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A few years ago, inspired by a blog post from Ashland Bay, I bought four braids of fibre with the thought of spinning a gradient three-ply yarn, changing out one strand at a time as I worked from the first colour to the last. My plan was to pick up a coordinating solid and then use the resulting yarn to make a sweater like this Painterly Pullover.

But the green on the left stood out too much. And I couldn't find a solid that I liked that would coordinate well with all four colours.

Four braids of merino spinning fibre in a gradient from sage green to dark blues/purples.

So... I replaced the green with a pinky-purple blend, and I like it a lot better. The coordinating solid is a pale pink, which unfortunately arrived smelling of cigarette smoke and Febreze, bleah! I put it in a plastic tote with some paper towels soaked in FreshWave IAQ (that stuff is a miracle) and then let it air out in the sun and breeze, and fortunately got all the stink out of it.

Here it is all together:

Across the top of the picture, four braids of merino fibre in a gradient of colours from a medium pinks/purples to a darker blues/purples. Along the bottom, a coordinating solid in pale pink.

I can use the green fibre as the test-spin for the bigger project, approaching the whole thing as scientifically as possible. My general dislike of loosely plied yarns has led to some really dense, overtwisted yarn in my handspun stash, so I'm going to do some swatching of twist angle and plying twist before I start spinning another sweater quantity...

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Seven years ago, I bought the world's ugliest yarn (I love it though) intending to knit a pair of EZ's "Nether Garments", because what could be cozier than woolen long-johns? Except it never happened, possibly because every time I thought of starting the project, I thought about how long it would take... and put it off again.

Then I got a knitting machine, and thought "wow, this will make it so easy to make a pair of pants!"

How wrong I was. The knitting machine makes short work of knitting pieces of fabric that might be pants legs; it does not make it any easier to fit a pair of pants to my body.

I picked out a pattern (the "Lounging My Best Life" pants) and knit a gauge swatch - and for a wonder, I got it right! (The pattern is written for a mid-gauge machine and mine is a standard gauge, but if I loosen it to tension 10, this 6-ply yarn will go through.)

Since I'd never made pants before, I thought I'd follow the pattern exactly as written (even though I was pretty sure it wouldn't fit) and then make adjustments from there. Here's the first leg knit up, minus the ribbing at the cuff, which I'll handknit after I know the legs fit - isn't it perfectly 1970s?

One pants leg, unseamed, lies at full length on a wooden coffee table. The stripes are an incredibly garish collection of 1970s colours: mustard yellow, brown, steel blue, and some jacquard-looking stripes as well.

What it's not, unfortunately and unsurprisingly, is perfectly fitting. It's quite a bit more high-waisted than I want... and I don't seem to have nearly as much curve in my hips as the pattern seems to think I will. I took measurements and tried again.

My second try (not pictured) is closer, but still doesn't fit. I knit both legs and basted the seams so I could try them on, then took more measurements and attempted to draft a pattern in Designaknit. Then I set everything aside for a while until I could stop being mad at it. Once I get over the disappointment, I'll try on the pants once more to make sure I've noted everything I want to change in the fit, and then I'll wind up the yarn and give it another shot.

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Current spinning project: SOCK YARN. I'm spinning eight ounces of superwash Targhee from Hipstrings in the "Invincible" colourway, which is burgundies and pinks and teals. This is what it looked like before I started:

Eight ounces of Targee wool in teal and pink

This post on Ask the Bellwether says, "For a three-ply, I estimate my singles at twice the WPI of the result; so for a result of 14 WPI 3-ply, I'd spin the singles at 28 WPI." Well, I'd like a fingering weight yarn, which is between 19-22 WPI... so I am aiming to spin these singles at 40 WPI. Super fine! Here's a bobbin full of singles and my chain-ply plyback test, with a penny for scale. It sure does look like sock yarn thickness.

A spinning wheel bobbin is one-third full with very fine singles in shades of pink, burgundy, and teal.

The two braids of fibre were dyed in the same pattern of colours. My first thought was to spin each, chain-ply, and get stripy yarn - but then I thought about the impossibility of getting the stripes to match up perfectly. Instead, I split each braid into thirds and spun those pieces end to end, then plied them together. Ultimately this should result in softly striped fraternal, rather than identical, socks.

Here's the first bobbin of plied yarn, again with a penny for scale:

A bobbin mostly full of three-ply fingering weight yarn in a barberpole stripe of burgundies, pinks, and teals. There is a penny tucked under one strand of yarn for scale.

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Mom and I had planned to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool last weekend, but the sheer volume of rainfall was going to turn it into Muddyland Sheep and Wool instead - so we stayed home. It was a disappointment to miss the festival, but I think we made the right choice.

Remember last April when I knit the Puppies wrap and I accidentally knit the first panel twice? Well, I asked Mom to bring over her ball winder so that we could reclaim the yarn. It took a long time to get both ends free, but after that it was smooth winding, and we only lost a yard or so of each colour... and now I have two more ounces each of gray-purple and white laceweight yarns - over 600 yards each. And I already had remnants of each colour on cones!

Some of this yarn is going be used in the swatch for a sweater; I had the thought that plating the laceweight merino wool behind the fingering weight alpaca would help keep the final garment from sagging too much, but of course that needs to be tested before I go ahead and order another full cone of yarn (or two). Perhaps for the rest of it, I'll follow one of the Knitology 1x1 videos and do something fancy with the ribber plating feeder.

Yarn is ColourMart Extra Fine Merino 2/30NM Lace weight, penny for scale to show just how fine it is:

Two hand-wound balls of laceweight yarn in white and purple-gray. One strand of yarn is over a penny to give a sense of scale. The yarn is very fine.

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While totally avoiding working on the Aviation Socks, these were my mindless socks for knit nights and car rides. I had about 80 grams of blue Trekking XXL left over from knitting socks for Michael, back in.. um.. 2008. Combined with some other leftovers, they're now socks for me! We'll be able to tell them apart because his don't have the scrappy bits.

I used every last yard of three different XXL leftovers, and had to dip into some Heritage Paints leftovers to finish off the last few rows of the toes. That yarn matches the one I used for the cuffs pretty well, so I'm not mad about it. The purplish heels don't exactly coordinate, but I don't mind.

The pattern is my own Sibling Socks, written in two sizes and available for free.

A pair of softly striped, ribbed socks, mostly in blue. The cuffs and toe-tips are greeny--brown and the heels have a tint of purple.

A closeup of the heel flap and gusset on a ribbed sock.

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A long time ago I had the idea to design a trilogy of socks with twisted stitches, and to name them for cocktails. I knit the Boulevardier Socks in 2018, the Sapphire Martini socks in - well, I started them in 2018, knit an entire sock very much too small, got frustrated, started over again while I was unemployed in early 2020, and finished the pair in 2021.

I cast on for the Aviation Socks right after... but here we are, a year after that, and I'm just finishing up the first sock.

It's not that they're hard to knit - they're not! I don't know what the problem is. I really like how they look, and obviously this one fits me (that's my foot in the picture!) so that's not my concern. Am I procrastinating on the knitting because I'm planning to publish the patterns and I'm nervous about how they'll be received? Maybe so. How silly of me.

A nearly complete purple sock with a fancy twisted rib design is modeled on a foot, with toes peeking out of the unfinished end.

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It has been a while, huh? Where did I leave off... ah yes, wintertime. I knit these totally mindless socks at knit night, in the car, and while sitting through countless meetings at work. As usual, I made sure to match the stripes up.

A pair of stripy socks in various shades of blue is modeled on a pair of feet. The stripes match perfectly from one sock to the other.

The yarn was a deep dive into my stash from 2008. It's Lang Yarns Jawoll Aktion Color in the amazingly-named colourway "0233", and it was just a standard sock knit: 64 stitches, 20 rows of cuff, 36 rows of heel, and a spiral toe down to 20 total stitches.

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Because I like to get as much finished before the year ends as I can, I spent some time on December 31st plying and skeining yarn. First, two more skeins of The Fleece:

Two skeins of handspun, three-ply brown yarn.

I tried really hard to match the first set of Fleece yarn when I was spinning the singles for this. The good news is that I seem to be spinning less densely... and the bad news is that these two new skeins don't match the originals. Which means I have to spin even more of the stuff before I can consider knitting anything from it. Sighhhh.

In keeping with the "let's try to spin less densely" efforts, I spun this gray Suffolk from World of Wool to a fine two-ply and while it's balanced, it sure does seem underplied. So maybe it's also underspun? I don't know, and I'm not entirely sure how to fix it, but at least it's not twisting back on itself. I guess that's progress?

Two skeins of handspun, two-ply gray yarn.

My frustration with my lazy kate continues: the spindles on the Akerworks kate that I bought are not quite tall enough for the Kromski Woolee Winder bobbins, and so I cannot tension them. I think the solution here is going to be making my own arched kate. I drew up the plans for a plywood prototype that will fit the tallest and widest of my bobbins, and hopefully will find the time to cut it out and put it together soon.

A drawing of plans for a four-bobbin lazy kate. The drawing is held down by a selection of mostly-empty spinning wheel bobbins, a pencil, and a ruler. A shoebox full of bobbins is in the background.

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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: 10,661 yards
4 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (576)
4 skeins of Cascade Heritage Sock (1748)
2 more skeins of Heritage Sock, grr miscalculations (874)
1 skein of Cascade Heritage Wave (437)
12 balls of Cloudborn Alpaca Fingering, for a machine-knit colourwork something (2412)
3 skeins of Berocco Ultra, for new Fleeps (645)
7 balls Patons Classic Wool Worsted, for a sweater (1485)
8 balls Universal DK Tweed Superwash (2272)

OUTGOING YARN: 16,284 yards
I gave the second skein of handspun yak/silk to my mom :) (138)
Plain Pink Knit Night Socks used up a ball of Austermann Step that had been languishing in my stash for years. (460)
The Puppies wrap. :D (8417)
Sapphire Martini Socks, the second in the Twisted Sock trilogy! (436)
I gave some Universal Sock Yarn "Ditto" to Lisa so she could try knitting socks (440)
The machine-knit Sanquhar Scarf used ~5 skeins of Heritage Sock (2185)
Seattle Slouch for MadameBadger (437)
Learning Sweater - my very first sweater! (1378)
Sold a skein of Tosh Merino Light (440)
Frustrated with colourwork, I knit a pair of Plain Blue Socks (460)
My own Buoy Blend Handspun got knit up into a shawl (320)
The first "Watch Me!" armwarmers took up 1.05 skeins of Kroy, so I knit a second pair with the rest and some scraps. (350)
Another pan protector... (153)
Fleeps the Third, to keep my hands warm (220)
Piratical Socks (350 red, 75 blue, 25 white = 450 ish)

INCOMING FIBRE: 0 ounces
Nope. None.

OUTGOING FIBRE: ~36 ounces, give or take - 2548 yards
8 ounces of Mohair/Finn blend, spun into a chain-plied gradient (472 yards)
4 ounces Into the Whirled Corriedale, spun into a chain-plied stripy yarn (242 yards)
8 ounces Southdown, spun into two-ply yarn (652 yards)
8 ounces Suffolk, spun into two-ply yarn (706 yards)
Some Fleece - 222g/476 yards of it, to be exact.

PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR:
Oh, man. I have so many plans. SO MANY PLANS. Trying new techniques on the machine, lined Fleeps, knitting a sweater (or two?), finally finishing and publishing the Twisted Sock Trilogy... It's gonna be a good year for creating things!

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After many repairs, my old Fleeps were ready to retire. I had some more of the same yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed) in a dark blue and decided that now was the ideal time to knit it up. I've got lots of notes for custom-fitting this yarn into Fleeps for my narrow wrists and long fingers, so it was just a matter of following along and knitting exactly the same thing I did last time. (As a side note, I keep thinking I should knit a pair in a more sturdy yarn, but then I wouldn't have these exact notes to work from... maybe I'll do that next.) My Fleeps are a mashup of the Cigar and Gnomittens patterns, both of which are available for free.

I especially like how the stitches for the pinkie finger are set aside a bit lower than the rest of the fingers, matching the actual shape of my hand:

Pirate's hand models a Fleep in progress. The cuff and hand are knit, and stitches set aside for each of the fingers. It does not yet have a mitten top.

My old Fleeps look so sad with their Frankenstein repairs and threadbare sections (there are actual holes in the thumbs!), but I wasn't going to let them go without rescuing and re-using the magnet snaps.

Pirate's hand, wearing a new blue Fleep and holding a small pair of orange-handled craft scissors, is ready to cut the magnet-snap off an old, worn, much-repaired green Fleep.

I like to put a small piece of felt as a backing to the magnet snaps to help keep them from pulling straight through the yarn. For the mitten top, I knit up to the end but didn't graft it together before adding the magnet. I held the felt in place with my left hand while I sewed the magnet on with my right, then kitchenered the top of the mitten, flipped it inside out, trimmed the felt down, and sewed it around the edges.

Sewing the magnet-snap into the tip of the mitten before grafting the top shut.

On the cuff, I pinned a square of felt into place - it was far enough up in the cuff that I couldn't hold it and sew at the same time.

A square of black felt is safety-pinned in place on the inside of the cuff while the magnet-snap is sewn to the outside.

After I'd sewed the magnet snap on, I trimmed the felt to a neat circle, perfectly centered...

The circle of felt on the inside of the cuff has been trimmed to size after sewing the magnet-snap to the outside of the cuff.

...and sewed it down around the edges.

A small, round piece of black felt is sewn down to the inside of the cuff.

And here is the finished pair! My project page for them is on Ravelry. As usual, I've only left two fingers and my thumb exposed to try to keep my hands as warm as possible. I'm looking forward to wearing my new Fleeps this winter, even if I'm still not traveling far... and I'm also, just a little bit, looking forward to working out the pattern modifications to make my next pair with different yarn.

A finished pair of blue Fleeps is displayed on a wooden table. One has the cuff and thumb cap folded back; the other is closed and the magnet snaps are visible.

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