Saturday, October 18, 2014

October socks (in progress).

I started these socks back in June. (Good grief!) I had a goal of knitting myself six pairs of socks this year, and this was my fourth. I was just a few inches away from finishing the first sock when I lost interest. Then I was busy knitting other things, like my cardigan for the sweater knit along (still haven't finished that yet) and things to sell at the festival and most recently, my niece's birthday gift.

Liesl has been hosting a monthly sock challenge that I've really been wanting to participate in. And I've been eyeing some of my pretty sock yarn, wanting to cast on another pair (but I have this "one sock at a time" rule). So I figured now was a good time to join in, and hopefully I'd be motivated to finally finish these socks! :)

Last week I finished the first sock, and today I started the second one. I'm pretty confident that this pair will be complete by the end of the month!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

On spinning (and the beginnings of a fall quilt).

Last Saturday, I spent most of the day spinning at a local craft fair. It's a festival that takes place every fall at a historical site, and they asked me to come and bring my spinning wheel. Since I was demonstrating, I could also have items for sale (without having to pay the vendor fee). I had spent the last two months or so preparing for the festival: knitting items to take, making several batches of goat's milk soap, cleaning and carding some fleece to spin while I was there, etc.

I'm not going to lie...I was pretty nervous about it. There was the basic fear of, am I going to sell anything at all? (It didn't help that the night before the festival, I had a dream that I only sold 2 bars of soap. That's it. I woke up terrified, ha!) But I also found it intimidating that I was going to be "the spinner" there. I'm not an expert by any means...I've only been spinning for two years and when I think about all there is to learn about spinning yarn, I feel like I know absolutely nothing.

But it was such a good day. I sold more than two bars of soap. (Really, I sold fifty bars. Plus over half of the knitted items I took. And three skeins of my handspun yarn!) And I got to talk about spinning all day long. Here's the thing...I'm an introvert and I'm awkward and I am so bad at making small talk with people I don't know. Quite often I'm bad at making small talk with people I do know.

But it's a lot easier when I'm talking about something that I love. I'm not saying that all of that interaction with strangers was easy. By the end of the day I felt socially drained. :) But I liked telling people that in the past, before spinning wheels, every bit of fiber in the world was spun on spindles, and I liked seeing their reactions. (It blows me away, too!) I liked explaining the process from sheep to finished yarn. I liked it when people told me they had an old spinning wheel in their attic that belonged to their great-grandmother. I liked being the one who got to introduce kids to the idea of spinning for the first time. (And this has nothing to do with spinning, but I loved it when parents bought a baby hat and immediately stuck it on their child's head. Because it was cold, and is there anything cuter than a baby wearing a handknit hat?)

Common misconceptions about spinning, which I gently corrected whenever I had the chance: 1) The drive band on the wheel is not the yarn that's being spun. It's completely separate. 2) I'm spinning wool, not cotton.

I came home happy, with stiff fingers and a neck ache, and smelling strongly of wood smoke because it was really windy and smoke from the blacksmith's fire kept blowing our way. (It turns out that spinning for six hours straight hurts. And if my posture is as bad as it appears in those pictures, then no wonder my neck hurt!)

(In case you're wondering, that ridiculously adorable little girl in the stroller is my niece, Stella, who will be a year old later this month.)

Now that the festival is over, I'm relieved that I don't have any crafty deadlines for a while, other than Stella's birthday sweater. I'm hoping to tackle some of the sewing and knitting projects I planned for FESA. Oh, and I've decided to make a fall quilt. Not just an autumn-inspired quilt, but an all-out Modern Maples full of orange and brown and leaves and acorns and foxes and...squash? Anyway, I'm so excited about it. I made seven blocks this week and this is my first time doing any kind of piecing besides just sewing squares together. It's addicting, even though I'm not very good at precise cutting or precise 1/4" seams.

(All of the festival photos were taken by either my parents or my cousin. I brought my camera along that day but didn't take a single picture! I meant to get pictures of my tables after we set them up, but oh well. I listed nearly everything I made on Ravelry, if you're curious.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

My favorite Psych episodes.

I just finished watching Psych this week, and I'm feeling a little heartbroken that it's over. (We get Netflix DVDs instead of streaming, so basically I've been getting one disc of Psych each week since January.)

Over the past couple of years, I've realized that I like detective stories. Monk, Psych, Sherlock, Agatha Christie, the Flavia de Luce series...I love a good mystery! But with Psych, it's not about the crime-solving for me. Most of the time, I probably don't remember much about the actual mystery or who committed a murder. Psych is all about Shawn and Gus and their friendship, the quirky sense of humor, and the spoofs.

It took me most of the first season to really get into the show. I kept comparing it to Monk, and while I still love Monk more, I've come to appreciate Psych in a different way. :) Shawn and Gus make the show, but I also love all of the supporting cast.

I tried to narrow it down to my top five favorite episodes, but with a show that's eight seasons long, that's pretty much impossible. So here are my top six(ish?)...

1. Office Space (season 7). It takes a lot for a TV show to make me laugh until I cry, and this episode did that several times. Gus finds his boss murdered and accidentally leaves incriminating evidence all over the crime scene. He goes to Shawn for help and things only go downhill from there. The beginning of this episode is so hilarious that I can't even begin to explain it. :) It's definitely my favorite episode of Psych.

2. Last Night Gus (season 6). The premise of this episode didn't draw me in at all, but it ended up being incredibly funny. Shawn, Gus, Lassiter, and Woody wake up in strange circumstances in the Psych office. They don't remember anything that happened the night before, but there's been a murder and the evidence seems to be pointing towards them, so they have to work quickly to solve the case. This episode is completely random and absurd, and I was so pleasantly surprised with it.

3. The Yin/Yang trilogy: An Evening with Mr. Yang (season 3), Mr. Yin Presents (season 4), and Yang 3 in 2D (season 5). All three of these episodes were so creepy and well done. If I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Mr. Yin Presents, just because I love Hitchcock so all of those references were amazing. These were some of the most suspenseful episodes in the entire show!

4. The Pierre Despereaux episodes: Extradition: British Columbia (season 4), Extradition II: The Actual Extradition Part (season 5), Indiana Shawn and the Temple of the Kinda Crappy, Rusty Old Dagger (season 6), and Lock, Stock, Some Smoking Barrels and Burton Guster's Goblet of Fire (season 8). Wow...those are some seriously long titles. I'm a big fan of The Princess Bride, so of course I loved seeing Cary Elwes playing such a great character who was constantly taking me by surprise. I especially loved the last Despereaux episode because of all of the Harry Potter references. (Gus spending most of the episode in a Hogwarts uniform and searching for Rupert Grint and Shawn speaking in an awful English accent were highlights.)

5. Gus Walks into a Bank (season 3). It's been a while since I watched this one, so I can't say much about it other than I remember really enjoying it. :)

6. The Break-Up (season 8). I wasn't sure what to expect with the last episode. Honestly, with the amazing finale that Monk had, I thought the Psych finale probably wouldn't live up to that. I was surprised by how good it was, though! It was everything I could have wanted in the final episode, really, and it made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time). I could see how it could have been a bit too sentimental for some people, but I loved it. :) I also loved the Monk reference near the end. (This was one of the best moments.)

Some honorable mentions that I also really enjoyed: Weekend Warriors (season 1), Tuesday the 17th (season 3- I don't watch scary movies so I'm sure I wasn't even catching all of the references, but this one was seriously creepy), High Noon-ish (season 4- while I'm not usually a fan of westerns, I love the idea of them so this episode was fun), Feet Don't Kill Me Now (season 5- Lassiter tap dancing...need I say more?) In Plain Fright (season 5), Lassie Jerky (season 7), and 100 Clues (season 7- right after watching this one, I watched Clue, and it was neat to see all of the connections).

If you're a Psych fan, what are some of your favorite episodes?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yarn Along

Reading: The Body in the Library, by Agatha Christie. I like to think of myself as a fan of Agatha Christie, even though I've actually only read a couple of her books. I have seen TV and film adaptations of her stories, though, and I collect her books from thrift stores, intending on reading more of them. I needed a short break from the Harry Potter series, and October seemed like the perfect month for a mystery. :)

Knitting: A cardigan for my niece's birthday gift...she'll be a year old soon! I only have a couple weeks to make it (plus a couple of extras with the leftover yarn, hopefully), but I'm enjoying it so I think it'll knit up quickly. I'm using this pattern and KnitPicks Swish DK weight in carnation.

I kind of love it when my current knitting project and book match, and I expected that to happen this week. I thought I'd still be reading Rainbow Rowell's book Landline, which would have coordinated nicely with this sweater (the spine and back of the book are gray and pink). But like all of her books, it was so addicting that I finished it over the weekend. So it cracks me up that now my project and book couldn't be any less "coordinating"...I'm reading a murder mystery and knitting on a sweet pink baby sweater. :)

{Yarn Along is a weekly link up hosted by Ginny where you can share what you've been knitting and reading.}

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spinning: cluck handspun.

I was drawn to this Falkland fiber from Spun Right Round (in the Cluck colorway), even though these aren't really colors that I would wear. Since I wanted to spin it but not necessarily knit it for myself, I knew I would try to sell the finished yarn.

(It was interesting because all along, I was thinking of these colors as very summer-ish. They reminded me of watermelon and fruit. But then while I was spinning it, there was a point where the light blue color was covered up on my bobbin with the other colors, and I was shocked to realize how fall-like the yarn looked then! Isn't it funny how adding one color can change the whole look?)

But I wanted to use it as an experiment, too. First, I wanted to see if I could spin fine enough to end up with 3 ply fingering weight yarn for socks (and also to see if I could get enough yardage for socks from 4 ounces of fiber). Also, I wanted to divide the fiber up into quite a few thinner sections before chain plying it, to see if I could get a variegated look instead of thicker stripes.

Well, I ended up with 432 yards, which is enough for socks. I even spun a little thinner than I had to (the finished yarn was about 16-17 wpi) I need to spin slightly thicker when I really spin for socks. I tried to add plenty of twist, but somehow my spinning wheel tension got off at one point and I wasn't putting enough twist in, so when it came time to ply I had trouble with the single trying to drift apart at that point.

I had every intention of knitting up a sample of this yarn in the round, on size 2 needles, with 64 stitches (which is my basic sock recipe), to see how the colors worked out. I took this skein and two others of my handspun to the craft fair I went to over the weekend (more on that soon), mostly just to have some handspun on display because I was sure that it wouldn't sell. (Especially with the price I put on this skein...the fiber itself cost me $16 and I worked on spinning it off and on for a month and a half.) I ran out of time before the festival to knit the sample, so I figured I'd just do it afterwards and then list the skein in my Etsy shop. I was so (pleasantly) surprised that all three of my handspun yarns sold at the craft fair! :) Of course that means I didn't get to knit that sample, but oh well...

I think I'm going to spin some fall-colored Cheviot wool next. It'll be a quick spin, probably 2 ply worsted weight, and I think I'll use the yarn for a hat. Maybe after that I'll try spinning more sock-weight yarn. I'd love to knit up some handspun socks this winter!