, adjusted, knit some, frogged some, knit some, frogged some, and finally got to this:

h&g - in progress

which looks better on a foot:

h&g - in progress

I'm afraid the creative idea will be too much of a giveaway in the unlikely event the recipient sees this, but I will tell you the meandering lines represent a path. More as the pattern unfolds.



Finished: 4/8/06
Pattern: Grumperina's Picovoli, with modifications
Yarn: Classic Elite Provence in a to dye for red (color # 2627), almost 2 full skeins
Needles: #5 bamboo circulars
Notes: For starters, I didn't get gauge. Next, my size is between the pattern sizes. So, all actual numbers were recalculated and fudged to fit. And boy does it ever fit. I suspect that it's either too short or small, or I'm not used to baring the midriff. Scott loves it, though. Any thoughts? I could always add some rows near the waist to make it longer.

Modifications aside, this was an easy and relatively fun knit. The plain stockinette stitch makes for good TV knitting, while the shaping details give it interest. Plus, the fact that you can try it on as you go helps make a garment that fits. The instructions are clear and in-the-round knitting means minimal ends to be woven in.

I enjoyed knitting with Provence. Soft and silky with a nice sheen. Good yardage, too.

The bottom edge won't stay down. I've tried steaming it to no avail. Any thoughts on that one, too?

More Knits??

I'm making a liar of myself, where's the spinning content?? Actually there's been some spinning and dyeing, but today's post was determined to be color coordinated.

Sock one of The Red and The Black is done! My first handdyed handspun handknit sock, hehe.

The Red and The black - sock 1 done!

I added a simple 1x1 rib only in the last black band, because it looked odd any other way.

The Red and The Black - sock 1 done!

Sock 2 is in progress and I'm curious to see how they match up. These I will be sad not to be wearing until the Fall.

Oh hat

I wanted to knit a second hat for MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along, and ran into some troubles. Adrian helped me brainstorm and I tackled the project anew. On my first stab, the gauge and stitch pattern were not cooperating to make a hat to fit my head. I considered:

  • adding larger motifs separating the panels
  • adding an extra repeat to the "front" and "back" panels
  • adding an extra panel to make 5 (Adrian's suggestion) 

In the end, I went with the first option. I'm pretty sure there was a good reason. I distinctly remember trying the second option and having one of those, "<sigh> this is not going to work" moments. At this moment I can't recall what the issue might have been.

Oh hat - in progress

Assuming it will fit, it's looking good. I'm not happy with the way I increased stitches before starting the main pattern, so I'll probably have to rework the first few rows. But, with the Norwegian Knits-Along ending and Spring seeming to be around the corner, there's no pressure to finish anytime soon.

Curlycue scarf

My niece loves her scarf! I think it looks fabulous on her. Even in 80 degree weather.

Curlycue scarf

I was surprised by how much longer it is on her than on me. Which just means it'll last longer. :)

Curlycue scarf

I was called a spinner recently. Specifically, the word linking to my blog was "spinner", as in "this spinner". It was the first time that word was used as my sole description and it was startling. As a long time knitter and johnny-come-lately spinner, I've yet to see spinning as my main squeeze. Lately, though, it seems that's all I do - spin, and dye stuff to spin. If you look through my recent posts, it's spinning heavy. And actually, because I started blogging shortly after learning to spin, most of my posts have some kind of spinning content in them. While I know I love to spin, how it fits in my life is an unknown blank. Spinning and dyeing are new so every experience is a learning experience, fresh, new, exciting; I'm like a teenager at an all-you-can-eat buffet, trying to sample everything without worries of the waistline. In time whether I become a spinner-knitter-dyer, a knitter-spinner-dyer, or some other combination, will become clearer. And really, all that affects is switching the words around on my blog heading. And how much budget goes to fiber vs yarn. And whether my cards will list "web developer, knitter, actor" or "web developer, spinner, actor" ... or perhaps ... "web developer, fiber artist, actor". For now, I'll just say there'll be a lot more spinning and dyeing going on than knitting.

Ironically, I have knitting updates today! A finished and steamed Picovoli:


Photos of me wearing it will follow post-flu.

And I picked up The Red and The Black again. I tried simple ribbing but didn't like the effect, so I stuck to simple stockinette stitch. Check out the striping at the heel:

The Red and The Black - in progress

I need your input.

The reverse rib "bonnet stripe" idea didn't work, it just didn't make much impact. After 8 rows. Or so. I could have knit a little further, I suppose, but it just wasn't doing it for me. So I ripped back again (for maybe the 6th time? lots of adjustments going on here) and tried cables instead. What do you think?

The Red and The Black - in progress

No, no, I'm not concerned about my foot being on the kitchen counter. That's not what I mean.

I mean the striping, the cables, the sock. Something about it is throwing me off and I can't pinpoint it. I know the cables are a little obscured in the black areas. Does it hold together or shall I rip back again and try something else?

These socks are another case of "project knitting" similar to what I experienced during the Knitting Olympics. I am making them because they are the next step in the dyeing/spinning process. The dyed fiber was not "done" until I spun it. Now that it's spun it's not complete until I knit it. I don't feel this way about all my dyeing or spinning. Some spinning I feel no need to knit up; the spinning was the process and once spun, that process, that journey, is complete. I haven't dyed enough fiber to feel the same; I don't have a lot of fiber so I dye to spin.

Anyway, I'm not knitting these socks because I want a pair of striped socks (or even a pair of socks, necessarily, though it's a nice bonus). I'm knitting them to complete the journey begun with an idea.


Maybe I don't like the stripes. Though they're cool. They're just a lot wider than I expected. And if I continue the experiment with the other 4 oz and spin a 3 ply the usual, non-navajo-plied way, then the stripes will be even longer. It's interesting. The stripes look so similar to how they looked in the roaster: mostly red and black with a bit of white/pink/grey. I could probably use this information and get a different kind of striping to happen, no?

I thought I'd make a pair of Jaywalkers with The Red and The Black. I wanted something that would showcase the striping. But I knew I'd have to knit toe up because I wasn't sure how much sock I'd get, and I'd have to modify the pattern for that and the gauge. I figured the best way to get ready was to start a regular pair of Jaywalkers in my Xmas Rock Socks That Rock:

Jaywalker - started

Those are itsy bitsy bendy Brittany needles. I started with some bamboo dpn's and was miserable. I'm still miserable, the yarn sticks to the needles and I much prefer working with two circulars; but it's less torture than the bamboo. (And what is up with the pooling? I mean, I think it looks really cool. But hasn't everyone else's STR Jaywalkers been coming out stripes?)

Look, I got a whole 2 rows done last night:

Jaywalker - in progress

Impatient to start knitting with The Red and The Black, I did some googling and I found someone else had not only thought of toe-up Jaywalkers, but had written out instructions as well. Cool. I started a pair using the figure 8 cast on. Look at the striping:

The Red and The Black - begun

I used two #4 circular needles (yay) and modified for gauge as I went. But you know what (or if you're in Texas, I'll tell you h-what), the number of stitches and bulkier fabric just aren't working for Jaywalker. I'm not liking it. So after a bit of thought, I decided to add two negative ribs up the sides, like bonnet stripes on a Mini, just to add a little interest, and knit the rest of the sock plain. The stripes will speak for themselves, and the little bit of detail will (I hope) keep things interesting.

Lunchtime knitting has yielded:

Curlycue scarf

an almost done Curlycue scarf! This is for my niece and has taken for-e-vah (the last photo). Curly parts from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, pared down to child size. I didn't think such curlies around the neck would be so practical so I added enough seed stitch to wrap around once. Dangling curlies, pretty colors. If you were seven would you love it?

PS:  I joined Project Spectrum. I love the idea of celebrating colors, I'm all about colors these days. The Knitting Olympics pushed me to explore things I wouldn't otherwise have, and I think Project Spectrum will do the same (just not as, uh, intensively). Colors for March are Red and Pink. It's not intentional, but all three knits in progress have one, the other or both!

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