Happy happy new year!

As usual, this tally is more for myself than anything else, but you may find it interesting as well. If you're coming from FB/Twitter/other social media, click through to see the full post:

INCOMING YARN: 14,129 yards
6 balls Loops & Threads Woolike to use for knitting machine practice (4068)
1 skein Yarnaceous Salta Fingering, souvenir yarn from Park City (437)
4 Cones of merino laceweight from Colourmart (9624) (ouch)

A skein of sock yarn in purples and a bit of orange, very sunsetty colours

OUTGOING YARN: 8,451 yards in 13 projects
Test Scarf in Dallas Colours, a learning experience with the knitting machine (2203)
Rainbow Socks, which could not be more awesome (400)
A pan protector, quick and easy crochet project (99)
Pinksplosion, knee-high stockinette socks and my first time trying the Fish Lips Kiss Heel (716)
A Multnomah Shawl(ette), because apparently accessorizing is a thing I do now (328)
I heard Grandma was cold, so I knit her a wrap with the bulky machine. (1344)
My first foray into patterned brioche with a Sizzle Pop, since accessorizing is... yeah. (899)
How 'bout another shawl? Breathe and Hope was fun to knit. (642)
And one more for good measure, the Which Way shawl. (688)
A scrappy slouchy hat with the Which Way leftovers (233)
The Sockhead Cowl used up a whole skein of Trekking XXL (459) and a matching Sockhead Hat used up another 70% of a skein (321)
I made a Polyphylla Cowl for Grandma, using my own handspun yak-silk yarn (so soft!) (120)

A closeup of the Which Scraps Hat pattern showing a black lattice over rainbow stitches

I bought nothing. NOTHING. I'm so proud of myself.

A whole pound of Fleece Four-Twelve! Which is... not enough for the sweater I want to knit, so I'm still spinning this one. But I spun a whole pound of fleece - how cool is that?

Eight hanks of brown three-ply yarn sit on a stone countertop.

You know what they say about the best-laid plans... but I have some thoughts and WIPs. I'm still spinning the Fleece, and in my down time at work I'm also spinning some Finn/mohair batts that I've had for a very long time. My only knitting WIP is the second sock of the second pair in the Twisted Trilogy, and I did swatch for Puppies but I haven't actually cast on for it yet.

So, obviously, finishing those WIPs are first up, and then I have some design ideas, and I'd like to learn to use the machine better, and... and... and! There's always more on my list than I can manage to do in a year, but that's fine - it gives me options :)

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I finished my Sockhead Hat! It could probably be a little slouchier, but I like it just fine. I made the 152-stitch size because I was using thinner yarn and smaller needles than the pattern specified, and it fits perfectly.

Pirate models a rainbow-striped hat

The difference between the two balls of yarn, which were supposedly the same dye lot, is less stark in the finished objects than it was in the balls - but it's still quite obvious and I'm glad I didn't end up making two not-matching knee socks out of this yarn. I would have been really, really annoyed at the discrepancy.

A hat and cowl, knit in similar rainbow stripes

I used about 70% of the second ball of yarn to make the hat, so there's probably enough left for a pair of armwarmers. Another thing I love about working from home - I can set the thermostat warmer and no one laughs at me for bundling up in warm clothes at my desk!

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The absolute last thing I needed was to start a new project, except for the part where I've been having some downtime at work and there's an empty spinning wheel next to my desk. This work-from-home thing is pretty awesome. The desk that Michael and I built is nearly perfect: eight feet long, painted teal and yellow, room for my personal computer, my work computer, the letter I'm writing, and a sketchbook too. It's attached to the wall so it doesn't shake, and braced underneath so it should never bow in the middle.

Pirate's office: a long teal-painted desk on the right with several monitors and a laptop, sketchbooks, knitting projects. To the left of the desk is a window; under the window is a spinning wheel.

Anyway, I found this set of batts in my stash bins while I was moving them around. I bought the fibre in 2009 (yeah, it's been a while) as dyed locks of 25% mohair/75% Finn wool, and carded them into batts by colour so that I could spin a gradient.

A row of carded batts in a gradient from light green through purple through rusty red.

Since I have no idea what I'm eventually going to knit with this, and I'm not in any particular hurry to get the project done, I decided to aim for a light fingering weight yarn. It will take a long time to spin eight ounces of fibre this fine in just the pauses between work, but it might end up as a nice shawl if it's soft enough.

I pulled a strip off the first batt and started to spin, and... whew, the fibre is drafting nicely! It's got quite a bit of lanolin left in it, so it's a little sticky, but in a good way. In a not-slippery way. In a "this is easy to spin fine singles" way.

A very fine single, held over a penny for scale.

When I felt like I'd gotten a reasonably good consistency and thickness (thin-ness?) with the singles, I tried a three-ply plyback test - folding the single strand back on itself and twisting it up as if it were three separate strands going into one yarn. The pale green is my spinning; the bright yarn next to it is a strand of Trekking XXL, which is just slightly thinner than what I think of as "standard" sock yarn. I'm right on target.

Three-ply plyback test, next to a strand of commercial sock yarn as a comparison.

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That secret gift I mentioned in my last post is a neckwarmer/cowl for Grandma! I knit it with a yak/silk blend that I spun a couple of years ago, but didn't know what to do with it... until now. The pattern is Polyphylla, which is available for free on Ravelry.

A cowl, with a ruffled edge at the bottom, knit in handspun yarn. The colours are stripes of dark and light red, blue, and green.

I really enjoyed knitting this pattern, not to mention knitting with my own handspun yarn of silky warm softness. It's well-written, though I was a little bit unsure about the instructions to shift the stitch marker for the beginning of the round. Fortunately it's so easy to see where one is in the pattern by looking at what's already been knit, so I got around the confusion easily enough. The bindoff makes a really nice edge, but as I mentioned in my previous post, uses up a lot more yarn than I expected!

The cowl used one skein of my handspun yarn, and I am absolutely loving the self-striping effect that I produced! The only thing is, I had two... and they had slightly different yardage, and I don't know if this was the 118-yard skein or the 140-yard skein. I'll have to remember to re-measure the remaining yarn before I start another project with it, just to be on the safe side.

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This project is a gift, so I can't share pictures of the whole thing yet. But holy wow did I ever cut it close on the yarn! The project called for a long-tail cast on over two needles; I overestimated the amount of yarn I'd need and had nearly a yard of tail remaining. Laziness said "it's 168 stitches, you don't really want to start over - and besides, it's handspun yarn and super soft, what if it gets fuzzy when you pull it out and do it again?" I definitely didn't want that to happen, so I just started knitting.

The beginning of a knit project, showing nearly a yard of yarn trailing from the starting point.

You see where this is going, right?

I knit the project, convinced even up to the last round that I would have plenty of yarn. But then I came to the bind-off, which is a really nifty one that I hadn't tried before, and which took up A Lot more yarn than I expected. As I worked my way around, I started to get worried... so I worked faster, because that's how that goes, right? Knitting faster means you might outrun the end of your yarn.

I finished with five inches of yarn left over.

The end of a knit project, showing five inches of yarn trailing from the ending point.

I'll share more details about this one after the gift has been given!

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Originally, I'd thought that this was going to be a hat, and the not-really-matching ball of yarn (in the same dye lot! grr!) would become a machine-knit cowl. But I changed my mind, and this one became the cowl... because, really, the mindless knitting was exactly what I needed, and I won't mind doing it all over again for the not-really-matching hat.

While it's a little smaller than the original pattern calls for (this is what I get for using finer sock yarn than standard, I guess) it fits me just fine. I wouldn't mind if it were an inch wider and that much shorter... but not enough to knit the whole thing all over again!

Also, dang, my hair is getting long. How to cowl + hair? over? under? How does this not make a rat's nest of tangles at one's neck? I have no idea how this is supposed to work at all!

Pirate models a rainbow-striped cowl. It is pulled over their nose and mouth. Their eyes are smiling. Pirate's hair is bright purple and they are wearing a red plaid flannel shirt over a red t-shirt.

Seriously, look at the difference in these two balls of yarn. Is this ridiculous or what:

Two balls of rainbow-striped sock yarn that are marked with the same dye lot number. One is a clear rainbow. The other's colours are marled and muddied together. They do not match at all.

I've already started working on the hat, and I'm halfway through the ribbing. If I'm lucky, there'll be enough leftover to make armwarmers, too!

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With my scrappy leftovers hat finished, the only other project I have on the needles is a sock which is just slightly too complicated for knit night and football games. So, I thought to myself, what should I knit? Then my sworn-sister made a Sockhead Slouch Hat... and there it was. My next hat. A stockinette slouchy hat in sock yarn will take approximately zero mental effort and approximately forever to finish - what could be more perfect for knit nights?

The bare beginnings of a hat on 16" circular needles, with an entire ball of multi-coloured sock yarn above it, sit on a teal desktop.

I have two balls of Trekking XXL in this rainbow colourway, but despite being the same dye lot, they look totally different. This one seems to be mostly marled; the other has the colours in each ply matching up more closely. This would have driven me crazy for socks, but for a hat I'll just use one ball of yarn and it won't matter at all!

The Trekking is finer than the "standard" sock yarn called for in the pattern, so I'm using size 2 (2.75mm) instead of 2.5 (3.00mm) needles, and I've cast on for the 152 stitch size based on my gauge math (8 stitches per inch x 21.5 inches around my head x 0.9 for snugness = 154.8) - I'm told the hat is stretchy and large, but at worst if it's too big for me then it becomes someone else's hat.

There's a matching cowl pattern for the hat, which I plan to knit on the machine using the more solid variant of the yarn. It will be a good excuse use of the ribber, with which I haven't yet fully acquainted myself. The machine can either knit ribbing or in the round, but since the cowl has only a bit of ribbing at the top and bottom, it won't take much to seam that up the side. And I won't mind if the hat and cowl aren't exactly matching in their stripes or colour progression, either.

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I have seven bobbins for Persistence, the Schacht-Reeves wheel, so after I'd fully filled six of them with Fleece 412 singles, I used the seventh to ply. And, very exciting, I used the prototype version of a box-style lazy kate that Michael helped me build! It needs some refinement, but it does function. The idea was to have a workaround for the annoyance of having to hold a bobbin in just the right spot while poking the skewer through first one side of the kate, then the bobbin, then the other side. That part of it works well, but I didn't think the tensioning mechanism through at all, so it's still not quite what I'm looking for. Here it is holding all six full bobbins:

Six full bobbins of singles sit inside a plywood box.

Ultimately I'd like to build one with thinner, nicer wood (this was knocked together out of scrap plywood that we already had in the garage) that has slots to hold four bobbins at once. Am I going to make a four-ply yarn? I don't know, but I'd like to be able to!

Conventional wisdom teaches to ply at low ratios, but I'm not sure why, as it goes so much faster on the big wheel with the fast whorl! I counted my treadles to make sure that I got the same amount of plying twist in each section of yarn, and plied all eight of these skeins in a weekend.

That gave me 848 yards of round three-ply yarn to just over a pound of fibre spun up, which is... not enough for the sweater pattern I've picked out. If I can get gauge, I'm planning to knit the Izel cardigan - I love the cable details, the ribbing on the back, and the hidden pockets.

Fortunately, I have enough of The Fleece remaining to spin another thousand yards if I need to, so I'm sure I'll eventually have spun enough yarn to knit a whole sweater. I'll start by spinning three more bobbins-ful and see how far I get! Meanwhile, there's really no reason why I can't wash and dry the yarn I already have, and get started on swatching and... (gulp) actually knitting a sweater for myself.

Eight hanks of brown three-ply yarn sit on a stone countertop.

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After the Which Way shawl was done, even with the extra rows I added in, there was nearly a full ball of Cascade 220 Sport left over, plus remnants of each of the five colours of Mad Hatter. I wanted to knit something that would really show off the colours, yet look completely different from the stripy shawl, and used the free Syxx Hat pattern on Ravelry as my starting point - but I wanted a slouchy hat, instead of one that's ribbed and fitted.

I didn't want to bother with knitting a gauge swatch (lazy!) so I decided to do the hat top-down and just use its beginning as my swatch (efficient!) instead. I cast on eight stitches and worked increases every other row until I had enough to measure (six stitches to the inch), did some math, and then continued to increase until I had 128 stitches on the needles.

Trying to estimate when to start the textured section of the hat was a little tricky, and I did have to rip back a little bit to start it earlier, but I think I got it in the right place. And apparently this is my colour scheme now - here I am modeling the hat in front of one of my first watercolour paintings, which is a surprisingly good match!

Pirate modeling the Which Scraps Hat in front of a watercolour painting that matches its rainbow colours

I absolutely love the look of this stitch pattern. The way the darker yarn makes a lattice over the rainbow colours, the texture and depth of the honeycomb, the way the slipped stitches pull the stockinette sections into polygons instead of just plain bricks - it's perfect.

A closeup of the Which Scraps Hat pattern showing a black lattice over rainbow stitches

One thing wasn't perfect, though: I ran out of the 220 Sport with one round and the bindoff remaining. Fortunately, I had some yarn in my stash leftover from a different project that matched the dark gray colour perfectly. It was slightly lighter in weight, but because it was just the last round, it's practically invisible. The hat does roll up a bit at the brim because it has no ribbing, but that's mostly only visible while it's not on my head, so I don't mind. It fits just the way I wanted to, and I think it's cute!

Even the inside is neat to look at:

The inside of the Which Scraps Hat, showing the stitch construction

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The Which Way shawl was completed in a casual six weeks (mostly while watching football or at our weekly virtual knit night) with a combination of Cascade 220 Sport in "Jet" (a dark charcoal gray) and a set of Wonderland Yarns Mad Hatter mini-skeins in the Mad Tea Party colourway, on the recommended US 6/4mm needles. I decided to add a few extra rows to the Which Way shawl, both because I had the extra yarn to do it and because I didn't really care for the little tail divot in the original pattern. It didn't take too much extra time, although it did mean that I had to dip into the third skein of 220 Sport.

A severe blocking did wonders for the drape of the fabric and for fixing the cupped look at the beginning when I was carrying the yarns a little too tightly. Here it is after washing, pinned and stretched out on the floor to dry:

The Which Way shawl, pinned out on the floor

Blocking wires made that task much easier than only using pins would have! The green and yellow sections are very close in hue, but there is a difference there. A closeup shows the chevron stripes and center spine, as well as the different textures of the two yarns. The 220 Sport is a loose, slightly fuzzy two-ply, while the Mad Hatter is a smooth, round yarn made of four plies:

A closeup view of the Which Way shawl, showing chevron stripes of purple and blue alternating with black.

The shawl matches my hair nicely... but now that my hair is getting longer, I'm not sure what to do with it when I wrap a shawl around my neck! Tucking it under the shawl seems strange, but flipping it over makes it just stick straight out in the back. I guess I'm going to have to wait 'til it grows out a little more.

Pirate, modeling the Which Way shawl.

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