Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wedding Photos

The long awaited wedding photos are finally on Flickr. Six months after the wedding, we have picked out the photos of which we'd like prints, and have ordered them from the photographer. It was a big job to pick out just a few from so many. Maybe in a few more years we'll actually get a wedding album put together. Maybe I should go buy a wedding album as some sort of start towards that.

Anyway, here they are! These are a few of our favorites, but to see the whole batch, click here. I suggest using the "view slide show" option in the upper right if you want to view all of them.

This seems to be the best view of the infamous bunny stole.
Thank you to everyone who was able to come share our wedding day with us, especially folks who had to travel or rearrange their schedules to be there. We both really appreciated it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Free Watch Cap Hat Pattern

I'm also posting this on Ravelry, but since not everyone is on it yet, here's a free hat pattern for the whole internet to enjoy. I try to do some charity knitting every year. From what I observed in my old guild and elsewhere, most charity knitting tends to be colorful and sized for small children. Some of the organizations that the knitting was donated to actually requested plain black hats for their male clients. So since nothing is worse than looking like you're wearing a charity hat, I present a pattern for a good warm charity hat that doesn't look like a charity hat, and can be worn by an adult man without embarrassment.

Charity Watch Cap by Erica Fire
Knit in the round in brioche stitch with 2 strands of superwash yarn held together. Having walked to work in Buffalo the past 3 winters, I can attest to wool being way warmer than acrylic, and given the circumstances many charity knitting recipients are in, machine washable is much more practical than expecting a single mom to hand wash all her kids' hats and mittens, or a man in a boarding house to find a sink to handwash in.

Yarn: knit holding 2 strands together of a good superwash wool. I've used lambspride super wash, Cleckheaton Country 8 ply, or Classic Elite's superwash. Use 3 balls.

Needles: size 8 16" circular needles and size 8 double point needles.

3 3/4 sts per inch in stockinette on size 8 needles, or size needed to obtain gauge. Be sure to check your gauge--I knit loose!

Sizing: small to fit head size 20 to 21 1/2. medium to fit head size 21 1/2 to 22 1/2. large to fit head size 22 1/2 to 24

Pattern Stitch:

Round 1: *p1, yo, sl 1 pwise wyib, rep from *.
Round 2: *yo, sl1 pwise wyib, k2 tog, rep from *
Round 3: *p2 tog, yo, sl1 pwise wyib, rep from *
Round 4: * yo, sl 1 pwise wyib, k2tog, rep from *
repeat rounds 3 & 4 for the rest of the piece.

*note As you get the hang of knitting brioche stitch you'll find that you can make the yarn over and the slip one immediately after it in one movement. You'll also find that knitting or purling these two together can be done in basically one movement. After a few rows, brioche becomes a fairly fast and easy stitch to knit.

Pattern: For s (m, l)
Cast on 52 (54, 56) sts. Join, being careful not to twist. Knit in pattern until hat measures 9-9 1/2 inches long. End after completing a round 4. Remember that you only knit rounds 1 and 2 after the cast on, and knit the rest of the piece alternating rounds 3 and 4.

Once hat is 9 -9 1/2" long (depending on how deep you'd like the turn up) begin decrease rounds after completing round 4.

Dec Round 1: *p2tog, k1, rep from * around.
round 2: *p1, k1 rep from * around
rounds 3-5: continue in p1, k1 rib
round 6: *p3 tog, k1, rep from * End p3 tog, k1 ([p1, k1], [p3 tog, k1])
(switch to dpn's when there are too few stitches to comfortably fit around circular needle.)
rounds 7-8: continue in p1, k1 rib
round 9:
*p3 tog, k1, rep from * End p1, k1 ([p3 tog, k1], [p3 tog, k1])
round 10: continue in p1, k1 rib
round 11:
*p3 tog, k1, rep from * End p1, k1 (all sizes)
round 12: cut yarn to about 12" long, thread through
yarn needle, run through remaining sts on needles twice, draw them together, run yarn to inside, knot off and weave in end. Weave in beginning end and any other ends in hat. Wash, block lightly without flattening stitches, and wear or donate.

California Bird Rescue

My friend Lisa live is the San Francisco Bay area, and is a bird lover. She had volunteered at an area bird rescue organization a few years ago. She has been an amazing asset to them in the recent oil spill. She has been one of many volunteers making it possible to re-release cleaned and stabilized birds back into the wild. You can read about what she's been doing over the past week in her posts at her blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fleece Study: The Long Wools and Novelty Locks

Remembering way back...I've been working on a fleece study over the past year where we use samples of wool from different breeds of sheep to learn about how they differ and how best to use each. We did the fine wools first, and now I've just finished the long wools. I started out spinning them all "plain vanilla" like I did with the fines. This was a fine approach for fine wools, as that's how I'm most likely to use them, but I got bored of spinning evenly and consistently and Navajo plying each sample. Luckily I remembered that many long wools are uniquely suited to making boucle. Why not use a sample as a chance to also learn new spinning techniques?

I found conflicting information among my books (and one video) on how to make a boucle. I tried at least two before it worked. The sample on the left shows my first rather awkward efforts. On the right is a much more successful sample of boucle. I spun a few of the long wools as boucle, but couldn't take it any more. Man is boucle a pain to make! The first plying step, where you make the loops, is very time consuming as you carefully push up one ply to make all those little loops. Now I know I'll probably never spin enough boucle for a sweater, although it would be a nice accent, maybe as collar and cuff. After a few boucles I took a class at the finger lakes fiber festival. It was on spinning dyed locks, which are usually either long wools or mohair. Perfect! My favorite technique learned was to incorporate a lock at a time into a two ply yarn by placing it between the strands while plying and letting the twist lock it in. I love the look of this yarn. Here's what I did in class:I'll be interested to see how something like this knits up, with a few thick fuzzy stitches every so often. I did a few study fleeces this way too, but they aren't as visually interesting because they're all one color. My favorite of the boucles, and possibly of all the long wools was the Wensleydale x Cotswold.
It's long and shiny and soft, but still has the right texture to curl into boucle. This I might make enough of for a little something, maybe a scarf. Also, I've been meaning to show my exciting new tool. I found this in Delhi, south of Cooperstown, when I was out there this summer.
It's a squirrel cage swift--like any swift it holds your skein of yarn while you wind it into a ball. The skein is held vertically and the cages turn while you unwind. It's so smooth, and it's beautiful to look at, and I got it for a song. Hooray! Makes me want to do nothing but wind balls of yarn, but I'll have a new tool for winding yarn balls to show off soon.