Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spinning Alpaca

This weekend was a good one. My first set of modular classes are done. My second ones are just starting and had very little homework this weekend so I was able to put it off. I was lucky enough to have friends come to visit and we went to the Renaissance Festival. It’s been 5 years since I last went and I am happy to say my favorite shows are mostly the same. I find it comforting that the performers change very little from year to year and that I can watch the same shows I watched back in 1998.

I did lots and lots of good cooking. All of it on the food stamp budget. I did have to save up all month to pull it off but I did. I should have taken photos since much of it was pretty. The Cherry Crepes with Kiwi and Pomegranate especially so.

Sunday morning once I had the house to myself again I sat down and spun this. It’s from a white alpaca fleece I bought at an alpaca farm. The alpacas were so cute and the price was right. I’m working on spinning enough for a small sweater. I think I’m half way there. Really, I should spin the whole fleece so I have a bit of room in my closet but a small sweater is a good place to start. I have a pattern picked out that calls for heavy worsted. I spun some yarn swatches and washed them and picked the one closest to heavy worsted to match but I didn’t bother knitting and checking drape or gauge with any of the yarn swatches. Yes, I realize that only doing half of the preparation work will likely give me the same bad results as doing none but I was ready to just start spinning. So cross your fingers for me.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lopi Sweater

Tamara is knitting the Einstein Coat and after she mentioned that she liked the Lopi I pulled mine out of the stash to give it a try. Right away I had a problem. The Icelandic yoked sweaters come in a very few sizes. I had the choice of too small and too big. What to do? After all too big can still be worn and even if it’s sloppy looking it’s still warm. Too small is just too small. Negative ease looks good but there is a point it’s not going over the head. Would the smaller size still fit? Would I wear the bigger size? I started to swatch.

While swatching I had concerns about the color. I picked it online and I didn’t realize the tweed flecks were about the size of Tic Tac mints. I think it detracts for the color work. But I don’t have enough of the tweed to make a solid colored sweater so there was no choice but to go on. I picked a size and started on a sleeve. And while I still wish the blue wasn’t a tweed I think it’s ok.

But look at this.

That is my upper arm. I went with too big. There is no way I will ever wear a sweater this big. I’ll have to rip it out and start over on the smaller size. I think I’ll use larger needles to bump the spi down a bit so it will be small but not tiny.

Friday, September 14, 2007

How fast do you knit?

Yarn Harlot has asked on her blog how fast do we knit? I went home and gave it a try.

First I knit on the fixation socks on size 1 bamboo needles. I don’t much like these needles and I very much don’t like these socks. I got 28 stitches a min.

I then knit on my trekking socks on size 000 turbo circs and I got 34 spm.

But I thought I knit faster than that. I haven’t ever measured it but after 7 years of practice I’ve noticed I’m at the faster end of the knitters I know. Having read the comments I already knew most knit in the high 20s to the low 40s. Also most said they were knitting cold as I was and that they got faster as they got warmed up.

I decided to test that. I pulled out my wood dp size 0 needles. The needles that after years of use have just the right bent to fit my hand perfectly. My favorite needles. I dug out onLine sock yarn that I know knits with no splitting and cast on. In ribbing right out of the gate I got 34spi. After the ribbing I timed myself again. 40spi. That is more like it. I timed my self a few more times for longer durations and got 40 spm every time.

After tiring of that I picked up the trekking on 2 circs again and got 40spi. Ok good. Back to the fixation, 40 spm there too. Now that was gratifying. Warming up made a huge difference there.

This morning I started out cold again and still got 40 spm on my favorite needles and a bit surprising on the circs that I got 40spm there too, but was back down to the 28 with the fixation on bamboo.

So there it is. I knit socks at 40spm with whatever I use. Either right away or a after a bit of knitting. I knit at 40spm while relaxed over 10 min and while tense going as fast as I can for 2. It seems to be a constant.

I could be faster since I change dp needles with a bit of a flourish and a yarn flip that eats up 2 seconds each time. But I liked watching my hands doing it.